Soft approach to fight rampant piracy in Indonesia

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Law and Human Rights Ministry official Salmon Pardede, centre, checks a passenger’s laptop at Terminal 2 of Soekarno-Hatta International Airport on Thursday./The Jakarta Post
News Desk
The Jakarta Post

JAKARTA – Nugraha, 29, was finishing up the check-in process at Terminal 2F in Tangerang, Banten, on Thursday morning (June 9) when he was approached by staffers from the Law and Human Rights Ministry.

The staffers politely asked him if they could check his laptop to see if there were unlicensed components in it. Within a few minutes, the officers found that his computer did not use a licensed core processor.

“I have been using my laptop since 2013 and never knew that the processor was not genuine. The seller did not tell me and I admit that I didn’t ask them,” Nugraha said, adding that the officers told him not to use pirated software and unlicensed core processors.

Like Nugraha, passengers at Soekarno-Hatta International Airport could also meet with officers from the ministry’s directorate general for intellectual property.

The checks were part of the ministry’s campaign on Thursday to discourage people from using pirated and counterfeit goods. During the campaign, officers disseminated information and encouraged passengers to give up their laptops or notebooks voluntarily for an examination. Journalists, however, were not allowed to observe the process.

The campaign was conducted to clamp down on pirated software circulating in the country, which is estimated to have caused state losses of around 65.1 trillion rupiah (US$4.8 million) since 2014.

Salmon Pardede, the ministry’s director of investigations and dispute settlement, told the media that the government had to campaign and educate the public regularly because piracy could not be eradicated within a short time-frame.

“We have been cooperating with the ministry’s regional offices in all of the provinces in Indonesia to inform high school students about intellectual property,” Salmon said.

According to a 2015 Software Alliance survey, 84 per cent of computer users in Indonesia installed unlicensed software on their computers. The commercial value of the unlicensed software is estimated to be $1.2 billion.

The percentage was similar to the percentage recorded in 2013.

Salmon said it was difficult to eradicate piracy because the perpetrators could easily earn money from such crimes.

However, prevailing copyright law only stipulates punishment for the producers of pirated goods.

“Under the prevailing copyright law, people who buy pirated goods cannot be punished, but those who provide places for selling can be,” said Salmon.

Article 114 of Law No. 28/2014 on copyright stipulates that anyone who manages a place for commercial use and allows sellers to sell pirated goods can be sanctioned with a maximum fine of 100 million rupiah.

People who reduplicate and distribute things without permission from the copyright owners can also be sanctioned with a maximum penalty of four years in prison and a maximum fine of 1 billion rupiah, as stipulated in Article 113 of the Copyright Law.

“We put up banners at the Glodok market in West Jakarta two weeks ago. The banners say that people should not sell or buy pirated goods,” Salmon said.

He added that it might not impact sellers and buyers in the market, but he felt certain that they would worry because the government had put them on notice. According to the 2015 United States Trade Representative (USTR) Review of Notorious Markets, Harco Glodok, Indonesia’s largest trade center at Glodok market, operates as the retail distribution point for a complex piracy and counterfeiting network.

China intensifies economic, trade cooperation with Laos and region

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Souksakhone Vaenkeo
Vientiane Times

VIENTIANE – China’s preparations are progressing well toward establishing a multibillion US dollar Mengla Economic Cooperation Zone in Yunnan province near the Lao border.

The Chinese government announced at the end of last year it would invest US$31.4 billion in the pilot project in Xishuangbanna – an autonomous prefecture of Yunnan, China’s gateway to Southeast Asian countries.

The mega project is scheduled to be realised by 2025, Mengla district official in charge of the project Mr Cang Shan En told Lao and Chinese media during a recent press tour to the prefecture organised by Yunnan Daily Press Group.

A detailed concept of the project has been submitted to the provincial government for consideration and approval. Investment enticements such as tax incentives are expected to be introduced to lure investor capital to establish business operations in the zone.

Investment in the zone will include various industries, trading, and import – export businesses. It was reported previously that the 4,500-sq-km zone was set to welcome investment projects in areas such as transportation, education and energy.

