Bridge Project: Understanding Language and Culture by

The Bridge Student Exchange Programme Bridge Project had successfully undertaken a program of language and cultural studies by facilitating a group of students and teachers from Tranby College in Western Australia to visit their BRIDGE partner school, SMAN 5 Surabaya, from 20 to 22 September 2010. Teachers and students of SMAN 5 Surabaya had visited the Tranby College before.

The students from Tranby College have been very enthusiastic about the visit. They have been communicating online with their peers in Indonesia. Understanding culture is more important than just understanding the language.

The event follows the successful visit to Western Australia on March 2010 by 30 students and teachers from state high school SMAN 5 Surabaya, East Java. A comprehensive program has been prepared by SMAN 5 including Indonesian language activities, Reog (traditional mask dance) dancing and outbound teamwork exercises.

Allowing teenagers to converse together in medium they feel comfortable with in order to break down some cultural barriers and challenge stereotypes is really necessary for the students. Lili Soleh, the head of the Cooperation Bureau of the Government of East Java, said the visit would make an important contribution to the 20th anniversary of sister state relationship between Western Australia and East Java being celebrated this year.

The two schools have committed to develop an annual student-teacher exchange program which will include participation and collaborative programs between schools, community and governments from both Indonesia and Australia. The BRIDGE project commenced in 2008 and is implemented by the Australia-Indonesia Institute in partnership with the Asia Education Foundation. Funding support has been provided by the Myer Foundation and the Australian aid program.

Some 91 teachers from 47 Indonesian schools in 7 provinces (Jakarta, South Sumatra, Bali, East Java, South Sulawesi, West Nusa Tenggara and West Kalimantan) have visited Australia under the BRIDGE project  until now, as a way of forging ongoing relationships between schools in both countries.

The Indonesian schools have included several funded through the Australia Indonesia Partnership to build 2,000 junior secondary schools across Indonesia.

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PT Pindad Indonesia Has Just Got Rp. 1.3 trillion Contract in 2010

PT Pindad's Rocket PT Pindad Indonesia has just got Rp. 1.3 trillion contract in 2010. Last year, it only got Rp. 900 billion order contracts. The Pindad President Director, Adik Soedarsono, quite sure that Pindad will still be able to have more contracts up to the end of the year.

He said that based on his company’s budget work plan (RKAP), the value of its contracts was set at Rp1.1 trillion but it was able to increase its contracts with additional ones worth up to Rp200 billion. Of the total contracts, Pindad also won orders for the production of explosives.

Pindad’s customers are usually coming from mining firms which operate in Sumatra and Kalimantan. They are really a big market for Pindad’s explosives. While the biggest contract comes from the Indonesia’s Defense Ministry with the value of Rp. 900 billion. It is for 80 million tons of bullets just for this year. In 2009, it ordered bullets that worth Rp. 650 billion.

Besides contracts ordered by customers at home, Pindad, that is located in Turen, Malang, East Java,  also won contracts ordered by overseas customers. Pindad is now carrying out export contracts from the United States which were obtained in November 2009 in the form of 20 million tons of bullets. In 2010, Pindad itself sets  an income target of Rp 1.2 trillion. This year, the company allocated a budget of Rp50 billion in capital expenditure for the purchase of seven new and larger capacity machines from Germany and France.

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What Is The Main Asset to Develop Harmonious Industrial Relations in Indonesia

the main asset to develop harmonious industrial relations What is the main asset to develop harmonious industrial relations in Indonesia? The answer is the Indonesian traditional culture of consensus (musyawarah). This is stated by the Director of UNI Asia Pacific Dr. Kun Wardana Abyoto.

He conveyed the view when meeting with five labor union activists participating in the Seventh Asian Congress of the International Industrial Relations Association (IIRA) being held in Denpasar, Bali, for four days starting Monday morning.

Kun said labor unions and company management can promote consensus in a positive way to reduce potential disputes.  "Potential dispute  is very possible to be reduced," he said.

Kun explained about Vice President Boediono’s support to UNI and  Indonesian’s labor unions to develop industrial relations based on harmonious partnership with entrepreneurs. The support was expressed when the vice president received an organizing committee members of  the Seventh IIRA Asian Regional Congress recently, he said.

