Powerful Indonesian Insider Faces Corruption Charges

Powerful Indonesian Insider Faces Corruption ChargesIndonesia’s House Speaker, Setya Novanto, one of the country’s most powerful politicians and a man who narrowly dodged a bullet over allegations of seeking to suborn a bribe from Freeport McMoran, the US-based mining giant in 2015, may not be so lucky this time. On July 17, the country’s fearsome anti-graft agency Corruption Eradication Commission…

Former President Obama Calls for Tolerance in Indonesia

Former President Obama Calls for Tolerance in IndonesiaIn a speech delivered Saturday in Jakarta, the former US President Barack Obama reminded Indonesians – and indeed the entire world – of a time, not long ago, when Americans had a president. The speech Obama delivered to a conference of the Indonesian diaspora in Jakarta laid out, just between the lines, a stunning rebuke…

Indonesia’s Generals Still a Potent Political Force

Indonesia’s Generals Still a Potent Political ForceAlthough the fall of Jakarta Governor Basuki Tjahaja Purnama, who lost the April gubernatorial election and was subsequently jailed for blasphemy, has been laid to the rising power of Islamic hardliners, it fits into a bigger picture. It appears to be a long-standing feud between former military strongman Prabowo Subianto and a secular faction of…

Japanese Firm Got Almost a Free Indonesian Bank

Japanese Firm Got Almost a Free Indonesian BankA scandal-plagued Indonesian bank, now in the hands of a controversial Japanese company, was sold to its new owners for virtually nothing, adding another layer of intrigue to the long saga of what was once the notorious Bank Century.  It is now doing business as PT Bank J Trust Indonesia TBK.  The result, since Century's…

Court Jails Jakarta Governor on (Political) Blasphemy Charge

Court  Jails Jakarta Governor on (Political) Blasphemy ChargeDespite prosecutors recommending probation on a lesser charge,  a five-judge panel has sentenced Jakarta governor Basuki Tjahaja “Ahok” Purnama to two years in prison for blasphemy.  The decision, coming just weeks after Ahok lost a bid for reelection in a religiously charged race, has shaken Indonesia’s reputation as a moderate Muslim nation. Ahok, as the…

Prabowo Reappears as an Indonesian Political Force

Prabowo Reappears as an Indonesian Political ForceIt is a stunning indication of the cynicism of Indonesian religious and political practice that, a day after he was soundly defeated in his bid for reelection as Jakarta governor, blasphemy charges against Basuki “Ahok” Tjahaja Purnama were basically withdrawn by prosecutors -- reduced to a request for probation. Charges that Ahok, as the governor…

Religious Politics Victorious in Indonesia

Religious Politics Victorious in IndonesiaJakarta’s seven million voters on April 19 decisively traded gubernatorial competence for ethnic and religious hegemony, turning down the sprawling city’s successful governor, ethnic Chinese-Christian Basuki “Ahok” Tjahaja, in a landslide in favor of Anies Baswedan, a former education minister supported by conservative Muslims. A “quick count” showed Anies, backed by the powerful political machine…

Jakarta Gubernatorial Runoff a Squeaker

Jakarta Gubernatorial Runoff a SqueakerMillions of Jakarta residents are set to cast their votes in a heated second-round gubernatorial election tomorrow, April 19, that is both a test of secular democracy in Indonesia and of President Joko Widodo’s political clout in delivering back to office one of his chief lieutenants, the incumbent, an ethnic Chinese-Christian, Basuki “Ahok” Tjahaja. Arrayed…

Massive Scandal Swamps Indonesia’s Legislature

Massive Scandal Swamps Indonesia’s LegislatureThe Indonesian political sphere has been rocked by what has been called the biggest scandal ever to engulf the House of Representatives, with officials embezzling Rp2.3 trillion (US$171.9 million) from a program to supply the public with smart identity cards. On March 9 the Jakarta Corruption Court put two high-ranking former Home Affairs Ministry officials,…

Jakarta Election seen as ‘Battle for Country’s Soul’

Jakarta Election seen as ‘Battle for Country’s Soul’This Wednesday, February 15, Indonesia holds simultaneous local elections involving 101 provinces, districts and municipalities throughout the archipelago. The polls are an important mid-term read on the nation’s mood under President Joko Widodo ahead of 2019 national elections, but the real battle is along the contentious religious lines in Jakarta’s governor’s election. Some are calling…
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