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Turkey virus death toll tops 3,000

By on October 19, 2020

first_imgDuring a press conference earlier on Wednesday, Koca said Turkey was now in the “peak period”, adding: “We see a downward trend” in new cases.He added 7,428 health workers had been infected, which is around 6.5 percent of the total number of cases.Turkey has taken a series of measures to prevent the spread of the virus including shutting schools, restaurants and other public spaces.There are also all-day weekend curfews in 31 cities including Ankara and Istanbul, with a three-day lockdown set to begin Friday, a public holiday. Turkish officials in recent days have sounded a note of optimism that the situation will improve towards the end of May as the Muslim fasting month of Ramadan also ends.”In the coming period, we can ease the measures in cities where there are less cases,” Koca said in Ankara.The government has also stepped up the number of tests with nearly a million undertaken since the first recorded case in March. Turkey’s official death toll from the novel coronavirus rose to 3,081, the health minister said Wednesday.In a tweet, Fahrettin Koca said 89 more deaths were recorded in the last 24 hours while there were 2,936 new cases.The total number of reported infections is now 117,589, as Turkey remains the worst hit country in the Middle East.center_img Topics :last_img read more

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As Asia’s tropical storm season arrives, grounded airplanes at risk of damage

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first_imgMumbai’s airport said on Wednesday that small private planes vulnerable to strong winds had top priority to be flown out or parked in a hangar as the city braced for a rare cyclone.Manila’s Ninoy Aquino International Airport has so many aircraft on the ground that is using a runway for parking, according to a spokesman for the Civil Aviation Authority of the Philippines.Taiwan’s aviation regulator said it had asked airports to hold typhoon preparation meetings 36 hours in advance this year, rather than the usual 24 hours, to give airlines enough time to make parking requests. It will open up taxiways if needed at Taipei’s main international airport, Taoyuan, to allow for 160 parked planes.EVA Airways Corp said its plans included securing aircraft, parking them in hangars and sending some to other airports in Taiwan and abroad. Taiwan’s largest carrier, China Airlines Ltd, said it had typhoon plans but declined to provide details.Hong Kong International Airport, home to Cathay Pacific Airways Ltd and Hong Kong Airlines, said it had 150 planes parked and precautionary measures had already been carried out for most as part of typhoon season preparations.The measures include fuelling up the planes to make them heavier, tying weights to nose gear, adding weight in the cargo hold, putting double chocks on aircraft wheels and flying planes to other airports, the airport operator said.Osaka’s Kansai International Airport, whose runway flooded when Typhoon Jebi breached a seawall in 2018, said it had raised the wall’s height and waterproofed facilities.Airports will also need to ensure they do not have any loose equipment that poses a risk to airplanes or they could face claims from airline insurers, Aon’s Moran said.”The airport is supposed to maintain a safe environment for the aircraft,” he said. “That is their duty of care.” Topics : Airlines, airports and insurers across Asia are bracing for the prospect of unusually high damage as the region’s tropical storm season begins, as hundreds of aircraft grounded by the coronavirus pandemic can’t be moved easily.Major airports in storm-vulnerable regions such as Hong Kong, Taiwan, Japan, the Philippines, Thailand and India have been effectively turned into giant parking lots as COVID-19 travel restrictions choke demand.”If you have got those aircraft on the ground, you can imagine to get them back up and running in a short space of time is no easy thing,” said Gary Moran, head of Asia aviation at insurance broker Aon. “The challenge is you can have a typhoon or hurricane coming and there are going to be a lot of aircraft that aren’t going to be able to be moved in time.”center_img Airline insurers, already on the hook to refund large portions of crash risk premiums because of the groundings, now face the larger-than-usual risk posed by having lots of airplanes grouped together at airports, industry experts said.”One event could create damage which costs millions to repair, maybe even closer to hundreds of millions depending on the aircraft that are involved,” said James Jordan, a senior associate at law firm HFW’s Asia aerospace and insurance practices.In guidance to be issued to airport operators this week, seen by Reuters, the trade group Airports Council International (ACI) warns that flying the planes out of danger, the practice in normal times, may not be possible. It says extra precautions such as more tie-downs could be needed.”Extreme weather events such as hurricanes, typhoons and cyclones are a seasonal hazard in many areas of the world, and in the COVID context provide an additional layer of hazard with many airports accommodating larger numbers of parked aircraft,” ACI Director General Angela Gittens said in a statement to Reuters.last_img read more

