Ex-Chinese Minister jailed for graft


Ex-Chinese Minister jailed for graft

BEIJING: A former Cabinet Minister was sentenced on Tuesday to life in prison in China’s highest-level corruption case since a deputy chairman of Parliament was executed in 2001. A Beijing court convicted Tian Fengshan, the former Minister of Land and Resources, of taking 4.4 million yuan ($545,000; euro455,000) in bribes in 1995-2003, the official Xinhua News Agency said. It said Tian took bribes while he was Governor of Heilongjiang province in the northeast in 1995-2000 and then a Cabinet Minister until he was dismissed in 2003 on ethics charges.

“The defendant Tian Fengshan took advantage of his position to profit while a servant of the nation,” said the ruling by the Beijing No. 2 Intermediate People’s Court, according to Xinhua. China’s Government has punished tens of thousands of officials in recent years in a crackdown on corruption and other abuses that threaten to erode public acceptance of communist rule. Despite widespread publicity for the penalties, it isn’t clear whether Beijing has succeeded in reining in abuses in a system where heavy government involvement in many areas of the economy and society creates opportunities for extortion and embezzlement. Tian was the highest-ranking Chinese official prosecuted in a multiyear anti-graft drive since a former deputy chairman of Parliament, Cheng Kejie, was executed in 2001 on charges that he took 41 million yuan in bribes. State media said earlier that Tian confessed to the bribery charges and that all the money has been recovered. — AP


Italians “dumping grandparents”

Barbara McMahon— © Guardian Newspapers Limited 2004

The number of Italian grandparents living alone because their families do not want them is increasing.

ITALY’S IMAGE as a family-centred society has taken a knock with the revelation that thousands of grandparents spent a lonely Christmas in hospital because their families did not want them at home.

According to doctors, some 10 per cent to 20 per cent of over-70s in Italian hospital wards could have been discharged for the festive season but relatives made excuses to keep them in care.

Middle-class families in the north were twice as likely as working-class families in the poorer south to abandon their relatives, research found.

No room for parents

Adult children said they did not have room to accommodate their parents for Christmas or they could not get time off work to care for them.

Others said they could not cope with their medical needs, although it would often only have involved ensuring they took medication.

The numbers of grandparents living alone are on the increase and Il Messaggero, which reported the issue of Christmas abandonments on Tuesday, said these once-revered members of the family were being treated like “cumbersome packages.”

Roberto Messina, head of a Rome-based charity for elderly people, said that many know they are unwanted. “The saddest time is when an old person remains alone during visiting hours,” he said.

“They pull the covers up, close their eyes and pretend to be asleep, but in reality they are crying and clenching their teeth.”

According to Ido Iori, president of an organisation that monitors hospital admissions, some old people plead to be allowed to stay in hospital until after the festivities, as they have no company at home. Abandonment causes problems for hospitals, which are supposed to discharge people from general wards, if they are well enough, after three or four days.

But there has been some festive cheer. The charity Caritas reported that a Christmas scheme in which Italian families open their homes to old people living alone, immigrants or other people in need has been more successful than ever this year.

Shock, awe and Hobbes have backfired on neocons

Richard Drayton— © Guardian Newspapers Limited 2004

THE TRAGIC irony of the 21st century is that just as faith in technology collapsed on the world’s stock markets in 2000, it came to power in the White House and the Pentagon. For, the Project for a New American Century’s ambition of “full-spectrum dominance” — in which its country could “fight and win multiple, simultaneous major-theatre wars” — was a monster borne up by the high tide of techno euphoria of the 1990s.

Ex-hippies talked of a wired age of Aquarius. The fall of the Berlin wall and the rise of the Internet, we were told, had ushered in Adam Smith’s dream of overflowing abundance, expanding liberty, and perpetual peace. Fukuyama speculated that history was over, leaving us just to hoard and spend. Technology meant a new paradigm of constant growth without inflation or recession.

