TIME indonesia

Indonesia’s Jokowi Marks 100 Days of Presidency With Scandal, Falling Support

Indonesian President Joko Widodo speaks to the media about AirAsia Flight QZ8501 in Sorong, West Papua,
Indonesian President Joko Widodo, center, speaks to the media about AirAsia Flight QZ 8501 in Sorong, West Papua, on Dec. 28, 2014 Antara Photo Agency/Reuters

Following a slew of public scandals and broken campaign promises, Indonesia's "new hope" is hemorrhaging support

On Sunday, Indonesian President Joko Widodo wrote on his Facebook page: “Suro Diro Joyonirat Lebur Dening Pangastuti.” The Javanese words of wisdom teach that stubbornness, narrow-mindedness and anger can only be overcome by wisdom, kindness and patience.

Jokowi, as the President is popularly known, could use lots of wisdom and patience these days. His first 100 days in office — usually a peak of a leader’s approval ratings — have been marked with rising public disappointment and slipping popularity — not to mention a major political crisis he has largely created himself.

On Jan. 9, Jokowi shocked the nation when he nominated Budi Gunawan as police chief. Budi, a onetime adjutant to Megawati Sukarnoputri, former President and chairwoman of Jokowi’s party, PDI-P, and reportedly also close to Vice President Jusuf Kalla, had been investigated for months by the Corruption Eradication Agency. Days later, on Jan. 13, the agency, known in Bahasa Indonesia as KPK, named the three-star police general as a graft suspect in the so-called fat-bank-account case. Despite this, the divided parliament — seen as the most corrupt public institution in Indonesia, along with the police — was united to endorse Budi.

On Friday, the police made a stunning move, arresting the highly respected KPK deputy chief Bambang Widjojanto. He was accused of inciting perjury when he was a lawyer representing regional politicians in a Constitutional Court case in 2010 — a trumped-up charge, say both KPK and civil-society figures. The news of the arrest, and images of an anticorruption official in handcuffs, sparked widespread anger, with citizens seeing it as another attempt by the police to weaken and intimidate the KPK. (In 2009, the police charged two KPK deputies with bribery; the Constitutional Court later ruled the charges were fabricated.) In the days that followed, the agency’s chief and its two other deputies were reported to police as well.

So far, Jokowi looks reluctant to take concrete steps to resolve the “gecko vs. crocodile” conflict, as the fight between the graft and crime busters has been dubbed. He gave in a little to public pressure by delaying Budi’s appointment and naming the deputy police chief as acting top cop. As the crisis mounted, he said on Sunday he would form an independent team — consisting of ex-KPK officials, a police general, a former Constitutional Court Justice and scholars — to advise him on the controversy. Otherwise, though, he has maintained a neutral stance, saying: “There shouldn’t be any crimininalization” and that both law-enforcement agencies should help each other.

Expectations were high when the former Solo mayor turned Jakarta governor was inaugurated as President on Oct. 20. The down-to-earth politician not only had pledged to push the badly needed economic and political reforms in the world’s fourth most populous nation — from removing red tape to fighting corruption — but also showed concerns on human rights. Jokowi, the first Indonesian President with no ties to the country’s political and military elite, is seen as “A New Hope,” as TIME’s cover said. The new elected leader, aware of Indonesia’s significance as the country with the biggest Muslim population in the world, told U.S. President Barack Obama in November in Beijing: “The elections have shown that Islam and democracy can work hand in hand.”

But optimism has turned into skepticism. “One hundred days in and Jokowi is already embroiled in a complex political conflict that threatens his presidency and is entirely of his own making,” says Jacqui Baker, lecturer in Southeast Asian politics at Murdoch University in Perth, Australia.

Joko Widodo means “courageous man” in Javanese, and there were times when the former furniture businessman won kudos for showing decisive leadership. He was hands-on, swift and empathetic in handling the search-and-rescue efforts of the AirAsia plane that crashed into the Java Sea late December. Economists heaped praise when he slashed fuel subsidies — a hot political issue that had led to riots in the past — and pledged to allocate the subsidy fund to finance infrastructure and welfare programs.

