Posts Tagged ‘Indonesian politics’

New Indonesia president faces legislative deadlock

October 20, 2014

Monday’s inauguration of Joko Widowo as Indonesia’s seventh president is a transformational moment for the world’s third largest democracy. Known as Jokowi, Widodo is Indonesia’s first retail politician and will be the first freely elected leader who wasn’t part of the power structure during Suharto’s 40 years of authoritarian rule. At Indonesia’s Ubud Writers Festival., experts warned the remnants of those bad old days threat to stop Jokowi’s reformist agenda, bad news for Southeast Asia’s largest economy and the nation with the world’s largest Muslim population.

Totally globalized native New Yorker and former broadcast news producer Muhammad Cohen is a blogger for Forbes and author of Hong Kong On Air, a novel set in his adopted hometown during the 1997 handover about television news, love, betrayal, high finance, and cheap lingerie. See his bio, online archive and more at www.muhammadcohen.com; follow him on Facebook and Twitter @MuhammadCohen.

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Ubud encounters: Goenawan Mohamad names, reserves judgment on Indonesia’s ‘next president’

November 4, 2013

Indonesia’s renowned author and foremost man of letters Goenawan Mohamad said he expected Joko Widodo to be the country’s next president. That’s not an uncommon sentiment, even though the Jakarta governor, commonly known as Jokowi, has yet to declare his candidacy,

Unlike many people predicting Jokowi’s election, though, Mohamad didn’t offer an endorsement. “I like Jokowi, I’m watching him,” Mohamad said, but wasn’t convinced he’d vote for him. In an Asia Times article based on a series of interviews and discussions at the Ubud Writers and Readers Festival in Bali, Mohamad also contends that the next president will have limited impact on Indonesia.

Mohamad praised several of Jokowi’s policies enacted during his just completed first year as governor of the nation’s capital and commercial hub. Mohamad said Jokowi and his team had done a good job of dealing with the notorious preman, thugs, who have controlled Jakarta’s Tanah Abang market and other key areas.

Mohamad drew a bright line between premanism and the rampant corruption that infects government and society at every level. “Organized crime is alarming. Premanism is small compared with organized crime behind the scenes. Maybe we are like Sicily a little bit,” Mohamad, founding editor of newsweekly Tempo, observed. “The violence in 1965 [when a million or more people were killed in a purge supposedly aimed at Communists in the wake of the military ouster of President Sukarno that brought General Suharto to power until 1998] was a horrifying example of what happens when gangsters have a free hand.”

Mohamad, dubbed the conscience of his nation, sighed, “I don’t have any answers for this.”

Totally globalized native New Yorker and former broadcast news producer Muhammad Cohen is author of Hong Kong On Air, a novel set in his adopted hometown during the 1997 handover about television news, love, betrayal, high finance, and cheap lingerie. See his bio, online archive and more at www.muhammadcohen.com; follow him on Facebook and Twitter @MuhammadCohen.

Indonesian Chinese flourish after 1998 riots

January 19, 2012

For decades, Indonesia’s Chinese minority enjoyed disproportionate wealth while simultaneously serving as the nation’s designated ethnic scapegoat. The 1998 riots that targeted Chinese in Jakarta and other major cities left more than 1,000 dead – mostly non-Chinese – and caused an estimated $300 million in property damage. Those riots of suspicious origin led to the ouster of President Suharto and a new era of reformasi, substituting democracy for authoritarianism.

Jemma Purdey wrote the book on the 1998 riots and their place in the history of Chinese in Indonesia, Anti-Chinese Violence in Indonesia, 1996-1999. I caught up with Purdey during the Ubud Writers & Readers Festival in Bali last year.

Purdey and other experts I interviewed for Asia Times agreed that Indonesia’s Chinese face new challenges now that Indonesia has emerged as the world’s third largest democracy. But they all believe that the situation for Chinese is far better than it was in 1998. That’s a hopeful note to sound for the lunar new year.

May the year of dragon bring good things to you and your loved ones. Kung hei fat choi/gong xi fa cai.

Totally globalized native New Yorker and former broadcast news producer Muhammad Cohen is author of Hong Kong On Air, a novel set in his adopted hometown during the 1997 handover about television news, love, betrayal, financial crisis, and cheap lingerie. See his biography, online archive and more at www.muhammadcohen.com.


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