Numerous infrastructure projects including an airport and highways will be developed to supplement the existing transportation system to meet the growing needs of freight and passenger transport, especially once the pilot project is realised.

In addition, Mongma border checkpoint where China’s Mengla and Laos’ Sing district in Luang Namtha province meets is being built to promote greater cooperation in trade and investment between the neighbouring countries.

“The border gate will be a convenient trade route from China to Myanmar via Laos,” Mr Cang Shan En said through an interpreter.

The pilot project, once operational, will supplement the Chinese government’s ongoing efforts to intensify economic cooperation with countries in the region.

Established in September last year by the governments of Laos and China, the economic cooperation zone at the Yunna’s Mohan – Luang Namtha’s Boten border area has lured registered capital of more than 100 billion yuan via tax exemptions.

Businesses have said the tax exemption provided an incentive for investment and made their products more competitive.

“I don’t have to pay tax when exporting my products to neighbouring co untries like Thailand,” said Mr Zeng Li, a representative of the Tian Xin Import-Export Company, who has invested in the Boten Specific Economic Zone in Luang Namtha province, which is part of the Mohan-Boten economic cooperation zone.

Congested by increasing numbers of trucks and passengers at the Mohan-Boten border gate, Lao and Chinese authorities are constructing a goods transport lane to ease the bottleneck at the gate, with many trucks en-route to Thailand via Laos.

Statistics provided by the Yunnan Xishuangbanna Mohan Economic Development Zone showed on average that as many as 3,100 people and 1,200 vehicles cross through the border gate daily.

A r epresentative from Cheng Long International Transport Company Li Sia Long said shipping goods through the Mohan-Boten trade route was more efficient as it takes fewer days by land transport from China to Thailand via Laos compared to shipments through sea routes. This was especially important for farm produce which requires on time delivery to ensure fruit was not wasted, he added.

Officials said transport via the water route of the Langcang-Mekong River also played an important part in boosting trade among the regional countries.

Businesses and officials said they believed once the planned railway linking China to Southeast Asian countries via Laos was complete, it would significantly boost trade and investment cooperation in the region.

Scammers steal $90,000 from Bank of Bhutan

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Asia News Network

Thai bank alerted Bhutanese officials to a further $150,000 sent to ‘wrong’ account here

Bhutan’s oldest bank, the Bank of Bhutan, has fallen prey to scammers who managed to steal 16 million ngultrum (more than US$240,000) from the account of the Royal Audit Authority.

The bank transferred 16 million ngultrum to three different accounts in India, Malaysia and Thailand based on a fake email received from the Royal Audit Authority, the country’s broadcasting service, Bhutan Broadcasting Service Corporation (BBSC) reported.

Audit officials told the TV station the anonymous perpetrator had hacked into an e-mail account of one of its employees and asked the bank to remit 16 million ngultrum to three different accounts.

Bank of Bhutan officials said the email had all the authentic letterhead, seal, signature and account number of the RAA, according to BBSC. The amount was remitted from the audit authority’s letter of credit account.

RAA officials came to know about the scam when the bank informed them that one of the account numbers was wrong.

The corresponding bank in Thailand followed up with the Bank of Bhutan to say that the account number was not correct.

Due to the mistaken account number, 10 million ngultrum ($150,000) could not be transferred, while it is assumed that 6 million ngultrum ($90,000) has already been dispatched.

Audit officials said the Bank of Bhutan had assured the money would be returned or reimbursed to the authority.

In a letter, audit officials blamed the bank for negligence.

“The withdrawal had been made possible through presentation of forged documents, a situation further exacerbated by non-fulfilment of minimum requirements for financial transactions,” the letter posted on BBSC website stated.

“Considering the nature of transaction, the RAA can fairly conclude that bank officials have failed to exercise due diligence prior to effecting the transaction from the said accounts.”

The bank took full responsibility. While acknowledging lapses “due to earnestness to provide prompt services to an important client”, the banks stated that the fraud was a result of an RAA staff’s personal email account being hacked and used.

It stated that the largest value remittance has been recovered with the help of the Financial Intelligence Unit of Bhutan’s central bank and their correspondent bank. “Efforts are ongoing to recover the rest with the help of the central bank,” it stated in a letter to Kuensel, the national newspaper.