The 30% fuel-prices hike in November accelerated the inflation rate, however, and hurt his popularity. In a survey conducted in January, before the police-chief debacle, his approval rating stood at around 62%, down from nearly 75% in mid-October.

“The trend [of Jokowi’s popularity] is going down. He loses his shine,” says Burhanuddin Muhtadi, director of public affairs at pollster Lembaga Survei Indonesia, which conducted the surveys and will release the January results early next month.

It didn’t help that Jokowi had backed down from his campaign promise that he wouldn’t do any horse-trading, a fanciful notion to anyone familiar with Indonesia’s schismatic realpolitik. Being a political outsider, he needs support from the so-called party oligarchs — the political establishment who supports him, as reflected in his Cabinet lineup and other high-ranking appointments. Nearly half of his ministers are members of the political parties supporting him — Megawati’s daughter holds a senior Cabinet position — and his choices for Attorney General and police chief are linked with political patrons or their parties.

As it turns out, the President’s powerful backers are his major political liabilities. “Jokowi has revealed himself to be woefully hamstrung by his political allies, [Nasdem party chairman] Surya Paloh and Megawati — and their more experienced party machines,” adds Baker. “He is clearly outclassed and outmaneuvered.”

Despite the controversies, Jokowi has scored populist points through policies that draw out strong nationalist sentiments, such as destroying illegal foreign fishing boats that flout Indonesia’s maritime borders, and refusing to give clemency to drug traffickers on death row. On Jan. 18, Indonesia’s firing squads executed six convicted smugglers, five of whom were foreigners, sparking condemnation from human-rights activists and foreign leaders. Brazil and the Netherlands, whose citizens were among the dead, recalled their ambassadors in protest, while Nigeria summoned Jakarta’s envoy. The media in neighboring countries have similarly expressed dismay at Jokowi’s boat-burning policies.

“Jokowi has very few ways of asserting leadership,” Baker says. “Burning boats and executing drug traffickers are some of the few avenues left open to him.”

Even if Jokowi could get himself out of the “gecko vs. crocodile” controversy, his biggest political test yet to date, it may not be the last time that he is torn between the wish of his electorate and that of his political patrons. So far it’s the people who feel he is letting them down. Some of his biggest supporters have become his fiercest critics, and a few are already half-jesting about who else they should back in the next presidential election — and that does not bode well just three months in.

TIME Aviation

Search for AirAsia Wreckage Ends

INDONESIA-SINGAPORE-MALAYSIA-AVIATION-AIRASIA
An Indonesian rescue helicopter flies over the Crest Onyx ship as divers (R in rubber boats) conduct operations to lift the tail of AirAsia QZ8501 in the Java Sea on January 9, 2015. Adek Berry—AFP/Getty Images

Searchers have found 70 of the 162 bodies

Indonesia’s military suspended a search effort for a downed AirAsia flight in the Java Sea on Tuesday, drawing to a close a 30-day effort to retrieve bodies from the wreckage.

“We apologize to the families of the victims,” Rear Adm. Widodo said, according to Reuters. “We tried our best to look for the missing victims.”

Divers with the Indonesian military have struggled against strong currents and murky water conditions to retrieve bodies from the wreckage site, submerged some 100 feet below sea level. Officials said they had retrieved 70 bodies to date from the wreckage site, and no bodies were known to remain in the fuselage, the New York Times reports.

The plane had 162 people on board when it crashed last month.

TIME indonesia

Indonesian Divers Recover 6 More Bodies From AirAsia Crash

Indonesia Plane
Members of Japan Maritime Self-Defense Force and Indonesian Search and Rescue Agency unload the body of a victim aboard AirAsia Flight 8501 from a helicopter upon arrival at the airport in Pangkalan Bun, Indonesia, on Jan. 9, 2015. Achmad Ibrahim—AP

So far, 59 bodies have been recovered from AirAsia Flight 8501

(PANGKALAN BUN, Indonesia) — Indonesian divers retrieved Thursday six more bodies from waters around the sunken fuselage of the AirAsia jetliner that crashed last month.

Divers were struggling against strong current and poor visibility to lift the fuselage and what appears to be the plane’s cockpit from the seabed at a depth of 30 meters (100 feet).