But darker dreams surfaced in America’s military universities. The theorists of the “revolution in military affairs” predicted that technology would lead to easy and perpetual U.S. dominance of the world. Ralph Peters advised on “future warfare” at the Army War College — prophesying in 1997 a coming “age of constant conflict.” Thomas Barnett at the Naval War College assisted Vice-Admiral Cebrowski in developing “network-centric warfare.” General John Jumper of the air force predicted a planet easily mastered from air and space. American forces would win everywhere because they enjoyed what was unashamedly called the “God’s-eye” view of satellites and GPS: the “global information grid.” This hegemony would be welcomed as the cutting edge of human progress. Or at worst, the military geeks candidly explained, U.S. power would simply terrify others into submitting to the stars and stripes.

Shock and Awe: Achieving Rapid Dominance — a key strategic document published in 1996 — aimed to understand how to destroy the “will to resist before, during and after battle.” For Harlan Ullman of the National Defence University, its main author, the perfect example was the atom bomb at Hiroshima. But with or without such a weapon, one could create an illusion of unending strength and ruthlessness. Or one could deprive an enemy of the ability to communicate, observe, and interact — a macro version of the sensory deprivation used on individuals — so as to create a “feeling of impotence.” And one must always inflict brutal reprisals against those who resist. An alternative was the “decay and default” model, whereby a nation’s will to resist collapsed through the “imposition of social breakdown.”

All of this came to be applied in Iraq in 2003, and not merely in the March bombardment called “shock and awe.” It has been usual to explain the chaos and looting in Baghdad, the destruction of infrastructure, ministries, museums and the national library and archives, as caused by a failure of Donald Rumsfeld’s planning.

But the evidence is this was at least in part a mask for the destruction of the collective memory and modern state of a key Arab nation, and the manufacture of disorder to create a hunger for the occupier’s supervision. As the Suddeutsche Zeitung reported in May 2003, U.S. troops broke the locks of museums, ministries, and universities and told looters: “Go in Ali Baba, it’s all yours!”

For the American imperial strategists invested deeply in the belief that through spreading terror they could take power. Neoconservatives such as Paul Wolfowitz, Richard Perle, and the recently indicted Lewis “Scooter” Libby, learned from Leo Strauss that a strong and wise minority of humans had to rule over the weak majority through deception and fear, rather than persuasion or compromise. They read Le Bon and Freud on the relationship of crowds to authority. But most of all they loved Hobbes’ Leviathan. While Hobbes saw authority as free men’s chosen solution to the imperfections of anarchy, his 21st century heirs seek to create the fear that led to submission. And technology would make it possible and beautiful.

On the logo of the Pentagon’s Information Awareness Office, the motto is Scientia est potentia — knowledge is power. The IAO promised “total information awareness,” an all-seeing eye spilling out a death-ray gaze over Eurasia. Congressional pressure led the IAO to close, but technospeak, half-digested political theory, and megalomania still riddle U.S. thinking. Mr. Barnett, in The Pentagon’s New Map and Blueprint for Action, calls for a “systems administrator” force to be dispatched with the military, to “process” conquered countries. The G8 and a few others are the “Kantian core,” writes Mr. Barnett, warming over the former Tony Blair adviser, Robert Cooper’s poisonous guff from 2002; their job is to export their economy and politics by force to the unlucky “Hobbesian gap.” Imperialism is imagined as an industrial technique to remake societies and cultures, with technology giving sanction to those who intervene.

The Afghanistan war of 2001 taught the wrong lessons. The U.S. assumed this was the model of how a small, special forces-dominated campaign, using local proxies and calling in gunships or airstrikes, would sweep away opposition. But all Afghanistan showed was how an outside power could intervene in a finely balanced civil war.

The problem for the U.S. today is that Iraq has revealed the hubris of the imperial geostrategy. One small nation can tie down a superpower. Air and space supremacy do not give command on the ground. People cannot be terrorised into identification with America. The U.S. has proved able to destroy massively — but not create, or even control. Afghanistan and Iraq lie in ruins, yet the occupiers cower behind concrete mountains.

The spin machine is on full tilt to represent Iraq as a success. Mr. Barnett, in Blueprint, says: “The US military is a force for global good that … has no equal.” Both offer ambitious plans for how the U.S. is going to remake the third world in its image. There is a violent hysteria to the boasts.

