The wRap Indonesia: Dec. 17, 2014
JAKARTA, Indonesia – The government response to the decline of the rupiah and the start of Jakarta's ban on motorcycles on a key stretch of road lead our wrap of stories from Indonesia.
1. Bank Indonesia intervenes to halt rupiah slide
Bank Indonesia stepped in Tuesday, December 16, to stop a slide that saw the rupiah sink to its lowest level since the 1998 Asian Financial Crisis. The rupiah closed up 0.1% at 12,680 per dollar after dropping 2% Monday. Amid worries, officials and analysts point to external factors for the drop – primarily the strengthening US economy and the Russian ruble's plunge. Bloomberg quotes Finance Minister Bambang Brodjonegoro saying the current situation with the rupiah is temporary, though Reuters quotes analysts warning that further falls are likely when the US interest rate is increased.
2. Jakarta trial ban on motorbikes off to a smooth start
The trial ban on motorbikes on a key stretch of road in Central Jakarta appeared to have started smoothly on Wednesday, December 17. Traffic flow seemed to have markedly improved along Jalan MH Thamrin from the Hotel Indonesia traffic circle to Jalan Merdeka Barat as motorbikes opted for alternative routes, even though many complained online they were not aware of the new policy announced December 2. Motorbike-riding motorists have also been advised to park at one of 12 places around the banned road, and take one of the free buses the government prepared to shuttle them. If this trial continues to go smoothly, the city will expand it to other roads next year. Aside from improving traffic conditions in the notoriously congested capital, Jakarta Governor Basuki "Ahok" Tjahaja Purnama says he wants to reduce motorbike accidents.
3. Papua shooting resolved by burning stones?
That's the local custom, according to Coordinating Minister for Politics, Law and Security Tedjo Edy Purdjianto, that was used by locals and security personnel to resolve the December 8 recent shooting incident that killed 5 teenagers in Paniai, Papua. Whether it's true or not, it still doesn't answer the question of who fired the shots at the group of teenagers protesting the beating of a boy the previous night. Activists suspect the military, but the military has not been cooperating with their investigation, according to the National Commission on Human Rights (Komnas HAM). The minister said, though, that the government investigation into the shooting is still ongoing. "(The incident) must be investigated. If there is any indication that the army and police were (involved), we will uphold justice," Tedjo was quoted by Tempo.co as saying.
4. Justice Ministry steers clear of Golkar rift, refuses to intervene
The Ministry of Justice and Human Rights has found a neutral way out of a very sticky spot: It has decided that it won't decide on which of the two warring Golkar camps is legitimate: The one led by Aburizal Bakrie that's allied with the opposition, or the one led by Agung Laksono that is friendly to the administration. "After considering all aspects, including the law, facts, and documents submitted, we have reached the conclusion that the Ministry of Justice should not interfere in this dispute, as it is an internal party matter," Minister Yasonna Laoly said on Tuesday. The minister added that both camps were legitimate. But Aburizal's group is not pleased with the response, threatening to sue the entire ministry.
5. To sell or not to sell the SOE Ministry building?
If the Ministry of State-Owned Enterprises is selling, then the Jakarta administration is interested in buying its office building. SOE Minister Rini Soemarno has said they don't need the entire 22-storey building for their 250 staff, and selling would cut down their operational expenses. The idea has been met with protests from the opposition, and Vice President Jusuf Kalla said on Tuesday Rini would first need to get the president's permit or the legislature if it's worth more than IDR100 billion ($7.7 million). But in case the building does get bought by the Jakarta administration, what would they do with it? “It could be a people’s mall to roof street vendors. That would be great,” the Jakarta governor said. – with a report from ATA/Rappler.com