The bank also wrote that they would reinforce their internal controls to prevent such incidents in the future. “The bank has in the past and will in future also take full responsibility whenever clients suffers a loss due to the bank’s negligence.”

Both audit and bank officials said the case has been forwarded to the Anti-Corruption Commission, which will be carrying out an independent investigation.

‘Made in Brunei’ crowd-funded tent venture starts production

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Leo Kasim
The Brunei Times
HOME AEC AEC NEWS SAT, 11 JUN, 2016 12:59 AM

BANDAR SERI BEGAWAN – Production for the Kickstarter-funded Bundle Beds began earlier this week as the founders of the project raced to meet orders placed by backers.

The portable camping bed was conceived by two British entrepreneurs residing in Brunei, Lucy Bartlett and James Clark, who used the popular online crowdsourcing service to fund the development of the project.

The couple has commissioned Brunei-based textile company Famous Textiles Sdn Bhd to manufacture the beds.

These beds will carry a ‘Made in Brunei’ tag.

Bartlett said that she has placed an order for 700 units of Bundle Beds with 500 adult beds and 200 children beds.

“We are hoping that these will be made and ready to ship by July 1 which is approximately one month after when we would have liked them to be shipped,” Bartlett said in an email interview.

The beds would then be shipped to various backers from around the world.

Bartlett said that the material needed to make the beds has been delivered to the factory on June 1 after which production began.

However, she said, high shipping costs and long delivery time for the materials resulted in slight delays in production.

“Shipping was one of our biggest costs but we overcame this issue by combining all of the items into one container. But the container could only leave when all of the materials were sent through.

“We had planned to send them piece by piece to allow production of different sections to start earlier, but we weighed this up against the excess cost and decided to delay and save the money,” she said.

Bartlett said that Bundle Beds had a total of 362 backers out of which 272 of them bought beds which come in different sizes.

She also said that Bundle Beds has signed up with BackerKit, a company that facilitates the collection of data after a Kickstarter project, to allow preorders for the beds even after the funding campaign is over.

She added that the beds are currently on a 20 per cent sale until June 19 through BackerKit.

The funding campaign began on February 22, 2016 with a target to reach 25,000 pounds (US$36,000) within 30 days.

The campaign reached its funding target within 65 hours but more funding continued to pour in due to the large amount of interest.

When the campaign ended, the funding pot amounted to 66,785 pounds from 362 backers which is over twice the amount that was initially targeted.

Famous Textile owner Stephen So previously said that the project will help put Brunei on the map.

Fast-track service facilitates US$10 bn in investment in Indonesia

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An Investment Coordinating Board (BKPM) official serves a potential investor looking to invest through the three-hour investment service system introduced on October 27, 2015. /Photo courtesy of KONTAN
Anton HermansyahAnton Hermansyah
The Jakarta Post

JAKARTA – The Investment Coordinating Board (BKPM) has facilitated US$10.38 billion in investment from 59 companies over the course of the last year after establishing a three-hour investment service system.

BKPM deputy director Lestari Indah said on Thursday that the fast-track services included direct construction in industrial zones and land-booking letter services.

“Investors are still facing challenges over the requirement to obtain licenses,” Lestari said.

She admitted that bottlenecks were still a primary concern for the BKPM, especially in technical documents such as those used to obtain expatriate work permits.

“Further bottlenecking from technical ministries should be identified and then consolidated into a single-window service,” she added.

Institute for Development of Economics and Finance (INDEF) director Enny Sri Hartati said many nvestors still had complaints about the “unclear” requirements of obtaining licenses from technical ministries.

According to BKPM data, foreign direct investment into Indonesia reached $29.28 billion last year, up slightly from $28.5 billion in 2014, with mining, transportation, telecommunications and mineral processing the biggest beneficiaries.

Philippine jobless rate down in April

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Ben O de Vera
Philippine Daily Inquirer

MANILA – The unemployment rate in April declined from a year ago as the election campaign season created jobs, but the government Thursday expressed concern over high unemployment among the young population as well as an increase in the number of underemployed citizens.

