Indonesian envoy lobbies Saudi Arabia to exclude pilgrims from ‘umrah’ ban

first_imgThe Saudi Haj and Umrah Ministry has temporarily halted the issuance of umrah visas, following the Saudi government’s temporary ban announced on Thursday to keep the country safe from the coronavirus outbreak.Data from the ministry shows that, as of last December, Indonesia contributed the second-highest number of umrah pilgrims with 443,879 arrivals, just below Pakistan with 495,270.Read also: Saudi Arabia imposes temporary ban on ‘umrah’ pilgrims amid coronavirus concernsThe news of the umrah suspension, which was one of several precautionary restrictions imposed amid the deadly virus outbreak, has been met with mixed responses from Indonesian officials. Indonesian Ambassador to Saudi Arabia Agus Maftuf Abegebriel is currently in the process of lobbying the Middle Eastern country to exclude visa-holding Indonesians from the temporary ban on all umrah (minor haj) pilgrims imposed by the kingdom amid coronavirus concerns.In a statement issued on Thursday, the Indonesian Embassy in Riyadh said that Agus had approached Saudi Haj and Umrah Minister Mohammaed Saleh Benten to reconsider the ban on Indonesian umrah pilgrims, saying that the country with the world’s largest Muslim population was not among those with confirmed coronavirus cases.”The Indonesian ambassador is currently fighting for the fate of [Indonesian] umrah pilgrims who have obtained their visas,” the statement said. President Joko “Jokowi” Widodo conveyed his respect for the Saudi administration’s decision to impose such a restriction, saying that it demonstrated the country’s swift action to protect its citizens from the coronavirus.“We fully appreciate and respect [the decision]; it shows that the Saudi administration prioritizes health,” Jokowi said on Thursday.Meanwhile, People’s Consultative Assembly (MPR) Speaker Bambang Soesatyo called on the Saudi administration to “rethink” the ban on Indonesian umrah pilgrims.As a result of the ban of Umrah travel issued by the government of Saudi Arabia to prevent the spread of the Corona / COVID-19 virus, thousands of pilgrims were forced to cancel their departure. (JP/Ardila Syakriah)“Unlike other countries that have confirmed COVID-19 cases like Malaysia, Thailand, Singapore, India and Pakistan, Indonesia is still clean. The restriction will upset the 1 million Indonesian umrah pilgrims who go on minor haj every year,” Bambang said.Low-cost carrier Lion Air has stated that it was still operating umrah flights as of Thursday afternoon. Lion Air spokesman Danang Mandala Prihantoro said the airline had been communicating with Saudi authorities regarding the restriction. (rfa)center_img Topics :last_img read more

Jokowi’s son-in-law officially joins PDI-P in bid to run for Medan mayor

first_imgThe son-in-law of President Joko “Jokowi” Widodo, Bobby Nasution, officially registered himself as a member of the Indonesian Democratic Party of Struggle (PDI-P) on Thursday in a bid to run in the 2020 Medan mayoral race in North Sumatra, in September.Bobby officially became a member of the PDI-P after signing a statement letter at the PDI-P North Sumatra office on Thursday afternoon.Bobby said he decided to join the PDI-P to follow in the footsteps of his father-in-law, President Jokowi, who is also a member of the party.”Any son must want to follow in the footsteps of his father,” Bobby told the press after his inauguration as a party member.Bobby refuted the claim that he had to be a member of the PDI-P to receive support from the party for the 2020 Medan mayoral election.”There’s no requirement that I have to be a member of any party [to receive support for the mayoral election]. Like I said, I just want to follow in the footsteps of my [father-in-law],” Bobby said.Read also: Jokowi vows he ‘won’t be campaigning’ for son, son-in-law in upcoming mayoral racesBobby said he had not received an official recommendation from any party to run in the election. He also said he had not chosen a deputy candidate.”I haven’t got a recommendation [letter] yet. I’m frustrated to think about [choosing] a deputy candidate,” he said.Bobby expressed hope that he would receive support from other parties in the upcoming election.”Even though I am a member of the PDI-P, I hope to gain support from all parties to develop and build Medan,” he said.Head of the North Sumatra chapter of the Indonesian Democratic Party of Struggle (PDI-P), Japorman Saragih, said there were two party members that would run in the 2020 election, namely Bobby and the city’s acting mayor, Akhyar Nasution.”Both [party members] still have a great chance [to be nominated as a mayor candidate], but [the final decision] will be with chairwoman Ibu Megawati. Nobody knows [who will be nominated as the party’s candidate] except [Megawati],” Japorman said.He explained that the PDI-P would seek to form a coalition with other parties in the 2020 mayoral election.[RA::Three parties ready to nominate Gibran if PDI-P picks another candidate in Surakartahttps://www.thejakartapost.com/news/2020/02/15/three-parties-ready-to-nominate-gibran-if-pdi-p-picks-another-candidate-in-surakarta.html]”The PDI-P is open [to a coalition], we can’t work alone. We need cooperation,” he said.Last month, the Golkar Party joined the NasDem Party in announcing its support for Bobby’s plan to run for Medan mayor.“We have long supported Bobby and were waiting for the right moment to nominate him,” Golkar deputy secretary-general Ahmad Doli Kurnia Tanjung told reporters after opening Golkar’s North Sumatra regional conference in Medan on Monday.NasDem chairman Surya Paloh said the party decided to support Bobby as the President’s son-in-law had earned the top spot in the party’s recent internal survey.“We will give our utmost support to Bobby. He did well in our survey — too well, even,” Surya said. (nal)Topics :last_img read more

