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Geopolitics

Indonesia: 5 Stories Making Headlines At Home

Indonesia: 5 Stories Making Headlines At Home
Giacomo Tognini

This week we shine the spotlight on Indonesia:

FLYING "ARMY AIR"

An investigation into a military plane crash that killed 141 people near Medan on June 30 is ongoing, with new details sparking controversy. The C-130 Hercules that took off from Seowondo Air Force base in Sumatra was carrying several civilian passengers who may have paid to access the supposedly military-only flight. Jakarta-based daily Kompas reports that both Vice-President Yusuf Kalla and Defence Minister Ryamizard Ryacudu defended the practice, saying the military has a duty to support citizens, especially those living in remote corners of the vast archipelago. But the Air Force flatly opposes the "commercialization" of its flights, vowing to punish any commander who allows it. The Armed Forces are known as the TNI in Indonesia, and local media have started to satirically call the Air Force "Air TNI."

FREE RIDE

The transportation ministry allocated 36 billion rupiah ($2.7 million) to provide free transport for motorcyclists returning home for Lebaran, writes Antara, Indonesia's national press agency. The national holiday of Lebaran or Idul Fitri marks the end of Ramadan and the fasting period, and the yearly celebration brings with it a mass exodus known locally as mudik. Indonesians leave the cities en masse to visit their families in the countryside, further congesting a limited road network and causing a spike in accidents. National police statistics show that 163 people died during last year's mudik, down from 232 in 2013. Government officials hope that by providing transport on ships, trains and trucks, they can limit the number of motorcycles on the roads and reduce casualties.

BANNING ADOPTIONS

After the murder in Bali last month of an adopted Indonesian girl, Indonesia's child protection agency called for a moratorium on foreign adoptions, the English-language newspaper Jakarta Globe reports. The eight-year-old victim, Engeline, was illegally adopted at birth by an Indonesian woman married to a foreigner. Asrorun Niam Soleh, head of the commission for child protection, said foreign adoptions "hurt the country's dignity" and should only be a last resort. But the man who confessed to killing the child is an Indonesian national, as was the child's adopted mother, raising doubts as to whether the proposed ban would have much of an impact.



SHUFFLING THE DECK

Faced with a slump in economic growth and a faltering currency, businessmen and the public alike are pressuring President Joko Widodo to change his economic team. According to Surabaya-based daily Jawa Pos, the president is considering a complete reshuffle of his cabinet to regain public trust and revive the economy. Jokowi, as he is commonly called, has seen his approval ratings fall significantly since his landmark election victory in 2014, when he defeated former general and establishment favorite Prabowo Subianto. In a meeting with senior economists, the president expressed anger at the government's economic performance and a desire to bring in some new faces to his administration.

TRAFFIC MAPS

The Indonesian weekly magazine Tempo reports that a new Google Maps update provides real-time traffic information for 23 cities across the country, including the largest urban areas. The app also indicates the intensity of traffic and alerts users to accidents, road closures and renovations. Traffic is a significant issue in most Indonesian cities, as public transport is virtually nonexistent. The capital, Jakarta, is the largest city in the world without a rail mass transit system despite being the second most populous urban area on the planet. Although an underground metro is currently under construction, Jakarta still holds the world record for the worst traffic, with 33,240 stop-starts a year, according to the 2015 Castrol index.

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