Property team at Railtrack to split

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Piccadilly Plaza faces brighter future

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Spanish acquisition

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M&S set to anchor Bristol’s Broadmead

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Should I stay or should I go?: Overseas students in limbo as global lockdown fears mount

first_imgIndonesian PhD student Tengku Munawar, 30, has found himself facing one misfortune after another since the outbreak of the novel coronavirus that causes the disease COVID-19.He had been looking forward to spending time with his family in Japan, having booked his mother and sister tickets to Osaka for Thursday so they could attend his graduation ceremony early next month. Even his brother came to visit him as early as March 9.But as the COVID-19 pandemic continues to sweep the globe, Tengku has had to make do with shelved plans and a more uncertain future, after the Indonesian government urged its jet-setting citizens to return from abroad to avoid more imminent travel restrictions. “At that time I began to panic, and consulted with the family about their upcoming visit. By mid-March the situation got even worse, with many countries announcing quarantines,” he said.Tengku eventually canceled his family trip, and his brother bought himself a flight back to Indonesia on Wednesday. Unfortunately for him, stacks of paperwork from the university and for residence administration prevented Tengku from joining the rest of his family.“I really want to go home as soon as possible but I can’t,” he said. “But even if Indonesia has plans to impose a lockdown, I’ll be ready. I just hope the coronavirus can be controlled soon.”On Tuesday, Foreign Minister Retno LP Marsudi advised Indonesian citizens currently traveling abroad to “return to Indonesia at the earliest possible time to avoid further travel disruptions”.She announced that Indonesia had suspended all visa-on-arrival and other visa-exemption facilities for all countries for a period of one month beginning on Friday. Denial of entry was also expanded to include more countries in Europe, including the Vatican, Span, Germany, Switzerland and the United Kingdom, where the number of positive virus infections have spiked.As an international student dependent on a scholarship, 25-year-old Vicky Nauli of the UK-based Institute of Development Studies was very confused as to what to do with this new information. “With the Chevening [Scholarship] we cannot go home for more than 30 days, so we don’t know what to do,” Vicky told the Post on Wednesday. “We are pretty much in limbo because no one can guarantee if we can get back [to the UK].”She said her family back home were concerned because the number of cases in the UK was much higher than in Indonesia, which made them believe it was safer to stay with her family.The number of COVID-19 cases in Indonesia jumped to 227 with 19 fatalities as of Wednesday, whereas the UK has 1,950 cases and 71 deaths, according to official tallies.Stella Nau, the president of the Indonesian Students Association in the UK (PPI-UK), said some students had decided against returning to Indonesia altogether, even as universities in the UK have canceled classes and advised their students to go home.“This is mostly from the advice from our scholarship providers such as Chevening and Endowment Fund for Education [LPDP], which disburses monthly stipends and requires students to remain in the country until the program ends in October,” Stella told the Post.Similarly, another Indonesian PhD student said that the Foreign Ministry’s advice on Tuesday was a cause for concern, especially for those who worked, studied and lived in different places.Doni Ropawandi, 26, a student at Malaysian National University (UKM), said his plans to present his dissertation next Monday had already been canceled when Malaysian authorities announced a country-wide lockdown earlier this week. Now he is being forced to choose between staying with his wife in Taiwan, returning to Malaysia to complete his studies or going back home to Indonesia.“I was actually planning to go back to Indonesia, but the Foreign Ministry’s advice got me worried that if I go back and Indonesia decided to impose a lockdown, then I’d be stuck,” Doni said on Wednesday from Taiwan.He noted that the Taiwanese authorities had raised the warning level for Indonesia, which meant that anyone returning from the country to Taiwan would have to self-quarantine. If he were to choose between the three locations, Doni said he felt more comfortable staying in Taiwan.In a notice published on Monday, the Overseas Indonesian Students’ Association Alliance (PPI-Dunia) called on all students to coordinate with Indonesian missions in their respective countries of residence and follow the advice of local authorities, echoing a statement Minister Retno said during a recent interview with the Post.“We also urge the Indonesian government to act through their missions abroad to oversee the health of students and all Indonesian citizens, and stand ready to provide assistance where it is needed,” said Fadlan Muzakki, coordinator of PPI-Dunia.An official from the Foreign Ministry reiterated on Wednesday the foreign minister’s advice for Indonesians, urging students to stay put in their study destination to anticipate any possible travel restrictions.On Friday, Retno advised all Indonesians abroad to stay in their countries of residence, giving reassurances that the government “has entrusted them to their respective governments”.Topics : “Having studied in Japan for six years, I had been looking forward to this April graduation ceremony. Of course, I wanted this moment of finally parting with Japan to be special,” he told The Jakarta Post on Wednesday.“What can I say? All the plans I made since last year are falling apart because of the virus outbreak.”The Japanese government has ordered the closure of schools and has advised workers to work from home – something of an anomaly in an otherwise overworked society. Events that would have attracted large masses have also been canceled.“That includes my graduation ceremony,” said the Osaka University graduate in international public policy.last_img read more

