Silver lining

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Talking the same language

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Lipton plans review of London sightlines

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Don’t cheat: Talisman detector deployed for civil servant test in West Java city

first_imgThe National Civil Service Agency (BKN) is using a detector to prevent talismans being used in a month-long competency test of civil servant candidates at Tasikmalaya city hall in West Java that started on Saturday.Bandung BKN head Imas Sukmariah said she had reviewed the implementation of the detection system on the first day of the test. The detection uses “sophisticated” equipment that is capable of scanning for metals and foreign objects, including talismans.“We’ve checked all [of the test participants] and no one entered the room with any [suspicious] objects, including talismans,” said Imas, as quoted by Antara news agency. She went on to say that 51,875 candidates were taking the test in Tasikmalaya. The test runs until Feb. 27.All participants are from administrative areas in East Priangan namely Tasikmalaya, Banjar, Ciamis, Garut and Pangandaran.The test is based on a computer assisted test (CAT) that can reduce the potential for fraud or manipulation. In regard to the use of talismans, Imas advised the test participants to avoid any engagement with irresponsible individuals, who promised them to pass the test. “Don’t believe people who promise you will pass the test,” she said.Imas further said that besides the computerized system, the test was guaranteed to be transparent and accountable. All of the questions were designed by a consortium of 18 universities and are protected by the National Code Institute.Imas encouraged candidates to study and pray to advance to the next stage of the enrollment test. (syk)Topics :last_img read more

‘Don’t come to Kediri, Jokowi’: The myth surrounding the city’s presidential ‘curse’

first_imgThe statement raised some eyebrows, causing Pramono to clarify that it was just a joke in response to an earlier speech by pesantren leader Abdullah Kafabihi Mahrus, in which Abdullah mentioned a myth that presidents, vice presidents, and other high-ranking state officials will face misfortune if they visit Kediri. Pramono, a Kediri native, would most likely have been aware of the myth about Kediri’s “curse” on rulers who visit the city.Indonesia’s first president and founding father Sukarno visited Kediri several times during his presidency, and was forced to hand over power to then Army general Soeharto in 1965. Former president BJ Habibie faced a vote of no confidence from the People’s Consultative Assembly (MPR) a few months after a visit to the cityWhile Gus Dur, as Pramono mentioned, was impeached three days after attending an event at the Lirboyo pesantren in Kediri. Indonesian Democratic Party of Struggle (PDI-P) chairwoman Megawati, meanwhile, did not visit Kediri during her presidential term. When Cabinet Secretary Pramono Anung visited Lirboyo pesantren (Islamic boarding school) in Kediri, East Java, last week, he joked about advising President Joko “Jokowi” Widodo not to come to the city for the planned groundbreaking of the Kediri airport scheduled for April. “Frankly I personally suggested that the President not come to Kediri because I still remember, believe it or not, after Gus Dur came back from visiting Lirboyo,  political chaos erupted in Jakarta,” Pramono said, referring to the political turmoil that resulted in then-president Abdurrahman Wahid’s impeachment and ouster in 2003.”But it’s okay for the Vice President [to visit Kediri],” Pramono added. Believers see Kediri’s “supernatural power” as being rooted in the power of King Jayabaya, who ruled the Hindu kingdom of Kediri in the 12th century and unified the then-divided realm and brought justice and prosperity to its people. Jayabaya is also credited with writing a number of prophecies, including one about the emergence of a messianic ruler called “Ratu Adil” in Java after a long period of being ruled by corrupt and evil leaders.Jayabaya’s immense power, the myth goes, thus overrides the power of rulers who dare to visit his capital city.Historian Agus Sunyoto, a native of Surabaya, East Java, believes the “curse” is not related to Jayabaya but rather to Kartikea Singha, a king of the South Kalingga kingdom, which is believed to have existed in the sixth century, with its capital city located in Keling district, some 35 kilometers east of Kediri.Kartikea, Agus said, was the first ruler of Java to write a criminal law code, called the Kalingga Dharmasastra, which was emulated by later Javanese kingdoms such as Singhasari and Majapahit.”One day he swore that rulers of Java who did not use their power to bring justice and prosperity for the people would be cursed,” Agus a lecturer at the Nahdlatul Ulama University in Jakarta told The Jakarta Post.Agus said that the practice of law enforcement in Kalingga was reported by a Chinese Tang Dynasty envoy who visited Kalingga during the reign of Queen Shima, Kartikea’s wife from North Kalingga in modern Jepara. The Chinese envoy witnessed the crown prince’s leg being cut off as a punishment for breaking the law.He said there were only two Indonesian presidents of Indonesia who had managed to avoid King Kartikea’s curse: Soeharto and Susilo Bambang Yudhoyono.Soeharto visited Kediri in the 1980s but, in fact, managed to hold on to the presidency for almost two more decades.”Soeharto visited Kediri with Sultan Hamengkubuwono IX [of Yogyakarta]. He acted as an ordinary person while the sultan, the ruler, was Hamengkubuwono. Then as we can see the sultan died not long after the visit,” Agus said.Meanwhile, Yudhoyono visited Kediri twice as president in 2007 and 2014 to visit residents who were affected by the Mount Kelud eruptions.Agus explained that Yudhoyono’s lineage descends from the Kalingga kingdom and he was thus better able to neutralize the curse.”Seeing people who were suffering from a disaster, the Kelud eruption, protected him from the curse,” he added.So should Jokowi, who has yet to visit Kediri since he first won the presidency in 2014, brave the “curse” to attend the groundbreaking of the city’s new airport in April?”If Pak Jokowi thinks he has upheld the law and the people’s interests then he shouldn’t be afraid of the curse,” Agus, who also heads the Nadhlatul Ulama’s arts and culture board, said.Topics :last_img read more

