Domestic tourism soars in China but foreigners stay away

BBC/KATHERINA TSE A popular thing to do in Wuzhen is to pose for photos dressed in traditional hanfu clothing
A popular thing to do in Wuzhen is pose for photos dressed in traditional hanfu clothing

With the Chinese economy facing massive challenges, there have been concerns over its growth potential, at least in the immediate future.

Yet a key exception is emerging in the form of domestic tourism.

Last week’s five-day public holiday to mark labour day saw 295 million trips made within China, according to figures from the Ministry of Culture and Tourism. This was 28% higher than pre-pandemic figures recorded in 2019.

The Transport Ministry’s figures are also staggering: 92 million rail trips; almost 10 million air trips and 1.25 billion highway journeys.

However, this comes as international arrivals continue to lag, with foreigners currently entering China at barely 30% of 2019 levels. Why the disparity?

The beautiful historical river town of Wuzhen, a short drive from Shanghai, is considered one of China’s top visitor sites for travellers of all types. When we arrive the little pathways and old bridges which cross narrow waterways are filled with visitors.

A popular thing to do in Wuzhen is to pose for photos dressed in traditional hanfu clothing – as if you have really been transported back hundreds of years.

Two women in their 20s, friends since high school, are visiting from Jilin Province in the north east. After arriving, they spend an hour getting their hair done in an elaborate imperial-era style – and they are full of praise for Wuzhen’s classical beauty.

We ask if, following the post-Covid opening up, many of their family and other friends have been travelling much? “Of course, after the pandemic, we’re all visiting other places.”

Nearby a local man who is selling ice-creams also says tourist numbers are “not that bad lately”.

As good as before Covid? “Almost the same,” he replies.

Shopkeeper Wang Ying, who sells traditional snacks, echoes this sentiment with a big smile on her face. “Business is going well, and it’ll only get better.”

BBC/KATHERINA TSE Wuzhen is considered one of China's top visitor sites
Wuzhen is considered one of China’s top visitor sites

All this will be seen as good news for the Chinese government. It’s been saying that a push on domestic consumption can counter the significant faltering portions of the economy.

Major players in the once-mighty property sector are struggling to stay afloat, local government debt continues to rise, and persistent youth unemployment has left highly qualified university graduates uncertain of their future.

Amid all these challenges, the Communist Party has set a target of “around 5%” GDP growth for this year. Apart from the fact that analysts have long questioned the veracity of the country’s official growth figures, economists are also asking how such a target can be reached, in any genuine sense, in 2024 without significant extra stimulus.

One lifeline could be a more buoyant travel scene which could bring broader business opportunities and greater service industry employment.

Schubert Lou, chief operating officer at travel agency, told the BBC: “We’ve seen very strong domestic travel demand with search volumes in hotels up 67% compared to last year, and flight volumes up 80%.”

Tourism industry consultant Peng Han from Travel Daily is following the investment trail to see how the business community really views the possibilities in the sector.

“With famous international hotel brands – like Intercontinental, Marriott and Hilton – you just have to look at their growth in China in 2023,” he says. “Then check the performance goals for these large hotel groups in 2024 which have also been set relatively high. This shows that they are very optimistic about the growth potential of the Chinese market.”

But, while the volume of local travellers might be up, Mr Peng does point to the problem of per capita consumption which remains persistently low.

He says general uncertainty about the Chinese economy is putting more emphasis on saving, so people are looking for good value options. They are going on holidays and paying for things but doing so much more frugally.

This is where an increase in big-spending foreigners could help. But they are simply not travelling to China in the numbers they used to.

In 2019, nearly 98 million international visitors came to the country. Last year it was only 35 million – including business trips, students and the like. Mr Lou describes the domestic versus international market as “uneven”.

For many in the tourism industry here specialising in services for foreign travellers, “uneven” would be an understatement. Three years of harsh Covid prevention measures drove down arrivals from other countries, but that alone can’t account for the current situation.

Huang Songshan, the head of the Centre for Tourism Research in the School of Business and Law at Australia’s Edith Cowan University, blames this weakness in part to “the shifting geopolitical landscape globally”.

Getty Images Chinese performer
China’s culture and heritage has traditionally been a big draw for tourists

In the peer-reviewed East Asia Forum, he pointed to a 2023 survey carried out by the Pew Research Centre, writing that, “Most individuals in Western nations hold unfavourable views towards China. The Chinese government’s tightening grip on societal regulations could potentially cause discomfort for foreign travellers in China.”

Official travel advice from some governments echo this sentiment, at times quite harshly.

Washington warns potential travellers to “reconsider travel to Mainland China due to the arbitrary enforcement of local laws, including in relation to exit bans, and the risk of wrongful detentions”.

Australia advises “a high degree of caution” warning that “Australians may be at risk of arbitrary detention or harsh enforcement of local laws, including broadly defined National Security Laws”.

The political environment has also taken a toll on flight availability and price. This is especially the case with connections to and from North America. Last month’s 332 scheduled round trips between China and the US contrasts with 1,506 in April 2019.

As a result, finding a seat on a direct flight can be extremely difficult and those that are available are very expensive.

President Xi Jinping made a speech at a dinner on the sidelines of the Asia-Pacific Economic Cooperation conference in San Francisco last November addressing this point. “Today, President Biden and I reached important consensus,” he told the crowd.

“Our two countries will roll out more measures to facilitate travels and promote people-to-people exchanges, including increasing direct passenger flights, holding a high-level dialogue on tourism, and streamlining visa application procedures. We hope that our two peoples will make more visits, contacts and exchanges and write new stories of friendship in the new era.”

Washington has since increased the number of Chinese airline flights permitted to land – but only from 35 per week to 50. It is still well short of the 150 weekly trips pre-Covid.

The Biden administration is coming under pressure from unions and US airlines to not increase this any further because, they argue, Chinese airlines have an unfair advantage over them as they have state support; don’t face the same onerous Chinese regulations; and, crucially, can fly over Russian airspace, making trips shorter and cheaper.

A letter to the US government from the Chair of the House Committee on China, Mike Gallagher, and the committee’s top Democrat representative, Raja Krishnamoorthi, reads: “Should the US-China passenger carrier market expand without the US government addressing these significant issues, US aviation workers, travellers and airlines will pay a hefty price tag.”

Mr Lou says the frequency of international flight connections is definitely having an impact.

“What we are seeing right now, based on civil aviation data, is that inbound flight capacity won’t get back to even 80% of 2019 [levels] by the end of 2024.”

Then there are other potential turnoffs for those considering travelling in China, like the country’s state-of-the-art phone app payment and booking systems which work very smoothly for Chinese citizens and residents, but which can be an enormous headache if you have just arrived.

There are certain sites, transport options, and purchases which can only be accessed via Chinese electronic apps which are, at times, only available in Chinese.

Professor Chen Yong at Switzerland’s EHL Hospitality Business School is an authority on the economics of tourism in China. He thinks that hurdles relating to payment and booking apps can pose a real problem.

