Indonesia’s gusher of gas, mud and graft

On May 28 at 10 a.m., something terrible went wrong deep inside Banjar Panji I.  There, 1,800 meters into the exploratory gas well being drilled near the Surabaya satellite town of Sidoarjo, about 900 km. southeast of Jakarta, investigators believe employees of PT Lapindo Brantas, the company drilling the well, “broke every rule in the…

Indonesia’s growing drug problem

Two years ago, Indonesian authorities tied a 32-year-old Thai woman named Namsong Sirilak and a 62-year-old Indian named Saelow Prasert to palm trees at dawn in northern Sumatra and shot them for trafficking in heroin -- only weeks after the execution of their Indian accomplice, Ayodhya Prasad Chaubey. That might have been a spectacular answer…

Bali: Trouble in Paradise

Kuta, Bali – The Bali bombs of 2002 and 2005 confirmed local conventional wisdom: bad things on the island come from Java. The 2005 bombings not only revived the slump in tourism, which accounts for at least 40 percent of Bali’s economy, but exacerbated ancient animosities as well. But while other parts of Indonesia have…

Skewed Justice in Indonesia’s Tainted Courts

Manan’s critics have long claimed that his history and his association with the corrupt Golkar Party during the reign of deposed Indonesian dictator Suharto leave him singularly unsuited to push ahead with reforming the country’s notoriously corrupt judiciary – especially in light of  the fact that President Bambang Susilo Yudhoyono has made cleaning up corruption…

Undoing the Damage

With an estimated 94 percent its immense coral reef system in decline, Indonesia is beginning to grapple with what may be an impossible task: reversing what a government agency calls the “precipitous decline” of some of the richest fishing grounds in the world. The blue-ribbon National Committee on Marine Conservation sometime in September is expected…