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Sumatran forest people adapt ancient health rules for pandemic

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first_imgJangat Pico, a member of the Orang Rimba indigenous people who live on Indonesia’s Sumatra island, was reluctant to say the name of the new coronavirus when he heard it for the first time.”In Orang Rimba custom, the name of a disease cannot be said aloud,” Pico, 24, told the Thomson Reuters Foundation by video call. “If we say [it], then that disease will come to us.”Superstitions around illness are embedded in a belief system practiced by Pico and about 5,000 other tribe members. Topics : Under these traditions, a relationship with the forest endures from cradle to grave.When an Orang Rimba baby is born, the umbilical cord linking mother and child is buried beneath a newly planted tree.When a tribe member dies, the community moves to a fresh area of forest, a nomadic tradition called “melangun”.”The Orang Rimba’s connection with the forest seems to me particularly close,” said Sophie Grig, a researcher at London-based Survival International, a group that campaigns for the protection of tribal peoples.Fear of disease is also well established in a community where infections can spread rapidly.Long before the COVID-19 pandemic, anyone returning from outside the forest had to spend at least 24 hours in quarantine under customary health rules called “besasandingon”.They stay in an isolated area downstream due to a belief that disease flows down water courses.A common greeting in the group’s language is to ask whether someone is healthy or ill.When the Orang Rimba first heard of a new infectious disease spreading across much of the world in March, elders immediately tightened their existing quarantine rules.Now Pico must walk for six hours to visit his family, who have retreated deeper into the forest in response to the pandemic. He last saw his parents about a month ago.”We have to abide by besasandingon,” said Pico. “That means we have to stay 20 or 30 metres  away.”Lost landUnlike Brazil and India, Indonesia lacks a dedicated government department overseeing indigenous affairs.In 2015, President Joko Widodo became the first Indonesian leader to visit the Orang Rimba and has vowed to return 12.7 million hectares of land to indigenous and rural communities.Indigenous peoples have for decades been locked in conflicts sparked by expansion of the mining, palm oil and timber industries on their customary lands.In April, a coalition of rights groups wrote an open letter to lawmakers calling for an indigenous bill of rights.Rural communities across the archipelago are also pressing the government to implement a 2013 court decision upholding communities’ rights to their ancestral lands.”Indigenous groups are the most vulnerable people in Indonesia,” said Andre Barahamin of the Indigenous Peoples’ Alliance of the Archipelago (AMAN).”But, as long as we have sovereignty over our ancestral domain, we will be fine – we can save ourselves.”Three months ago, AMAN wrote to its 2,371 member communities recommending they stockpile food and initiate strict social distancing measures in response to the coronavirus threat.Just over half the indigenous groups AMAN represents enacted some form of lockdown, with most doing so before the central government introduced restrictions on movement in April.Indonesia has registered about 47,000 cases of COVID-19 since the start of the pandemic and more than 2,500 deaths – but low levels of testing, especially in remote areas, mean it is unclear to what extent indigenous groups may have been affected.Marginal livesMore than 2,500 Orang Rimba have lost their traditional land to oil-palm plantation firms, according to KKI Warsi, a Sumatra-based environmental nonprofit which carried out interviews in local language with tribe members for the Thomson Reuters Foundation.Some live on the fringes of plantations, while the poorest beg along the highway linking the east and west of the island.”The contrast between these people is so immense and tragic because you see how they would be living if they had not lost their land,” said Survival International’s Grig.Minan, who goes by one name, lives with his wife and child under an old tarpaulin near the highway in Rejosari village.“This was still a forest before,” he said in an interview conducted by KKI Warsi. “Then the villages came and turned it into their plantations and settlements.”Robert Aritonang, an anthropologist with KKI Warsi, said the lives of those who had lost their land are “very marginal”. “If they take palm oil, they are perceived as thieves,” he said. Thirteen Orang Rimba had been killed since 1997 in conflicts with outside communities and loggers, he noted.Back to natureOrang Rimba members in self-imposed isolation in the forest today said coronavirus is reinforcing a customary way of life that had waned due to contact with outside settlements.Neliti, 45, who lives in the forest and goes by one name, said trade with neighboring villages had declined due to falling prices for rubber and fruit, while Orang Rimba are also afraid to visit nearby settlements due to the virus.”They have started to revert back to ancient knowledge,” said Butet Manurung, founder of Sokola, an Indonesian education nonprofit that works with indigenous communities. “Twenty years ago, they were self-sustained, but a lot has changed.”Sokola, which has suspended its work in the forest due to the virus, views the pandemic as an opportunity for children to focus on traditional learning.”Every second in the jungle is a lesson,” said Manurung.Orang Rimba elder Tumenggung Nyenong, 57, said the tribe’s retreat further into the national park was driving his people closer to the forest. “Hopefully the customs will be preserved,” he said in an interview conducted by KKI Warsi.Teacher Pico can still visit his parents but, due to his frequent outside contacts, will not be permitted to rejoin the forest community until elders deem the pandemic to have passed.”For the Orang Rimba, 10 years from now in Bukit Duabelas [national park], I feel it will be like it always was,” he said. “There will still be a forest and a way of life in the forest.”center_img “Fever” and “cough” are considered curse words.To avoid saying “corona”, the Orang Rimba have begun using “cororoit” – an alternative now used conversationally by a few hundred people, according to Pico.Born in Bukit Duabelas national park, Pico teaches advocacy and other skills to young people in his community, and moves between the forest and nearby urban areas.His parents and four siblings practice a semi-nomadic way of life inside the park, regulated by customary laws handed down through generations.last_img read more