“Technologies such as social network websites, online maps, payment apps, among others, which foreigners have long been accustomed to using, are either unavailable or inaccessible when they travel to China,” he says.

“On the other hand, there are Chinese alternatives to these technologies that remain inaccessible to foreigners due to language barriers and differences in user habits. We need to bridge this divide because it affects the tourist industry badly.”

Back in Wuzhen, the presence of international travellers is much smaller than in years gone by, but there are still a few foreign faces in the crowd.

An Italian couple says the process of linking up to and using China’s payment apps was a challenge but that it was not insurmountable, though they add, with a laugh, that it is “much, much, much easier” if you have a Chinese friend to help you.

BBC/KATHERINA TSE Woman and child pose for selfies
Chinese officials have acknowledged that the foreign traveller numbers have been low but they are trying to turn this around

Eliseo, from California, says he has had problems making payments to small vendors who don’t accept credit cards and really no longer deal with cash. Another hurdle for him has been his bank at home which has blocked some payments, flagging them as potentially fraudulent coming from China.

Chinese officials have acknowledged that the foreign traveller numbers have been low but they are now trying to turn this around.

One way they’re attempting to attract more foreign visitors is by increasing the number of countries whose citizens don’t need a visa to enter. says this resulted in an almost immediate increase in passenger arrivals from Southeast Asia.

In 23 Chinese cities, transit passengers from more than 50 countries are also able to stay for a few days visa free if they have an onward ticket. In Shanghai, hotels above a three-star level have been told that they should prepare to deal with international credit cards and an initial batch of 50 taxis have also started accepting them.

However, Professor Chen says “it would be too optimistic to envision a long-term growth in China’s inbound tourism”.

“The key is to establish a culture that puts service providers in the shoes of foreign tourists. They should imagine themselves being a foreigner who can’t speak or read Chinese and who doesn’t have a Chinese mobile number, payments apps and so on.”

He says that the culture around this can’t be changed overnight.

Yet, in places like Wuzhen – where the local travellers have already returned – the tourism companies are hoping that incredible sites like theirs will eventually be too much for foreigners to resist as well.

UN rights chief ‘horrified’ by mass grave reports at Gaza hospitals

Reuters Palestinian civil defence workers dig mounds of earth in the grounds of Nasser hospital in Khan Younis, in the southern Gaza Strip (21 April 2024)ReutersPalestinian workers are exhuming bodies at Nasser hospital with shovels because they have no heavy machinery

The UN’s human rights chief has said he is “horrified” by the destruction of Gaza’s Nasser and al-Shifa hospitals and the reports of “mass graves” being found at the sites after Israeli raids.

Volker Türk called for independent investigations into the deaths.

Palestinian officials said they had exhumed the bodies of almost 300 people at Nasser. It is not clear how they died or when they were buried.

Israel’s military said claims that it buried bodies there were “baseless”.

But it did say that during a two-week operation at the hospital in the city of Khan Younis in February, troops “examined” bodies buried by Palestinians “in places where intelligence indicated the possible presence of hostages”.

Ten hostages who have now been released have said that they were held at Nasser hospital for long periods during their captivity.

Prior to the Israeli operation at Nasser, staff there had said they were being forced to bury bodies in the hospital’s courtyard because nearby fighting prevented access to cemeteries. There were similar reports from al-Shifa before the first Israeli raid on the hospital took place in November.

The Israeli military has said it has raided a number of hospitals in Gaza during the war because Hamas fighters have been operating inside them – a claim Hamas and medical officials have denied.

The war began when Hamas gunmen carried out an unprecedented cross-border attack on southern Israel on 7 October, killing about 1,200 people – mostly civilians – and taking 253 others back to Gaza as hostages.

More than 34,180 people – most of them children and women – have been killed in Gaza since then, the territory’s Hamas-run health ministry says.

A spokeswoman for the UN Human Rights Office said it was currently working on corroborating reports from Palestinian officials that 283 bodies had been found in Nasser hospital’s grounds, including 42 which had been identified.

“Victims had reportedly been buried deep in the ground and covered with waste,” Ravina Shamdasani told reporters in Geneva.

“Among the deceased were allegedly older people, women and wounded, while others… were found with their hands tied and stripped of their clothes.”

Mr Türk called for independent, effective and transparent investigations into the deaths, adding: “Given the prevailing climate of impunity, this should include international investigators.”

“Hospitals are entitled to very special protection under international humanitarian law. And the intentional killing of civilians, detainees, and others who are hors de combat [not participating in hostilities] is a war crime.”

On Monday, a spokesman for the Hamas-run Civil Defense force told BBC Arabic’s Gaza Today programme that it had received reports from local Palestinians that the bodies of a “large number” of people who had been killed during the war and buried in a makeshift cemetery in the hospital’s courtyard were moved to another location during the Israeli raid.

“After research and investigation, we learned that the occupation [Israeli] army had established a mass grave, pulled out the bodies that were in Nasser hospital, and buried them in this mass grave,” Mahmoud Basal said.

Gaza Today also spoke to a man who said he was searching there for the bodies of two male relatives which he alleged had been taken by Israeli troops during Israel’s recently concluded offensive in Khan Younis.

“After I had buried them in an apartment, the [Israelis] came and moved their bodies,” he said. “Every day we search for their bodies, but we fail to find them.”

Hamas has alleged that the bodies include people “executed in cold blood” by Israeli forces, without providing evidence.

Contains some violence and disturbing scenes.BBC Verify authenticates video from key moments in the story of Nasser Medical Complex in Gaza

The Israel Defense Forces (IDF) said in a statement on Tuesday: “The claim that the IDF buried Palestinian bodies is baseless and unfounded.”

“During the IDF’s operation in the area of Nasser Hospital, in accordance to the effort to locate hostages and missing persons, corpses buried by Palestinians in the area of Nasser hospital were examined.

“The examination was conducted in a careful manner and exclusively in places where intelligence indicated the possible presence of hostages. The examination was carried out respectfully while maintaining the dignity of the deceased. Bodies examined, which did not belong to Israeli hostages, were returned to their place.”

The IDF said that its forces had detained “about 200 terrorists who were in the hospital” during the raid, and that they found ammunition as well as unused medicines intended for Israeli hostages.

It also insisted that the raid was carried out “in a targeted manner and without harming the hospital, the patients and the medical staff”.

However, three medical staff told the BBC last month that they were humiliated, beaten, doused with cold water, and forced to kneel for hours after being detained during the raid.

Medics who remained at Nasser after the Israeli takeover said they were unable to care for patients and that 13 died because of conditions there, including a lack of water, electricity and other supplies.

Reuters Palestinian officials tape off the courtyard of al-Shifa hospital in Gaza City as workers search for human remains (8 April 2024)ReutersThe UN Human Rights Office said it had received reports that 30 bodies were buried in the courtyard of al-Shifa hospital

On 1 April, Israeli troops withdrew from al-Shifa hospital, which is in Gaza City, following what the IDF said was another “precise” operation carried out in response to intelligence that Hamas had regrouped there.