The narcissism of a decade earlier has given way to an extrovert rage at those who have resisted America’s will since 2001. Both urge utter ruthlessness in crushing resistance. In November 2004, Peters told Fox News that in Fallujah “the best outcome, frankly, is if they’re all killed.”

(Dr. Richard Drayton, a senior lecturer in history at Cambridge University, is the author of Nature’s Government, a study of science, technology, and imperialism.)

Bali Cities: Ubud

Includes Campuhan, Peliatan, Pengosekan & Sayan

It has been the stamping ground of Bali’s earliest dynasties in recorded history. It is here that the first great lines of Hindu Zed Kings established themselves. Pejeng was the center of power until the early 14th century , when the last line of Warmadewa was defeated by Majapahit Empire, Under Gajah Mada , in 1343. The two rivers, Petanu and Pakerisan , have been storing series of ancient historical remains along the banks, such as temples, meditation cells , baths and other monuments.

The Museum Lukisan Ratna Warta, usually called the Puri Lukisan ( the palace of paitings ), was opened in 1953. set amongst a restful sculpture garden, this museum contains a magnificent collection f modern Balinese paintings and sculptures, chosen under the discerning eye of the Dutch artist, Rudolf Bonnet (1895 – 1978 ), over the years since he first arrived in Bali.

Balinese jewellery is unique, and Celuk is the home of much of it. Nearly every family in Celuk is involved in some aspects of the delicate gold and silver work, which has become very famous over the years.

This is a village specializing in woodcarvings of any kind. Most of the prominent wood carvers of Bali dwell in Mas village, producing elaborate and fine woodcarving and this is where they teach the young generation to carve by imitating the master carvers.

Just outside of Denpasar on the road to Ubud , is a small village where stone statues line the roadside in an impressive array. Terrible fanged demons, noble warriors, and animals of all shapes and size and at all stages of completion rest under the shady trees.

Famous for its painter’s community, Ubud is special in more ways than one. It has its own magic, and its particularly beautiful surroundings and gracious way of life have drawn celebrities and artists from all over the world in recent decades; some have even adopted Ubud as their own home. The magic is easy to find – just take a walk south of the village through its terraced paddy fields to the monkey forest. Fresh water spouts out of the sheer rock at the base of the ravine, and a bath in a secluded shady spot is purifying.

Literally means Elephant cave, and it is a “T” shaped cave. This was an ancient monastery of Hindu and Buddhist monks who used to meditate in the cave. It is believed that the cave was built in the early 11th century . Its face is elaborately carved, depicting a demon head splitting open the rock with its bare hand at the mouth of the cave.

The Taman Burung Bird Park Situated in Batubulan, is home to more than thousand birds ( 250 exotic bird species ) from Indonesia and all over the world. It is set in Two hectares magnificent gardens filled with tropical plants, water features and spectacular rain forest in aviary. Also see the famous Komodo Dragon . Has restaurant for visitors to interact with nature by having breakfast, lunch, or afternoon tea with bird .

The holy spring which bubbles up in the inner courtyard of the Tirta empul Temple in Tampaksiring is believed to have magic curative powers, and throngs of people visit the special bathing pools where clear cool water spouts from mossy walls. Legend has it that the God Indra created the spring , piercing the ground in search of holy water.

These 11th century tombs , carved out of the rock face of the gorge of the Pakrisan river, are approached by a steep descent through breath- taking rice terrain scennary . Historically, the tombs probably have some connection with King Anak Wungsu. Across the gorge are some more impressive tombs that were the resident meditation caves of the only men who were the keepers of the tomb.

While it’s possible to visit Ubud in just a day, such a short trip would barely touch the surface of this extraordinary village. An interesting mélange of rural Balinese life and modern services co-exist here. Only 60 minutes from Ngurah Rai airport, Ubud is close to many of central Bali’s major sights. Despite the fact that visitors may outnumber residents during peak periods, Ubud retains the atmosphere of a small country community and, in contrast to the hassle of Kuta, the pace of life is very relaxed. It’s a great place to tour on foot or by bicycle and there’s a wide range of facilities for tourists of all budgets, as well as beaches 10 km away. For those who enjoy being close to natural beauty, yet within easy reach of creature comforts, Ubud is ideal.
Prices in US dollars. AC = Air conditioning. Telephone code is 0361.

