A Positive Narrative

If I look back over the past year, the story lines surrounding Indonesia have mostly been negative. Of course, part of the reason is that the main principle of the media is that “bad news sells”. On Indonesia’s side there have been natural disasters (flooding, mudslides, eruptions etc.), commercial concerns (halal import restrictions, local content

Pancasila to the Rescue

May 31, 2017 Some say today’s Indonesia is not your father’s Indonesia. A political scientist I know believes that in 15 years all of Indonesia will be under sharia law. I am not so sure. The heart of the secular basis of Indonesia’s republic has always been the Pancasila or 5 principles. They are: Belief

Indonesia’s Ticking Time Bomb

Commentary by Wayne Forrest I fear a ticking time bomb could soon explode in Indonesia.  Its probably not what you think; its not a natural disaster or mass movement based on religion.  It has to do with natural resources and the origins of the American Indonesian Chamber of Commerce (AICC) and some of its founding

Regret

There’s a lot of regret going around these days. Democrats, who lost a close election, no doubt regret they didn’t do more to convince Midwest rust belt voters worried about their future that they had a viable jobs plan. President Trump regrets he didn’t win the popular vote — although he seems to actually think

Honking in the Free World

Commentary by Wayne Forrest Their signs read  “Om Telolet Om”.  It simply means, “sir, honk your horn, sir”.  Young girls and boys, especially in Jakarta, hold them up for passing bus drivers, hoping to prompt them to play their musical horns as they drive by.  It’s a fun, clean game with instant rewards, especially given

Two Years In

Two years into his 5 year term President Jokowi is exhibiting some of the qualities of former President Suharto. I say this not to compare them in any fundamental way - Jokowi is not an authoritarian-  but to illustrate the process by which each consolidated power in the early years after they became President. Jokowi

New Deregulation Package

Indonesia has released the second of three deregulation/stimulus packages designed to boost a flagging economy and strengthen the exchange rate. The first (released September 10) was primarily an exercise in reducing red tape and regulatory confusion in the trade arena and did not garner a lot of attention and praise, perhaps because its hard to

The Meaning of Banggai

August 7, 2015President Jokowi traveled to the Banggai Regency in central Sulawesi this week to inaugurate the $5.8 billion "Pertamina Mega Integrated Project", which is planned to match the upstream production of natural gas with downstream users. The visit follows other forays of the President around the country to jump start other infrastructure projects including:

Idul Fitri Reshuffle

June 30, 2105The serious Cabinet reshuffle rumors began in June: in Indonesia, they are part of the air one breaths. An underwhelming economic performance would prompt President Jokowi to reshuffle his Cabinet after Lebaran (end of the Muslim fasting month on July 18), especially his economic team. The economy is, given Indonesia's potential, standing still,

Soekarno’s Echo

Indonesia's first President became so frustrated with the "West" that he famously declared " go to hell with your aid".  A combination of the Cold War and misjudgments of Soekarno's complex ideology (mixing capitalism and socialism) led the US and other countries down several dead ends that almost capsized relations completely.  The late 1950's and

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