The IDF said at the time that 200 “terrorists” were killed in and around the hospital during the two-week raid. More than 500 others were detained, and weapons and intelligence were found “throughout the hospital”, it added.

After a mission gained access to the facility five days later, the World Health Organization (WHO) said al-Shifa was “now an empty shell”, with most of the buildings extensively damaged or destroyed, and the majority of equipment unusable or reduced to ashes.

It also said that “numerous shallow graves” had been dug just outside the emergency department, and the administrative and surgical buildings, and that “many dead bodies were partially buried with their limbs visible”.

The IDF also said it had avoided harm to patients at al-Shifa. But the WHO cited the acting hospital director as saying patients were held in abysmal conditions during the siege, and that at least 20 patients reportedly died due to a lack of access to care and limited movement authorised for medics.

Spokeswoman Ms Shamdasani said reports seen by the UN human rights office suggested that a total of 30 bodies were buried in the two graves and that 12 of them had been identified so far.

Gaza’s civil defence spokesman told CNN on 9 April that 381 bodies had been recovered from the vicinity of al-Shifa, but that the figure did not include people buried in the hospital’s grounds.

The UN human rights chief also deplored as “beyond warfare” a series of Israeli strikes on the southern city of Rafah in the past few days, which he said had killed mostly women and children.

The strikes included one on Saturday night, after which a premature baby was delivered from the womb of her pregnant mother, who was killed along with her husband and other daughter.

Mr Türk also again warned against a full-scale Israeli ground assault on Rafah, where 1.5 million displaced civilians are sheltering, saying it would lead to further breaches of international humanitarian law and human rights law.

Bak terbelenggu ‘borgol emas’ – Kisah karyawan berpendapatan tinggi yang terpaksa bertahan dalam pekerjaan yang penuh tekanan

Banyak karyawan yang terpaksa tetap bertahan di pekerjaan yang penuh tekanan demi keuangan yang stabil.
Keterangan gambar,Banyak karyawan yang terpaksa tetap bertahan di pekerjaan yang penuh tekanan demi keuangan yang stabil.

Sejak lama, banyak perusahaan memikat karyawan dengan iming-iming kekayaan – yang pada akhirnya menyebabkan karyawan mengorbankan kehidupan pribadi mereka. Hanya beberapa orang yang bisa meninggalkan pekerjaannya.

Lewis tahu bahwa gaji ratusan ribu euro yang dia terima harus diganjar dengan tempat kerja yang penuh tekanan.

Konsultan tingkat pemula yang bermarkas di Berlin ini percaya bahwa stres yang dialaminya sepadan dengan upaya dia untuk mendapatkan gaji pokok sebesar €150,000 (atau saat ini senilai Rp2,5 miliar) di salah satu perusahaan paling bergengsi di dunia.

Anda menerima kondisi tersebut dengan imbalan gaji yang tinggi – itulah permainannya. Jika Anda tidak bekerja 12 jam berturut-turut, jawabannya adalah ‘Anda dibayar mahal, jadi Anda harus melakukannya’,” katanya.

“Ketika Anda mendapatkan gaji yang tinggi, hal ini merupakan hambatan psikologis – Anda merasa telah mendapatkannya, dan bekerja sangat keras untuk mencapainya. Anda ingin keluar, tetapi berapa banyak potongan gaji yang dapat Anda terima?”

Ibaratnya Lewis memakai “borgol emas”, situasi di mana pekerja terjebak dalam pekerjaan dan karier yang sebenarnya mereka benci dengan imbalan gaji besar dan fasilitas mewah.

Meskipun ada keluhan mengenai pekan-pekan yang menyiksa, tugas-tugas yang membosankan, dan budaya yang tidak sehat, perusahaan-perusahaan menawarkan banyak uang kepada para pekerja yang sering kali membangun kehidupan mereka dari gaji yang besar.

Meskipun beberapa orang dapat melepaskan diri dari “borgol emas” demi mencapai keseimbangan antara pekerjaan dan kehidupan yang lebih sehat, ada pula yang merasa bahwa hal tersebut hampir mustahil untuk dilepaskan – dan harus menanggung konsekuensinya.

“Borgol emas” adalah praktik yang sudah lama dilakukan oleh perusahaan, kata Rubab Jafry O’Connor, profesor terkemuka di Tepper School of Business Universitas Carnegie Mellon, di Pittsburgh, AS.

“Selama organisasi-organisasi masih ada, sudah banyak perusahaan yang membayar gaji tinggi untuk mempertahankan pekerja terbaiknya.”

Istilah ini pertama kali muncul pada 1976, yang menandakan era di mana gaji para bankir Wall Street mulai jauh melebihi gaji rata-rata pekerja sektor swasta.

Besarannya tentu lebih besar dari gaji pokok, dengan keseluruhan paket pendapatan yang dilengkapi dengan opsi saham, bonus dan tunjangan tahunan yang sampai mencapai enam digit – dan seterusnya.

Bagi pengusaha, “borgol emas” bukan hanya alat retensi tradisional, melainkan juga sarana untuk memastikan pekerja secara rutin melakukan yang terbaik dalam pekerjaannya, kata Jafry O’Connor.

Kompensasi yang besar berarti karyawan harus tunduk pada keinginan perusahaan. “Jika saya membayar kamar di Fairmont, saya mengharapkan lebih dari jika saya menginap di Motel 6,” katanya, membandingkan jaringan hotel mewah dengan jaringan hotel berbiaya rendah.

“Jadi, dengan gaji yang lebih besar, muncul pula ekspektasi yang lebih besar: Anda akan diberi kompensasi atas waktu dan energi ekstra yang harus Anda curahkan untuk pekerjaan itu.”

Namun, sebagai imbalan atas gaji yang besar, para pekerja sering kali harus menanggung membayarnya dengan kualitas hidup mereka. Hal ini khususnya terjadi pada karyawan tingkat junior – dalam banyak kasus, pekerjaan dilakukan secara bertahap dari tingkat atas.

“Mitra menjual proyek untuk menghasilkan uang guna mendapatkan bonus,” Lewis menjelaskan situasinya di konsultan tersebut. “Untuk menghasilkan penjualan, mereka memberikan janji yang berlebihan: proyek yang berdurasi tiga bulan memiliki tenggat waktu tiga minggu. Para pekerja di lapisan bawahlah yang melakukan kerja keras, sehingga membuat jam kerja lebih panjang, stres, tekanan, dan budaya kerja yang buruk.”

Di tingkat yang lebih tinggi, paket pendapatan menjadi lebih menggiurkan – dan “borgol emas” semakin ketat.

Ryan Renteria, penulis Lead Without Burnout, adalah seorang mitra di dana lindung nilai Wall Street ketika dia berhenti, pada usia 30 tahun. “Peluang kompensasi tidak masuk akal,” katanya.

“Setiap enam bulan setelah Anda membukukan hasil investasi yang kuat, Anda akan menerima bonus besar lainnya yang ditangguhkan sebagian – Anda akan kehilangannya jika Anda keluar.”

