Energy-dependent East Timor faces succession dilemma – Nikkei Asian Review


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.

No small beer for East Timor – The Edge Review

A father and son look for seashells along Dili Harbor. (Simon Roughneen)

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.

No house party for Jokowi – The Edge Review

The Indonesian parliament just before the start of a recent debate on direct local elections (Photo: Simon Roughneen)

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.

Now let’s get to work – The Edge Review

President Joko Widodo and Vice-President Jusuf Kalla, at Indonesia's Election Commission on July 22 (Photo: Simon Roughneen)

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.

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

At Jakarta's Tanjung Priok port (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.