RNI awaits Health Ministry’s authorization to import 500,000 COVID-19 rapid testing kits from China

first_img“The rapid testing kits will only need 15 minutes to three hours to show the results. If there’s a sign that someone is infected, they can go to the doctor for further tests,” Arya said.RNI has imported raw materials from India to manufacture medical masks while seeking to also import materials from France, China and Japan.“According to RNI’s report, [the raw materials] from India have arrived. We also sought to import them from Japan but they have a limited stock and we couldn’t import from France as they’re in a total lockdown,” he said.Two million medical masks will be produced by RNI and other mask manufacturers in the country. The masks will be distributed by state-owned pharmaceutical company Kimia Farma and provincial and local administrations. (mpr) Topics : Once the test kits arrive, Arya said state-owned enterprises would distribute them to hospitals across the country so that authorities could do more tests and gain a clearer view of the spread of COVID-19 in Indonesia.Reports of patients in referral hospitals having to wait a long time to get tests or treatment for possible infections have surfaced recently, as hospitals face increasing strain as they attempt to handle the virus.Read also: Think you have COVID-19? Here’s how to get tested in IndonesiaIndonesia had identified 227 confirmed COVID-19 cases and 19 deaths as of Wednesday. Globally, the pneumonia-like illness has infected more than 200,000 people and killed at least 8,007, according to data from Johns Hopkins University.center_img State-owned diversified manufacturer PT Rajawali Nusantara Indonesia (RNI) is waiting for the green light from the Health Ministry to import 500,000 COVID-19 rapid testing kits from China as Indonesia scrambles to curb the spread of the coronavirus.RNI submitted the import request to the Health Ministry on March 10, State-Owned Enterprises Ministry spokesman Arya Sinulingga said on Wednesday.“If the process is completed, we will immediately send a Garuda [Indonesia airplane] to Hangzhou to pick up the kits. The logistical process will only take two days,” he said.last_img read more

Brazil’s Bolsonaro exempts churches from quarantine

first_imgBrazilian President Jair Bolsonaro decreed Thursday that places of worship are “essential services” that must be exempted from coronavirus confinement orders, the far-right leader’s latest jab at aggressive containment measures.The decree, published in the government diary, adds “religious activities of any kind” to the list of exempted services, alongside supermarkets and pharmacies.It adds that such activities must be carried out “in accordance with health ministry guidelines.” Bolsonaro, who was elected in 2018 with the backing of Brazil’s burgeoning evangelical Christian community, has clashed with local authorities who have closed schools and businesses in places such as Sao Paulo and Rio de Janeiro in a bid to contain the spread of the new coronavirus.The president, who has called the reaction to the pandemic “overblown,” says such measures are unnecessary and will wreck Latin America’s biggest economy.Most places of worship in Brazil have already suspended services because of the outbreak, often broadcasting them online instead.However, some prominent religious leaders have refused. Topics :center_img Last week, the influential evangelical pastor Silas Malafaia, a Bolsonaro ally, called confinement measures “a tactic by Satan.””My friends, do not worry about coronavirus. It is just another tactic by Satan. Satan works with fear,” he said.Malafaia changed course Friday and suspended his churches’ services. But he insisted that was because of official restrictions on public transportation, and said the doors would remain open for worshippers.last_img read more

