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#Indonesia – East Jakarta fire burns house, leaves owner homeless.

Another fire broke out in the capital on Friday as a house in Cakung, East Jakarta, was gutted by flames. A preliminary investigation suggested that the fire was caused by an electrical short circuit.

“There were no casualties, although the house owner lost all of his belongings,” said Gatot Sulaiman of the East Jakarta Fire Department on Friday, as quoted by beritajakarta.id.

He added that the fire started at about 2 p.m.

The fire department deployed two fire engines to extinguish the blaze. The fire was completely put out about 45 minutes later.

The incident was the second of the day as a fire had broken out in a four-story shop house in Kebayoran Baru, South Jakarta, early Friday morning. The earlier fire was also allegedly caused by an electrical short circuit.

Sourse – TheJakartaPost

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#Indonesia – NGO urges Jokowi to issue moratorium on oil palm plantations.

Environmental group Sawit Watch is urging President Joko “Jokowi” Widodo to fulfill his pledge to declare a moratorium on the issuance of new permits for oil palm plantations, arguing that a moratorium will provide the necessary momentum to reorganize Indonesia’s palm oil industry.

The group said no progress had been made to follow up on Jokowi’s moratorium pledged in April last year, when he also promised to halt the issuance of new permits for coal mining operations.

Sawit Watch deputy director Achmad Surambo said in a press briefing on Friday that an oil palm moratorium was badly needed to stop environmental destruction in the form of land clearing for plantations.

Moreover, there was no sign that the government would revise Presidential Instruction (Inpres) No. 8/2015 on a moratorium of new permits for primary forest and peatland areas, which was due to expire on Saturday, he added.

Achmad said Inpres No. 8 and the promised oil palm moratorium were both important to ensure there would be no more land clearing for oil palm plantations. Land clearing was the prime driver of the annual land and forest fires across Indonesia.

“It will be better if Indonesia has a moratorium, as stipulated in Inpres No. 8 and another moratorium for oil palm plantations. They will complement each other,” said Achmad.

“During the moratorium, the government could revisit and then reform the management of the forests and the palm oil industry,” he went on.

Source – The JakartaPost

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#Thailand – Pattani bombers targeted back-to-school shoppers.

Police forensics specialists and an Explosive Ordnance Disposal squad on Wednesday morning inspected the scene outside a Big C department store in Pattani’s Mueang district where a powerful car bomb had exploded the previous day, injuring 61 people.

Investigators believe the culprits parked a pickup truck at the store’s entrance containing two cylinders of cooking gas in its rear cab space. 

The explosion occurred at about 2.30pm on Tuesday when the store was crowded with parents and their children buying school materials for the new semester.

Source – TheNation

#INDONESIA – ASEAN lawmakers alarmed at conviction of Jakarta governor

Lawmakers across Southeast Asia have expressed concern over the sentencing of Jakarta Governor Basuki “Ahok” Tjahaja Purnama, to two years in prison for blasphemy on Tuesday.

“The verdict is deeply disconcerting not only for Indonesia but for the entire ASEAN region. Indonesia was thought to be a regional leader in terms of democracy and openness. This decision places that position in jeopardy and raises concerns about Indonesia’s future as an open, tolerant, diverse society,” said Charles Santiago, a member of the Malaysian Parliament and chair of ASEAN Parliamentarians for Human Rights (APHR).

“Ahok has become a victim of rising extremism and religious identity politics. But this decision has impacts beyond justice for one individual. It is a triumph for intolerance and an ominous sign for minority rights. At a time when fundamental freedoms, including freedom of expression and freedom of religion, are under increasing threat region-wide, this verdict sends the wrong signal to Indonesia’s neighbors in the ASEAN community,” he said in a written statement.

Ahok, Jakarta’s second Christian governor after Henk Ngantung (1964-1965), was convicted of blasphemy by the North Jakarta District Court and sentenced to two years in prison.

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The charges stemmed from a September speech, in which he invoked a verse from the Quran in criticizing the arguments of those who suggested that Muslims could not vote for a Christian leader.

APHR said the ruling could embolden religious hard-liners in the country and called into further question Indonesia’s harsh Blasphemy Law, which permits prison sentences of up to five years for those found guilty.

Source – TheNation

Residents yet to get Myanmar-China pipeline compensation

Despite the fact that the Myanmar-China pipeline has started to import oil, local residents have yet to receive the compensation due to them for damage to their crops arising from digging works on the pipeline.

Crops had been pressed down by soil and landslides have occurred on cultivated fields near the Myanmar-China oil pipeline in the Ngape township of the Magwe Region due to extension of the oil pipeline. Aggrieved farmers said that they had not received compensation even though they have been waiting for more than five years.

