Indonesia’s Oldest Party Picks a Shakedown Artist

Indonesia’s Oldest Party Picks a Shakedown ArtistGolkar, Indonesia’s oldest political party, has just elected as its chairman a man who was caught on tape in mid-November attempting to shake down Freeport McMoRan for 20 percent of the US mining giant’s Indonesian shares under a divestment scheme. He is Setya Novanto, 60, who was driven from the speakership of the House of…

Jakarta Governor Seeks to Break Indonesia’s Political Mold

Jakarta Governor Seeks to Break Indonesia’s Political MoldDenied an endorsement by the Indonesian Democratic Party of Struggle (PDI-P), Jakarta Governor Basuki Tjahaja Purnama says he will run independently in next year’s gubernatorial election, upsetting a time-honored tradition in which politicians pay parties for the privilege of running. The decision is causing consternation in political circles in Jakarta. But it is at one…

Provoked by China, Jakarta Backs Away From South China Sea Dispute

Provoked by China, Jakarta Backs Away From South China Sea DisputeIf Indonesian President Joko Widodo wants to be taken as seriously as he claims in defending Indonesian sea rights as an archipelagic nation, he may need a foreign minister from a culture less accommodating than that in his Foreign Ministry. The incident took place over the weekend when an Indonesian special task force vessel took…

The Jakarta IS Attacks and the Year Ahead

The Jakarta IS Attacks and the Year AheadThose behind the attacks in Jakarta on Jan. 14 desperately hoped to emulate the Nov. 13 attacks in Paris. This time they fell far short. The attackers, contrary to initial impressions, were entirely locally organized and failed at almost every level. Four innocent lives were lost but they had clearly hoped to take many more.…

Indonesia’s Jokowi Blocks Move to Weaken Anti-Graft Body

Indonesia’s Jokowi Blocks Move to Weaken Anti-Graft BodyIn a demonstration of his growing sway, President Joko Widodo has put his foot down against a move in the House of Representatives to push through legislation designed to weaken Indonesia’s fearsome Corruption Eradication Commission, the country’s anti-graft watchdog. “Jokowi slowed [the amendments] down,” said a Jakarta-based businessman. “He has the legislature under control. It…

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…