Namun, Renteria kehabisan tenaga – dan pergi. “Dampak pekerjaan ini tidak baik buat kesehatan mental dan fisik saya,” katanya.

“Tingkat kecemasan dan stres saya sangat tinggi; pola makan, olahraga, dan tidur saya berantakan. Saya keluar karena saya merasa melanjutkan jalur ini akan menghancurkan segalanya yang penting bagi saya.”

Namun, ketika para pekerja tidak bahagia, mereka seringkali kesulitan melepaskan diri dari belenggu “borgol emas”.

Lucy Maeve Puttergill mengatakan pada tahun pertamanya bekerja di Canary Wharf, London, dia menyadari bahwa perbankan bukanlah karier yang tepat untuknya. Namun, dia bertahan selama sembilan tahun.

“Saya terjebak dalam gengsi, dan hal itu membuat saya terdengar mengesankan di mata orang lain. Dan saya sudah terbiasa dengan angka-angka yang dibuat orang di perbankan sebagai hal yang ‘normal’, saya berasumsi bahwa itulah yang Anda perlukan untuk menjadi mencapai tahap finansial yang baik.”

“Borgol emas” sulit untuk dihilangkan bukan hanya karena gaji, kata Puttergill, melainkan juga gaya hidup yang memungkinkannya.

“Seseorang dengan pekerjaan bergaji tinggi biasanya memiliki pengeluaran yang tinggi, terkait dengan seberapa keras mereka bekerja. Saya menghabiskan banyak uang dengan mati rasa: membeli pakaian untuk membuat diri saya merasa lebih baik. Menguraikan hubungan saya dengan uang diperlukan agar saya bisa keluar .”

Banyak karyawan yang terpaksa tetap bertahan di pekerjaan yang penuh tekanan demi keuangan yang stabil.
Keterangan gambar,Gaya hidup menjadi salah satu faktor yang membuat para pekerja bertahan di bawah tekanan pekerjaan.

Puttergill telah dilatih kembali sebagai seorang profesional kesehatan yang membantu orang mencapai kesuksesan di berbagai bidang kehidupan. Banyak kliennya bekerja dengan gaji tinggi, termasuk dari sector perbankan, hukum dan konsultasi, biasanya pada pertengahan karir.

“Beberapa orang akan mengatakan mereka ingin berhenti, atau lelah dan stres,” katanya. “Mereka mati rasa, tetapi tidak menyadarinya.”

Dia mengatakan perbincangan seputar dampak kesehatan mental yang terkait dengan “borgol emas” telah berkembang di dunia kerja yang terus berubah.

Namun, ia memperingatkan bahwa paket-paket pendapatan ini akan tetap ada – dan dalam perekonomian yang tidak menentu, akan lebih banyak pekerja yang akan bertahan, apa pun kondisinya.

“Sebelum tahun 2008, lebih mudah untuk menyelesaikan pekerjaan dan pensiun dini, tetapi saat ini sangat sedikit yang mampu menghasilkan jutaan dolar dan berhenti bekerja pada usia 35 tahun,” katanya.

“Yang mengikat Anda lebih dari sekadar gaji, ada juga gaya hidup, kelompok pertemanan, dan harga diri.”

Lewis mampu melepaskan “borgol emasnya”. Dia mengatakan selain “keseimbangan kehidupan kerja yang buruk, jam kerja yang panjang berdampak negatif pada hubungan saya, budaya penindasan,” dia tidak melihat jalan menuju promosi, yang akhirnya mendorong dia ke tepi jurang.

Meski begitu, meskipun ia menerima pemotongan gaji sebesar 10% untuk pekerjaan barunya, ia tetap bertahan di bidang konsultasi – sebuah industri dengan kompensasi dan ekspektasi yang tinggi. Ia yakin hasil antara gaji dan keseimbangan kehidupan kerja masih sepadan.

“Saya berpikir untuk meninggalkan industri ini, tetapi pendapatan seperti ini tidak tersedia di tempat lain,” katanya. “Setelah Anda mendapatkan gaji tertentu, itulah nilai Anda – penurunan gaji dalam jumlah besar tidak mungkin dilakukan.”

UK to pay at least £370m to Rwanda for asylum deal, watchdog says

A small boat carrying migrants across the Channel
Image caption,The Rwanda policy aims to deter people from crossing the Channel in small boats

The UK will pay at least £370m to Rwanda as part of its plan to relocate asylum seekers there, the government’s spending watchdog has revealed.

Up to £150,000 will also be paid for each person sent to the east African country over a five-year period.

Labour said the new figures in the report by the National Audit Office (NAO) were a “national scandal”.

However, the Home Office said: “Doing nothing is not without significant costs.”

A spokesperson said: “Unless we act, the cost of housing asylum seekers is set to reach £11bn per year by 2026.

“Illegal migration costs lives and perpetuates human trafficking, and it is therefore right that we fund solutions to break this unsustainable cycle.”

The NAO report comes after MPs have been calling for greater transparency over the cost of the scheme.

Under the five-year deal, the UK would be able to send individuals who arrive in the country illegally to Rwanda to claim asylum there.

The aim of the policy is to deter people from crossing the English Channel in small boats – something Prime Minister Rishi Sunak has made one of his key priorities.

However, the scheme has been stalled by legal challenges and no one has been relocated there yet.

The government says it is aiming for deportation flights to take off by the spring.

Legislation seeking to revive the plan has been approved by MPs and will be debated in the House of Lords next week, where critics are likely to seize on the latest costs.

Under the scheme, the Home Office has agreed to pay money into a fund to support economic growth in Rwanda, as well as providing extra payments to cover the cost of processing and relocating individuals there.

The UK has already paid £220m into the economic development fund since April 2022, with further annual payments of £50m scheduled for the next three years.

This amounts to a total of £370m over five years.

If more than 300 people are eventually sent to Rwanda, the UK would pay a one-off sum of £120m into the fund, with further payments of £20,000 per individual relocated.

On top of this, the UK government would also provide up to £150,874 per person to cover costs such as accommodation, food and education.

These payments would stop if the individual chooses to leave Rwanda, with the UK instead paying £10,000 per person to facilitate their departure.

The NAO’s report also reveals that the cost of setting up the scheme could rise from £20m to £28m.

There are also expected to be other future costs, including an estimated £11,000 per individual for flights to Rwanda.

The NAO does not come to a judgement on whether the scheme is value for money as the watchdog said this would depend on whether it is successful in deterring people from coming to the UK illegally.

Labour has pledged to scrap the Rwanda policy if it wins the next election, describing it as an expensive “gimmick”.

Shadow home secretary Yvette Cooper said: “This report reveals the national scandal the Tories have been trying to hide.

“Its shocking analysis shows the costs of the failed Rwanda farce are even higher than previously thought.”

The report was produced in response to a request from two cross-party committees of MPs – the Public Accounts and Home Affairs Committees.