Dollar slows slide as investors seek shelter amid pandemic crisis

first_imgThe dollar slowed its descent after a week of declines and the safe-haven yen edged ahead on Monday, as coronavirus lockdowns tightened across the world and investors braced for a prolonged period of uncertainty.In bumpy trade the dollar ran ahead early before settling back against the pound, euro, kiwi and the Australian dollar. Sterling was last 0.1 percent softer at $1.2449, the Aussie flat at $0.6158 and the euro stable at $1.1132.”After all, the dollar is a safe-haven currency,” said Rodrigo Catril, senior FX strategist at National Australia Bank in Sydney. “It’s reflecting caution, and an uncertain market where you’re seeing a lot of illiquidity.” The weekend brought more bad news on the virus front. The US has emerged as the latest epicentre of the outbreak, with more than 137,000 cases and 2,400 deaths.President Donald Trump, who had talked about reopening the economy for Easter, on Sunday extended guidelines for social restrictions to April 30 and said the peak of the death rate could be two weeks away.Australia also ratcheted up control measures, while an extension to lockdowns in Italy looms.The halt in the dollar’s slide came with a broader risk-averse mood, which lifted the Japanese yen 0.4 percent to 107.47 per dollar. The moves come after the dollar has surged amid a scramble for cash and then subsided as central bank launched unprecedented liquidity measures.Over the past two weeks the dollar has posted its biggest weekly rise since the 2008 financial crisis and then its biggest weekly drop since 2009. Yet as signs of funding stress have eased, but not abated, the dollar remains at elevated levels.”Risk aversion has been more important to the direction of the dollar than traditional interest rate differentials,” Standard Chartered analysts said in note.”For the dollar to surrender some of its recent gains, investors would need to shift their preferences back to a broader basket of safe-haven assets.”Monday’s moves showed some hints of that, since dollar gains were modest and in tandem with rises in gold, bonds and the yen.Yields at the very short end of the US curve dipped into negative territory and futures for 10-year notes implied a 0.54 percent yield, some 20 basis points below Friday’s close of the underlying Treasuries. Gold rose 0.5 percent.Against a basket of currencies, the dollar was steady at 98.312. It edged ahead against the Chinese yuan in offshore trade to 7.0800 per dollar.Topics :last_img read more

