Former Indonesian President’s Close Aide Convicted

Former Indonesian President’s Close Aide ConvictedJero Wacik, once one of Indonesia’s most powerful public officials and a close confidant of former President Susilo Bambang Yudhoyono, was sentenced on Feb. 10 to four years in prison and fined RP5.7 billion for embezzlement and taking kickbacks during his terms as tourism and culture minister and energy minister, despite testimony by both Yudhoyono and…

The Jakarta Attack and Indonesian Terrorism

The Jakarta Attack and Indonesian TerrorismTwo weeks after the terrorist attack in front of the Sarinah Department Store in central Jakarta, a clearer picture is emerging of the key figures behind the operation and its significance for Indonesian jihadism. On Jan. 14, four perpetrators launched a mid-morning attack in the busy Sarinah area of Jakarta. Two bombs were detonated at a…

Indonesia’s Jokowi Show

Indonesia’s Jokowi ShowPolitically, the still-young presidency of Indonesia’s Joko “Jokowi” Widodo has already had at least three acts – one promising, one disappointing and one somewhat hopeful. But they all remain fundamentally prologue. In the first act, a young leader emerges from rural Java and upends Indonesian politics by going from modest businessman to small-city mayor to…

Jakarta Attack Linked to ISIS, Indonesians Defiant

Jakarta Attack Linked to ISIS, Indonesians DefiantThe explosions that rocked downtown Jakarta on Jan. 14 were hardly a surprise. They are the logical outcome of links maintained by Indonesian jihadis that police intelligence units have  been tracking ever since they began their exodus to support the fundamentalist Islamic State in the Middle East, according to analysts. The terror group has claimed…

Indonesia Bribe Scandal Tests Jokowi’s Reform Plans

Indonesia Bribe Scandal Tests Jokowi’s Reform PlansA long-simmering internal battle over natural resource policy under Indonesian President Joko Widodo is now being fought out in public with two cabinet ministers at bitter odds over charges that the Speaker of the House of Representatives – possibly with the backing of other elements in the government – attempted to extort shares from US…

Indonesian Politician Caught on Tape Shaking Down Freeport Mine

Indonesian Politician Caught on Tape Shaking Down Freeport MineIndonesia’s political power structure may be set for an earthquake amid revelations that Setya Novanto, the Speaker of the House of Representatives, was caught on tape allegedly seeking to extort shares from the  US-based mining giant Freeport McMoRan. Sudirman Said, the Energy and Resources Minister, who is widely regarded as incorruptible, has launched charges against…

Mister Widodo Goes to Washington

Mister Widodo Goes to WashingtonIndonesian President Joko Widodo will make his debut in Washington as head of the world’s fourth-largest country from Oct. 26 to 28. Following recent trips to the US by President Xi Jingping of China and Prime Minister Narendra Modi of India, the scene is set for Jokowi, as he is universally known, to seize the…

Is ASEAN Losing Its Way?

Is ASEAN Losing Its Way?The Association of Southeast Asia Nations has prided itself on its “ASEAN Way” – an informal and non-legalistic way of doing business, especially its culture of consultations and consensus that have resolved disputes peacefully. That way of doing may be fading among signs the group’s unity is seriously eroding. Against the backdrop of the rise…

Half-Century Later, CIA Releases Indonesia Briefing Documents

Half-Century Later, CIA Releases Indonesia Briefing DocumentsOn September 16, the US Central Intelligence Agency released what historians and conspiracy theorists have long been waiting for – the agency’s top secret Presidential daily briefings covering the administrations of John F. Kennedy and Lyndon B. Johnson – almost the entire decade of the 1960s, the tumultuous period that included the growth of the…

Indonesia Vainly Chases Suharto’s Billions

Indonesia Vainly Chases Suharto’s BillionsMore than 17 years after the Indonesian strongman Suharto fell and more than seven years after his death, the family probably retains enough clout in Jakarta to defy a Supreme Court ruling that they must repay about $325 million gained from massive corruption during his years in power. Even that amount is a tiny fraction…