In December the Home Office’s most senior civil servant wrote to the chairwomen of both committees to reveal some of the costs associated with the scheme but they said this did not provide enough information on how much had been spent so far.

Australia holds Chinese man over suspected North Korea tobacco smuggling

North Korea military parade
Image caption,The scheme is suspected to have helped fund North Korea’s weapons programme

A Chinese man is being held in Australia over his alleged role in a tobacco smuggling scheme that generated $700m (£570m) for North Korea.

Jin Guanghua now awaits extradition to the US, where he faces prosecution.

He is accused of supplying tobacco to Pyongyang for roughly a decade. It is unclear whether he contests the claim.

US authorities allege the tobacco trade allowed Kim Jong Un’s regime to make and sell counterfeit cigarettes to help fund its weapons programme.

Australia’s Attorney-General’s Department confirmed that Mr Jin had been detained in Melbourne in March last year, and that his “extradition matter” was ongoing.

“The individual is wanted to face prosecution in the US for a number of sanctions, bank fraud, money laundering, and conspiracy offences,” it said in a statement on Tuesday.

According to US court documents, the scheme Mr Jin was allegedly involved in was run through a series of North Korean “state owned companies” and financed by its banks.

“Chinese front companies” were then used to conduct transactions through the US financial system, bypassing sanctions and bringing millions of dollars into Pyongyang, the documents say.

Mr Jin is accused of setting up a number of entities in the UK, New Zealand, the United Arab Emirates and China that “facilitated purchases of [the] tobacco” used.

The revenue from the scheme is believed to have supported North Korea’s ballistic and nuclear proliferation programmes, the US says.

Counterfeit cigarettes have been a “major source of income” for North Korea since the 1990s, according to US authorities. Made in Pyongyang, they are then sold using the fake packaging of well-known tobacco brands, and have turned up in countries such as the Philippines, Vietnam and Belize.

The illegal trade is thought to be one of Pyongyang’s largest sources of hard currency, according to the US government.

If found guilty, Mr Jin faces millions of dollars in fines and decades in prison.

His alleged co-conspirators have been named in court documents as Chinese nationals Qin Guoming, 60, and Han Linlin, 42.

Both are wanted by the FBI and are suspected to have ties to “China, the United Arab Emirates, and Australia”.

A bounty of $498,000 is on offer for any information that could assist with the arrest and conviction of either man.

For years, the US has imposed strict sanctions on North Korea over its nuclear and ballistic missile activities.

In 2023, British American Tobacco was ordered to pay $635m in fines to the US government after one of its subsidiaries admitted to selling cigarettes to Pyongyang. The case was described by authorities as an “elaborate scheme to circumvent US sanctions”.

Julian Assange: Australian politicians call for release of WikiLeaks founder

Julian Assange
Image caption,Julian Assange has been held in London’s high-security Belmarsh Prison since 2019

Australia’s parliament has passed a motion calling on the US and UK to release Julian Assange, ahead of a crucial legal hearing.

Mr Assange will appear in front of the UK’s High Court next week for his final appeal against US extradition.

The Australian citizen, currently in London’s Belmarsh Prison, is wanted in the US on espionage charges and faces up to 175 years in prison.

Australian MPs voted 86-42 that Mr Assange should be allowed to come home.

Prime Minister Anthony Albanese, who supported the motion, has called for the Assange case to come to a “conclusion” since taking office in 2022.

He raised the matter directly with US President Joe Biden during a state visit in October.

It followed a cross-party delegation of Australian MPs travelling to Washington to lobby US lawmakers for Mr Assange’s freedom.

The WikiLeaks founder is wanted for publishing thousands of classified documents in 2010 and 2011, which American authorities say broke the law and endangered lives.

He has long argued that the case against him is politically motivated. His legal team say he is at risk of taking his own life if he is sent to the US.

In 2021, a UK judge blocked Mr Assange’s extradition, citing concerns for his mental health.

The High Court subsequently reversed that decision on the basis that the US had proven that Mr Assange would be safely cared for. In 2022, then Home Secretary Priti Patel approved the US extradition request – triggering his renewed legal appeal.

Mr Assange’s family have continued to call on the Australian government to do more to secure his release, warning that the 52-year-old could “disappear” into the US justice system for decades if handed over.

Australia’s Attorney General Mark Dreyfus said he had raised the matter with his US counterpart Merrick Garland at a meeting in Washington last month.

“This was a private discussion, however this government’s position on Mr Assange is very clear, and has not changed. It is time this matter is brought to an end,” Mr Dreyfus said in a statement.

Mr Assange has been in the high-security Belmarsh Prison since 2019. He had previously spent seven years in the Ecuadorian embassy in London while trying to seek asylum in the South American country.

Sarah Munby: Top civil servant hits out in Post Office compensation row

Henry Staunton
Image caption,Sarah Munby has claimed she never told Henry Staunton (picture) to delay Post Office compensation payments

A top civil servant has denied telling former Post Office chairman Henry Staunton to delay compensation payments to victims of the Horizon scandal.

Sarah Munby has written to the Business Secretary to say Mr Staunton’s claims are false and discussions were focussed on the commercial side of the business.

It marks the latest twist in a bitter row between the government and the former Post Office chairman.

Mr Staunton said he wanted to focus on victims instead of a “political spat”.

In a letter published by the government late on Wednesday afternoon, Sarah Munby claimed she had never told Henry Staunton to delay payments.

Ms Munby wrote: “It is not true that I made any instruction, either explicitly or implicitly, to Mr Staunton to in any way delay compensation payments. I did not.

“Neither Mr Staunton’s note, nor the contemporaneous note that my office made, suggest otherwise.

“In fact, no mention of delaying compensation appears in either note.”

She added that the two discussed funding for the Post Office’s operations, rather than compensation funding, which she said is ring-fenced.

Ms Munby also denied reports that she told the former chairman to “hobble” into the next General Election instead of focusing on long-term issues at the Post Office.

‘Very clear recollection’

Former Post Office chairman Henry Staunton earlier released a note he claims proves he was told to stall compensation payments to postmasters.

And his spokesperson issued a response on Wednesday evening saying his recollection of the conversation was “very clear” and because he felt the government’s view was so surprising, he made a note of it immediately afterwards.

His memo records a senior civil servant saying “now was not the time for dealing with long-term issues” and they should “hobble” up to the election.

The row between Mr Staunton and the government first erupted at the weekend when the former Post Office chair – who was sacked in January – said in an explosive interview with the Sunday Times that he had been told to slow down compensation payments victims.

Between 1999 and 2015, hundreds of sub-postmasters and sub-postmistresses were wrongly prosecuted after faults with Horizon made it look like money was missing from their branches.

The government has promised to quash convictions and pay compensation, but concerns have been raised over the speed and complexity in victims securing financial redress, with just 33 claims fully settled out of the 938 postmasters convicted.

In January last year, Mr Staunton emailed himself and colleagues, including Post Office chief executive Nick Read, notes of a conversation he had with Sarah Munby, then the most senior official at the Department for Business.