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Pandemic will distract voters from issues of race, religion in regional elections: Tito

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first_imgHe added that contrary to concerns raised by election watchdogs that holding the regional races this year would unfairly advantage incumbents, incumbents would actually be facing an uphill battle, as they had to showcase their success in flattening the COVID-19 curve in their respective region to potential constituents.“If the curve keeps rising, if there are more victims or more fatalities, I think the public will not vote for them,” he said.Tito said that the regional elections should be used as a platform for ideas about the most effective ways to mitigate the outbreak, as that could help accelerate recovery efforts.“Let the candidates compete with each other on their ideas. The incumbents, therefore, should act more, as they have power and resources,” said Tito.Nine provinces, 224 regencies and 37 municipalities are set to hold regional elections on Dec. 9.The elections had initially been scheduled for Sept. 23 but have been postponed due to the COVID-19 outbreak in the country. (asp)Topics : Home Minister Tito Karnavian has said that holding the upcoming simultaneous regional elections amid the COVID-19 pandemic could actually be beneficial, even as experts and observers call for the polls to be postponed.Tito argued that the public’s attention would shift to the COVID-19 outbreak and the regional administrations’ response rather than the issues that typically emerged during elections.”For instance, issues of race, religion and ethnicity would be reduced, as the public is more concerned about the COVID-19 pandemic than these issues,” he said on Wednesday as quoted by a statement on the Home Ministry’s website.last_img read more

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Agriculture Ministry asks for additional funds, seeks to help farmers’ recovery