So far, 59 bodies have been recovered from AirAsia Flight 8501, which plunged into the Java Sea with 162 people while en route from Surabaya, Indonesia’s second-largest city, to Singapore. Officials believed the rest are still inside the main fuselage.

National Transportation Safety Committee head Tatang Kurniadi on Wednesday ruled out sabotage, as investigators downloaded and began analyzing data from the aircraft’s cockpit voice and flight data recorders with advisers from Airbus, the plane’s manufacturer.

Transport Minister Ignasius Jonan told Parliament earlier this week that radar data showed that the plane was climbing at an abnormally high rate — about 6,000 feet a minute — then dropped rapidly and disappeared. He did not say what caused the plane to climb so rapidly, but the pilots asked to climb from 32,000 feet to 38,000 feet to avoid threatening clouds and were denied permission because of heavy air traffic. No distress signal was received.

An excessively rapid ascent is likely to cause an airplane to go into an aerodynamic stall. In 2009, an Air France Airbus A330 disappeared over the Atlantic Ocean in bad weather while flying from Rio de Janeiro to Paris. Investigators determined from the jet’s black boxes that it began a steep climb and then went into a stall from which the pilots were unable to recover.

Airbus spokesman Justin Dubon said that it was too early to comment on possible similarities between the two crashes.

A preliminary report on the AirAsia accident is expected to be submitted to the International Civil Aviation Organization next week, in line with a requirement that it be filed within 30 days of a crash, Kurniadi said, adding that a full analysis of what went wrong with the plane could take up to a year.

TIME indonesia

AirAsia Flight 8501 Climbed ‘Beyond Normal’ Speed, Officials Say

AirAsia aircraft tail storage is recovered
AirAsia aircraft tail is recovered from the Java Sea on Jan. 12, 2015, in Pangkalan Bun, Indonesia Denny Pohan—Demotix/Corbis

The plane reportedly climbed at 6,000 ft. per minute before stalling

An airplane that crashed in Indonesia late December was climbing at “beyond normal” speed before it pitched into the Java Sea, the country’s Transportation Minister said Tuesday.

Ignasius Jonan told a hearing into the AirAsia Flight 8501 crash that the plane stalled after climbing at 6,000 ft. per minute — faster than a fighter jet, the Jakarta Post reports. A total of 162 passengers and crew are believed dead.

“The average speed of a commercial aircraft is probably between 1,000 and 2,000 ft. per minute, because the aircraft is not designed to soar so fast,” he said.

The update comes a week after the recovery of the plane’s “black boxes,” a flight-data recorder and cockpit-voice recorder.

Investigators have ruled out terrorism after reviewing the black boxes and are considering human error, technical malfunction and inclement weather as possible causes for the steep climb and the crash.

[Jakarta Post]

Read next: Search Crews Locate Missing AirAsia Flight’s Fuselage

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TIME

Indonesian Authorities Say AirAsia Plane Climbed at Abnormal Rate, Then Disappeared

An Indonesian diver and an official examine the wreckage from AirAsia flight QZ8501 after it was lifted into the Crest Onyx ship at sea, near Indonesia on Jan. 10, 2015.
An Indonesian diver and an official examine the wreckage from AirAsia flight QZ8501 after it was lifted into the Crest Onyx ship at sea, near Indonesia on Jan. 10, 2015. AFP/Getty Images

(JAKARTA, Indonesia) — An AirAsia plane that crashed last month with 162 people on board was climbing at an abnormally high rate, then plunged and suddenly disappeared from radar, Indonesia’s transport minister said Tuesday.

Ignasius Jonan told Parliament that radar data showed the Airbus A320 was climbing at about 6,000 feet a minute before it disappeared on Dec. 28.

“It is not normal to climb like that, it’s very rare for commercial planes, which normally climb just 1,000 to 2,000 feet per minute,” he said. “It can only be done by a fighter jet.”

He said the plane then plunged and disappeared from radar.

Jonan did not say what caused the plane to c.

