Ikea fracas raises questions over ‘big bang’ liberalization – Nikkei Asian Review

TANGERANG, Indonesia — On a recent Saturday morning at Ikea’s new outlet in Tangerang to the west of Jakarta, there was scant sign that the company was facing the kind of pressure that might follow the potential loss of the right to use its world-famous brand name in a country as big as Indonesia. Families strolled around, some trying out couches and chairs for size and comfort, while others wheeled trolleys and loaded up the Ikea signature flatpack boxes of assemble-it-yourself furniture. Upstairs, dozens more lined up in the Ikea canteen as staff ladled out plates of Swedish meatballs and creamy mashed potato. In early February, Indonesia’s Supreme Court published a ruling suggesting that Ratania Khatulistiwa, a Surabaya-based furniture company, had successfully challenged Ikea’s right to use its brand name in Indonesia, which is home to around 250 million people and a vast market for Ikea’s wares. Shoppers were mystified by the decision against Ikea. Santoso, a 50-year-old businessman from east Jakarta, was loading up “6 or 7 million rupiah” worth of furniture on a trolley as he made his way between the towering shelves on the shop floor. “Everybody knows this company, it was founded a long time ago. I don’t think they will be stopped from using their name in Indonesia.”

Local polls capture essence of national politics – Nikkei Asian Review

JAKARTA — Local elections will be held simultaneously across Indonesia for the first time on Wednesday, after the issue of whether to directly elect mayors and other local government leaders spurred ructions, recriminations and walkouts in the national parliament last year. Back then, parties supporting President Joko “Jokowi” Widodo, who had just been elected to office, voted to retain the decade-old system of direct local elections, but the parties backing the losing presidential candidate, Prabowo Subianto, successfully voted to scrap it. Given that Indonesia had just elected Widodo, a former governor of Jakarta and mayor of Surakarta, as president, the assault on voters’ rights prompted a massive public outcry. The backlash was strong enough to not only prompt then-President Susilo Bambang Yudhoyono to issue a decree overturning the vote, but convinced parliament to boost the status of local elections. “There are 365 days in the year, there are more than 540 election locations,” Arief Budiman, a commissioner at the KPU, the Indonesian election commission, told the Nikkei Asian Review. “Before, we were constantly monitoring another election.”

Widodo faces crisis over police chief saga – Nikkei Asian Review

JAKARTA – The power struggle surrounding Indonesia’s search for a new chief of police escalated Friday morning with the arrest of prominent anti-graft official Bambang Widjojanto on charges of inciting perjury. Widjojanto is deputy head of the Corruption Eradication Commission, known by its Indonesian initials as the KPK. The agency had earlier indicted Budi Gunawan, President Joko “Jokowi” Widodo’s nominee for police chief, on charges of accepting gifts and bribes.Nursyabani Katjasungkana, a lawyer with the Indonesian Legal Aid Foundation, said that Widjojanto’s arrest was a retaliation against the KPK by the police. “This cannot be separated from the context of the KPK investigation into the nominee for chief of police, Katjasungkana said, speaking at the Jakarta police station where Widjojanto was being detained.

Widodo reviewing fuel price hike plans – Nikkei Asian Review

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.