Local News

Indonesia restricts foreigner travel to restive Papua

Indonesia is imposing restrictions on foreigners visiting its restive Papua region, the government said Tuesday (Sep 3), after four Australians were deported over claims they took part in independence protests. Papua, where a low-level insurgency against Indonesian control has   simmered for decades, has seen two weeks of mass protests and deadly riots sparked by anger over racism and fresh calls for self-rule. On Tuesday, Indonesia’s chief security minister Wiranto said the country would limit foreigners entering its easternmost territory – which has popular beach destinations – over safety concerns and to weed out suspected agitators. “We’ll temporarily limit (access to Papua),” the minister told reporters in Jakarta. “That doesn’t mean we won’t allow anyone in. There will be filters based on security and safety issues,” he added, without elaborating.

It was unclear whether the new restrictions would prevent foreign journalists from going to a region subject to a government-ordered Internet shutdown since the unrest broke out – a policy slammed by media and free-speech advocates. “This is to protect foreigners from becoming victims of the riots,” Wiranto said. “It’s difficult to distinguish between foreigners who are there to provoke and interfere from those who went as tourists,” he added. Wiranto also dismissed accusations that the government was dragging its feet on probing claims security forces committed human rights violations, amid unconfirmed reports that the military shot dead six protesters last week.

He reiterated Jakarta’s position that it was not open to talking about Papuan independence. “The door is closed on dialogue about a referendum,” Wiranto said. Indonesia took control of Papua, a former Dutch colony on the island of New Guinea, in the 1960s after an independence vote that was widely seen as being rigged.

On Monday, Indonesia said it was deporting four Australians who had entered Papua – which shares a border with independent Papua New Guinea – on a yacht last month. The group was reported to have participated in a demonstration and raised the banned Morning Star flag, a symbol of Papuan nationhood. Indonesian authorities have arrested dozens for taking part in protests and banned demonstrations that could lead to what it described as “anarchist acts”. The recent unrest appears to have been triggered by the mid-August arrest of dozens of Papuan students in Java, who were also racially abused. Indonesia is deeply sensitive about Papua. In May, a Polish man was sentenced to five years in prison for plotting with rebels to overthrow the government in the province.                 [www.channelnewsasia.com September 3, 2019]


Should Bali get tougher on misbehaving Aussie tourists?

Balinese courts should take a “no sympathy” approach to misbehaving Australian tourists, the Australia-based Indonesia Institute has urged. Ross Taylor from the Perth-based group said courts in Bali were too lenient on law-breaking and disrespectful holiday-makers and needed to send them to jail. His calls follow a recent string of bad behaviour by Aussie tourists on the holiday island, including a man who allegedly fly-kicked a man off his motorbike during a “rampage” in Kuta.

“Give them an extended holiday in Bali and perhaps one to six months in Kerobokan Prison would perhaps enlighten some of these people,” Mr Taylor told 7 News. However, Mr Taylor said the idea of sending Australian visitors to prison wasn’t popular with authorities in Indonesia who didn’t want to negatively impact the island’s crucial tourism industry. About 1.2 million Australians travel to Bali every year, most of them respectful of the local laws and culture.

But there’s been a recent spate of cases where Australians have acted violently or have been accused of breaking laws on the Indonesian island. Last week, South Australian tradie Nicholas Carr, 26, said he was “too drink to remember” fly-kicking a motorcyclist in Kuta while stunned locals looked on. Footage of the incident shows Mr Carr knocking a local cyclist off his     motorbike in a shower of sparks, before appearing to deliberately run into the bonnet of a moving car. Other footage, obtained by Channel 9, allegedly showed Mr Carr ambushing grandfather Nyoman Purda and throwing him off his own porch while claiming someone was trying to kill him.

Mr Carr told Channel 9 he was “very drunk” after consuming “more than ten” vodka cocktails. “I apologise, I don’t remember anything at all,” he said. “I just want to apologise to everyone, to the victims, to the Bali people, to anyone affected by this at all. I remember crashing a scooter.” Mr Carr is facing serious charges of assault, which carry a maximum penalty of two years and eight months behind bars.

Earlier this month an Adelaide model said she was strip searched, detained by customs and asked to cough up almost $40,000 after airport officers found “drugs” in her luggage. Tori Ann Lyla Hunter said she had a doctor’s note for the medication, which she used to treat anxiety and ADHD, but admitted she was carrying more than she needed for the six-day trip. She spent four days in a Bali cell before she was freed and allowed to return home to Adelaide.

And in May, a group of young Australians were branded “feral” and “disgusting” after footage emerged of them running naked, urinating in public and yelling insults at locals in Bali. The shocking video was filmed by the group’s Balinese tour guide and uploaded on Snapchat on Saturday, according to 7 News. It shows at least five men, who appear to be drunk, urinating in public, damaging property and carrying on with wild antics on a party bus. [news.com.au August 27, 2019


Darwin man facing drug offences in Bali after boat rescue

A well-known Darwin man who was rescued in Indonesian waters after severely injuring his back on his broken-down boat and then charged with drug offences has been moved to a Bali hospital for better medical care. The offences he is facing carry a maximum 12-year jail term. Tony Haritos, 63, hails from a prominent Darwin family.

Mr Haritos was sailing around West Timor in late July when his catamaran broke down twice near the Sabu Islands before drifting to Sumba, almost 80 kilometres to the east. While awaiting rescue with his one remaining crew member, Mr Haritos began to suffer severe back pain from a long-standing injury and “collapsed”, said his lawyer Sienny Karmana. “He can’t move and he decided to use that, the meth,” she said. A local fisherman raised the alarm when he spotted the drifting boat several days later, and Indonesian police took Mr Haritos to hospital.