Poverty elimination back to square one as COVID-19 wipes past progress: Experts

first_imgThe research notes that at the most optimistic scenario where the country’s GDP grows by 4.2 percent, there will still be at least 1.3 million additional poor people due to the pandemic, bringing the percentage to 9.7 percent of the population.Due to the harsh impacts of COVID-19 on the economy, the government cut down its GDP growth estimate to 2.3 percent this year, the lowest in 21 years from the initial estimate of 5.3 percent. In the worst-case scenario, the country’s GDP growth may plunge to 0.4 percent.SMERU projects that with the pandemic causing a decline in economic activities, there will be a supply and demand shock that will affect economic growth.Ridho notes that a declining income as a result of COVID-19 is the most severe impact on poor people or those close to poverty and vulnerable groups, as most poor people work in the informal sectors, relying on daily incomes for a living.The government initially projected that an additional 1.1 million people might fall into poverty in a bad-case scenario following the pandemic, while in the worst-case scenario, the figure might balloon to 3.8 million people. It also predicted that 2.9 million to 5.2 million people might be furloughed by the end of the pandemic because of economic shocks.As of April 13, about 2.8 million people have lost their jobs, according to Manpower Ministry and the Workers Social Security Agency (BPJS Ketenagakerjaan) data.In order to cushion the blow on society’s most vulnerable, the government has set aside Rp 110 trillion (US$7 billion) in social safety net programs, which includes cash transfers, staple food relief, a boost in the existing family hope program (PKH), free electricity and the preemployment card program to help those who have lost their jobs.SMERU senior research fellow Asep Suryahadi said the surging number of poor people would definitely affect the country’s economic recovery post-pandemic.  “We cannot hope for much help from the outside [foreign countries] for recovery. The jury’s still out on whether a quick recovery will happen or not,” he said.Asep suggested that the government address the supply and demand side of the economy, meaning businesses and consumers. While the government has addressed the demand shocks through various social protection programs, he urged the government to help the companies affected by the pandemic, which will subsequently help the poor get back on their feet once the health crisis is over.“I think the additional poor people are mostly people who have lost jobs. […] They have a productive capacity; they’re not chronically poor. Once jobs are available, they will be able to work again and hopefully move out of poverty,” he said.Meanwhile, economist and Perbanas Institute lecturer Piter Abdullah criticized the government’s initial boast about its poverty reduction progress in the first place.  “The success is not solid enough. What happened was just the movement of [people] being poor to almost poor and prone to poor, so not really moving from being poor to being middle class,” he said.The lack of structural change in the economic movement caused the vulnerable poor to be prone to economic shocks, Piter added.“When there is an [economic] shock, like now, they go back to being poor. Once they lose their earnings or when their business is disrupted, they go back to being in the poor group, especially those in the informal sector and those losing their jobs in the informal sector,” he said.Enny Sri Hartati, executive director of the Institute for Development of Economics and Finance (INDEF), said the country’s economic recovery largely depended on the government’s COVID-19 handling.A pandemic that lasts more than two months might push people into poverty, she added. “It’s important that during the crisis, other than maintaining the people’s purchasing power through social protection, [the government] must ensure that the productive sector does not stop operating. If the [productive sector] collapses, the recovery after the pandemic will be difficult, with a high unemployment rate.” The government might have a prolonged struggle with eradicating poverty in the country as the months-long COVID-19 pandemic might set progress back to square one, a report by SMERU Research Institute predicts.A projected 8.5 million people will fall into poverty this year as a result of the COVID-19 pandemic, according to the report. In the worst-case scenario, Southeast Asia’s biggest economy will grow by just 1 percent in 2020.The prediction means that the number of poor people will surge to 33.24 million or 12.37 percent of Indonesia’s total population, a figure last seen in 2009 at 32.5 million people before it gradually declined over the years. The projected increase will likely wipe out the country’s poverty eradication progress, which saw in September 2018 the country succeeded in cutting its poverty rate to a single-digit level of 9.6 percent for the first time in history.  Statistics Indonesia (BPS) data from September 2019 showed that 24.79 million Indonesians lived in poverty, equivalent to 9.22 percent of the total population.“The Indonesian economy needs to recover [after the pandemic], that’s for sure, but efforts to reduce the country’s poverty rate has reversed by 10 years, where the poverty level is at 12 percent [of the total population]. All of the difficult steps that have been taken will then have to be redone to return to the 9.22 percent level,” SMERU researcher Ridho Al Izzati told The Jakarta Post.So far, the government has been distributing cash and non-cash assistance as part of its efforts to eradicate poverty in remote and urban areas, with initiatives like the staple food card and family hope (PKH) program.center_img Topics :last_img read more