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first_imgThe Agriculture Ministry is proposing an additional Rp 10 trillion (US$693.3 million) in next year’s state budget to finance its planned policies aimed at speeding up economic recovery, particularly in the agriculture sector.The government has allocated Rp 18.4 trillion to the ministry’s 2021 budget. Around half of the budget is allocated to programs to ensure the availability and accessibility of quality food.However, Agriculture Minister Syahrul Yasin Limpo said Tuesday the allocation would not be enough to finance policies to ramp up food production, diversify staple foods, strengthen buffer stock and food logistics, as well as modernize the country’s agriculture sector, which employed the majority of the national workforce. The ministry is also seeking to raise farmers’ terms of trade to 103, which indicates an improvement in farmers’ welfare. The terms of trade stood at 99.6 in June, slightly below the key threshold of 100, which means that farmers’ expenses still exceed their income.As the COVID-19 pandemic disrupted food logistics, Syahrul reported to the lawmakers that the ministry had spent 40.48 percent of the Rp 1.46 trillion budget allocated this year to programs to secure supplies as of June amid social restrictions.The ministry also disbursed almost 46 percent of the Rp 1.15 trillion allocated to social assistance to help workers in the agriculture sector stay afloat as the pandemic hit the economy during the period.“We will keep pushing forward the spending in the next six months,” said the minister, a NasDem party politician.Out of this year’s budget of Rp 14 trillion in total, the ministry had spent 44 percent as of July 3.The slow budget disbursement, especially funds allocated to the pandemic response, has irked President Joko “Jokowi” Widodo, who in a video posted by his office recently told his ministers to expedite the healthcare and social aid budget in an uncharacteristically angry speech.Finance Minister Sri Mulyani Indrawati admitted separately that administrative issues had hampered the disbursement, while urging ministries and government institutions to accelerate spending to help push economic activity.“The stimulus is currently in the early stage and we will improve [disbursement] to speed up spending,” she said on June 29.Topics : “The Rp 18.4 trillion budget allocated to the ministry in 2021 appears far from sufficient for the economy to recover after the COVID-19 pandemic in villages that heavily rely on the agriculture sector, and to meet the food production target set in the government’s working plan,” Syahrul said in a hearing with the House of Representatives on Tuesday.The minister proposed the additional budgetary funds as Indonesia was facing looming drought that might affect the country’s agricultural output.In 2019, prolonged drought led to Indonesia’s declining rice production, which was down 13.2 percent year-on-year to 16.1 million tons in the first half of 2020, according to the World Food Programme’s (WFP) Indonesia office.The Agriculture Ministry has set a rice production target of 62.5 million tons in 2021, 5 percent higher than this year’s target.last_img read more

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Critics slam Prabowo’s plan to purchase ‘outdated’ Austrian jet fighters

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first_imgSeparately, Indonesian Democratic Party of Struggle (PDI-P) lawmaker TB Hasanuddin echoed a similar sentiment, saying that purchasing the outdated Austrian jet fighters would only serve to further drain the state budget.He claimed that maintaining the performance and functionality of the 15 used aircraft would set the country back about Rp 6.5 trillion (US$445.8 million) per year.One of the reasons why the Austrian government wished to sell the outdated fighters in the first place was because they planned to do away with the high maintenance costs, he further said.“Looking at the estimates, I don’t think we can afford to maintain [the jet fighters],” Hasanuddin said as quoted by tribunnews.com.“This is what we have to pay attention to – the maintenance costs after the purchase.”He added that the Austrian Eurofighter Typhoons were already at the tail-end of their 30-year cycle, meaning that the Indonesian Air Force could only use the use them for another 13 years before they are decommissioned.Austrian newspaper Die Presse reported last week that Prabowo had sent a letter to his Austrian counterpart Klaudia Tanner offering to buy that country’s 15 Eurofighter Typhoon jet fighters. (rfa)Topics : She suggested that the Eurofighter Typhoons in question belonged to an earlier generation of fighters, adding that they lacked the crucial equipment included in newer models, such as an infrared search and tracking system (IRST).Diandra further questioned the minister’s plan given that several other countries had switched to more advanced aircraft types, including the United States’ unmanned drone that was used in the assault on Iranian general Qassem Soleimani earlier this year.“That model is controlled remotely. Meanwhile, we are going to acquire outdated jets. What was the defense minister thinking?” she said.Read also: To buy or not to buy: Tech transfer is the answer for Typhoons Defense Minister Prabowo Subianto’s widely publicized plan to purchase a batch of used Eurofighter Typhoon jet fighters from the Austrian air force has been met with criticism over the quality of the aircraft and their huge maintenance costs.Security and defense researcher at the Indonesian Institute of Sciences (LIPI) Diandra Megaputri Mengko has claimed that the Austrian jet fighters were of inferior quality compared with the Indonesian Air Force’s Russian-made Sukhoi Su-27s and Su-30s.“Why bother purchasing aircraft that are inferior to the ones we already own?” Diandra said during an online discussion on Monday as quoted by tempo.co.last_img read more