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COVID-19: Jakarta to tighten mobility restrictions

first_imgThe Jakarta administration will tighten measures to restrict people’s movements after being granted permission by the central government to implement largescale social restrictions (PSBB) to curb the COVID-19 outbreak.The Health Ministry granted the request early on Tuesday, shortly after Jakarta Governor Anies Baswedan slammed the ministry for being too bureaucratic in handling the outbreak, which has infected at least 1,369 people and killed 106 in Jakarta alone.The governor told a press conference on Tuesday evening that the city had already implemented large-scale social distancing policies but they had now become legally binding to all residents following the ministry’s decision to approve Jakarta’s PSBB status.Starting on Friday, gatherings of more than five people will be prohibited, Anies said, and public transportation services will limit passenger numbers to 50 percent of capacity and restrict their operational hours from 6 a.m. to 6 p.m.The governor assured that private vehicles could still enter Jakarta, but a limit will be imposed on the number of passengers allowed in each vehicle.“The Jakarta administration and the central government will give social aid to low-income people affected by the PSBB policies,” the governor said. “We are asking everyone to follow the rules […] We will not tolerate any activities that can cause infection.”Read also: No access limitation to or from Jakarta despite social restrictions, police sayThe new measures, Anies said, will be detailed in a special regulation to be issued on Wednesday.According to Article 13 of Health Ministerial Decree No. 9/2020 on the PSBB guidelines, large-scale social restrictions consist of closing schools and offices, limiting religious gatherings, public facilities, social and cultural activities, and other matters related to defense and security, as well as transportation.Once implemented, the policy will be effective during the incubation period and could be extended should the outbreak continue to spread.Jakarta Police traffic division director Sr. Comr. Sambodo Purnomo said he was waiting for details on the restrictions from the city transportation agency prior to contributing to these efforts.“We are still waiting for the details; types of vehicles, the limit on passengers,” he said.Calls are mounting for Anies to be tougher with large-scale social restrictions.Saleh Daulay of the National Mandate Party (PAN) said the administration should also suspend travel to and from the city to limit people’s movements and that it should have a deterrent effect.Willy Aditya of the NasDem Party said Anies should close down offices.“Working from home must be mandatory for all offices in Jakarta. Companies that cannot make their employees work from home should obtain permission from the city administration. If there is a violation, the punishment should be clear,” he said.Jakarta Ombudsman head Teguh P. Nugroho, meanwhile, suggested that Anies coordinate with leaders of Jakarta’s satellite cities on new measures, saying it was crucial that large-scale restrictions be implemented across Greater Jakarta.“There should be coordinated and effective policies to curb the spread of COVID-19,” he said.Banten Governor Wahidin Halim said his administration had also requested a PSBB status from the Health Ministry, agreeing that the policy should be implemented in Greater Jakarta.Tangerang regency, Tangerang municipality and South Tangerang and three satellite cities of Jakarta are under Banten’s administrative region.“I propose that the PSBB status be implemented in Greater Jakarta as the cities have similar characteristics […] and they have people commuting [to and from Jakarta]. We are pushing cities or regencies in Banten to request a PSBB status and synchronize their policies with those of Jakarta,” he said following a video conference with Anies, West Java Governor Ridwan Kamil and Vice President Ma’ruf Amin.He claimed that the three governors had agreed to have the PSBB implemented in Greater Jakarta. Bekasi, Depok and Bogor in West Java also plan on requesting PSBB status from the Health Ministry.Read also: Jakarta buries 639 bodies according to COVID-19 protocolsHermawan Saputra, a health expert at the University of Muhammadiyah Prof. Dr. Hamka, said tightened social restrictions across Greater Jakarta would allow the Jakarta administration to limit intercity movements.“The measures, although they don’t go as far as closing off transportation access, could entail restrictions on passenger numbers and tighter monitoring at terminals and tollgates,” Hermawan, who is also on the Indonesian Public Health Expert Association’s (IAKMI) COVID-19 task force, said.He argued that greater social restrictions would make more of a difference with regard to the closure of workplaces as tighter law enforcement would follow any violations.“Despite the [governor’s] previous appeal, many companies are still open. With the implementation of these large-scale social restrictions, the city administration can issue warning letters and carry out a phased monitoring to enforce the rules.”The National Police have said they will charge anyone caught violating PSBB measures as stipulated under Article 93 the 2018 Health Quarantine Law.Topics :last_img read more