The Philippine Statistics Authority’s (PSA) April 2016 Labour Force Survey (LFS) showed that the unemployment rate went down to 6.1 per cent from 6.4 per cent in April last year, although higher than the 5.8 per cent posted last January.

Despite a growing population as well as more and more individuals entering the labour force, the number of employed Filipinos rose to 39.9 million last April from 39.2 million a quarter ago, while the unemployed numbered 2.6 million.

In a statement, the National Economic and Development Authority (Neda) said the employment rate of 93.9 per cent was “at the high-end range of previous April rounds of the LFS since 2011.”

“The high proportion of working persons to the total labour force indicates an upbeat labour market,” Neda said.

The unemployment rate was also below the full-year target of 6.6 per cent, Neda noted.

Neda attributed the higher number of employed Filipinos in April partly to election-related activities that generated temporary jobs, although majority of employment in the country involved permanent positions.

“Of the employed, more than three-quarters are permanently employed and just over a fifth are short-term or seasonal workers. Other indicators of quality employment, such as wage and salaried employment (24.8 million or 62.1 per cent of total employed), full-time employment, and mean hours of work have shown an increasing trend, supportive of an optimistic outlook on employment,” Neda said.

“These employment numbers are a reflection of the country’s vibrant economy,” Economic Planning Secretary Emmanuel F. Esguerra said.

“If the labour market trends are maintained, the Philippine Development Plan target of 6.5-6.7 per cent for unemployment rate in 2016 is likely to be achieved,” added Esguerra, who is also the Director-General of Neda.

However, Esguerra said he was alarmed over “economic inactivity of the youth.”

Unemployment among the youth, defined by the PSA as aged 15 to 24, hit 14.6 per cent last April, more than double the national unemployment rate.

“Moreover, some 23.8 per cent of the total young working population were neither in school nor in the labour force, implying that 4.7 million young Filipinos are underutilised as their skills are not being honed by education, training or employment,” Esguerra added.

The underemployment rate also remained high, at 18.4 per cent in April, up from 17.8 per cent a year ago as well as higher than the target for this year of 17 per cent.

ADB president to visit Myanmar next week

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Asian Development Bank (ADB) President Takehiko Nakao poses in front of the logo of ADB at its headquarters in Mandaluyong, Metro Manila./Reuters
Khine Kyaw
Myanmar Eleven

YANGON – Asian Development Bank President Takehiko Nakao will visit Myanmar on June 13-15, to strengthen future cooperation in core sectors such as infrastructure, energy and power, transportation, and telecommunications.

During his three-day visit, Nakao is scheduled to meet with President Htin Kyaw, State Counsellor and Foreign Minister Aung San Suu Kyi, and Planning and Finance Minister and chairman of the Myanmar Investment Commission Kyaw Win.

This marks Nakao’s first visit to Myanmar since taking office in April 2013.

Soe Tun, vice president of Myanmar Rice Federation and president of Myanmar Automobile Manufacture and Distributors Association, warmly welcomed Nakao’s visit. He said that Myanmar needs more long-term, low-interest loans from development lenders such as the World Bank and ADB. He has high hopes that Nakao’s visit will help Myanmar implement a large number of much-needed infrastructure projects like electricity and road connectivity.

ADB has actively been involved in a number of development projects to facilitate Myanmar’s economic and social transition since 2012, with loans and grants amounting to US$991.5 million from 2013 to 2015.

In its Asian Development Outlook 2016, Myanmar is set to lead all Asean nations in terms of growth rate in 2016 and 2017 fiscal years, with growth forecasts of 8.4 and 8.3 per cent, respectively. This follows the 7.2 per cent rate in the 2015 fiscal year.

Fintech growth unregulated in Indonesia

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JAKARTA – While traditional banks require customers to do transactions at physical branches or ATMs, a lot of fintech companies offer the luxury of doing everything, including signing up, online.

Local fintech firm Doku, which claims to be Indonesia’s largest and fastest-growing facilitator of electronic payments, offers consumers an electronic wallet that can be topped up at any time through bank transfers.

