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Indonesia’s new President sworn in, calls for unity – Los Angeles Times

Crowds line one of Jakarta's main avenues on Oct. 20 to greet President Joko Widodo after his inauguration (Photo: Simon Roughneen)

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.

Widodo reviewing fuel price hike plans – Nikkei Asian Review

Traffic around Tanah Abang market in Jakarta. Raising fuel prices will likely have a knock on impact for the urban poor in Jakarta (Photo: Simon Roughneen)

JAKARTA — Joko Widodo will tread carefully in cutting Indonesia’s expensive fuel subsidies after his Oct. 20 inauguration as the country’s next president, according to a leading member of his transition team. “We will calculate in detail the political aspect and the social aspect before reallocating the subsidy,” Hasto Kristiyanto told the Nikkei Asian Review at his office in central Jakarta. “The decision to raise the fuel price has not been decided yet,” Kristyanto added on Friday afternoon, after fresh reports emerged saying Widodo would move quickly to raise fuel prices after taking office.

Heading into battle – The Edge Review

Supporters of Joko Widodo handout flowers to passers-by in downtown Jakarta on October 15 (Photo: Simon Roughneen)

JAKARTA – Ahead of taking office as Indonesia’s next president on October 20, Joko Widodo has been given an unsolicited crash course in the country’s dirty politics. Defeated presidential rival Prabowo Subianto is still seething and has shown both the money and the manpower to use parliament to undermine Jokowi, as the incoming president is popularly known. “We realise we have many tasks ahead of us,” said Hasto Kristyanto, a member of Joko’s small “transition team” that has been working in downtown Jakarta since July.

Indonesia rubber woes highlight infrastructure deficits – Nikkei Asian Review

Joko Widodo and wife Iriana pictured at Taman Suropati, central Jakarta, where they voted on  July 9 2014 (Photo: Simon Roughneen)

JAKARTA — The head of Indonesia’s main rubber producers’ group has warned that the industry faces decline unless President-elect Joko Widodo takes urgent action to improve the country’s infrastructure. Daud Husni Bastari, chairman of the Rubber Association of Indonesia, said Widodo must deliver on campaign pledges to improve infrastructure. “We need ports, we need roads,” Daud told the Nikkei Asian Review.

After losing Presidential election, Prabowo asserts control in parliament – The Edge Review

Prabowo Subianto at  prayer event in Jakarta prior to April 2014 legislative elections (Photo: Simon Roughneen)

JAKARTA – Last week’s vote by Indonesian MPs to scrap direct elections for local government heads has roused concerns about the future of Indonesia’s electoral system. “The new law will destroy our right to choose our leader of local government,” said Robert Endi Jaweng, who is backing a move to have the new law reviewed by the Constitutional Court.

Indonesian democracy tarnished by local elections rule change – Nikkei Asian Review

The Indonesian parliament just before the start of Thursday's debate on direct local elections (Photo: Simon Roughneen)

JAKARTA – Djayadi Hanan, a politics lecturer at Jakarta’s Paramadina University, believes Yudhoyono has tarnished his reputation as a democratic leader. “People and history will remember SBY as a president who put a halt on the progress of Indonesia’s democracy,” Hanan told the Nikkei Asian Review. “He had the power to stop it and save Indonesian local democracy.”

Making a meal of Indonesia’s cassava – The Edge Review

Cassava plantation near Bogor (Photo: Simon Roughneen)

BOJONG KEMANG – Saiful Santoso, 47, has been growing cassava for 17 years on his half-hectare farm a half hour drive from Bogor in west Java. But for the past 4 years Saiful’s crop has been eaten into by phenacoccus manihoti, the cassava pink mealybug – costing him between 20 to 40 per cent of his cassava each year since then. 2014 might not be as bad as other years, Saiful told The Edge Review. “It’s been raining, and the mealybug likes dry weather.”

Elastic woes – The Edge Review

Tapping rubber is  a job mostly done by smallholders (Photo: Simon Roughneen, central Sri Lanka. June 2014)

JAKARTA – A five year slump in rubber prices has hit Indonesia’s 2 million rubber farmers hard, slashing their incomes almost in half and prompting some to look at switching to other crops. “In the current price scenario of continuous fall in prices, small growers across regions are expected to respond through controlling natural rubber supply, irregular tapping plus accelerated clearing of aging trees and a shift to other crops like oil palm,” said Lekshmi Nair.