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in his bid for reelection as Jakarta governor, blasphemy charges against Basuki “Ahok” Tjahaja Purnama were basically withdrawn by prosecutors -- reduced to a request for probation.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…

Massive Jakarta Rally Aimed at Indonesia’s President?

Massive Jakarta Rally Aimed at Indonesia’s President?On Friday, December 2, Indonesia’s political structure – and even the fabric of the nation as a secular republic – is expected to be further tested by a massive rally aiming to bring tens of thousands of Muslims into Jakarta to protest against the city’s Chinese Christian governor, Basuki “Ahok” Tjahaja Purnama, who has been…

Jakarta Governor Beset by Religion (and Politics)

Jakarta Governor Beset by Religion (and Politics)In the wake of Friday's larger-than-expected rally against Jakarta Governor Basuki “Ahok” Tjahaja Purnama over allegations of blasphemy against Islam, President Joko Widowo postponed a state visit to Australia. Meanwhile rumors are rising that the massive demonstration was funded by political forces -- including former President Susilo Bambang Yudhoyono -- trying to oust the popular…

Indonesian Leader Names Dodgy Spy Chief

Indonesian Leader Names Dodgy Spy ChiefPolice General Budi Gunawan, the close personal friend of Megawati Sukarnoputri who was caught two years ago in a major bribery scandal, has been appointed by President Joko Widodo as the country’s new National Intelligence Agency  head, raising concerns among reform organizations over the integrity of the nomination process. Budi, known to some as Budi…

US Citizenship Costs Indonesian Energy Minister His Job

US Citizenship Costs Indonesian Energy Minister His JobIndonesian President Joko Widodo dismissed his newly minted Energy Minister Archandra Tahar late Monday after it was found out that he also holds American citizenship, which is illegal under Indonesian law. Archandra, a senior petroleum engineer who spent 20 years working in the United States, was appointed to the post of energy and mineral resources…
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