September 21, 2008


Indonesia's miraculous 'free' democracy (KISHORE MAHBUBANI, 9/23/08, Japan Times)

Modern miracles do happen. Ten years ago, as the Asian financial crisis savaged Indonesia's economy, many experts predicted that the country would become unstable, if not splinter. Instead, Indonesia, the world's most populous Islamic country, has emerged as a beacon of freedom and democracy for the Muslim world. [...]

Curiously, while many Americans and Europeans want moderate Muslim voices to succeed in Indonesia (and Southeast Asia), they often undermine moderates with policies that are perceived as anti-Islamic.

America's stance on military aid to Indonesia is but one example. For several years, some members of the U.S. Senate have maintained a punitive policy toward Indonesia by cutting off military assistance and curtailing Indonesian military training in the U.S. These punitive policies are self-defeating.

In recent years, the Indonesian military has provided a model for other Third World military forces on how to accept a transition to a full democracy. There are no threats of a coup d'etat, and senior generals, such as Yudhoyono, who studied in American military colleges, returned to Indonesia as convinced democrats.

It is a tragedy that ignorance of how much Indonesia has changed is being allowed to endanger its democratic development — and its role as a beacon of freedom and hope in the Islamic world. It is to be hoped that Barack Obama, should he win America's presidency, will recall the tolerant Indonesia where he grew up, and shape policies toward it accordingly.

Hasn't he heard the WoT is a losing cause and Islam irredeemable?

Indonesia's anti-corruption heroes (Megawati Wijaya , 9/23/08, Asia Times)

Endemic corruption has long dragged on Indonesia's economic development and taken a heavy toll on foreign investor confidence. Indonesia ranked 143 out of 179 countries surveyed in Transparency International's 2007 Corruption Perception Index, while the Hong Kong-based Political and Economic Risk Consultancy ranked Indonesia third, trailing only the Philippines and Thailand in a survey of Asia's most corrupt economies. Indonesia slipped two spots down to 129 in the World Bank's most recent "ease of doing business" survey.

The quasi-independent KPK was established in late 2003 and tasked with restoring investor confidence in the rule of law by cleaning up the country's notoriously rampant graft levels. The 550-member body, which boasts 30 police, 25 prosecutors, 50 investigators and a special court, has unusually wide-ranging powers, ranging from naming corruption suspects, making arrests and summoning political office holders and high-ranking officials to testify in cases.

The KPK also has the authority to take over cases that have stalled with the police or state prosecutor's office and can ask the president to suspend officials under investigation to facilitate prosecution and access their personal bank accounts. Under Azhar's nine-month tenure, the KPK has captured the national imagination through its pursuit of some of the country's most powerful political figures.

Since December, the body has recovered over Rp 400 billion of pilfered state funds. Last month it even launched a preliminary investigation into the judiciary's alleged misuse of court fees.

Posted by Orrin Judd at September 21, 2008 9:04 PM
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