The “Doku wallet” can be used to make payments at various retail stores, tour and travel agencies, and at electronics shops, as well as at many more merchants that are in partnership with Doku. The electronic wallet can also be|used to pay for donations, TV cable services and insurance premiums.

Withdrawing money is also possible with a “Doku wallet” through Alfamart Group points of sale that total more than 10,000 across the archipelago. The e-wallet can even be used to transfer money to friends who don’t have a Doku account, only requiring the recipient’s email address.

These conveniences are just a few examples among many of how fintech is mushrooming in Indonesia, the largest economy in Southeast Asia, where only 20 per cent of the adult population has an account in a formal financial institution.

Estimates vary about the size of Indonesia’s fintech industry. Statista’s Digital Market Outlook estimates that the transaction value of local fintech reaches US$14.5 billion at present and expects it to grow by 18 per cent annually until it reaches $28.8 billion in 2020.

That compares with commercial banks’ total assets of more than 6 quadrillion rupiah ($451.20 billion) as of March this year and nears the sharia banks’ total asset value of 290 trillion rupiah ($22.4 billion).

“There needs to be a clear regulatory framework that creates a win-win solution for all stakeholders. Otherwise, it will be chaos without clear standards,” said Teddy Setiawan Tee, chairman of the fintech division at the Indonesian Venture Capital and Startup Association (Amvesindo).

The future potential for fintech is lucrative. Indonesia’s local marketplace for peer-to-peer lending, Modalku, launched in January and has already disbursed 22 loans worth 5.1 billion rupiah with zero defaults.

Modalku facilitates lenders and borrowers for financing worth 50 million rupiah to 500 million rupiah, considered the “missing middle” lending segment, with a tenure of three to 12 months.

They are targeting micro enterprises that total about 57 million, of which only 1 per cent manage to grow to the sustainable size of small and medium enterprises (SMEs), partly because of a lack of access to credit, according to research conducted jointly by Oliver Wyman and Modalku.

For Indonesia, the research suggests regulations should be put in place as soon as possible. “Regulators should equip the |[fintech] industry with protective mechanisms before it grows too big and maintain comprehensive vigilance while also keeping regulatory compliance costs down,” it read.

Global financial regulators put fintech in the spotlight at a recent Financial Stability Board (FSB) meeting of the G20 countries, inching closer to regulating the sector that may potentially “|disrupt” traditional banking, to ensure its rapid growth does not pose any risks to the financial |system.

The Indonesian Financial Services Authority (OJK) is working on it. The regulation, which will be rolled out before year-end, will protect both consumers and fintech and not limit development of the new sector by any means, said Dumoly Pardede, the OJK’s deputy commissioner for non-bank financial institution supervision.

“The regulations are more to regulate business transparency on how they capitalise and manage the businesses and what kind of sanctions are to be imposed if breaches are committed. However, we’re not going into details like setting their loan interest |rates or others, for example,” he added.

Major banks such as Bank Mandiri and Bank BCA have already partnered with or pledged funding to fintech companies, but most of them have not yet considered the threat of fintech, which has a miniscule market share of less than 1 percent of the overall commercial banking industry assets.

Bank Mandiri digital banking and technology director Rico Usthavia Frans said collaboration with fintech companies should be established as soon as possible as the latter could eat banks’ market shares if ignored.

90% of companies fail to replace trees felled during projects

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Somsack Pongkhao
Vientiane Times

VIENTIANE – All companies carrying out projects in Laos which resulted in deforestation are required to plant trees to offset the loss, but less than 10 per cent of companies in question pursued the country’s laws and regulations, forestry officials and researchers have stated.

The failure caused great loss in forestry resources over recent decades.

A researcher from the National Agriculture and Forestry Research Institute (NAFRI), Dr Palikone Thalongsengchanh, said that many companies were only interested in cutting down big trees, without caring about Lao forests.

“Some companies have carried out projects solely with an aim to cut trees,” he said, saying that Laos had lost enormous areas of woodland over the past years devastating ecosystems.

Indeed, planting trees is part of the obligations for companies operating in Laos to compensate forest cut down to pave the way for the construction of their projects, notably hydropower, mining and other mega projects.