In the memo, he laid out the serious financial challenges facing the Post Office, which included the growing bill from the Horizon scandal.

As chairman Mr Staunton was tasked with righting the wrongs of the long-running scandal.

On Wednesday, Mr Staunton reiterated that “the clear message” he took away from that conversation was that some way needed to be found “of avoiding any additional call on the Treasury this side of the election”.

‘Rip off the band-aid’

Ms Munby told Mr Staunton she understood the “huge commercial challenge” of the financial position facing the Post Office, according to his notes.

But she warned him that “politicians do not necessarily like to confront reality”.

Sarah Munby headshot
Image caption,Civil servant Sarah Munby

His memo recorded Ms Munby saying that the Post Office needed to know that in the run up to the next General Election there was no appetite to “rip off the band-aid [sticking plaster]”.

“Now was not the time for dealing with long-term issues,” the memo said, and that the Post Office needed a plan to “hobble” up to the election.

In response to the memo, Ms Munby said that she did had not seen the meeting as an opportunity to give instructions, but to discuss Mr Staunton’s views on the Post Office’s performance as a commercial business.

Mr Staunton’s memo indicates the conversation appears to have been broader than merely discussing compensation for the sub-postmasters.

Sources close to Mr Staunton said he understood from the conversation that “long-term issues” included the compensation payments to victims of the scandal.

They said as a relatively new chair of a scandal hit business Mr Staunton would want to take decisive action over a long running scandal and he interpreted the civil servant’s comments as a warning against taking such action.

On Wednesday, Mr Staunton’s spokesperson added he could not “explain why Ms Munby appears now to have a different recollection of the context of the conversation”.

He added: “The real tragedy is the plight of the wrongfully convicted postmasters and their families and that this is what we should be focussing on rather than the unseemly political spat… which this seems to have degenerated into.”

Business Secretary Kemi Badenoch had also denied the Post Office chair had been told to stall payments, saying there was “no evidence” to support the claim and accused him of spreading “made-up anecdotes”.

She insisted the government had done “everything it can” to speed up payments to those wrongfully prosecuted and that it would be “a mad thing to even suggest”.

At Prime Minister’s Questions on Wednesday, Sir Keir Starmer called on the prime minister to commit to releasing correspondence relating to the row.

The Labour Leader quoted the campaigning former sub-postmaster Christopher Head, saying “we need to see the correspondence between the Post Office, the department and UKGI because all of the time everything gets shrouded in secrecy.”

When he was asked repeatedly whether he wanted to repeat Ms Badenoch’s allegations relating to Mr Staunton, Prime Minister Rishi Sunak declined to do so.

Sir Keir also raised the BBC’s recent investigation which revealed David Cameron’s government knew the Post Office had ditched a secret investigation in 2016 that might have helped wrongly accused postmasters prove their innocence.

Mr Sunak declined to commit directly to releasing the correspondence and said the current inquiry into the Post Office Scandal was the “right and proper way to get truth the victims deserve”.

Some Conservative MPs the BBC has spoken to privately questioned the wisdom of Ms Badenoch attacking Mr Staunton so vociferously. “Why add oxygen to the row?” they asked.

Kisah mantan PM Belanda dan istrinya yang meninggal dunia bergandengan tangan lewat eutanasia

Dries van Agt
Keterangan gambar,Dries van Agt dan istrinya, Eugenie, tak terpisahkan selama tujuh dekade terakhir

Mantan Perdana Menteri Belanda, Dries van Agt, mengembuskan nafas terakhir bersama istrinya, Eugenie pada awal Februari silam. Mereka memilih eutanasia dan meninggal dengan berpegangan tangan.

“Eutanasia ganda” menjadi pilihan pasangan yang sama-sama berusia 93 tahun itu setelah mengalami masalah kesehatan yang bertubi-tubi.

Pada tahun 2019, Van Agt mengalami serangan stroke dan efeknya tidak pernah benar-benar pulih. Pada saat bersamaan, kesehatan Eugenie juga terus menurun.

Eutanasia dan bunuh diri dengan bantuan sudah dilegalkan di Belanda sejak 2002. Adapun eutanasia ganda adalah tren baru yang kian populer di Belanda.

Beberapa pasangan berhasil mendapatkan apa yang mereka inginkan: meninggal dunia bersama-sama. Praktik ini biasanya dilakukan dengan dosis obat yang mematikan.

Van Agt dikenal sebagai seorang politisi berpengaruh yang sudah bertahun-tahun mengabdi ke negaranya. Dia juga pendiri The Rights Forum, organisasi hak asasi manusia (HAM) di Belanda.

Tujuh dekade bersama

Andreas “Dries” van Agt dan Eugenie Krekelberg sudah mengarungi bahtera hidup bersama-sama selama lebih dari 70 tahun.

Pertemuan pertama mereka terjadi saat sama-sama menjalani studi seni di Nijmegen di Belanda timur.

Beberapa tahun kemudian mereka menikah dan senantiasa bersama-sama.

Lahir tahun 1931, Dries van Agt dibesarkan di keluarga Katolik.

Dries van Agt
Keterangan gambar,Dries van Agt ketika sedang menyampaikan pidato pada 31 Januari 1981

Karier politiknya dimulai setelah lulus kuliah bidang hukum dan bekerja sebagai pegawai sipill di Kementerian Pertanian dan Perikanan juga Kementerian Kehakiman.

Van Agt menjadi Menteri Kehakiman Belanda pada 1971-1977 dan Menteri Luar Negeri pada 1982.

Dia kemudian menjadi perdana menteri untuk tiga kabinet yang berbeda antara 1977 dan 1982. Selain itu, dia juga menjadi Duta Besar Uni Eropa untuk Jepang dan Amerika Serikat.

Adapun istrinya, Eugenie, senantiasa mendampingi van Agt sekaligus menjadi penasehatnya sepanjang jalan karier politik.

Eugenie selalu hadir di sampingnya di berbagai acara baik dalam maupun luar negeri – keduanya dikenal sebagai tokoh publik.

Dries van Agt
Keterangan gambar,Dries van Agt (kanan) dan Eugenie (kiri) difoto pada 14 April 1987

Cuplikan lensa menangkap pasangan ini sangat mesra dengan satu sama lain seperti saat menyapa kerumunan publik atau mencoblos saat pemilu.

Eugenie juga dengan setia mendampingi van Agt saat The Rights Forum didirikan tahun 2009. Organisasi ini dikenal berkomitmen mencari solusi perdamaian antara Israel dan Palestina.

Van Agt menulis banyak artikel dan dua buku tentang kondisi orang-orang Palestina yang menurutnya diperlakukan secara “tidak adil”.

Dries van Agt
Keterangan gambar,Dries van Agt digambarkan memiliki kepribadian yang menarik

Masalah kesehatan

Pada 2019, sang mantan perdana menteri menderita stroke dan tak pulih sepenuhnya sejak itu.

Menurut The Rights Forum, ini tidak memupus upaya van Agt untuk terus mengadvokasi isu Palestina.

