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in his bid for reelection as Jakarta governor, blasphemy charges against Basuki “Ahok” Tjahaja Purnama were basically withdrawn by prosecutors -- reduced to a request for probation.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

The Real Reasons for the Saudi King’s Asian Visit

The Real Reasons for the Saudi King’s Asian VisitModerate Muslims and non-Muslims alike may worry that the high-profile visit of Saudi Arabia’s King Salman to Malaysia and Indonesia signals another Saudi Salafi assault on traditionally more flexible Southeast Asian interpretations of Islam. But the royal tour, which also includes official visits to Japan and China as well as holidays in non-Muslim Bali, and…

Indonesia Warns US Mining Giant in Fresh Dispute

Indonesia Warns US Mining Giant in Fresh DisputeThere is rising concern among business sources in Jakarta that tension between the Indonesian government and the US-based mining giant Freeport-McMoRan, Indonesia’s oldest foreign investor, which has been in a months-long deadlock over future mining, could affect relations between Washington and Jakarta. In addition to taking off a huge share of Freeport’s profits, business sources…

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…