Deputy Minister of Agriculture and Forestry Mr Thongphat Vongmany commented yesterday that laws and regulations related to this matter shall be enforced strictly to ensure all companies fulfilling their obligations.

According to the law, those carrying out concession projects which permanently converted woodland areas into other classifications must plant trees to offset the areas lost.

Therefore, projects temporarily carried out in woodland areas must plant t rees after their projects ended.

Mr Thongphat called for government sectors to take this matter into account before approving investment projects and pledged to collaborate with other sectors to ensure all companies met their obligatio ns.

Currently, forests covered only roughly 47 percent of the country’s land area and the government plans to increase this to 70 percent (around 17 million hectares in total) by 2020.

This year the Ministry of Agriculture and Forestry planned to encourage other government bodies and the private sector to plant about 24,000 hectares of trees and reforest over 200,000 hectares for environmental protection areas.

Prime Minister Thongloun Sisoulith also issued a ban on timber exports in a move to minimise loopholes for illegal logging.

The government announced forestry closure nationwide to review wood quotas granted in the past year.

Forests play an important role in sustaining water supplies, protecting the soils of important watershed areas and in minimising the effects of catastrophic floods and landslides.

Most forestry loss is due to slash and burn cultivation, development projects and illegal logging triggered by strong demand for timber in both Laos and abroad.

Dr Palikone said the loss of forests would affect Laos both short and long term given that the country will have to spend large sums of money assisting people affected by natural disasters.

Supermarkets promoting wholegrain rice as ‘healthier alternative’

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Supermarkets, including FairPrice Xtra at JEM shopping mall, are promoting wholegrain rice items as the Health Promotion Board says white rice is its main concern in fighting diabetes./The Straits Times
Jalelah Abu Baker
The Straits Times

SINGAPORE – Supermarket chains in Singapore are promoting wholegrain rice options like brown and red varieties to encourage their customers to eat healthier.

NTUC FairPrice yesterday (June 8) said it is giving a 5 per cent discount on its house brand wholegrain rice items for three months. It will also give a 5 per cent discount on all “healthier choice” products for two weeks.

Its wholegrain rice sales in the first quarter of this year rose 30 per cent on the same period last year, and the price discount is expected to save customers a total of about S$500,000 (US$369,053).

The chain’s chairman, Bobby Chin, said: “By promoting wholegrain rice as a healthier alternative, we are taking a proactive approach in the prevention and management of chronic diseases like diabetes.”

He said studies show Singapore has the second-highest proportion of diabetics among developed nations, after the United States.

Other supermarket chains such as Cold Storage and Sheng Siong have similar plans.

The focus on the Asian staple comes after The Straits Times reported that white rice is the Health Promotion Board’s main concern in fighting diabetes.

Nutritionist Christine Rubi-Cruz, who works with the merchandising team at Cold Storage, said the chain stocks about 20 brands of wholegrain rice. There have been discounts from 10 to 15 per cent on these rice items for the past month.

“We are bringing in another type of wholegrain rice called sprouted rice. It has the same benefits, but is also easier to digest,” she said.

Rubi-Cruz added that there has been a 10 per cent fall in sales of white rice, and 15 per cent increase in wholegrain sales in the past three years.

Dr Kalpana Bhaskaran, a nutritionist on the council of the Diabetic Society of Singapore, said wholegrain rice varieties are healthier because they release sugar slowly into the blood. “It contains lots of fibre and nutrients, but even then, portion control is important,” she said.

A Sheng Siong spokesman said that from next month to October, its stores will have dedicated space for items with the “healthier choice” symbol.

The chain is also distributing a “nutrition toolkit” to seniors later this month. This includes a nutrition guide, poster and recipe book, available in four languages.

Wholegrain rice generally costs more than white rice. A 5kg packet of white rice costs about S$5, while a 2.5kg packet of red rice can cost around S$6.

Dr Kalpana said: “For people to be more receptive to wholegrain rice, retail outlets can sell it at a price that’s comparable to white rice. If a family of five or six take wholegrain rice, it can be expensive.”

(US$1 = S$1.35)