19 March 2019


Thai politics: Princess Ubolratana confirms nomination

KONFRONTASI -Princess Ubolratana posted a message on Instagram, confirming the Thai Raksa Chart Party's choice of her as its lone candidate for prime minister. (Photo from nichax Instagram) 

Ayatollah Khamenei: US 'embodiment of evil, violence'

KONFRONTASI - Leader of the Islamic Revolution Ayatollah Seyyed Ali Khamenei has called the US “the embodiment of evil and violence” whose existence relies on encroachment on other countries' sovereignty. 

“The US regime is the embodiment of evil and violence; a crisis-maker and a warmonger,” Ayatollah Khamenei said in a Friday meeting with a group of Iranian Air Force commanders and personnel in Tehran.

Thailand to investigate disappearance of Vietnamese asylum-seeker

KONFRONTASI-Thailand will investigate the disappearance of a dissident Vietnamese journalist after a rights group said he may have been abducted from Bangkok where he applied for U.N. refugee status, a senior immigration official said on Thursday.

The disappearance of Radio Free Asia contributor Truong Duy Nhat comes after criticism of Thailand’s detention of a Saudi asylum-seeker in January, and the separate arrest of a Bahraini football player with refugee status in Australia who is now fighting extradition back to Bahrain.

Sudan's Omar al-Bashir vows to release detained reporters

KONFRONTASI-Sudan's President Omar al-Bashir has taken a newly conciliatory tone with protesters, saying they are mostly young with poor prospects, while also pledging to release detained journalists.

Bashir's remarks late on Wednesday appeared to be part of a new strategy to soften the government's stance towards the protests, after the defence minister and prime minister made similar remarks in recent days.

Sudan has been gripped by nationwide demonstrations since mid-December, with crowds taking to the streets initially over price increases. The protests quickly escalated into rallies against Bashir's three decade rule.

"Most of the protesters are young and there are factors that drove them to take to the streets, including inflation, which led to higher prices - and the limited job opportunities that don't match the number of graduates," Bashir told journalists invited to the presidential palace for a "discussion of recent events".

He said all journalists who have been jailed in connection with the protests would be released. Activists estimate the number of journalists in prison at 16.

Bashir also said young people's anger was fuelled by the "wrong implementation" of Sudan's public order laws.

The morality laws have been criticised by human rights organisations for restricting the freedom of women by, for example, making it a crime for a woman to wear trousers.

Activists say the decades-old law targets mainly women, often accusing them of "indecent dressing and immoral behaviour".

Hefty punishments including fines and jail terms are imposed on women found guilty under the legislation.

According to some Sudanese women's rights groups more than 15,000 women were sentenced to flogging in 2016.

His remarks on Wednesday contrast dramatically to Bashir's previous demand for the "rats to go back to their holes".

Bashir, however, warned against destabilising the Sudanese state, saying "you can look at what happened in Libya," which has been in a state of turmoil since a 2011 civil war led to the overthrow of long-standing ruler Muammar Gaddafi.

Israel reactivates 'virtual embassy' in the Gulf

KONFRONTASI-Israel's foreign ministry has reactivated a "virtual embassy" aimed at promoting dialogue with the Gulf countries.

First launched in mid-2013, the embassy had been active on Twitter for less than a year before going offline in early 2014.

"We are pleased to announce the relaunch of 'Israel in the Gulf' page which aims to promote dialogue between Israel and the Gulf nations," the ministry said on Tuesday.

Qatar takes delivery of first French-built Rafale jet fighter

KONFRONTASI-Qatar took delivery of the first of 36 Rafale multi-purpose fighter jets it ordered from French manufacturer Dassault.

The hand-over ceremony on Wednesday in Merignac, in southwestern France, where the planes are built, was attended by Qatar Defence Minister Khalid bin Mohamed al-Attiyah and Dassault Aviation chief Eric Trappier.

Qatar ordered 24 of the fighters in 2015, adding 12 more last year. It also has an option to buy 36 more.

Russia jails Jehovah's Witness for six years in landmark case

KONFRONTASI-A Russian court on Wednesday found a Danish adherent of the Jehovah’s Witnesses guilty of organizing the activities of a banned extremist organization and jailed him for six years in a case Western governments cast as a test of religious freedom.