In their last contact with air-traffic controllers, the pilots of AirAsia Flight 8501 asked to climb from 32,000 feet to 38,000 feet to avoid threatening clouds, but were denied permission because of heavy air traffic. Four minutes later, the plane disappeared. No distress signal was received.

An excessively rapid ascent is likely to cause an airplane to go into an aerodynamic stall. In 2009, an Air France Airbus A330 disappeared over the Atlantic Ocean while flying from Rio de Janeiro to Paris. Investigators were able to determine from the jet’s “black boxes” that the plane began a steep climb and then went into a stall from which the pilots were unable to recover.

Airbus spokesman Justin Dubon said Tuesday that it was too early to comment on possible similarities between the two crashes.

Survey ships have located at least nine big objects, including the AirAsia jet’s fuselage and tail, in the Java Sea. The plane’s black boxes — the cockpit voice recorder and flight data recorder — have been recovered but are still being analyzed.

The plane was en route from Surabaya, Indonesia’s second-largest city, to Singapore.

Only 51 bodies have been recovered so far. Rough sea conditions have repeatedly prevented divers from reaching the wreckage.

___

Associated Press writer Greg Keller in Paris contributed to this report.

TIME indonesia

Indonesia Executes 6 People for Drug Crimes Despite Foreign Appeals

Indonesia Executions
Ambulances carrying the bodies of drug convicts arrive at Wijayapura port in Cilacap, Indonesia, Jan. 18, 2015. Wagino—AP

Five of the six were foreign citizens

Indonesia executed six people convicted of drug crimes just after midnight Saturday, after rejecting last-minute appeals and clemency requests from foreign leaders whose citizens were among those sentenced to death.

Officials confirmed that four men from Brazil, Malawi, Nigeria and the Netherlands and one woman from Indonesia were executed in pairs by a firing squad on Nusakambangan Island, which is just off the southern coast of Java, the Associated Press reported. Another woman from Vietnam was executed in Boyolali, a regency in central Java.

Brazilian President Dilma Rousseff and Dutch Foreign Minister Bert Koenders, among other diplomats and international leaders, have spoken out against the executions. Koenders said in a statement that the killings were “a cruel and inhumane punishment … an unacceptable denial of human dignity and integrity.”

Indonesia is known for its strict drug laws and resumed its executions in 2013 after a four-year moratorium on the death penalty.

Read more at AP

TIME Aviation

Search Crews Locate Missing AirAsia Flight’s Fuselage

AirAsia aircraft tail storage is recovered
AirAsia aircraft tail is recovered from the Java Sea on Jan. 12, 2015, in Pangkalan Bun, Indonesia Denny Pohan—Demotix/Corbis

Official hopes it brings "some form of closure" to families

Search crews located the fuselage of missing Air Asia Flight 8501 on Wednesday, officials said, marking a breakthrough in a the search for the plane’s scattered wreckage and the missing passengers’ remains.

“The [rescue team] has located the fuselage of the AirAsia plane in the Java Sea,” Singapore’s Defense Minister Ng Eng Hen wrote on Facebook, saying the fuselage had been found by a remotely operated vehicle in the Java Sea, 2 km away from the tail. The flight en route from Indonesia to Singapore vanished over the Java Sea on Dec. 28 with 162 people on board.

The Facebook post included images of the submerged wreckage, which showed a section of the wing and AirAsia’s slogan “Now Everyone Can Fly” legibly printed on the side of the plane.

“I hope that with the fuselage located, some form of closure can come to the families of the victims to ease their grief,” Ng wrote.

TIME indonesia

Divers Retrieve 2nd Black Box From AirAsia Crash

Indonesia Plane
Indonesian divers hold the flight data recorder of AirAsia QZ 8501 on board the navy vessel KRI Banda Aceh on Jan. 12, 2015 Adek Berry—AP

The second black box was pinned under chunks of the plane's wing at a depth of 32 m

(PANGKALAN BUN, INDONESIA)— Divers have retrieved the crashed AirAsia plane’s second black box from the bottom of the Java Sea, giving investigators the essential tools they need to start piecing together what brought Flight 8501 down.