Vice President Boediono supported UNI and labor unions to develop any concrete programs because the partnership harmonious will not only promote  the companies but also improve the workers’ welfare, he said.
"UNI see Indonesia as a country which is taken into account together with China, India, Brazil and Russia," Kun said.
The congress is being participated in  by representatives of  industries, labor unions, governments, academicians, and businessmen. Topics to be discussed in the meeting will be among other things on industrial democracy,  partnership, and appropriate works needed to respond to the global financial crisis.

The agenda of the four-day congress will include  a signing of the Global Framework Protocol between UNI Asia and Pacific and Telkom Indonesia,  and paper presentations by dozens of academicians and researchers from leading universities in the Asia Pacific region. Indonesia’s academicians from North Sumatra University (USU), Gadjah Mada University (UGM), Hasanuddin University (Unhas) and Krisnadwipayana University are also scheduled to give speeches in the international forum .

Indonesian labor union activists attending the congress are among others secretary general of labor unions association (ASPEK) Muhamad Rusdi, and general chairman of Hero’s labor union Rusdi Salam. Representatives of ANTARA’s labor union, Danamon Bank’s labor union and Makro’s labor union are also attending the congress.
Foreign participants and speakers in the congress are among others from the United States of America, Australia, New Zealand, Malaysia, Singapore, India, China, Japan, the Philippines and Vietnam.

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Christians in Indonesia: Terrorists?

Christians in Indonesia Felt Being Treated Like Terrorists. Dozens of Christians held prayers inside their boarded-up church near Indonesia’s capital Sunday, saying they had as much right as anyone to worship in the world’s most populous Muslim country. They were surrounded by hundreds of police and unarmed security guards.

Christians in Indonesia Felt Being Treated Like Terrorists Using bullhorns, local officials reminded members of the Batak Christian Protestant Church they were banned from the site following an attack on two church leaders by suspected Islamic hard-liners.

“We just want to carry out our obligations as Christians, but authorities are treating us like terrorists,” said Advent Tambunan, a member of the congregation in the industrial city of Bekasi. “There’s no justice for us in this country.”

Indonesia, a secular country of 237 million people, has more Muslims than any other in the world. Though the country has a long history of religious tolerance, a small extremist fringe has become more vocal — and violent — in recent years.

Ten people were arrested after last week’s attacks, which left one churchgoer hospitalized with a stab wound. Among them was the local leader of the hard-line Islamic Defender’s Front, which has led calls for the Christians to leave.

In recent months, the hard-liners have thrown shoes and water bottles at the church members, interrupted sermons with chants of “Infidels!” and dumped piles of feces on the land.

Local officials had seven empty buses on standby outside the Batak Christian’s shuttered church Sunday, ready to transport them to an alternate site of worship provided by the government.  But members of the congregation, numbering about 100, refused to budge.
After lengthy negotiations, they were allowed to carry out Sunday services, with the agreement that they would talk later this week about ways to help defuse religious tensions in the neighborhood.

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BANGKA BELITUNG: Third Lowest Poverty Rate in Indonesia

Bangka Belitung is one of some young provinces in Indonesia. As the province grows, there are some facts rise to the surface to be noticed. One of those shocking fact is that the Bangka Belitung is now at the third lowest poverty rate among other provinces in Indonesia. This fact was stated by the head of the province’s development planning board, Nazalyus.

BANGKA BELITUNG Third Lowest Poverty Rate in Indonesia"While Bangka Belitung’s welfare is high enough, poverty has been the third worst in the other 33 provinces," Nazalyus said here over the weekend. He said that the Bangka Belitung’s poverty rate has been recorded as low as 7.46 percent, and it is the lowest of the poverty rates below 10 percent.

"Meanwhile, Bangka Belitung’s unemployment rate  is the lowest  in Sumatra reaching only 8.6 percent, and its population is also relatively small," Nazalyus noted.
According to the Central Bureau of Statistics (BPS), Bangka Belitung’s poverty rate of 18 percent was the 8th lowest.

"Bangka Belitung has a relatively-small population and welfare was good enough along with its economic recovery in  tin mining and the plantation sector," Nazalyus said. He added that the number of poor families is also relatively low  compared to that of the youngest province, Gorontalo. "Bangka Belitung has 31 thousand poor families while Gorontalo has more," Nazalyus noted. However, he also said that economic growth in Bangka Belitung was lower than that of Sumatra and the national level reaching only  4.4 percent in 2009 and 2010.