COVID-19: Seat occupancy on flights to Bandung from Singapore, Kuala Lumpur drops 50%

first_imgThe seat occupancy rates of airlines that offer flights to Husein Sastranegara International Airport in Bandung, West Java from Singapore and Kuala Lumpur, Malaysia have fallen by 50 percent amid fears of a novel coronavirus (COVID-19) outbreak.Husein Sastranegara Airport general manager Andika Nuryaman said the majority of airlines serving international routes had cut their flight frequency.“Airlines have suspended their flights because of a low demand for flights to Bandung from Singapore and Kuala Lumpur, and vice versa,” Andika said on Tuesday.Of three airlines that offer flights to Bandung from Singapore and Kuala Lumpur and vice versa — SilkAir, AirAsia and Malindo Air — only SilkAir is continuing to operate the routes.Read also: Airline fares cut to boost sales amid COVID-19 scareMeanwhile, AirAsia and Malindo have suspended their services. This significantly limits flight options from Bandung to Singapore and Kuala Lumpur.“There are only three flights a week,” Andika said, referring to the SilkAir service that is still available. However, he added that SilkAir had not given any guarantee that it would maintain the service in the future.“Passengers are afraid of going to Singapore and Kuala Lumpur. Therefore the airlines have suspended their flights because of the low demand,” said Andika.He went on to say that the decreasing passenger loads on international flights had been predicted in January, when the news of confirmed COVID-19 cases broke globally. “The passenger load has decreased by 50 percent,” he said.Read also: ‘It affects our revenue’: Garuda Indonesia suspends more flights as coronavirus spreadsAir Asia denied, however, that it had suspended its flights between Bandung and the two cities. “Flights between Kuala Lumpur and Bandung are operating normally, while the number of flights between Singapore and Bandung are only being adjusted on certain days according to demand,” Air Asia’s Head of Communication Baskoro Adiwiyono told The Jakarta Post on Thursday. He added that the airline would inform affected customers any time a flight schedule was changed.Andika said the airport had conducted proper screening of incoming passengers to prevent the virus from entering the city. The airport, in cooperation with the Port Health Office, had installed a body thermal scanner for the passengers, he added,Passengers are also required to fill in a health alert card to declare if they have any symptoms.“If the monitor detects [any symptoms of COVID-19] in a passenger, [the ground officers] will direct them to an isolation room,” said Andika, adding that the screening device provided information on body temperature as passengers walked through the scanner.Passenger loads on domestic flights remain high.Read also: Bali quarantines nine foreign tourists who sat next to NZ COVID-19 patient in airplaneOn Wednesday, the airport served 40 domestic flights connecting Bandung with Jakarta, Surabaya, Bandar Lampung, Pangkal Pinang, Yogyakarta, Surakarta, Semarang, Bengkulu and Tanjung Pandan.As part of the country’s efforts in mitigating the virus spread, West Java governor Ridwan Kamil has ordered related agencies to closely monitor all flights as well as reconsider available routes on international flights. Ridwan’s order refers to the province’s plan to welcome 10 people from Terengganu, Malaysia to two schools in West Java on March 20. Meanwhile, some schools in the province had also planned to conduct a study trip to Bali, he added. “I prefer to cancel those plans. If they are not urgent, just cancel,” Ridwan said. (gis)Editor’s note: This article has been updated with a statement from Air Asia.Topics :last_img read more