Amien Rais prepares new party amid PAN internal rift

first_imgNational Mandate Party (PAN) patron Amien Rais, known as an outspoken critic of President Joko “Jokowi” Widodo, is preparing to form a new political party following an internal rift within PAN.PAN cofounder and former party executive board member Agung Mozin told The Jakarta Post on Friday that Amien’s new party would accommodate groups that were critical of the government. Amien, a PAN icon, lost his influence in the party after his leadership candidates lost to current party chairman Zulkifli Hasan. Agung explained that Amien and the group members had discussed with several government critics about the formation of the new party, to include elements from Islamic groups to academics.“The discussions were not on behalf of institutions. They are individuals,” he said without further elaboration. “University professors, regional figures have texted me to join, but I can’t mention their names.”PAN’s internal rift widened recently upon the announcement that Amien’s son Hanafi Rais had submitted his resignation from the party. He will also give up his position as a lawmaker and chairman of the PAN faction at the House.Agung said it remained unclear whether Hanafi would join the new party.Read also: PAN’s internal rifts linger after violence, resignationIn his resignation letter, a copy of which was obtained by the Post, Hanafi said he had resigned because of the lack of improvement in the party as it tended to support the government when it was supposed to be in opposition.The party previously supported Gerindra Party chairman Prabowo Subianto in the 2019 presidential elections, but he now serves as Jokowi’s defense minister and Gerindra has joined the ruling coalition.PAN chairman Zulkifli, who has signaled interest in joining the government coalition, regards the party as a “critical partner” of the government, as opposed to an opposition party, following his reappointment for five years starting February this year.PAN cofounder Putra Jaya Husein, who stepped down from the party organization in 2018, said that Hanafi’s resignation had encouraged many members to establish the new political party. Hanafi’s resignation might encourage other members to follow suit given Zulkifli’s reelection, he added.”Hanafi’s resignation has spurred us to establish a new party. He did not resign because he wanted to join us. It was only his attitude that inspired us to do so,” said Putra, who quit PAN because of frictions with Zulkifli.Read also: PKS ready to stand alone as oppositionPreparations for the new party were almost 70 percent complete, he added.In PAN’s leadership contest in February, Amien made Hanafi a candidate for the role of party secretary-general if Mulfachri Harahap, Zulkifli’s rival, was elected party chairman.However, a dispute between Zulkifli and Mulfachri eventually culminated in an incident in which at least 10 party members were injured during the congress. In a video of the incident, several congress participants are seen throwing chairs at each other after the congress leader had adjourned the meeting.PAN deputy chairman Viva Yoga Mauladi expressed doubts about Amien’s plan to establish a new party, saying Amien was attached to PAN.“I personally doubt that Pak Amien will establish a new party, considering his love for PAN,” said Yoga. “Amien and PAN are inseparable.”However, Putra said that Amien and his loyalists had lost faith in PAN, pointing out that it would have been unthinkable for Amien to create a new party if it had not been triggered by internal problems within the party.”We feel sad doing this because we have to leave the home that we built from scratch, but we’ve lost hope,” he added.Indonesia Political Review executive director Ujang Komarudin said Amien should attract Muhammadiyah grassroot supporters if he wanted the party to grow and compete with PAN and other parties.”The opportunity to take Muhammadiyah’s mass following is quite big. Because as we know, Amien was leader of Muhammadiyah, the second-largest Islamic organization in Indonesia,”He added there was once a splinter party of PAN in 2006, the National Sun Party (PMB), but it was unable to grow and compete with PAN as both were identical.”New parties find it difficult to compete with older parties. It’s because they don’t have a mass following, even if they have a huge advertising budget,” Ujang said.Topics : “We call on government critics, no matter who the government is, not limited to the Jokowi-Ma’ruf Amin administration, all elements of society that have the same concerns as us, to join the new party,” Agung said of the plans for the new political party.Jokowi’s coalition now controls more than 75 percent of seats at the House of Representatives, leaving only PAN, the Prosperous Justice Party (PKS) and the Democratic party outside the ruling group. PAN has 44 seats at the House, representing 7.6 percent of overall lawmakers.Read also: At least 10 injured in violent dispute during second day of PAN congressAmien, who founded the party on the back of the anti-establishment reform movement in 1998, is now no longer part of the organizational structure at PAN, which sided with hardline Islamic groups during several elections.last_img read more

North Sumatra man electrocuted to death while charging phone

first_img“I heard him scream and when I went to check on him he was dead,” Hamisah said on Saturday.Beringin Police chief Adj. Comr. MKL Tobing said the incident took place on Friday. Police suspected that Abdul died from electrocution while using his phone with earphones while it was being charged.Tobing said police seized the mobile phone and earphones as evidence. However, police declared his death an accident and would not proceed with an investigation.  A resident of Durian village, Pantai Labu district, Deli Serdang regency, North Sumatra was found dead after he reportedly died of electrocution while using his mobile phone as it was being charged.  The man, identified as Abdul Haris, was laid to rest on Saturday after his family rejected an autopsy.His mother, Hamisah Purba, said Abdul was found dead on his bed near his phone that was connected to a power socket.  Topics :last_img read more