“More than 10 letters have been sent and letters have also reached Nay Pyi Taw. We sent letters twice to the current government. We have also been called to meet officials once. But, nothing has come out of it,” said farmer Daw Hla Yi from Gote Kyi village in Ngape township.

Another farmer, U Yan Naung Tun said although the Magwe Region land and crops compensation group, township land records department and ward and village land committee made a field trip in February 2012 they did not visit the areas where the crop was damaged.

“Two years after this field trip, we were given money as assistance for our damages. But we don’t want assistance money, we want full compensation. They have to compensate us at these rates – K20,000 for a coffee plant and K120,000 for a lime plant or lemon plant and so on. But they just paid us K3.99 million per acre. Now, some places cannot be cultivated anymore,” said Daw War War from Gote Kyi village.

The Myanmar-China oil pipeline cuts through plantations and villages in the Magwe Region. (Nay Aung/The Myanmar Times)

Although some financial assistance had been given on June 10, 2016 for damages suffered, 7 farmers refused to accept this assistance as they claim it was 10 times less than the amount of damages suffered.

One of the farmers, Daw Hla Yi, said some of the farmers took the money as they had no choice because they were flat broke.

The Myanmar-China oil pipeline cuts through the following plantations; the Gote Kyi, Bone Baw, Soon Tet, Lin Tet and Pa Bae villages in Ngape township.

U Nay Myo Kyaw, a minister in the Mandalay regional government, told The Myanmar Times that the regional government should push for compensation and read the farmers reports.

“Whether the amount of compensation will cover the loss or not will depend on how they negotiate. If the farmers are not satisfied with the amount then we [the government] have a duty to urge the compensation team. Myanmar and Chinese governments signed an MoU for compensation. The compensation team has a responsibility,” he said.

Source – mmtimes

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#Cambodia – Ground broken for oil refinery

After years of delays and setbacks, the Cambodian firm set to operate the Kingdom’s landmark oil refinery finally broke ground yesterday on a $1.62 billion project with an updated completion date set for the middle of 2019.

The oil refinery, which will be built on 365 hectares across Kampot and Sihanoukville provinces, was first expected to be completed in 2014 after receiving full financial funding from the Export-Import Bank of China in December 2013.

Developed by private firm Cambodia Petrochemical Company (CPC), the refinery plans did not move forward until May of last year when the company granted a $620 million first phase construction contract to the state-owned Chinese National Petroleum Company. Construction was then outsourced to China’s Sino Great Wall International Engineering Group.

When all phases of the project are finally completed, the facility is expected to have an annual refining capacity of 5 million tonnes of crude oil, according to Vinh Hour, chairman of CPC. He added that the refinery would reduce the need for imports and improve national security by creating domestic reserves.

“Any country that does not have a stockpile of petroleum can be in a dangerous situation because if there is uncertainty in the international market and supply stops, the economy will grind to a halt,” he said.

Hour said that the refinery project was delayed for numerous years because of a prolonged environmental impact assessment process and a long wait for Chinese financial backers to give the go ahead for construction.

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The refinery would be dependent on crude imports from the Middle East in the near term and would initially be used for domestic distribution, though Hour claimed that once Cambodia produces its own oil, the facility would help the country become a net exporter.

KrisEnergy, the Singaporean firm with full rights to Cambodia’s Block A oil field in the Gulf of Thailand, is close to finalizing a revenue sharing agreement with the Cambodian government to begin the first domestic crude oil production. Extraction could begin within 24 to 26 months of the agreement.

Cheap Sour, director general of the general department of petroleum at the Ministry of Mines and Energy, said the refinery would fulfill domestic demand while lowering prices at the pump.

“We hope that the oil refinery project will lower the price of petroleum in the market and benefit consumers,” he said, adding that the waste from the factory can be used to produce plastic and fertilizer.

“This refinery will help us to gain energy independence,” he said.Danish petroleum expert Tommy Christensen said that while the refinery could add “national value” to Cambodia’s energy supply chain, it would be difficult for the company to be profitable as long it relied on large amounts of crude imports.

“Cambodia’s national interest is to have their own crude production and possible refining capacity, but as long as they have to import crude oil in competition with neighboring countries, in particular Thailand, then the economics might not work for Cambodia,” he said.

He added that once Block A finally begins production, having domestic capabilities could place Cambodia on the global energy trade map.

However, he said the refinery was built with a fundamentally flawed business model as it was not a Cambodian state-run initiative, which would have created more value for the economy.

