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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.

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Geopolitics

AMLO Power Grab: Mexico's Electoral Reform Would Make Machiavelli Proud

Mexican President Andrés Manuel López Obrador, aka AMLO, says his plans to reform the electoral system are a way to save taxpayer money. A closer look tells a different story.

President Andres Manuel Lopez Obrador of Mexico votes

Luis Rubio

OpEd-

MEXICO CITY — For supporters of Mexico's President Andrés Manuel López Obrador (AMLO) the goal is clear: to keep power beyond the 2024 general election, at any price. Finally, the engineers of the much-touted Fourth Transformation, ALMO's 2018 campaign promise to do away with the privileged abuses that have plagued Mexican politics for decades, are showing their colors.

Current electoral laws date back to the 1990s, when unending electoral disputes were a constant of every voting round and impeded effective governance in numerous states and districts. The National Electoral Institute (INE) and its predecessor, the IFE, were created to solve once and for all those endemic disputes.

Their promoters hoped Mexico could expect a more honest future, with the electoral question resolved. The 2006 presidential elections, which included AMLO as a recalcitrant loser, showed this was hoping for too much. That election is also, remotely, at the source of the president's new electoral initiative.

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