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Activists warn government not to repeat mistakes of past economic bailouts

first_imgHe said that past corruption cases relating to government interventions to save the economy should be taken as a lesson by President Joko “Jokowi” Widodo’s administration.During the 1998 financial crisis, BI provided liquidity support (BLBI) to commercial banks to restore public faith in banks as they suffered massive runs, but most of the money was later found to have been embezzled.The Corruption Eradication Commission (KPK) brought former Indonesian Bank Restructuring Agency (IBRA) chairman Syafruddin Arysad Tumenggung to a corruption court in September 2018 for his involvement in the BLBI embezzlement case.Syafruddin was sentenced to 13 years’ imprisonment for discharging Sjamsul Nursalim, the owner of Bank Dagang Negara Indonesia (BDNI), from repaying the government. He was found guilty of causing Rp 4.58 trillion in state losses.In a July 2019 in a cassation trial at the Supreme Court, Syafruddin was acquitted of all the charges.The bailout of Bank Century in 2008, meanwhile, turned into a political scandal with lawmakers questioning the ballooning cost of bailing out the bank, which amounted to Rp 6.76 trillion. The House launched in 2010 a legislative inquiry into the Century case that almost led to former president Susilo Bambang Yudhoyono being impeached.In July 2014, the Jakarta Corruption Court sentenced former BI deputy governor Budi Mulya, the first suspect in the case investigated by the KPK, to 10 years in jail. The investigation, however, has since moved at a snail’s pace, prompting the Indonesian Anti-Corruption Community (MAKI) to file a pretrial motion against the KPK, which was accused of being “slow” in its handling of the case.Transparency International Indonesia’s (TII) Wawan Sujatmiko said the two past cases showed that Jokowi’s administration should start to draft guidelines detailing mechanisms to ensure any future economic stimulus-related policies are in line with prevailing laws before implementing the Perppu.“The government must ensure that amid the extraordinary conditions caused by the [COVID-19] pandemic it doesn’t become unaware or neglectful of potential corruption when it begins implementing the economic stimulus,” he said.Policymakers appeared to be determined to avoid any moral hazard in implementing the Perppu.“We are very aware that we must be very careful to avoid moral hazard,” Finance Minister Sri Mulyani Indrawati told reporters last week. “We will formulate a safeguard so that policymakers that are taking measures to improve public health and the economy cannot be criminalized because of the acts of others.”Center of Reform on Economics (CORE) Indonesia research director Piter Abdullah said a much better oversight mechanism offered by the KPK, the Supreme Audit Agency (BPK) and the ministry’s inspectorate general today would leave little wiggle room for policymakers to play foul.Piter said that unlike in the 1998 crisis, in which the BLBI funds came from the central bank, or in the 2008 scandal when the LPS funding was used to bail out Bank Century for fear of the systemic risks it posed to the financial system, the 2020 crisis playbook used a much safer route by leveraging state spending through the issuance of bonds.Topics : Antigraft activists have called on the government to be transparent in the disbursement of the recently unveiled Rp 405.1 trillion (US$24.68 billion) COVID-19 economic stimulus in order to avoid the pitfalls of past corruption cases in 2008 and in 1998.The government issued a regulation in lieu of law (Perppu) on March 31, allowing policymakers to take “extraordinary measures” to cushion the economy from the negative impacts of the outbreak. The regulation gives Financial System Stability Committee (KSSK) members legal protection to carry out their respective duties as long as those are done “in good faith” and with respect to existing law.The KSSK is a forum chaired by the Finance Minister, with members including the Bank Indonesia (BI) governor and the heads of the Financial Services Authority (OJK) and the Deposit Insurance Corporation (LPS). Article 27 of the Perppu stipulates that the funds spent by the government in carrying out such policies are part of the economic costs to save the country from economic crisis and will not be counted as state losses.Submitted to the House of Representatives on April 2, the legislation is still awaiting lawmakers’ approval.Indonesia Corruption Watch (ICW) activist Kurnia Ramadhana called on the government to exercise prudence in making any future decisions under the Perppu mechanism, given the impunity provision.“If there is potential for corruption, don’t allow the economic stimulus be a pretext for such offenses,” Kurnia said. “Don’t be hasty in taking any decisions that might potentially become corruption offenses.”last_img read more