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Global coronavirus deaths exceed 700,000, one person dies every 15 seconds on average

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first_imgTopics : The global death toll from the coronavirus surpassed 700,000 on Wednesday, according to a Reuters tally, with the United States, Brazil, India and Mexico leading the rise in fatalities.Nearly 5,900 people are dying every 24 hours from COVID-19 on average, according to Reuters calculations based on data from the past two weeks.That equates to 247 people per hour, or one person every 15 seconds. President Donald Trump said the coronavirus outbreak is as under control as it can get in the United States, where more than 155,000 people have died amid a patchy response to the public health crisis that has failed to stem a rise in cases.”They are dying, that’s true,” Trump said in an interview with the Axios news website. “It is what it is. But that doesn’t mean we aren’t doing everything we can. It’s under control as much as you can control it. This is a horrible plague.”In Brazil, President Jair Bolsonaro has minimized the gravity of the pandemic and opposed lockdown measures, even as he and several of his cabinet tested positive for the virus.The pandemic was initially slower to reach Latin America, which is home to about 640 million people, than much of the world. But officials have since struggled to control its spread because of the region’s poverty and densely packed cities.center_img More than 100 million people across Latin America and the Caribbean live in slums, according to the United Nations Human Settlements Program. Many have jobs in the informal sector with little in the way of a social safety net and have continued to work throughout the pandemic.Even in parts of the world that had appeared to have curbed the spread of the virus, countries have recently seen single-day records in new cases, signaling the battle is far from over.Australia, Japan, Hong Kong, Bolivia, Sudan, Ethiopia, Bulgaria, Belgium, Uzbekistan and Israel all recently had record increases in cases.Australia also reported a record number of new deaths on Wednesday, taking the country’s total to 247.last_img read more

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‘My salary is enough to rent a helicopter’: KPK chair Firli Bahuri denies violating ethics

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first_imgCorruption Eradication Commission chairman Firli Bahuri has said his salary is enough to rent a helicopter, dismissing suspicion that a recent trip he made using a helicopter taxi service is an ethics violation.“I used my salary to expedite and simplify my tasks. I did all of that to support my duties and not for luxury. My salary is enough to rent a helicopter, not to live a life of luxury,” the two-star police general said in a written statement on Monday as quoted by tempo.co.Firli published the statement in advance of his ethics hearing with the antigraft body’s supervisory council scheduled for Tuesday. He was accused of committing an ethics violation following reports of him using a private helicopter on a personal trip from South Sumatra’s capital of Palembang to the city of Baturaja in the same province in June. The Indonesian Anti-Corruption Community (MAKI) reported Firli to the supervisory council, accusing the chair of living a “hedonistic lifestyle”.Firli confirmed that he would attend Tuesday’s hearing. “This mechanism is an activity to clarify and explain in detail the object of the problem. I really appreciate this process,” he said. (mfp)Topics :last_img read more

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TNI to dismiss personnel involved in attack on Ciracas Police in East Jakarta