Transportation Ministry official Tonny Budiono says the trapped cockpit voice recorder was freed from beneath the wing’s heavy ruins early Tuesday from a depth of about 30 meters (100 feet), a day after the aircraft’s flight data recorder was recovered.

It will be flown to the capital, Jakarta, to be downloaded and analyzed with the other box. Since it records in a two-hour loop, all discussions between the captain and co-pilot during the 42-minute journey should be available.

The plane crashed Dec. 28, killing all 162 people on board.

Search and rescue workers were preparing balloons and other equipment Tuesday to lift debris from the AirAsia plane wreckage to allow divers to retrieve the cockpit voice recorder, the search coordinator said.

Divers had recovered the flight data recorder on Monday, but the second black box — which is actually orange — was pinned under chunks of the plane’s wing at a depth of 32 meters (105 feet) in the Java Sea.

“The divers can see it clearly as an orange object, but it’s difficult for divers to retrieve it as layers of heavy metal and debris are above it,” said Suryadi Bambang Supriyadi, operation coordinator for Indonesia’s national search and rescue agency.

The two instruments, which emit signals from their beacons, are vital to understanding what brought Flight 8501 down on Dec. 28, killing all 162 people on board. They should provide essential information about the plane and all of the conversations between the captain and co-pilot for the duration of the flight.

More than 80 Indonesian navy divers plunged into the shallow sea early Tuesday about 20 meters away from the flight data recorder had been found, Supriyadi said. Workers were readying balloons and lifting bags to raise the debris, he said.

Supriyadi also said that an Indonesian warship had found pieces of the plane’s windows and interior cupboards near the Java port of Semarang, about 720 kilometers (450 miles) southeast of where the jethad lost contact with Indonesian air traffic control, showing how far some debris has drifted over the 17 days since the accident.

The flight data recorder will be taken to Jakarta, Indonesia’s capital, for evaluation, and the other black box will be sent as soon as it is retrieved. It could take up to two weeks to download and analyze their information, said Nurcahyo Utomo, an investigator at the National Committee for Safety Transportation.

Based on past crashes, the information retrieved from the black boxes could be vital. The two separate devices — designed to survive extreme heat and pressure — should provide investigators with a second-by-second timeline of the plane’s flight.

The voice recorder takes audio feeds from four microphones within the cockpit and records all the conversations between the pilots, air traffic controllers as well as any noises heard in the cockpit, including possible alarms or explosions. It records on a two-hour loop, so investigators here won’t just capture the plane’s final minutes but the entire 42-minute trip.

The flight data recorder captures 25 hours’ worth of information on the position and condition of almost every major part in a plane. It includes a multitude of data, including altitude, airspeed, direction, engine thrust, the rate of ascent or descent and what angle up or down the plane was pointed.

“There’s like 200-plus parameters they record,” said aviation safety expert John Goglia, a former U.S. National Transportation Safety Board member. “It’s going to provide us an ocean of material.”

The pilots of the AirAsia jet last had contact with air traffic controllers less than halfway into their two-hour flight from Surabaya, Indonesia’s second-largest city, to Singapore. Saying they were entering a stormy area, they asked to climb from 32,000 feet (9,750 meters) to 38,000 feet (11,580 meters) to avoid threatening clouds, but were denied permission because of heavy air traffic. Four minutes later, the plane dropped off the radar. No distress signal was sent.

Searchers also have been trying to locate the main section of the plane’s cabin, where many of the victims’ corpses are believed to be entombed.

So far, only 48 bodies have been recovered. Decomposition is making identification more difficult for desperate families waiting to bury their loved ones. Nearly all of the passengers were Indonesian.

“I still believe many victims remain trapped there, and we must find them,” said Gen. Moeldoko, Indonesia’s military chief, who uses one name.

___

Associated Press writers Niniek Karmini in Jakarta, Indonesia, Scott Mayerowitz in New York and Nicki Mayo in Washington contributed to this report.

