What a difference a faith makes!

The three Catholic Indonesians who were executed on 21 September were the latter.  Known as the “Poso Three”, Fabianus Tibo, Marianus Riwu and Dominggus da Silva were accused of inciting violence between Muslims and Christians in 2000 that led to the deaths of some 1,000 people in the Poso port region of Sulawesi island.  Before…

The Mists of Yogya

The train pulls into Yogyakarta’s main railway station. Produce is unloaded, sons and daughters are shuttled home and visitors, eager to explore the bastion of Javanese culture, follow the path of other tourists. They make a beeline for Borobudur, Jalan Malioboro or the Sultan’s Palace (Kraton). They bypass an unassuming enclave of warungs (stalls) behind…

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…