Massive Break Illustrates Indonesia’s Prison Dilemma

Massive Break Illustrates Indonesia’s Prison DilemmaOn May 5,  when officers unlocked detention rooms to allow inmates to perform Friday prayers, 448 of them  suddenly attempted to breach the main gate of Sialang Bungkuk Prison on the Indonesian island of Sumatra and, having failed that, boiled out of a side gate, overwhelming the outnumbered officers.  In the midst of utter pandemonium, the…

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…

Indonesia’s Child Trafficking Crisis

Indonesia’s Child Trafficking CrisisIndonesia faces a huge problem of child trafficking involving children and underage teenagers, particularly on the resort islands of Bali and Batam, with its victims – both boys and girls – usually from poor families or broken homes or a combination of both.   The government has been criticized by international human rights organizations to try…

New Mystery For Controversial Japanese Group

New Mystery For Controversial Japanese GroupThe Japanese conglomerate J Trust Group, which has come under the spotlight for a series of financial inconsistencies in Indonesia, Thailand and Cyprus, has added another. On April 14, an apparently frustrated J Trust put out a press release accusing the South Korean Financial Services Commission of refusing to act on a J Trust request…

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in his bid for reelection as Jakarta governor, blasphemy charges against Basuki “Ahok” Tjahaja Purnama were basically withdrawn by prosecutors -- reduced to a request for probation.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

Indonesian Farmers Seek to Stop Cement Plant

Indonesian Farmers Seek to Stop Cement PlantDozens of women who have taken turns staging a heated protest – their feet encased in cement “shoes” – at the State Palace in Jakarta against the construction of a central Java cement factory have been catapulted to national attention after one of the women died of a heart attack.  The plans for the factory…

Indonesia’s Rogue Bank

Indonesia’s Rogue BankIn a country replete with financial scandals, there are few with as many twists and turns as Bank Century, whose near failure in 2008 spurred fears of a systemic collapse of Indonesia’s financial system before it was taken over by Bank Indonesia, the central bank, and fashioned into what became Bank Mutiara. The  bank is…

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,…
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