Thailand: Your Honeymoon Destination

Thailand: Your Honeymoon Destination

Known for its world class panorama, alien historical monuments and hospitality, Thailand is a compelling country for newly married couple to commence their journey of love.

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Indonesia sets an example

Indonesia sets an example

Indonesia will mount an impressive specta­cle of popular choice, in which around 174m voters across 14,000 tropical islands will choose a president and vice-president and 560 parliamentarians. The chances are good that, as in the previous national elections in 2004, polling will be mostly peaceful and that the overwhelming majority of successful candidates will be committed to a pluralistic Indonesia with freedom of both speech and religion. Once again, the world’s most populous Muslim country will demonstrate that there is nothing incompatible between practicing Islam and being democratic.

This achievement will be all the more remarkable considering where Indonesia was just ten years ago: in chaos. After three decades in power, the authoritarian regime of President Suharto had collapsed amid rioting and no one knew what might take its place. Could such a huge, diverse and impoverished archipelago, with hundreds of ethnic groups, possibly hold together, given the weakness and corruption of its national institutions?

Since then the country has consistently surprised on the upside, even if the pace of reform has been ploddingly slow. Indonesia’s shattered finances have been repaired. It has developed a free press. The army’s hands have been prized from the levers of power. And, above all, Indonesia has become a democracy in which the voters can chuck out their government. Freedom House, an American think-tank, now rates Indonesia as the only completely free country in South-East Asia–putting its richer neighbours, Malaysia, Singapore and Thailand, to shame.

Palambang Get ASEAN award

Palambang Get ASEAN award

Palembang, the capital city of South Sumatra, will officially receive an ASEAN award for being the cleanest city in Indonesia, to be presented in Hanoi, Vietnam, on Wednesday.

One city in each ASEAN country, except Singapore, will receive a cleanest city award, in categories for clean water, land and air, Palembang mayor Eddy Santana said Tuesday.

“We are so happy to receive this award. This achievement is part of our success. Residents and officials have cooperated to realize Palembang’s potential as the nation’s cleanest city,” said Eddy, adding the success was also partly the work of previous municipal administrations.

Eddy said Palembang had once been considered the dirtiest city in Indonesia, especially at the 16 Ilir traditional market and around pack Ampera bridge.

That was until the city launched a campaign with the motto BARI (Clean, Safe, Neat and Beautiful) during the 1980s to encourage citizens to transform the dirtiest city into the cleanest, he said.

The government’s cleanest city award incentive program prompted all provinces in Indonesia to clean up their act.

Palembang managed to receive the Adipura award twice in a row (2006-2007) for its success in cleaning the city.

President Susilo Bambang Yudhoyono has also declared Palembang the cleanest city in Indonesia this year. “We hope that the award will encourage us to keep the city even cleaner,” said Eddy, adding that Palembang received the honor because of its success in developing clean land and providing clean water for more than 80 percent of its residents.

Democratization in un security council

Democratization in un security council

Indonesia underlines the need for a democratization of the United Nations Security Council (UNSC) by among others putting an end to the misuse of the veto right of its members.

“The practice of misusing the veto right by the permanent members of the UNSC that often paralyzed the council must no longer be allowed,” Indonesian foreign minister Hassan Wirajuda told the 63rd UN General Assembly (UNGA) meeting here on Saturday (local time).

Democratization is one of the aspects that Indonesia has paid its attention to in the meeting besides issues of food crisis and climate change.

Hassan said state sovereignty had to be protected if the world wants to see the spirit of democracy in international relations.

“This is important because without democracy a world organization like the UN will not be effective,” he said.

“The failure of the Security Council so far in dealing with various challenges to global security was the result of its being still undemocratic,” he said.

The minister said to make the Security Council more democratic, the exercise of a veto by the UN permanent members must be regulated.

So far only the permanent members have a vetoright, namely the US, the UK, France, Russia and China.

Parliamentary introduces fresher faces

Parliamentary introduces fresher faces

Whereas the presidential race will feature some very familiar per­sonalities, the parliamentary contests will also introduce fresher faces. In recent elections for provincial governors, voters have spurned established figures. This has convinced the main parties that they will need an infusion of new blood to do well in the parliamentary races: Miss Megawati’s Indonesian Democratic Party of Struggle (PDI-P) says up to 70% of its candidates will be newcomers.

At first sight the parliamentary elections look like a recipe for confusion. There will be something like 12,000 candidates from 38 parties bat­tling for the 560 seats. This is a big increase on the num­bers in 2004 but the next parliament will in fact be less fragmented than the current one. This is mainly because a new rule requires parties to get at least 2.5% of the na­tional vote to win any seats. Of the 17 parties that won seats in 2004 only eight would have met that test.