Namun, van Agt menjadi frustasi karena “kreativitas, konsentrasi, dan kemampuan beliau dalam berpidato terkena dampak negatif”.

Kesehatan dari Eugenie – cinta hidupnya dan pendamping setia – juga terus menurun. Dalam usia yang sama-sama menginjak 93 tahun, mereka tidak mau hidup sendirian tanpa satu dengan yang lainnya.

Mereka pun memilih eutanasia pada 5 Februari.

Dries van Agt
Keterangan gambar,Dries van Agt ditunjuk sebagai duta besar Uni Eropa di Jepang pada 1987

Perdana Menteri Belanda Mark Rutte mengucapkan belasungkawa dan memberikan penghormatan yang mengharukan kepada van Agt. Rutte menganggap van Agt “kakek buyut mertua”-nya.

Keluarga kerajaan Belanda menyoroti “kepribadiannya yang menarik dan gaya pidatonya yang penuh warna”.

Van Agt dan Eugenie meninggalkan tiga orang anak. Mereka dimakamkan di Nijmegen – kota yang menjadi saksi asmaranya.

Situs resmi Komisi Peninjau Eutanasia Belanda mendeskripsikan eutanasia adalah suatu keadaan ketika dokter menuruti permintaan pasien untuk mengakhiri hidupnya.

Sementara, apabila dokter membantu pasien untuk mengakhiri hidupnya sendiri, itu disebut sebagai bunuh diri dengan bantuan

Kedua praktik tersebut telah diizinkan di Belanda sejak tahun 2002, tetapi praktiknya dikontrol secara ketat dalam undang-undang.

Permintaan eutanasia seringkali datang dari pasien yang menderita sakit tak tertahankan dan harapan sembuhnya tidak ada. Permintaan tersebut harus dibuat dengan keseriusan dan keyakinan penuh.

Pasien tidak memiliki hak mutlak untuk mendapatkan eutanasia, dan dokter juga tidak memiliki kewajiban mutlak untuk melakukan eutanasia.

Eutanasia ganda adalah metode teranyar, tetapi praktik ini kian menjadi umum.

Dari hampir 9.000 eutanasia secara individual yang dilakukan di Belanda pada tahun 2022, 29 pasangan menjalani proses tersebut pada periode waktu yang sama.

Tingginya toleransi di ujung negeri

Tingginya toleransi di ujung negeri
Klenteng dan masjid di Kota Tua Penagi (ANTARA/Muhamad Nurman)

Natuna (ANTARA) –

Kabupaten Natuna, Kepulauan Riau, merupakan salah satu wilayah terluar Indonesia, dengan penduduk dari berbagai macam agama, suku dan budaya.

Toleransi menjadi pemandangan yang biasa, salah satu yang paling menonjol adalah bangunan rumah ibadah berdampingan di Kelurahan Batu Hitam, Kecamatan Bunguran Timur.

Kedua rumah ibadah di Kota Tua Penagi ersebut adalah Masjid Al-Mukarramah milik umat islam dan Klenteng Pu Tek Chi milik umat Khonghucu.

Jarak antara kedua rumah ibadah itu sekitar dua meter, dengan ukuran yang hampir sama. Saat ini Masjid Al Mukarasama dalam tahap renovasi.

Meski dibangun bersebelahan, tidak pernah terdengar salah satu umat agama saling mengutarakan komplain karena merasa tidak nyaman atau mereka saling melarang saat salah satu umat untuk melaksanakan ibadah. Mereka hidup berdampingan dengan damai, hingga puluhan tahun.

Toleransi yang mereka jalankan sebatas menyediakan ruang untuk masing-masing agama menjalan ajaran dari keyakinannya sesuai dengan tuntunan yang telah tertulis dalam kitab agama yang mereka yakini.

Tingginya toleransi di Natuna membuat wilayah itu ditetapkan oleh Kementerian Agama sebagai Kampung Modernasi Beragama.

Dengan ditepkan sebagai kampung modernasi beragama, diharapkan hubungan harmonis yang selalu terjaga dapat menular ke berbagai daerah lainnya di Indonesia. Pada akhirnya akan memperkokoh toleransi antarumat beragama di Tanah Air.

Selain Kampung Tua Penagi di Kelurahan Batu Hitam, Kecamatan Bunguran Timur, Kementerian Agama juga menetapkan Kelurahan Sedanau yang berada di Kecamatan Bunguran Barat, dengan status yang sama.

Papan plang kampung modernasi beragama (ANTARA/Muhamad Nurman)


Masyarakat Natuna, mayoritas bersuku Melayu dan berbahasa Melayu. Bahaya Melayu yang digunakan masyarakat daerah itu identik dengan Bahasa Melayu Terengganu di Malaysia.

Kondisi demikian dikarenakan pemimpin pemerintahan pertama di daerah itu merupakan Datuk Kaya, yang merupakan keturunan Kesultanan Patani yang pernah menguasai semenajung Malaya bagian utara, yakni Klantan dan Terengganu.

Pastinya Budaya Melayu tumbuh subur di Natuna. Meskipun demikian, Suku Melayu di pulau itu tidak pernah melarang suku lainnya untuk melestarikan budaya mereka.

Suku-suku dari luar tanah Melayu bebas mementaskan atau menampilkan budaya yang mereka miliki untuk diekspresikan di daerah itu.

Ragam budaya di luar Melayu itu, contohnya upacara sedekah bumi yang dilakukan oleh Suku Jawa yang mayoritas bermukim di Kecamatan Bunguran Tengah.

Bahkan Pemerintah Kabupaten Natuna kerap mengirimkan perwakilan untuk menghadiri acara dari budaya di luar Suku Melayu tersebut.

Sedekah bumi merupakan tradisi yang kerap dilakukan Suku Jawa setiap satu tahun sekali, biasanya setelah panen hasil pertanian.

Tradisi tersebut dilakukan sebagai bentuk rasa syukur mereka kepada Tuhan yang telah memberikan rezeki melalui Bumi, berupa segala bentuk hasil panen dari yang mereka tanam.

Biasanya kegiatan itu selalu dimeriahkan dengan pementasan tarian kuda lumping yang merupakan salah satu warisan budaya seni dari Suku Jawa.

Tidak hanya itu, bukti kalau masyarakat Suku melayu Natuna tidak pernah menolak pada budaya luar, terlihat pada Tahun 2023, tepatnya pada perayaan 17 Agustus. Para pegiat budaya dari masing-masing suku juga diberi ruang oleh pemerintah daerah setempat untuk menampilkan kesenian dari suku masing-masing guna menghibur dan mengenalkan budaya mereka kepada para penerus serta masyarakat dari suku lainnya.

Kegiatan itu tidak pernah diprotes oleh masyarakat tempatan, bahkan mereka turut memeriahkannya dan membantu suku lainnya mencari keperluan untuk membuat pakaian serta atribut yang diperlukan.

Kegiatan yang diikuti ribuan masyarakat dari berbagai suku itu berlangsung sukses dan meriah serta direncanakan akan kembali digelar pada tahun 2024.

