JAKARTA – Despite the threat of political opposition and public protests, Indonesian President Joko Widodo this week raised fuel prices in a move he said will free up revenue for infrastructure improvements and social spending. Aziz Pane, chairman of Indonesia’s Tyre Manufacturers Association, said that his group had been calling on successive governments to allocate more money to improving Indonesia’s infrastructure, which means cutting the fuel subsidy. “But they have all been afraid of the oil mafia,” he told The Edge Review.
JAKARTA/KUALA LUMPUR – To counter ISIS in Indonesia, the Widodo government is considering further measures, according to Ahmad Suaedy, coordinator of the Abdurrahman Wahid Center for Inter-Faith Dialogue and Peace. “The Indonesian government is now looking for the legal basis to prohibit and provide sanctions that deter Muslims from involvement with [Islamic State] and other forms of radicalism and terrorism,” he said.
YANGON – Standing next to Suu Kyi on Nov. 14, Obama said that barring the NLD leader “doesn’t make much sense.” But he did not raise the issue when speaking later at Yangon University. Nor did Suu Kyi’s eligibility come up during an hour-long question and answer session with students after the speech. Opinions differ about the importance of the clause. Lamin Oo, a Myanmar filmmaker whose name was mentioned by Obama during his speech, said afterwards that “if that issue was an important one for [young people] it would have come up in questions.” However, Kyaw Thu, a former actor turned philanthropist, said the constitution should be changed to allow Suu Kyi stand. “Obama should push for this with Thein Sein,” Kyaw Thu said.
YANGON – Myanmar has jailed several journalists this year, while one reporter, Ko Par Gyi, was murdered by the army in the country’s east. Some new laws have been heavily criticised, while calls to amend the country’s constitution, which gives the army a veto-wielding 25 percent of parliament seats, have not prompted any change yet.”I think we certainly did see a lot of reforms in 2012 and 2013, but 2014 has perhaps added an element of realism, with the concerns over the constitutional amendment process,” Melissa Crouch, Research Fellow at the National University of Singapore, told The Edge Review.
YANGON – “Our education system is really bad and we need to reform it,” Phyoe Phyoe Aung, a student union leader, told The Edge Review. “Before our education system was wholly controlled by the government, and that effect is still being felt,” added the 26 year old former political prisoner.
HALIDOLAR, East Timor — Three years ago, Maximiliano de Sosa had neither electricity nor basic farm machinery. Now, there is power around the clock and a tractor that de Sosa can rent to plow his small plot of land about 40 minutes’ drive from Dili, the capital. Perched on a 30cm ridge between de Sosa’s mustard crop and a neighbor’s spinach plants, an electric pump sucks water from a 12-meter borehole, making it easier to irrigate crops during the searing dry season. “If we don’t have electricity, we have to carry water half a kilometer and then water the crops by hand,” said de Sosa.
JAKARTA – Beermakers Heineken and Carlsberg are showing interest in setting up operations in East Timor. Tony Duarte told The Edge Review that the proposed Heineken deal will raise the country’s profile as an investment destination. “Timor-Leste will be placed in a spotlight of countries in which world renown[ed] companies will be able to consider and may eventually attract them to look for other business opportunities for investment in the country,” Duarte said.
JAKARTA – On July 8, the day before Indonesia’s presidential election, legislators voted to amend key workings of the country’s parliament. Any other day, this would have been headline news. But the country was transfixed by the contest between Joko “Jokowi” Widodo and Prabowo Subianto, then deemed too close to call but in the end won by Jokowi by a 6 per cent margin.
JAKARTA – Ryamizard Ryacudu, another former army head and a Megawati loyalist, received the Defence portfolio. His appointment will hardly go down well in Aceh, where he led the army’s 2003 campaign to crush local rebels, or in West Papua, where he is said to have applauded the assassination of a prominent local rights campaigner. “It is notable that Jokowi has broken with a convention that the Defence Minister is a civilian,” said Michael Buehler, a southeast Asia specialist at the School of African and Oriental Studies. “The appointment is a real disappointment,” Buehler told The Edge Review.
JAKARTA – After a bruising election campaign, former businessman Joko Widodo was sworn in Monday as president of Indonesia, becoming the first man from outside the country’s political and military elite to lead the world’s 10th-largest economy. Tens of thousands took to Jakarta’s sun-scorched streets to hail Joko, widely known as “Jokowi,” who won the closest election since the Southeast Asian nation dispensed with a military dictatorship in 1998.