Furthermore, several mid-sized parties, such as the National Awakening Party of Abdurrahman Wahid (president in 1999-2001), are riven by splits. So the new parliament will be dominated by Golkar, the PDI-P and Mr Yudhoyono’s Democrats–all of which are staunchly secularist–plus the mildly Islamist Prosperous Justice Party (PKS).

The PKS, like the smaller Islamist parties, has found that moderating its calls for SHARIA and embracing pluralism is the only way to win new votes. It will be the cost of living that dominates the campaign, not theology.

OIC praises Ri for democratic credentials

OIC praises Ri for democratic credentials

The United States recently not only praised Indonesia for adopting democracy but also expressed its willingness to make Indonesia its new partner in boosting relations with the Muslim world. Likewise, the Organization of the Islamic Conference (OIC) commended Indonesia for continuously showing the world how Islam and democracy can live in harmony.

On Monday, OIC Secretary-General Ekmeleddin Ihsanoglu met with President Susilo Bambang Yudhoyono and conveyed the OIC’s “appreciation” to Indonesia for showing that democracy could emerge in the nation with the world’s largest Muslim population.

“The secretary-general of the OIC said Indonesia played a significant role in developing Islam and democracy simultaneously,” presidential spokesman Dino Patti Djalal told reporters after the meeting between the two leaders at Merdeka State Palace in Jakarta.

He added Ihsanoglu also appreciated Indonesia’s push for reforms within the OIC. The reform includes the adoption of democratic values to make it more relevant to the 21st century.

As part of the reforms, the OIC has begun working on building a bridge between the Muslim world and the West, such as by inviting representatives from Western countries, including the US, to its 11th Ordinary Conference in Dakar, Senegal. The conference discussed how to cope with negative images of Islam.
“One of the principles the OIC has adopted is that the Muslim world has to build a bridge with the Western world. The OIC has to be part of the bridge because there will be no peace without this bridge between the East and the West, the North and the South, and so on,” Dino said.

Industrial sector growth

Industrial sector growth

The growth of industrial sector is followed by trade and services sector, particularly those locate in the cities. The trade activities showed an increasing trend, 6% per annum and non-oil & gas export increased 8%. Meanwhile, the export volume and value of trade and services are led to the enhancement of service capability and ability to fulfill the standard of services related to the sectoral needs and it is expected to play as a regional economic locomotive.

There are several investment opportunities that can be optimised, such as agro-industry, manufacturing, services, tourism, and construction. Besides supported by complete infrastructure and huge natural resources, the province provides skilled and educated labor.

Geographically, the West Java province is situated between 5°50 – 7°50 South Latitude and 104°48 108°48 East Longitude.

The government administration is set into 22 Regencies/administrative cities, classified into 16 regencies and 6 administrative.

The largest is regency Sukabumi (3,160.51 sq km) and the smallest is Kota Cirebon (36.97 sq km).

The average rainfall ranges between 1,431 – 4,539 mm/year and its temperature varies between 15°C – 31°C.

Indonesia to host asian-african conference on palestine

Indonesia to host asian-african conference on palestine

Indonesia and South Africa will co-chair an Asian-African Conference on Palestine in Jakarta, a foreign ministry spokesman said.

“The foreign ministerial level conference is aimed at increasing Palestine`s capacity,” Foreign Affairs Ministry spokesman Teuku Faizasyah said here on Friday.

The conference differs from the donors` conference held in Paris several months ago because the Jakarta conference would put emphasis on building Palestine`s capacity, he said.

“It will focus on implementable projects,” Faizasyah said.

Faizasyah said the idea to hold the conference came up after seeing that 50 years after the Afro-Asian Conference in Bandung in 1955, it had turned out that there was still a country which had not yet gained independence.

“Asian-African countries have experience in development. We hope our efforts will complement other international efforts to assist Palestine,” he said.

He said Asian-African countries had agreed to continue encouraging efforts to create peace in the region and support Palestinian independence.

In the meantime, Director for Intra-Regional Cooperation Affairs for Asia-Pacific and Africa, Ibnu Hadi said Asian-African countries had a commitment to provide assistance to Palestine.

“These are programs to be carried out through a G-to-G cooperation but the involvement of the private sector is not ruled out,” he said.

Asked whether Indonesia will invite representatives from Hamas, Hadi said the invitation for Palestine was addressed to the Palestinian government, not to any particular groups in that country.

Besides Asian and African countries, according to Hadi, Indonesia also would invite countries in the Latin American region such as Cuba, Braziland Venezuela.

“The objective of this conference is to stress the readiness of Palestine,” he said.

Palestinian President Mahmoud Abbas, when he visited Indonesia in late 2007, said he hailed the Indonesian plan to host the conference.

At the end of 2007 and early in 2008, two conferences on Palestine were held, namely the Annapolis conference in the United States and the conference of donor countries in Paris.