Coronavirus deaths in Russia surpass 5,000

first_imgNew infections have been steadily dropping since mid-May when officials were reporting daily increases of around 11,000 cases.Officials say Russia’s high virus count is the result of mass testing and that a steady decline in new infections and its low fatality numbers mean the country can begin to return to normal.Yet critics have cast doubt on the numbers, accusing the authorities of under-reporting deaths and threatening a new wave of infections by lifting restrictions. Russian President Vladimir Putin on Monday announced that a postponed nationwide vote on constitutional reforms that could extend his hold over power will go ahead on July 1. Coronavirus deaths in Russia passed the 5,000 mark on Tuesday as authorities eased lockdown measures and prepared to announce steps to kickstart the economy.Health officials registered 182 new fatalities in the last 24 hours, bringing the total to 5,037.The government tally also reported 8,863 new infections for a total of 423,741, the third-highest number after the United States and Brazil. The authorities have also rescheduled Russia’s massive May 9 Victory Day military parade for June 24.Moscow, the epicenter of Russia’s pandemic with around half of the country’s total cases, on Monday eased a nine-week lockdown allowing shops to reopen and residents to leave their homes for short walks.Putin was scheduled to meet with Prime Minister Mikhail Mishustin on Tuesday to discuss proposals to restart an economy badly hit by lockdown measures and a sharp fall in oil prices.center_img Topics :last_img read more

Bank Indonesia projects 4.8 percent contraction in Q2, U-shaped economic recovery

first_imgThe central bank cut its benchmark interest rate for the fourth time this year to 4 percent last week to bolster the economy and reasserted its commitment to a bond-buying program worth US$40 billion to rescue the economy and reduce the government’s debt burden.Meanwhile, the government has allocated Rp 695.2 trillion ($47.35 billion) in stimulus to bolster the economy, and expects the budget deficit to reach 6.34 percent this year. It also expects the economy to shrink 0.4 percent this year under a worst-case scenario or grow 1 percent in a best-case scenario, with the economy tipped to contract 3.8 percent in the second quarter.University of Indonesia economist Chatib Basri said the government would need to bolster cash transfers to lower-middle income citizens to revive consumer demand and spending, and called on the government to step up its fiscal response to jump start the economy.“The government needs to bolster consumer demand by providing cash transfers, which in turn will boost the supply side of the economy,” said Chatib.Private spending contributes more than half of Indonesia’s gross domestic product (GDP), followed by investment and exports.Institute for Development of Economics and Finance (Indef) economist Aviliani also pushed the government on Friday to move more quickly in disbursing stimulus funds and boosting social aid expenditure to stimulate demand.“With the Indonesian economy mainly driven by private consumption and domestic demand, we expect the COVID-19 shock on domestic employment and income levels to cause a significant drag on the economy over 2020,” researchers at Fitch Solutions wrote in a note, expecting the economy to shrink 1.3 percent this year given the continued surge in virus cases.Fitch expects a low inflation environment and stable rupiah outlook to provide room for the central bank to focus on supporting the economy, and expects the central bank to cut its benchmark policy rate to 3.75 percent by the end of the year.Topics : Bank Indonesia (BI) has forecast a U-shaped recovery for the country’s economy as the coronavirus pandemic took a greater toll than previously expected, threatening to cause a deep contraction in the second quarter.Indonesia‘s economy could shrink between 4 and 4.8 percent in this year’s second quarter, BI senior deputy governor Destry Damayanti said on Monday, adding that the recovery would be slower than expected as COVID-19 cases continue to rise around the country.During the early period of the outbreak in Indonesia, the central bank and the government said they expected the economy to see a V-shaped recovery. The central bank predicts “a U-shaped recovery because the number of coronavirus cases continues to increase and has not reached its peak,” Destry said during an online discussion, adding that the reopening of the economy would make it harder to keep the number of cases contained.Indonesia’s recorded number of COVID-19 cases surpassed China’s official tally on Saturday before the country logged its highest daily death toll on Sunday.Destry said fears of a prolonged global economic downturn had also put pressure on emerging market assets, hitting the rupiah exchange rate as investors steered away from high-risk assets in favor of safe-haven assets.The rupiah depreciated 0.78 percent to Rp 14,817 against the US dollar as of 12:00 p.m. Jakarta time on Monday, losing around 2.5 percent of its value since the beginning of last week.last_img read more

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