April 17, 2021, 09.29 AM

JAKARTA, KOMPAS.com – The ongoing insurgency in Papua is starting to take its toll on the morale of Indonesian servicemen in the restive province, as an Indonesian soldier deserted to insurgents in the Intan Jaya regency.

Indonesia is taking its first steps towards self-sufficiency in the production of Covid-19 vaccines, as the country’s Food and Drugs Agency or BPOM cleared the way for the homegrown Merah Putih vaccine to start production in early 2022.

And the government officially banned the export of lobster seeds, months after Indonesian law enforcers arrested disgraced Minister of Maritime Affairs and Fisheries Edhy Prabowo last November for graft of the commodity. This and more on Indonesia Highlights:

A file photo of Indonesian military (TNI) personnel during a patrol in Sugapa district in Intan Jaya regency, Papua. Dokumentasi TNI A file photo of Indonesian military (TNI) personnel during a patrol in Sugapa district in Intan Jaya regency, Papua.

Indonesian Soldier in Papua Defects to Insurgents

The Indonesian military confirmed reports that an army serviceman recently defected to insurgents or so-called ‘Armed Criminal Groups’ [KKB] in Papua.

Indonesian Army operations officer Brigadier General Suswatyo said Private First Class Lucky Y. Matuan or Lukius of the 400th Raider Battalion “joined the insurgents after he went AWOL [absent without leave] during his unit’s deployment in Intan Jaya from August 2020 to March 2021.”

“We hope that Lukius’s defection will not substantially add the KKB’s strength,” he added. Suswatyo did not specifically disclose the date of Private Lukius’ defection.

The one-star general vowed that the military “regards Lukius as a traitor, because he deserted and joined the insurgents in Intan Jaya. The armed forces will take firm action [against Lukius], as he joined the insurgents in taking up arms [against Indonesia].”

Meanwhile, KKB insurgents in Papua’s Puncak regency has killed a high school student.

“The deceased, who was identified as 16-year old Ali Mom, was found dead at the village of Uloni in [Puncak Jaya’s] Ilaga district on Friday morning,” said Police spokesman Grand Police Attendant Iqbal Alqudussy.

“Our investigations indicated the prime suspect to be Lerry Mayu Telenggens of the Lekagak Telenggen KKB group. He was known to order Ali to buy him betel nut and cigarettes the previous day.”

Iqbal added that “Lerry Mayu shot and stabbed Ali to death. He has mistaken Ali to be a soldier or policeman, even though the latter approached with the items he ordered.”

The KKB’s killing of Ali is their latest concerted attack on civilians, specifically on teachers and educational facilities such as schools in the town of Beoga.



Illustration of vaccine research in IndonesiaSHUTTERSTOCK/Blue Planet Studio Illustration of vaccine research in Indonesia

BPOM: Indonesia's Merah Putih Vaccine to Kick Off Production in 2022

The Food and Drug Monitoring Agency or BPOM has announced that production of Indonesia’s homegrown Merah Putih (red and white) vaccines is set to kick off in early 2022.

"We hope to start mass production of the Merah Putih vaccine, which is a 'deactivated virus', in the beginning of 2022. The vaccine will be jointly produced by Airlangga University and Biotis Ltd," said BPOM head Penny Lukito in a press conference Friday.

"BPOM will assist Airlangga University and Biotis Ltd. in fulfilling the good manufacturing practice (GMP) clinical trials for the vaccines."

She added that the simultaneous development of the Merah Putih vaccine by the Eijkman Institute for Molecular Biology (LMB) and Bio Farma Ltd., which is made with a recombinant protein platform, is also expected to be produced in 2022.

"We hope to grant EUA or Emergency Use Authorization [to the Eijkman and Bio Farma Merah Putih Vaccine] by the first semester of 2022 on completion of clinical trials. Then we can start producing the vaccine in the second semester of 2022," Penny said.

Eijkman LMB Chairman Amin Soebandrio said he aims to obtain the Merah Putih vaccine's EUA by June 2022.

The Merah Putih vaccine is developed by a research consortium under the Ministry of Research and Technology/National Research and Innovation Agency (Kemenristek/BRIN).

Indonesia hopes the homegrown vaccines will ensure that the country's vaccination needs are met and make the country an example of global health resilience.



Lobster seeds seized at Soekarno Hatta International AirportDok. KKP Lobster seeds seized at Soekarno Hatta International Airport

Indonesia Bans Lobster Seed Exports

Indonesia officially banned the export of lobster seeds, months after the Corruption Eradication Board or KPK arrested disgraced Minister of Maritime Affairs and Fisheries [KKP] Edhy Prabowo in November 2020 for illegally exporting the commodity.

“[The KKP] will not issue permits to export lobster seeds, as we seek to prioritize cultivation of the lobsters to meet rising [domestic] demand as Indonesia’s population increases,” said KKP acting Director General for Surveillance of Marine and Fisheries Resources Antam Novambar.

“We will export the [crustaceans] once they are large enough to be consumed.” Antam warned that lobster seed smugglers will find newer, more innovative ways to smuggle the lobster seeds.

“Smugglers would not try to bring lobster seeds out from Indonesia as contraband if there was no demand from Vietnam. After all, the lobster can sell up to $7 a seed there,” he said.

The KKP’s Fish Quarantine and Fishery Quality Control Agency [BKIPM] head Rina appreciated Indonesian authorities for thwarting smuggling of the lobster seeds. She asserted that the Agency will not renew export licenses for the lobster seeds.

“[BKIPM] estimated that smugglers attempted to smuggle out 1.39 million lobster seeds from December 23, 2020 to April 14, 2021. The smuggling of the lobster seeds, as well as live fish, shellfish and other commodities, cost the state around Rp. 210 billion [$14,455,940.31].”

Indonesia’s Ombudsman Office also warned that export of lobster seeds are liable to be abused, including discriminatory practices in the field, kickbacks in exports of the commodity, and the setting of abnormally low prices for the seeds’ procurement.




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