The main crossroads in front of the Puri Saren palace is the “navel” of Ubud-its cultural and historical focal point. The main street is lined with restaurants, hotels, shops and galleries, stretching all the way from the T-junction at the eastern end of Ubud to the Campuhan Bridge in the west. Small lanes lined with home stays, warungs and Balinese compounds extend north and south from the main road.

Jl. Monkey Forest, branching south from the middle of Ubud is lined with hotels, restaurants, artists’ studios, and boutiques for a distance of some 2 km. A parallel road just to the east through Padang tegal is similar, though less congested. Away from these main streets, Ubud is still relatively quiet.

Roads radiate west out of the main town to Campuhan and Payangan, south to Pengosekan and east to Goa Gajah. Local bernos can be flagged down in the daytime on the main road. Ubud to Campuhan, for example, costs Rp1000.

Ubud Tourist Information

For information on performances, transport schedules, temple festivals, and special activities, inquire at the Ubud Tourist Information Center, across from the Pura Desa (village temple).

How to get to Ubud

Ubud is 60 minutes by car from the airport and southern beach resort areas and 40 minutes from Sanur. Taxis from the airport cost Rp90,000 (AC). Look for the booth at the airport: turn right after you leave customs. Alternatively, charter (and bargain for) a bemo outside the airport for about Rp75,000.

From Denpasar, take a bemo from Kereneng Terminal to Batubulan Terminal, then transfer to Ubud (Rp. 1,000). Chartering a bemo from Denpasar costs about $9. Alternatively, hop on one of the many shuttle buses which depart Kuta for Ubud at 8.30, 10 and 11.30 am, 1, 2.30 and 4pm ($4). Contact Perama Tour, JI. Legian, Kuta.

Although it’s easy to get around Ubud on foot, you may choose to rent a mountain bike to save time and effort. Mountain bikes can be rented everywhere for $2/day. Motorbikes (100cc) cost $5.50/day. A Suzuki jeep costs $20 to $30 daily; cheaper by the week or month. Look for signs along all main roads.

Buy shuttle bus tickets to Kuta (Rp. 10,000) and Candidasa (Rp. 15,000) from the many trave! agencies in town. For a full schedule, contact Peramaswara Tour & Travel, Jl. Hanoman. Shuttles to Sanur, Kuta and the airport depart at 8.30, 10 and 11.30 am, 12:30, 3.30, 5.30, 6.30, and 7.30 pm. Direct Kuta shuttles depart Ubud the same hours. The shuttle to Lombok via Kuta leaves at 6 am.

Courtesy: Island Concepts

Indonesian education fails in face of crisis

By Richel Dursin

JAKARTA – Insufficient funding for education has forced Indonesia to settle for less qualified teachers, setting off a cycle that does little to improve the status of education as the country copes with economic woes.

”We are lagging behind our neighboring countries. For us to catch up, we need money,” says Education Minister Yahya Muhaimin, who proposed that the government earmark at least 25 percent of the state budget for education to cope with the needs of this country of more than 200 million people.

Indonesia allocates only seven percent of its national budget for education, which is far below the 25 to 35 percent level set by its neighbors like Malaysia, Philippines, Singapore and Thailand.

The shortage of qualified public school teachers in Indonesia is due to many factors, not least low salaries from the government. A public elementary school teacher gets an average monthly salary of 100,000 rupiah (US$14), while a high school teacher receives between 200,000 to 500,000 rupiah ($28 to $71).

”That is not sufficient, especially for those teachers who live in big cities like Jakarta,” laments Muhaimin.

Lecturers at Indonesian universities likewise make hardly enough to get by. In several universities, lecturers end up neglecting students because they are too preoccupied with side jobs. Others take on additional teaching jobs to make ends meet, to the detriment of the students they are supposed to educate.

Many teachers are forced by the low pay to leave the profession. One teacher said that classroom teaching conditions are similar to those faced by blue-collar workers. At times, teachers do not have their own offices and lack basic facilities other professionals have – access to telephones, computers and fax machines.