Gulf states report new rise in coronavirus cases

first_imgThe virus, which was first recorded in China in December, has spread across the Gulf and beyond. Most cases in the Gulf Arab states are among people who either travelled to Iran personally, or were infected by people who had visited the Islamic Republic.The United Arab Emirates, a major air transit center, business and tourism hub, has advised citizens and residents against travelling abroad and all schools are closing for a month from Sunday.Events across the country have also been cancelled or postponed, while some sports, such as horse racing and soccer, are going ahead without any fans in attendance.Saudi Arabia has closed it land borders with the United Arab Emirates, Kuwait and Bahrain, with an exception for commercial trucks, and is only permitting flights from those countries to three of its airports. Topics : The number of coronavirus cases in the United Arab Emirates has risen to 45 from 30, the Health Ministry said on Saturday, as other countries in the Gulf region also reported new infections.Kuwait recorded three new cases of the coronavirus, bringing its infection tally to 61, while Qatar reported its 12th case, the Health Ministries in the two nations said on Saturday.Saudi Arabia reported two new cases on Saturday, a woman coming from Iran, via Bahrain, and another one from Iraq, via the UAE, bringing the total number of infection in the kingdom to seven, according to a statement from the Health Ministry.center_img Dozens of Saudis have come forward after authorities called on Friday for people who had been in Iran during the last two weeks to inform officials, the state-run Saudi Press Agency reported on Saturday, citing the Health Ministry.Members of Saudi Arabia’s Shi’ite minority tend to keep their trips to Iran secret due to a bitter rivalry between the two countries. Sunni-led Saudi Arabia cut diplomatic relations with Iran in January 2016.The Saudi Press Agency said 95 Saudis have come forward to say they are currently in Iran, while 26 said they had returned from Iran. Another seven said they were in a third country after having visited Iran, SPA said.Iran has reported one of the highest death tolls from the coronavirus outside China, with 145 deaths reported up until Saturday.Kuwait has suspended flights to and from Egypt, Lebanon, Syria, Bangladesh, the Philippines, India and Sri Lanka for a week, and has banned the entry of foreigners who have been to those countries in the past two weeks.Dubai-based Al-Arabiya TV cited Bahraini health officials saying on Saturday six new cases of coronavirus were confirmed in the Gulf state, bringing its total number of infections to 62. last_img read more

Chinese billionaire Jack Ma offers US virus test kits, masks

first_img“The administration’s failure on testing is colossal, and it’s a failure of planning, leadership and execution,” the former vice president said. Ma, who is China’s richest man, said that over the past weeks, his organizations had helped provide similar supplies to virus-hit countries such as Japan, South Korea, Italy, Iran and Spain.”The pandemic we face today can no longer be resolved by any individual country,” Ma said. “We can’t beat this virus unless we eliminate boundaries to resources and share our know-how and hard-earned lessons,” Ma said.The US government has come under heavy criticism for the slowness of testing for the virus, and public health officials have rebuked President Donald Trump for playing down the seriousness of the fast-spreading pandemic.Joe Biden, the Democratic frontrunner in the race to face Trump in elections in November, slammed the lack of test kits on Thursday. Chinese billionaire businessman Jack Ma on Friday offered the United States 500,000 coronavirus test kits and a million masks, as the country faces a shortage of kits for diagnosing the potentially deadly disease.In a statement on Twitter, the founder of e-commerce giant Alibaba said, “drawing from my own country’s experience, speedy and accurate testing and adequate protective equipment for medical professionals are most effective in preventing the spread of the virus.””We hope that our donation can help Americans fight against the pandemic!” he said in the statement, which was posted by the Jack Ma Foundation.center_img Topics :last_img read more

