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A step backward – The Edge Review

Joko Widodo election campaign poster in Solo (Photo: Simon Roughneen)

YOGYAKARTA – Before Joko Widodo takes over as President, Indonesia’s MP’s will vote on September 25 whether to revert to an old system under which heads of local government – including mayors – are chosen by local lawmakers rather than directly elected by voters. The proposed legislation is proving divisive, with the president-elect describing it as a potential setback for democracy in Indonesia. Another opposing change is Yogyakarta Mayor H. Haryadi Suyuti. “Let the people decide, let the people choose their own representative,” the mayor said.

KDDI, Sumitomo raise stakes in Myanmar mobile battle – Nikkei Asian Review

On Sept. 2 in Yangon, an early morning queue for MPT's new  3G SIM cards  (Photo: Simon Roughneen)

YANGON – After partnering with KDDI and Sumitomo, Myanmar’s state-backed MPT in early September launched the first batch of 5 million $1.50 3G mobile SIM cards that it plans to sell this year. The release of the cards created minor havoc in Yangon’s downtown shopping district and elsewhere, drawing long queues.

Bye, by-elections – The Edge Review

Aung San Suu Kyi speaking June 2013 World Economic Forum BBC debate in Naypyidaw (Photo: Simon Roughneen)

YANGON – There was some feigned surprise when the election commission announced last weekend that Myanmar will not, after all, hold by-elections for 35 vacant parliamentary seats. The main opposition party, the National League for Democracy (NLD), said it was happy with annoucement. Commission head Tin Aye met with NLD leader Aung San Suu Kyi on September 6, the day before the commission’s announcement.

Painting by numbers – The Edge Review/RTÉ World Report

Census taking in Pa-O village in Shan State in April  (Photo: Simon Roughneen)

YANGON – A little over six years ago, after holding a rigged referendum to adopt a disputed constitution, Myanmar’s junta announced, with almost comic certainty, that “the population of the country is 57,504,368,” despite not having held a census since 1983. Six years on, Myanmar’s nominally-civilian government can claim a better grasp on how many people actually live in the country.

Cargill warns on Indonesian palm oil curbs – Nikkei Asian Review

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JAKARTA — Ahead of the inauguration of President-elect Joko Widodo, one of the world’s largest agribusinesses has warned that Indonesia’s proposal to lower the cap on foreign ownership of oil palm plantations will deter foreign investment in the industry. John Hartmann, CEO of Cargill Tropical Palm Holdings, told the Nikkei Asian Review that a draft bill proposing the curbs came as a surprise and said his company hopes the Indonesian parliament will reconsider the move.

Making history – The Edge Review

Mari Pangestu, pictured alongside her tourism minister counterparts from Burma and the Philippines at the June 2013 World Economic Forum in Naypyidaw (Photo: Simon Roughneen)

JAKARTA – President-elect Joko “Jokowi” Widodo will become the first Indonesian leader without connections to the Suharto era when he takes office in less than 2 months time. The President-elect’s rise in paves the way for another history-making handover, as he will vacate the Governorship of Jakarta to his deputy – Basuki Tjahaja Purnama.

Indonesian court rejects challenge to presidential election results – Los Angeles Times

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JAKARTA – Indonesia’s Constitutional Court on Thursday rejected a challenge to results in last month’s presidential election, clearing the way for Joko Widodo to become President. The unanimous decision, which is not open to appeal, took over six hours to deliver in court. As the reading began, several hundred supporters of the defeated ticket lurched into police lines 500 yards away, trying to break a barricade.