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first_imgThe Indonesian Military (TNI) is set to dismiss its personnel found to have been involved in a recent attack on the Ciracas Police station in East Jakarta, Army chief of staff Gen. Andika Perkasa has said.A mob reportedly comprising TNI personnel burned down two vehicles at the police station and vandalized nearby stores along Jl. Raya Bogor on Saturday. Authorities believe the attack was triggered by misinformation.Two police personnel were injured in the attack. “It’s better to lose 31 or any number of personnel who were involved in the attack rather than have the TNI’s reputation tarnished by irresponsible actions that do not represent the vows of the Indonesian Military,” he said.Andika also ensured that all charged personnel would compensate the victims for any injuries and losses they suffered.Read also: To close for comfort? BNPT wary of military’s proposed counterterrorism role“There would be a mechanism that ensures they pay for the damages. The Jakarta Military commander [Maj. Gen. Dudung Abdurachman] will calculate the damages caused by the incident and he will report it to me.”According to the TNI, the incident started after Second Pvt. MI was caught in a single-vehicle crash at the Arundina three-road junction in Ciracas on Friday.MI allegedly told 27 of his fellow officers that he had been physically beaten by the Ciracas Police, fueling their anger and instigating them to attack the Ciracas Police station.However, TNI Commander Air Chief Marshal Hadi Tjahjanto said on Sunday that based on the testimonies of witnesses and CCTV footage, MI had sustained injuries “from the single-vehicle accident, not from a physical attack”, kompas.com reported.Saturday’s incident was not the first to have happened at the Ciracas Police station and it also came in the wake of a series of clashes involving military and police personnel in the past years.In 2018, dozens of TNI personnel reportedly ransacked and burned down part of the police station on Dec. 13, damaging police vehicles and leaving several officers and reporters injured. The attack was allegedly triggered by the mob’s disappointment over the police’s handling of an assault on TNI personnel in Ciracas.In February, some TNI personnel also attacked a police station in North Tapanuli regency, North Sumatra, following a traffic dispute.In September 2019, the two security forces in separate locations were involved in multiple clashes during mass protests. Police officers allegedly fired tear gas at TNI personnel and the two forces were seen involved in a verbal battle among protesters, causing speculation of the ever-increasing dispute between the two. (trn)Topics : The Military Police have questioned 31 TNI personnel as part of the investigation into the incident, including a low-ranking soldier identified as Second Pvt. MI, who was allegedly the provocateur of the attack, Andika said.Twelve have been detained at the Jakarta Military Command Police in Central Jakarta, while 19 others were sent to other detention centers belonging to the Army after being questioned, he said.”The results of the investigation so far show that all the questioned personnel could face dismissal, as mandated in the Military Criminal Code,” Andika said on Sunday.The four-star general further explained that each officer involved in the incident would be charged under different articles of the Military Criminal Code.last_img read more

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Nepotism not always bad, Mahfud MD says

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first_imgHe said Indonesia was not unique in that regard, and that nepotism was not necessarily a bad thing.Read also: ‘Political dynasties’ to take center stage again in 2020 electionsMahfud then cited an example in Bakalang, East Nusa Tenggara, where the sibling of a local politician offered to take over their relative’s post due to the latter’s incompetence.“So those who practice nepotism don’t always have bad intentions,” he added.Political discourse surrounding the forthcoming regional elections has recently been rife with speculation regarding the candidacy of several family members of the country’s top officials.Among them are President Joko “Jokowi” Widodo’s eldest son Gibran Rakabuming Raka and son-in-law Bobby Afif Nasution, who are running in the mayoral races in Surakarta, Central Java, and Medan, North Sumatra, respectively.Other notable names include Vice President Ma’ruf Amin’s daughter Siti Nur Azizah and Defense Minister Prabowo Subianto’s niece Rahayu Saraswati Djojohadikusumo – both running in the South Tangerang mayoral race. (rfa)Topics : In response to controversy surrounding the candidacy of incumbents’ and political elites’ relatives in the upcoming regional elections, Coordinating Political, Legal and Security Affairs Minister Mahfud MD has said that the nepotism is not against the law, nor is it inherently contradictory to the country’s democracy.According to Mahfud, the practice of nepotism is inevitable in any major political event, including the regional elections set to take place on Dec. 9.“Many of us may dislike nepotism. But we have to admit, there’s no legal or constitutional reason to prevent a person from being running for office based on nepotism or [family connections],” Mahfud said during an online discussion on Saturday as quoted by kompas.com.last_img read more

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