Arief Rachman, of Jakarta’s Institute of Teacher Training and Educational Science, says he has difficulty producing skilled English instructors as well as teachers in basic sciences such as biology, chemistry, physics and mathematics. This is because the low-paid profession is an unattractive option for the young.

”A lot of good students in those fields don’t want to become teachers. They prefer to work in big companies that could give them a more promising future,” Rachman says. ”So we’re facing a situation of teachers who chose teaching because they are not accepted in their chosen fields. Ideally, the best and brightest should be recruited to teach, as teaching is not for the mediocre.”

Indeed, some suggest there is a link between the quality of education and restiveness among the young, enhanced by the new political and social atmosphere after the end of the Suharto regime last year. Outside the classrooms, Indonesian students are often engaged in street brawls.

”At school, the learning process is not respected. The students cheat and bribe the teachers,” says Sri Mulyani, who teaches at the graduate program of the University of Indonesia’s School of Economics and heads its Institute of Economic and Social Studies.

These weaknesses of Indonesia’s education system are coming under focus ahead of an Asia-Pacific conference this month at which countries will assess progress toward goals set under an ”Education for All” initiative launched at the World Conference on Education in 1990.

Indonesia’s education problems are exacerbated by other woes, like the strain on state budgets after the crippling economic crisis of 1997, from which the country has yet to recover fully. The country had actually achieved much in basic education in the past three decades of economic boom, using its new wealth to boost human development indicators.

But the economic crisis is now affecting school enrolment, says a new report prepared by the Indonesian government for the review conference to be held in Bangkok.

The country’s net enrolment ratio (NER) for both primary and lower secondary schools began declining in 1998, says the study, ”Education for All: The Year 2000 Assessment”. The NER for primary schools advanced to 92.3 percent in 1990, 93.4 percent in 1994 and around 95 percent in 1997, but decreased to 93.74 percent in 1998.

At lower secondary level, the NER rose from 39.24 percent in 1990 to 56.03 percent in 1997, then fell to about 53 percent in 1998, the study shows. ”The motivation of many students to study is high, but because of the crisis they could not go to school,” Muhaimin says.

Aside from the problem of paying the basic salaries of educational personnel, the study recounts how the government cannot provide adequate educational facilities, including libraries and learning materials such as books due to limited funds.

Basic education in Indonesia consists of six years of primary school and three years lower secondary education. Most Indonesian students stop schooling after finishing junior high school to help their parents earn a living. Some 60 percent of the country’s workforce are junior high school graduates.

On top of funding problems, professors say the entire system needs a drastic review. ”We do not have enough skillful university graduates though we have many graduates with titles. This is due to the manner of teaching. Teachers only give information, but they don’t let the students try new things. So the students are more skillful in remembering than in applying,” Rachman says.

Former education minister Juwono Sudarsono, who was appointed defense minister by President Abdurrahman Wahid, says: ”Our educational system needs total reform. It is no secret that the current system has been very rigid, stressing merely intellectual capability. An overloaded curriculum, uninteresting teaching methods and a passive learning process have contributed to shape the current school environment. It is high time for us to change the concept of education from teacher-oriented to student-oriented.”

Education Minister Muhaimin says Indonesia should step up efforts in higher education. He has asked big businesses to help finance the higher education of qualified students abroad as well as the training of teachers. Mulyani agrees: ”We really have a lack of education institutions at graduate level. There are some local institutions which offer graduate programs, but many of them are of poor quality.”

(Inter Press Service)

Courtesy: Atimes

Universitas Indonesia (UI) History

After the proclamation of independence on the 17th of August 1945, the Indonesian government has realized that education is of utmost important for progress so that a few days afterwards the Balai Perguruan Tinggi Republik Indonesia (BPTRI) or “The Republic of Indonesia Institute for Higher Education” was established in Jakarta consisting of the Faculties of Medicine and Pharmacy, Letters and Law, which had its first graduation of 90 medical doctors the same year.

