Controversies Haunt Jokowi’s Tax Amnesty Program

Controversies Haunt Jokowi’s Tax Amnesty ProgramThe Indonesian government is going all-out to promote a tax amnesty program amid jitters from Singaporean bankers, who are estimated to hold tens of millions in assets spirited overseas, and by reformers, who say the amnesty gives fugitives too good a deal. The program is aimed at rich Indonesians who have undeclared assets overseas, with…

Indonesia’s Fire Season: Bad but Not As Bad

Indonesia’s Fire Season: Bad but Not As BadIndonesia’s fire season, in which hundreds of thousands of hectares of primary forest and peatland go up in smoke annually to be replaced by oil palm and paper plantations, is underway, with satellites recording hundreds of hot spots on Sumatra and Kalimantan. However, according to the nonprofit environmental science and conservation website Mongabay, the fires,…

Indonesia’s Complicated Relations with China

Indonesia’s Complicated Relations with ChinaThe open confrontation between Indonesia and China in Indonesia’s fish-rich Natuna area and subsequent coolness between the two countries belies President Joko Widodo’s moves to establish closer ties with Beijing during the first months of his presidency, which began in October of 2014. The president’s first international visit was to Beijing, followed with his full…

The Cost of Indonesia’s 2015 Fires

The Cost of Indonesia’s 2015 FiresIndonesian forest fires, fanned by an extended drought associated with El Nino, delivered more carbon emissions into the atmosphere than the entire European Union, an astounding 11.3 million tonnes per day against 8.9 million tonnes for the EU, according to a new study. The study, written  by nine climate scientists from Kings College London in…

Indonesia About to Introduce Draconian Islamic Certification Law

Indonesia About to Introduce Draconian Islamic Certification LawIn December 2014, as one of its last actions before its term ended,  Indonesia’s House of Representatives pushed through a law requiring halal labeling, or Islamic certification of food products and pharmaceuticals that had been hanging fire for eight years, primarily because of a flock of contentious provisions that critics say will damage the interests…

Indonesia Opens the Door – a Bit – to More Foreign Investment

Indonesia Opens the Door – a Bit – to More Foreign InvestmentIndonesian President Joko Widodo has fulfilled a long-awaited promise, delivering a revised list of businesses and sectors formerly closed or limited in terms of foreign investment. The list largely follows a February policy package that described sectors previously closed to foreign investment that are now to be open with varying restrictions. They include the film…

Sour Anniversary Looms for Indonesian Environmental Disaster

Sour Anniversary Looms for Indonesian Environmental DisasterOn May 28, it will be 10 years since something went disastrously wrong 1800 meters down inside Banjar Panji I, an exploratory gas well being drilled near the Surabaya town of Sidoarjo, about 900 km. southeast of Jakarta in east Java. When drillers attempted to shake loose a stalled drill bit, or it broke or…

Palm Oil Giant Suspended from Environmental Certification

Palm Oil Giant Suspended from Environmental CertificationThe green image of one of Malaysia’s largest conglomerates suffered a major blow on Friday with its suspension from the world’s largest association for ethical palm oil production, the Roundtable on Sustainable Palm Oil. IOI Group was one of the founding members of the RSPO, as the pact is known, but it has been suspended…

Indonesian Gas Field Decision Shows Joko’s Indecision

Indonesian Gas Field Decision Shows Joko’s IndecisionIndonesian President Joko Widodo has disappointed and bewildered international investors and undermined the government’s credibility by announcing that infrastructure for one of the world’s biggest gas fields is to be built onshore despite concerns that the onshore plant is economically not viable. In doing so, he finds himself at the center of a tug of…

Indonesian Economy Brightens Up

Indonesian Economy Brightens UpThere has been much fussing over the past year about whether or not Indonesian President Joko Widodo has the determination and backing to get a grip on the nation’s politics and rule effectively. The balance of opinion has now mostly shifted in his favor. But behind all this lies what can only be described as…