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Hope mixed with worry and uncertainty as football reawakens

first_imgFootball is re-awakening amid the COVID-19 pandemic but the sense of hope at teams which have started training is mixed with worry over whether it might be too soon and the uncertainty of how to keep players safe.On hold since mid-March, many European leagues are hoping to start up again in the next two or three months, without spectators, and training has begun in Germany and Austria. Yet re-starting remains fraught with difficulties.”There is a huge logistical and medical/scientific question about testing and protocols but also a social one,” said Jonas Baer-Hoffmann, secretary general of the global players’ union FIFPRO. “We need guidance and protocols on how to return in a healthy and safe manner. Football is a contact sport and we feel very high protection standards are required.”There was also a moral question. “Are we sending the right message to society, and are we encouraging a healthy return to normal life, or are we sending a bad signal that football has different rules to the rest of the world?” he added.On the other hand, the Swiss Football League said a successful re-start, under scientific supervision with a risk management concept, could allow football “to send a signal that it is possible to return to something closer to normality”.Several leagues around the world have produced a medical protocol for training, mostly along similar lines. These generally involve thorough testing of players to ensure they are not infected and dividing the squads into groups of six, observing social distancing guidelines.Yet many details for the re-start of competitions, such as whether teams would have to be isolated until the league is finished and what happens if a player tests positive, remain unclear.As Christoph Freund, sporting director at Austrian champions Salzburg, said on Tuesday: “It can’t be that if one player, or one accompanying person or a trainer, gets the virus that the whole round has to stop, or that things stop again for two or three weeks,” he said.Germany’s Bundesliga may well be the guinea pig as it is the closest of the major leagues to resuming. Like other leagues, it can only start with a green light from the government.On Thursday, the Bundesliga said players will be monitored by an appointed team health official and would have regular testing.An infection to a player will be reported to authorities who will be in charge of any other steps. The team, however, would not be automatically quarantined.Big questions Geoff Dreher, an assistant professor at the Johns Hopkins University School of Medicine, said there was not much point in re-starting if a single case resulted in a whole league being stopped again, while other questions also had to be answered.”If, on the home team, someone gets sick there, what do you do?” he told Reuters. “If it is on the away team and they are travelling, how do they respond and get back to their home location?””Are they happy with potential quarantine, with isolation from friends and family… for an extended period of time? That is a big question,” he added.”If one of my team mates got the virus, am I okay to continue to play? It (needs) input from a lot of people and I think the reason we don’t have a lot of ideas about this is because people are (still) trying to answer these questions.”There was also the question of whether there was enough staffing and resources to deal with ill and injured players — a natural risk in soccer.Carl Bergstrom, a biology professor at the University of Washington, said one possibility was a ‘bubble’ strategy where players and staff are isolated for the duration of the season.”The logistics of this would still be difficult,” he told Reuters. “Food has to come from somewhere. Medical care has to come from somewhere. Any contact with the outside world comes at a risk of infection.”An alternative would be to have a “weak isolation” from the outside world and rely on daily testing throughout the season.”This could work if testing capacity can be attained and infected individuals test positive before or around the same time they become contagious. If people can transmit while testing negative, this strategy would not work,” he said.Bergstrom added that the leagues would have to invest in testing to the extent they had excess capacity which they could provide to local communities, including hospitals.”Otherwise they risk a public relations disaster from taking tests away from those who need them more urgently,” he said.More than 2.64 million people have been infected by the new coronavirus globally and 184,910 have died.center_img Topics :last_img read more