When the Dutch colonial army occupied Jakarta at the end of 1945, the BPTRI moved to Klaten, Surakarta, Yogyakarta, Surabaya and Malang. Meanwhile, the Dutch colonial government, which by 1946 had occupied the big cities and surrounding areas in Indonesia, established a Nood Universiteit or “Emergency University” at Jakarta in 1946. In 1947 the name was changed into “Universitaet van Indonesie (UVI) or “University of Indonesia” After the end of Indonesian war of independence, when Jakarta became once again the capital of Indonesia, the government established a state university in Jakarta in February 1950 called, Universitaet Indonesia, comprising of units of the BPTRI and UVI. The name Universitaet Indonesia was later changed into Universitas Indonesia (UI).

In 1950, UI was a multi campus university with faculties in Jakarta (Medicine, Law, and Letters), Bogor (Agronomy and Veterinary Medicine), Bandung (Engineering, Mathematics and Natural Sciences), Surabaya (Medicine and Dentistry), and Makassar (Economics). In 1954, the Surabaya campus became Universitas Airlangga; in 1955 the Ujung Pandang campus became Universitas Hasanuddin; in 1959 the Bandung campus became Institut Teknologi Bandung (ITB or Bandung Institute of Technology), while the School for Physical Education, which was also located in Bandung, became part of Padjajaran University, in 1960. In 1964, the Bogor campus became Institut Pertanian Bogor (IPB or Bogor Agricultural University) and the Faculty of Education (FKIP) at Jakarta, became IKIP Jakarta. In a sense UI was the mother of several universities. In 1965, UI consisted of three campuses all in Jakarta, i.e. the Salemba Campus (Medicine, Dentistry, Economics, Engineering, Science and the Graduate School), the Rawamangun Campus (Letters, Law, Social Science and Psychology) and the Pegangsaan Campus (Public Health and parts of Medicine).

Based on the Indonesian Government Decree Number 152 dated 26th December 2000, the University has changed its status from a public university into an autonomous public university. The current autonomous status of the university requires the implementation of efficiency, effectivity, accountability and transparancy in its management.

Courtesy: UI official website

Commission to summon Wiranto

Tiarma Siboro, The Jakarta Post/Jakarta

The Indonesia-Timor Leste Truth and Friendship Commission (CTF) plans to summon former Indonesian Military chief Gen. (ret) Wiranto and several other generals in relation with the violence that took place in the then East Timor in 1999 prior to and after an independence referendum.

“Yes, we will clarify the status of Wiranto, as well as other related sources, in the violence which took place in East Timor in 1999,” said CTF co-chairman Benjamin Mangkoedilaga, who represents Indonesia on the joint commission established by the governments of Indonesia and Timor Leste in August.

“The interviews, of course, will not name individuals as suspects in gross human rights violations because this is not a pro-justicia process,” Benjamin said.

Benjamin said commissioners would examine all of the information related to the 1999 violence, including a report filed by an Indonesian government-sanctioned fact-finding team that investigated alleged gross human rights abuses in Timor Leste, and copies of all of the documents from an ad hoc human rights tribunal in Jakarta that tried rights abuse suspects.

The commission will also look over material given by the fact-finding team to Indonesia’s Attorney General’s Office.

“Recently, we interviewed former members of the now-defunct fact-finding team and several prosecutors at our secretariat in Denpasar, Bali. During the interviews, we also tried to compare reports from the two institutions,” Benjamin said.

A member of the government-sanctioned fact-finding team said earlier the team proposed the names of almost 30 Indonesian generals to stand trial before the ad hoc human rights tribunal, but the Attorney General’s Office scrapped several of the names, including that of Wiranto.

The CTF will not recommend that the government of either nation establish any form of judicial body. The CTF process is not meant to lead to prosecution, but will instead emphasize institutional responsibility.

The commissioners will work for one year, with the fact-finding process to begin in January and last until June next year. From July to December, the commission will focus on drawing up its conclusions.

Meanwhile, the New York-based Human Rights Watch has asked the Timor Leste administration to publicly release the 2,500-page Reception, Truth and Reconciliation Commission report on Indonesian abuses during 24 years of occupation, even if it offends the Indonesian government.

Timor Leste President Xanana Gusmao has repeatedly said he favors reconciliation with Indonesia.

Courtesy: The Jakarta Post