Three days later they requested the hospital perform a urine drug test on Mr Haritos, which detected the presence of methamphetamines. Police then searched his boat, and allegedly found 0.06 grams of methamphetamines, some of which was near his bed while the rest was underneath it. Ms Karmana said Mr Haritos had bought the drugs in Bali over a year ago, stored them in his cabin, and then used them to “self-medicate” for his injury. “When he fell down in the boat he wanted to reduce the pain and then he used [the drugs] again,” said Ms Karmana.

Indonesian police documents allege Mr Haritos “committed a crime of owning, keeping and possessing class 1 narcotics”. He faces a possible 12-year prison term under Indonesia’s tough drugs laws. The police documents also list Mr Haritos as the owner of the Dili International School in Timor-Leste.

After his rescue, he was evacuated to the island of Sumba, where his lawyer said he signed a document acknowledging his arrest and that he would face prosecution when a doctor certified that his health had improved. “The police understand he needs treatment, so that’s why the police have given the letter to bring him to hospital until he can face the case,” said Ms Karmana. She said Mr Haritos’s family privately chartered a plane to transfer him to a Bali hospital for better treatment. “The injury is quite bad,” Ms Karmana said. “He can’t walk, he can’t sit, and then when we try lift him from the bed to the stretcher he screams and cries.” He is awaiting MRI test results for his possible spinal injury. It is not yet known if he will be taken into custody in Bali to face court or whether he will be flown back to Sumba, Ms Karmana said. The Department of Foreign Affairs and Trade says it is providing consular assistance. [ abc.net.au August 26, 2019]


Indonesian government to conduct electric motorcycle trial in Bali

The Indonesian government has announced that Bali will be the site of an upcoming trial run of electric motorcycles that will help determine national policy on the environmentally-friendly machines as the country revs up its ambitions to become a major manufacturer of electric vehicles. Harjanto, director-general for industry, metals, machinery, transportation and electronics at the Ministry of Industry, said that Bali as well as Bandung, West Java, will serve as locations for the pilot project, according to an official statement issued yesterday.

For the project, the ministry is working in cooperation with the New Energy and Industrial Technology Development   Organization (NEDO), which has the goal of speeding up the use and development of electric vehicles in Indonesia. “This electric vehicle demo project aims to not only introduce electric vehicles but also to boost the growth of electric vehicle manufacturing within the country,” Harjanto was quoted as saying. For the project, the Industry Ministry will work closely with ride-hailing firms Go-jek and Grab Indonesia, Harjanto added, as they have millions of active users and thousands of driver-partners across the archipelago.

The trial run will be carried out through a rental scheme for businesses and consumers involving 300 units of electric motorbikes, 1,000 battery units, 40 Battery Exchanger (BEx) stations and 4 electric cars. As reported by CNN Indonesia, the electric motorbikes will be Honda PCX Electric and they will be rented at a rate of IDR 2 million (USD 140) per month. According to Harjanto, the results of the trial will help the government establish its policy for electric vehicles in the country.

The project looks like it will sync up well with Bali provincial government’s own plans to issue a gubernatorial regulation aimed at regulating electric cars and motorcycles. There’s not many details as of yet about that regulation, but Bali Governor Wayan Koster said it’s part of an effort “to ensure a clean Bali.” Indeed, the central government’s own ambition to become a leader in electric vehicles is also part of its ongoing commitment to reduce emissions. Indonesia, as one of the world’s largest greenhouse gas emitters, pledged in 2015 that it will cut emissions by 29 percent in 2030. [coconuts.co August 29, 2019]


Chinese tourist dies after being swept away while taking selfies at edge of Nusa Lembongan’s Devil’s Tear cove

A Chinese tourist died on Saturday after she was swept away by a huge wave while standing near the edge of the Devil’s Tear cove on the island of Nusa Lembongan, located just off the coast of Bali. The accident reportedly happened while she was taking a selfie. “When they arrived, the victim and her group has been informed by their tour guide to stay away from the edge while taking photos,” Police chief inspector Putu Gede Ardana from Klungkung Police told Tribunnews. The victim, identified as 38-year-old Li Huiling by local media outlets, was part of a tourist group visiting the popular photo site on Saturday.

Ardana said Li had stood too close to the edge of the cliff while taking photos and got swept away when a huge wave hit. As reported by Tribunnews, local residents immediately tried to rescue her from the waters. They successfully retrieved her after 20 minutes and she was promptly taken to a nearby community health center (Puskesmas). Unfortunately, Li reportedly died en route. “The victim died while she was on her way to the Puskesmas,” Ardana said.

This popular spot on the island of Nusa Lembongan, located just southeast of Bali, has drawn many tourists looking to take pictures or videos with waves spectacularly smashing against the cove as their background. Over the years, however, those huge waves, which often smash violently against the rocky cove, have either injured or swept away several tourists. In May, an Indian tourist went missing after he was swept away while also reportedly taking a selfie at the Devil’s Tear. Plans to put up a safety guardrail along this cliff have long been in the works, but have repeatedly been postponed due to a lack of funding. I Nengah Sukasta, who heads the Klungkung Tourism Agency, said plans to do so this year have yet to be confirmed. “As it turns out, plans to build a safety guardrail along Devil’s Tear cove in Nusa Lembongan with the help of ASITA (Association of Indonesian Tour and Travel Agencies) have not yet been confirmed,” Sukasta said on Friday as quoted by Tribunnews. [coconuts.co August 20, 2019]