Nine Indonesian with COVID-19 in Japan have recovered, says foreign minister

first_imgNine Indonesian crew members of the coronavirus-stricken Diamond Princess cruise ship in Japan have recovered from COVID-19 and are waiting to return to their home country.Seventy-eight Indonesian crew members were on board the cruise ship, which was quarantined by Japanese authorities for two weeks in the port of Yokohama on Feb. 5 in an attempt to contain the spread of the virus. Nine of them tested positive for COVID-19 during the quarantine.“All of the nine [crew members] have now [tested] negative and been declared healed,” Retno said on Friday. “If treated well, this disease can be cured. The case of nine Indonesians in Yokohama shows that we should not give up,” the minister went on to say.Read also: 8 Indonesians with COVID-19 in Japan have recovered: Foreign MinistrySeparately, the Health Ministry’s disease control and prevention director general, Achmad Yurianto,  said five of the nine crew members had returned to Indonesia.“The remaining four have also been discharged from their respective hospitals. However, they are still waiting for tickets home from their company,” Yurianto said on Thursday as quoted by Antara.The nine crew members tested positive for COVID-19 were treated separately at several hospitals in different regions across Japan.The remaining 69 Indonesian crew members who have been tested negative in Japan have returned to the country.However, one of them later tested positive for COVID-19. He, identified as Case 6, has since recovered after being treated in Persahabatan Hospital’s isolation room in East Jakarta for several days. (gis)Topics :last_img read more

Germany to guarantee 100% of loans to smaller firms in virus aid package

first_imgMinisters have agreed a 600-billion-euro “economic stabilisation fund” offering 400 billion euros of guarantees for companies’ debts, 100 billion to lend directly to or buy stakes in troubled firms, and 100 billion euros to fund state investment bank KfW.Meanwhile the amount of company borrowing KfW can guarantee has been boosted by 357 billion euros, for a total of 822 billion.To keep their liquidity flowing, companies will also be able to delay tax payments.Read also: Indonesia’s budget to fight COVID-19: What we know so far Berlin will guarantee 100 percent of loans made by banks to small- and medium-sized firms, German government sources told AFP Monday, in an extension to the 1.1-trillion-euro coronavirus crisis package in Europe’s top economy.The federal government will stand fully behind 500,000 euros (US$540,000) of lending to companies with up to 50 employees and 800,000 euros for larger ones, upping its guarantee level from a previous 80 percent for large firms or 90 percent for smaller ones.Berlin’s economic aid so far totals over 1.1 trillion euros, the finance ministry said in an answer to an opposition parliamentary question seen by AFP Monday. Berlin says it will offer 50 billion euros of support for small and one-man-band companies, like photographers, musicians or carers.Depending on the number of employees, individual companies will receive up to 15,000 euros each to keep the lights on over a period of three months.Meanwhile freelancers applying for unemployment benefit will not be forced to seek new work.Germany has also eased access to a programme that tops up workers’ pay with government cash when their hours are slashed.The scheme is widely credited with saving large numbers of jobs during the financial crisis of 2008-9.Berlin expects more than two million people to work shorter hours in the coronavirus crisis, far outstripping the peak seen over a decade ago.To cover the costs, the federal labour agency (BA) will start eating into its massive cash reserves of 26 billion euros.With 156 billion euros in new borrowing to fund the largesse and extra health spending, Berlin has been forced to suspend a “debt brake” added to the constitution at the height of the financial crisis in 2009.A further 82.2 billion euros of measures have been announced by Germany’s federal states and municipal governments, as well as 63.2 billion in guarantees.Topics :last_img read more