TIME Aviation

The AirAsia Flight 8501 Data Recorder Has Been Retrieved

INDONESIA-SINGAPORE-MALAYSIA-AVIATION-AIRASIA
Indonesian crew of the Crest Onyx ship prepare to hoist recovered wreckage of AirAsia flight QZ8501 at port in Kumai on January 11, 2015. Indonesian divers on January 11 found the crucial black box flight recorder of the AirAsia plane that crashed in the Java Sea a fortnight ago with 162 people aboard, the transport ministry said. Adek Berry—AFP/Getty Images

The cockpit voice recorder has also been located but remains buried under wreckage

One of two data recorders belonging to the AirAsia plane that crashed into the Java Sea on Dec. 28 has been brought to the surface, according to Indonesia’s top search and rescue official.

F.H. Bambang Soelistyo, the head of Indonesia’s National Search and Rescue Agency (Basarnas), told reporters in Jakarta that “we succeeded in bringing up part of the black box that we call the flight data recorder,” the BBC reports.

He said recovery had been made at 7:11 a.m. local time.

Divers have meanwhile also found the cockpit voice recorder, but are unable to retrieve it because it is buried under heavy wreckage, the Associated Press reports.

Investigators hope that the evidence contained in both devices will help explain why the Airbus A320-200 went down with 162 lives lost as it flew from Indonesia’s second city, Surabaya, to Singapore.

[BBC]

TIME Aviation

AirAsia Jet’s Tail Lifted From Sea, but No Black Boxes Found

Part of AirAsia flight QZ8501 is lifted onto a Crest Onyx ship as navy divers conduct operations to search for black boxes of the aircraft in the Java sea on Jan. 10, 2015.
Part of AirAsia flight QZ8501 is lifted onto a Crest Onyx ship as navy divers conduct operations to search for black boxes of the aircraft in the Java sea on Jan. 10, 2015. Prasetyo Utomo—AFP/Getty Images

PANGKALAN BUN, Indonesia (AP) — A tail section from the AirAsia plane that crashed into the Java Sea late last month, killing all 162 people on board, became the first major wreckage lifted off the ocean floor Saturday, but the all-important black boxes were not found inside.

The red metal chunk, with the words “AirAsia” clearly visible across it, was brought to the surface using inflatable balloons.

The cockpit voice and flight data recorders, located in the plane’s rear, must have detached when the Airbus A320 plummeted into the waters Dec. 28, said Indonesian military commander Gen. Moeldoko. Their recovery is essential to finding out why Flight 8501 crashed.

However, Moeldoko, who like many Indonesians uses only one name, said pings believed to be coming from the black boxes were detected Saturday. Their beacons emit signals for about 30 days until the batteries die, meaning divers have about two weeks left to find them.

“I am fully confident that the black boxes are still not far from the tail,” Moeldoko said.

The debris was brought up from a depth of about 30 meters (100 feet) and towed to a ship, where it was hoisted onto the deck. The vertical stabilizer was still largely intact, but the attached jagged fuselage was ripped open and tangled by a mess of wires.

The tail’s discovery earlier in the week was a major breakthrough in the slow-moving search, which has been hampered by seasonal rains, choppy seas and blinding silt from river runoff.

But Suryadi Bambang Supriyadi, operation director of Indonesia’s national search and rescue agency, said Saturday that he was still focused on finding the main section of fuselage, where most of the bodies are believed to be entombed. Several large objects have been spotted in the area by sonar, but they have not yet been explored underwater. So far, only 48 corpses have been recovered.

“This is what the families have been waiting for,” Supriyadi said. “They have been crying for 14 days.”

The last contact the pilots had with air traffic control, about halfway into their two-hour journey from Indonesia’s second-largest city, Surabaya, to Singapore, indicated they were entering stormy weather. They asked to climb from 32,000 feet (9,753 meters) to 38,000 feet (11,582 meters) to avoid threatening clouds, but were denied permission because of heavy air traffic. Four minutes later, the plane dropped off the radar. No distress signal was issued.

Meanwhile, Transportation Minister Ignasius Jonan cracked down on five airlines Friday, temporarily suspending 61 flights because they were flying routes on days without permits. Earlier, all AirAsia flights from Surabaya to Singapore were stopped after it was discovered that the low-cost carrier was not authorized to fly on Sundays.

Jonan also sanctioned nine more officials for allowing the AirAsia plane to fly without permits, bringing the total to 16.

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