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Parts of North Jakarta at risk of tidal floods as heavy rainfall hits Jakarta

first_img“Beware of the potential rainfall accompanied by lightning in the South and East Jakarta areas in the afternoon until late at night, and in the Thousand Islands regency at night until early morning,” the agency tweeted on Thursday morning.Read also: High intensity rain triggers flooding in parts of Aceh, Central KalimantanBPBD Jakarta said areas that were at risk of tidal flooding included Kamal Muara, Kapuk Muara, Penjaringan, Pluit, Ancol, Marunda, Cilincing and Kalibaru in North Jakarta, as well as Kamal in West Jakarta.The agency has disseminated information on the water level increase and potential rainfall to residents living on the coast of North Jakarta and the Thousand Islands in order for them to anticipate flooding. Several parts in North Jakarta are at risk of tidal flooding as the water level at a nearby floodgate rose following hours of heavy rainfall on Wednesday afternoon, inundating at least 20 community units (RW) across the capital.The Jakarta Regional Disaster Mitigation Agency (BPBD) recorded an increase in water level at the Pasar Ikan floodgate in North Jakarta to 210 centimeters, raising the standby alert status early on Thursday.Although the water level receded later in the morning, the agency warned that there might be more heavy rainfall in several parts of Jakarta on Thursday. Topics :center_img Following heavy rainfall on Wednesday afternoon, at least 20 community units in Jakarta were flooded, according to the BPBD Data and Information Center.“Data showed that at 3 p.m., 20 community units were inundated,” center chief Insyaf told tribunnews.com on Wednesday.The affected community units were spread across 10 subdistricts in East and South Jakarta, consisting of Bangka, Kebon Baru, Duren Tiga, Rawa Jati, Batu Ampar, Cililitan, Cipinang Cempedak, Jati Padang, Pejaten Timur and Bintaro.Water levels in residential areas ranged from 10 to 90 cm deep.After the heavy rainfall, Mampang and Pulo Rivers in South Jakarta overflowed and caused flooding in some areas, including Bangka and Jati Padang. (syk)last_img read more

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Government to allow public transportation to operate, but still bans ‘mudik’

first_imgThe ministerial regulation indeed sets out several exceptions, in which the transportation of supplies, medicines and medical equipment, as well as fire trucks, ambulances and hearses are still allowed to travel. Operational vehicles for specific missions, such as the repatriation flights and for transporting high-ranking officials, COVID-19 task force officials, government officials, the Indonesian Army and the National Police are also allowed to travel. However, exemptions for businesspeople or others with “essential urgencies” are not stipulated in the regulation.Read also: Most Indonesians concerned about overcapacity at health facilities during pandemic: Survey“Official like you [lawmakers] have the right to travel. Our ministerial colleagues in Kalimantan, Sulawesi, Papua and Sumatra are allowed to travel if they have to do their jobs, but not for mudik,” Budi said.   “I myself cannot go to Palembang in South Sumatra for mudik, but I can go to Palembang to check the LRT there.“People with specific needs, such as those who have sick parents or those whose children will get married will be allowed to travel. There are also 10,000 seasonal workers in Jakarta to whom we can give recommendation letters [for traveling].” Transportation Minister Budi Karya Sumadi said on Wednesday that it was possible for the government to allow all means of public transportation to start operations on Thursday to accommodate particular individuals while insisting on banning this year’s Idul Fitri mudik (exodus).His ministry, he added, would issue a circular letter as a derivative regulation of the currently issued Transportation Ministerial Regulation No. 25/2020, which restricts all forms of passenger travel as part of the mudik ban, as the government scrambles to contain COVID-19.“The point [of the letter] is to further describe [what’s allowed and what’s not allowed in the ban] and not to relax the regulation,” he said during a hearing with the House of Representatives Commission VI overseeing transportation, among other things, on Wednesday.  “It means that it is possible to allow all types of transportation to operate again with one condition: They must comply with health protocols,” Budi added.Read also: Explainer: What’s allowed and what’s not in Indonesia’s ‘mudik’ banThe ministerial regulation restricts all passenger travel in and out of COVID-19 red zones, areas that implement large scale social restrictions (PSBB) and agglomeration areas, such as Greater Jakarta and Greater Bandung in West Java, during the period of April 24 to 31. The ban applies to all domestic travel using private cars and motorcycles and public transportation. Budi Karya, who got back to work earlier this month after contracting COVID-19, said state officials and lawmakers on duty and businesspeople with “essential urgencies” would be allowed to travel. Another group of people with “specific urgencies” that require them to travel somewhere, except for mudik, would also be cleared to travel. center_img Topics :last_img read more

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