Armed police detained Dennis Christensen, a 46-year-old builder, in May 2017 at a prayer meeting in Oryol, some 200 miles (320 km) south of Moscow after a court in the region outlawed the local Jehovah’s Witnesses a year earlier.

Indian farmers blame Narendra Modi as sacred cows run amok

KONFRONTASI-As night fell on the bucolic northern Indian hamlet of Mahaban, Gopi Chand Yadav gathered blankets and a flashlight to spend the night sitting on a wooden platform in his field. His task: to use bamboo sticks to ward off stray cattle from intruding and eating a maturing mustard crop.

Like Yadav, many thousands of farmers stay awake to guard their farms over a cold winter or face losing their crops to the cattle - a double whammy for growers already reeling from a plunge in crop prices.

While stray cows ambling around towns and villages have always been a feature of life in rural India, farmers say their number has increased sharply in recent years to the extent that they have become a menace, and blame the policies of Prime Minister Narendra Modi's Hindu nationalist government.

Protecting cows - considered sacred to Hindus - was one of the measures meant to shore up support in the heavily populated, Hindi-speaking belt across northern India that has been a heartland of the ruling Bharatiya Janata Party (BJP). Instead, it is creating a backlash, even among Hindu farmers.

"We already had enough problems and now the government has created one more," said octogenarian farmer Baburao Saini from Kakripur village, about 85km from the capital, New Delhi.

"For the first time, we have been forced to stay in the fields to protect our crops."

More than 50 farmers the Reuters news agency spoke to in Mahaban and nine other villages in Uttar Pradesh state said they would think twice before voting for Modi's BJP in the next general elections, due by May.

The cattle issue and low farm prices are major reasons behind their disillusionment with a party that most say they voted for in the last election in 2014.

Modi swept Uttar Pradesh in that poll, winning 73 of 80 seats in India's most populous state, with rural voters swayed by a promise of higher crop prices, and as Hindu farmers supported the BJP amid tensions with the minority Muslim community.

Cow protection

Modi is trying hard to claw back support among India's 263 million farmers and their many millions of dependents after the BJP lost power in December to the opposition Congress in three big northern states where agriculture is a mainstay.

Farmers keep cows for milk, but to harm or kill the animal, especially for food, is considered a taboo by most Hindus.

Most states in India have long outlawed cow slaughter, but after coming to power in 2014 the BJP ratcheted up its distaste for trade in cattle, launching a crackdown on unlicensed abattoirs in Uttar Pradesh and on cattle smuggling nationwide.

At the same time, a wave of attacks on trucks carrying cattle by Hindu vigilante groups has scared away traders, most of whom are Muslims, bringing to a halt the trade even in bullocks, which are not considered sacred. Rising sales of tractors and increasing mechanisation mean that more animals are redundant for use in farming.

The farmers Reuters spoke to said they revered cows as most devout Hindus would, but a sudden halt in the trade of cattle had hit the rural economy. In their view, the government should come up with more cow shelters and let cattle traders deal in other animals without fear of attack.

"The government has only enforced the laws by closing down unlicensed abattoirs and cracking down on cattle smuggling," said BJP spokesman Gopal Krishna Agarwal, who added that he runs a cow shelter of 1,300 cattle. "We're not trying to hurt either any community or the rural economy."

Watch State of the Union: Live Video, Fact Checks and Analysis

KONFRONTASI -  Join New York Times reporters for live analysis and fact-checking during president’s State of the Union address to Congress on Tuesday. The speech is set to begin at 9 p.m. Eastern time.Please watch here: "https://www.youtube.com/watch?v=lD8bAhomUGc"


Good news: Nespresso officially arrives in Indonesia

KONFRONTASI  -  Good news has arrived for Nespresso lovers in Indonesia. The premium portioned coffee has officially entered the local market, available at its boutique located in Plaza Indonesia.

Renauld Tinel, Head of Asia for Nespresso said in a press release sent to The Jakarta Post that Nespresso was very pleased to arrive in Indonesia and bring itself to Indonesian coffee lovers who will experience the high-quality coffee and refined experience that Nespresso is known for around the world.