Maybe people should ask Andrea Hirata for an objective opinion about those intriguing facts of Bangka Belitung, as he is the author of Laskar Pelangi that talks about Bangka Belitung.

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Indonesia’s CPO Should Not Be Exported

Indonesia’s CPO Should Not Be Exported In the next four years, the oil palm industry is expected to contribute US$80.9 billion to Indonesia’s national economy, an expert said. Prof Dr Erliza Hambali MSi of the Bogor Institute of Agriculture (IPB) said that over the period the oil palm industry would serve as the main source of the national economy because of its role in contributing foreign exchange earnings to the state coffers and in promoting the people’s living standard. In the 2010-2014 period, oil palm industry is projected to get foreign exchange earnings of US$80.9 billion. Crude palm oil would definitely serve as the country’s key food commodity.

The remaining 20 percent would come from tea, coffee, cocoa, tuna and shrimp, he said. He said only 55 percent of the country’s CPO was processed domestically to produce goods with low added value, and the rest was exported.

This suggested that much of the added value was enjoyed by CPO-importing countries which could produce it into goods with high value added, he said. Therefore, he added, the government should encourage the development of the downstream palm oil industry which would increase foreign exchange earnings to the state coffers and promote the people’s living standard.

It is not a secret that for decades, Indonesia has been exporting raw materials to other countries. It only gives a small profit for the state. When those raw materials finally turned into goods with high value added then Indonesia imports them. Of course it is not healthy for Indonesia’s economy. Starting from now, people should consider to give them a try to produce good value added goods from their own raw materials, rather than simply export them to make easy money.

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Din Syamsuddin: Indonesia Must Regulate Houses of Worship Building

Din Syamsudin An Islamic leader said the state must regulate religious propagation and the building of houses of worship to prevent and avoid possible inter-religious conflicts.

If religious propagation and construction of house of worship were left to the community’s initiaitve or discretion based on the  principle  of freedom, it could lead to  inter-religious conflicts, Din Syamsuddin, chairman of one of Indonesia’s largest Islamic organization, Muhammadiyah, said here on Saturday.

"Ideally there must be a kind of agreement among different religious communities  regarding a code of ethics on religious propagation, construction of  houses of worship  and related matters. To that end,  the state needs to intervene and issue the relevant regulations in the common interest," he said.
He said there must be laws, government regulations, presidential decrees or joint ministerial decisions to regulate the matters.
"The absence of regulations that are familiar to the community could cause violence such as  recently happened when  Batak Christian Protestant Church (HKBP) followers were stabbed and clubbed,"  he said.
He said violence must be condemned as it was intolerable regardless of who had done it or the motives. He said those involved in the act must be processed  and transparently made known to the public.
"The initial cause of the incident which is related to  the planned construction of a house of worship  must be addressed properly  because it is this kind of problems that  hinder the realization of inter-religous harmony," he said.

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No Need for Banks to Raise Lending Rates

Raise Lending Rates Banks do not need to increase their lending rates to meet the new reserve requirement which is based on a loan-to-deposit ratio (LDR) ranging  between 78 and 100 percent, Bank Indonesia (BI) Governor Darmin Nasution said.

"There are several ways to  increase the LDR such as by reducing  third party funds. So I do not agree that the new reserve requirement is causing banks to bear higher costs," he said.
He said by reducing  third  party funds  banks would incur lower costs of fund so that they  could even cut their credit interest rates. The objections to the new reserve requirement policy which was to be implemented in March 2011 did not come from all banks as some of them already had an LDR above 78 percent.

According to BI data the average LDR of banks in the country in September reached 78 percent. Objections to the policy, he said, only came from a number of big banks (BCA, Bank Mandiri and BNI) whose LDRs  were  below 78 percent because they had huge third party funds.
"These banks seem intent only on  collecting as many third party funds as possible. Just look at the prizes they are offering in their promotions," he said.
But, he said, BI was  hoping  the banks would be able to meet the lowest limit of the LDR next March. "I think they will be able to achieve it. If they cannot they should increase their reserves," he said.
He said BI had issued the policy to encourage banks to extend  more loans,  especially to productive sectors to help boost the country’s economy and speed up development.
Darmin predicted the growth of credits this year would still be below 20 percent although early in September it had reached 21 percent as credits were predicted to drop from September to the end of the year.
Therefore,  he said, banks should follow the new LDR-based  reserve requirement so that their credit extension performance would remain high.

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