“This is not a Cambodia initiative, but a private sector and Chinese strategic interest initiative,” he said. “And due to [strict] regulations in [China], Cambodia is the nearest country they can invest in.”

“If Cambodia was really the owner of the refinery, with its own crude oil production in years to come, then taxation and revenue from this refinery would benefit the economy on a larger scale.”

Han Phoumin, an energy economist for the Economic Research Institute for Asean and East Asia, said the venture could occupy a unique and lucrative place in the domestic market due to the fact that oil imports to Cambodia are heavily monopolized.

However, he noted that if the refinery was primarily built to feed China’s energy appetite, it could struggle with established competition.

“Of course, any refinery in Southeast Asia will find it difficult to compete with Singapore’s refineries which can produce efficiently with the best quality products at a fair price,” he said. “It should be cautioned that many refineries in Asia cannot make profit.”

Source – PhnomPenhpost

#Thailand – Facebook lese majeste charges

SIX PEOPLE were charged and put on remand for alleged royal defamation, sedition, and computer crimes on Wednesday after being in military custody since last weekend, according to the Thai Lawyers for Human Rights (TLHR).

Among the six was Prawet Prapanukul, a human rights lawyer widely known for defending red-shirt political prisoners such as Daranee Charnchoengsilpakul.

Prawet has denied he posted provocative and insulting messages against the monarchy on Facebook. He has been charged with lese majeste, computer crimes and sedition.

Another suspect who was identified as Danai faced the same charges but officers who brought the case to court did not describe the details of his alleged crimes, only saying he was the same person facing an arrest warrant dated April 28, the TLHR reported. Danai has denied the charges. The four others were accused of defaming the monarchy and committing computer crimes by sharing a Facebook post regarding the mysterious disappearance of the Siamese Revolution plaque. 

Three of them admitted the crimes while the fourth denied the charges. The criminal court rejected bail requests for the six and ordered that they be remanded in custody until May 14.

The THRL stated the six might have been detained in the 11th Military Circle since last Saturday. Relatives and lawyers had not been able to contact them since then, the THRL wrote on its website.

Source – TheNation

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Australian pedophile denied entry into #Bali

An Australian man was denied entry into Bali on Tuesday for his alleged involvement in a pedophile case. The Australian, identified only by the initials BGC, was rejected upon his arrival at I Gusti Ngurah Rai International Airport at 1:30 p.m. on Jetstar Airlines JQ43 from Melbourne, Australia.

Immigration chief Ari Budijanto told The Jakarta Post that BGC was rejected because his name was included on the banned entry list.

“He is on the banned entry list as was involved in a pedophile case in his country,” Ari said in Denpasar.

(Read also: Australian pedophile gets 15 years’ imprisonment in Bali)

The banned entry list is based on cooperation between interpol and neighboring countries, including Australia.  

Ari said BGC accepted the denial. “He could not fight against us,” he said. 

BGC was flown back to Melbourne at 11:15 p.m. on Jetstar Airlines flight number JQ58. 

Previously, other Australians have also been rejected from entering Bali.

On Jan. 6 this year, James William Pender was stopped upon his arrival at the airport. He was traveling from Malaysia at the time.

On Jan. 27, Daniel Bryan Wilson was refused entry when he arrived from Perth on Air Asia flight QZ537. 

On March 21, Roderick John Pypers was deported back to Australia soon after he arrived in Bali from Sydney on Jetstar Airlines JQ 37.

Source – TheJakartaPost

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Palangkaraya hopes to be chosen as Indonesia’s new capital

The Central Kalimantan administration said it was hopeful that President Joko “Jokowi” Widodo would move the nation’s capital to Palangkaraya, saying such a move would fulfill the “dream of Indonesia’s founding fathers.”

The province’s capital was reportedly among cities being studied in regard to their readiness to become Indonesia’s new capital.

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Central Kalimantan Governor Sugianto Sabran, an Indonesian Democratic Party of Struggle (PDI-P) politician, said he hoped Palangkaraya was named the country’s new capital during Jokowi’s presidency, claiming the province had the “potential to be on par with other more developed provinces” in Indonesia.

“We just pray the plan materializes […] Central Kalimantan is in the center of Indonesia and less prone to earthquakes,” Sugianto said at his official residence in Palangkaraya.

The government included Palangkaraya on the list because Indonesia’s first president, Sukarno, had planned to move the capital city there.

National Development Planning Minister Bambang Brodjonegoro told Antara earlier that the government had expected a final decision on an alternative capital city “within this year.”

(Read also: Indonesia studies new sites for capital city)

Source – TheJakartaPost