Saling membantu

Tingginya sikap toleran dalam bentuk lainnya yang bisa dilihat pada saat penyambutannya peringatan hari besar dari agama tertentu, seperti pada perayaan Tahun Baru Imlek dari umat Konghucu.

Pada malam perayaan tahun baru Imlek berlangsung, warga dari Suku China dan umat beragama yang memiliki paham yang sama di Natuna akan menghiasi klenteng dan jalan-jalan menuju klenteng dengan lampu-lampu lampion yang didominasi warna merah.

Selain itu mereka juga memasang lampion di rumah-rumah mereka.

Pada proses pemasangan lampion-lampion tersebut juga dibantu atau dilakukan oleh masyarakat dari suku lainnya.

masjid Al-Mukarramah mi dan Klenteng Pu Tek Chi (ANTARA/Muhamad Nurman)

Hal yang tidak tidak kalah unik adalah pemain dari pementasan barongsai di Klenteng Pu Tek Chi di Kota Tua Penagi, Kecamatan Bunguran Timur, berasal dari masyarakat suku lain, yakni Melayu dan beragama Islam.

Para penonton yang menyaksikan pementasan seni juga mayoritas berasal dari masyarakat suku dan agama lain.

Begitu juga perayaan hari raya umat Islam, umat agama lainnya akan turut memeriahkan dengan caranya masing-masing.

Benuk dukungan itu, salah satunya dengan ikut berkeliling saat takbiran dan mereka yang memiliki usaha toko sembako biasanya memberikan bonus minuman berkarbonasi atau minuman kaleng lainnya kepada pelanggan beragama islam yang berbelanja di toko itu, agar umat islam bisa menyajikan minuman tersebut saat ada tamu berkunjung ke rumah di masa Lebaran.

Ada juga yang membantu menyumbangkan uang kepada karang taruna untuk membuat tempat memasang lampu colok dan membeli bahan bakar lampu colok serta peralatan lainnya untuk membuat lampu colok yang biasanya dipasang pada malam takbiran (Idul Fitri maupun Idul Adha).

Dari contoh tersebut kita bisa melihat bahwa umat beragama di Natuna berhasil berbagi serta menyediakan ruang untuk saling menghormati keunikan dari perbedaan di setiap agama dan suku masing-masing, tanpa merasa terancam atau merasa keyakinan maupun hak-haknya dihalangi. Natuna telah memberikan contoh bagaimana Indonesia memang dibangun dari fondasi agama, budaya dan suku yang berbeda-beda, namun tetap bersatu dalam suasana damai.

Caleg DPR RI Dapil NTB I dan II berpotensi diisi wajah baru

Caleg DPR RI Dapil NTB I dan II berpotensi diisi wajah baru
Tangkapan layar perolehan suara sementara calon legislatif (caleg) DPR RI dari daerah pemilihan (Dapil) Nusa Tenggara Barat (NTB) 1 Pulau Sumbawa dan NTB 2 Pulau Lombok, Sabtu (17/2/2024). (ANTARA/Nur Imansyah).

Mataram (ANTARA) – Sejumlah wajah baru berpotensi akan mengisi kursi DPR RI dari daerah pemilihan (Dapil) Nusa Tenggara Barat (NTB) I dan II hasil Pemilu 2024.

Berdasarkan data di laman yang dipantau Sabtu pagi mencatat suara masuk sudah mencapai 59,25 persen di 6.831 TPS dari 11.530 TPS.

Sejumlah nama baru ini unggul dari calon legislatif (Caleg) petahana hasil Pemilu 2019 di dua Dapil NTB, yakni NTB 1 Pulau Sumbawa dan NTB 2 Pulau Lombok. Bahkan dari dua Dapil tersebut, berpotensi satu partai mendapat dua kursi. Dan kemungkinan hilang kursi di DPR RI karena tidak memenuhi ambang batas 4 persen.

Untuk NTB 1 Pulau Sumbawa dari tiga kursi yang diperebutkan, suara tertinggi dipimpin Mahdalena dengan 55.424 suara. Mahdalena merupakan pendatang baru dari Partai Kebangkitan Bangsa (PKB). Tak hanya itu, Magdalena mampu mematahkan dominasi suara para petahana.

Selanjutnya, peraih kedua terbanyak ada Caleg petahana Muhammad Syafrudin dengan perolehan 26.717 suara, sedang tempat ketiga diraih juga Caleg petahana Johan Rosihan dengan 27.162 suara.

Sementara di Dapil NTB 2 Pulau Lombok sejumlah nama baru juga memimpin perolehan suara dibanding para petahana di partai-nya masing-masing.

Di Dapil NTB 2, Pulau Lombok teralokasi delapan kursi di DPR RI. Di posisi teratas atau pertama diisi caleg Partai Gerindra yakni Lale Syifaun Nufus dengan perolehan 66.060 suara.

Selanjutnya, di posisi kedua ada caleg petahana dari Partai Golkar, Sari Yuliati dengan 43.979 suara. Di posisi ketiga ada pendatang baru memimpin atas petahana dari Partai Keadilan Sejahtera (PKS), yakni Abdul Hadi dengan perolehan 34.228 suara, sedangkan petahana Suryadi Jaya Purnama meraih 32.183 suara.

Di posisi keempat juga wajah baru dari PKB, yakni Lalu Hadrian Irfani dengan jumlah 32.906 suara. Di internal partai suaranya mengungguli caleg petahana Helmi Faishal Zaini yang memperoleh 9.391 suara.

Di tempat kelima itu diraih PDI Perjuangan (PDIP), perolehan suara masih dipimpin petahana Rachmat Hidayat dengan 31.212 suara.

Kemudian di posisi keenam muncul itu di isi caleg petahana dari Partai Demokrat, yakni Nanang Samodra 30.061 suara. Posisi ketujuh pendatang baru dari Partai NasDem yakni mantan Bupati Lombok Barat Fauzan Khalid dengan meraih 25.124 suara, sedangkan petahana HM Syamsul Lutfi 17.506 suara.

Posisi kedelapan atau kursi terakhir di Dapil NTB II Pulau Lombok itu sementara ini bertengger nama Ermalena dariĺ PPP dengan 23.347 suara memimpin atas petahana Wartiah 18.192 suara.

Di Dapil NTB II sebenarnya hasil sementara perolehan suara terbanyak di tempati Ketua Harian Partai Perindo yang juga menjabat Wakil Ketua TPN pasangan calon Presiden dan Wakil Presiden Ganjar-Mahfud, yakni Tuan Guru Bajang (TGB)ĺp HM Zainul Majdi yang memperoleh 82.462 suara.

Namun dari hasil hitung cepat lembaga survei kemungkinan besar Partai Perindo tidak mencapai ambang batas parlemen sebesar 4 persen. Tak hanya itu, PPP pun juga terancam tidak memenuhi ambang batas 4 persen hasil hitung cepat sejumlah lembaga survei.