|Obama delays Asia trip to deal with health care, Mar 12|
|IN THIS UPDATE: || |
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Secretary of Commerce, Gary Locke, will lead a Clean Energy mission to China and Indonesia in May. Applications are available online at www.trade.gov/cleanenergymission
Obama to delay departure for Asia trip, AFP, March 12
President Barack Obama is delaying his trip to Asia next week to focus on his big push on health care. President Obama now plans to leave Washington on March 21 and return March 26. The original dates were March 18 to March 24. The president will visit the same countries as planned — Indonesia, Guam and Australia. The trip was scheduled to coincide with his daughters' spring vacation from school, but now his family apparently isn't going. Word about the delay comes as the White House presses Congress to pass a health care overhaul. Obama's top priority has sputtered and the administration is trying to save it after a year of contentious debate.
End in sight for Bank Century circus, Asia Times, March 11
An investigation of Indonesia's Bank Century, which required a bailout in 2008 that eventually climbed to 6.7 trillion rupiah (US$720 million), has been taken up by the quasi-independent Corruption Eradication Commission (KPK), a move that should end the political circus surrounding the looted lender. KPK investigators can now focus on so far unsubstantiated charges that legislators have flung at the government as well as bankers yet to be tried for participating in the fraud. Months of opposition grandstanding have found no evidence to back charges that bailout funds were siphoned to last year's re-election campaign of President Susilo Bambang Yudhoyono (SBY) or to members of his cabinet.
Boediono and Sri Mulyani Not Home Free From Bank Century Mess Yet, Jakarta Globe, March 10
Despite the House of Representatives having issued its final recommendations on the Bank Century bailout and law-enforcement agencies commencing their own investigations, there still appears to be a chance that parties may initiate proceedings to impeach Vice President Boediono and oust Finance Minister Sri Mulyani Indrawati. Golkar Party lawmaker Bambang Soesatyo said on Wednesday that action against Boediono and Sri Mulyani might proceed if the government fails to back further investigation of the bailout in accordance with the House’s recommendations.
Defense & Security
Bomber's death fresh blow to Indonesia militants, Reuters, March 10
A suspected mastermind of the Bali bombings was killed in a police raid in Indonesia in the latest blow to an Islamist militant movement in the world's most populous Muslim country. Dulmatin, who once trained with al Qaeda in Afghanistan, was one of three militants killed in a shootout with police at an Internet cafe and a house nearby, Indonesia's President Susilo Bambang Yudhoyono said on Wednesday.
US `to secure energy investment' in Indonesia, The Jakarta Post, March 12
While US President Barack Obama's agenda during his visit to Indonesia this month remains sketchy, experts say the meeting between the two leaders will focus on economic potentials, especially the expansion of US energy investment. Speaking at a seminar, the Indonesian Institute of Sciences (LIPI) researcher Siswanto said both Obama and President Susilo Bambang Yudhoyono, had been preoccupied with their own domestic economic situation and pressure to boost investment as well as create jobs. "Economic interest will top the agenda in their meeting because both Obama and Yudhoyono are facing similar domestic pressure. Both will be looking to expand trade and investment and put other issues, such as counterterrorism and the Afghan war, on the back burner," he said.
Indonesia Plans to Reserve Natuna Gas for Domestic Market, Jakarta Globe, March 11
The central government has decided to allocate all output from the massive Natuna D-Alpha gas block in the Riau Islands to the domestic market, in what is seen as the first major step toward ensuring future supplies. The government plans to build two gas pipelines from Natuna as part of its master plan for domestic distribution through 2025, according to a Ministry of Energy and Mineral Resources decree signed on Jan. 27 but released only on Wednesday.
PLN geothermal projects to be transferred to private firms, The Jakarta Post, March 11
About six geothermal power plant projects, which were supposed to be built by PT PLN under the second 10,000 megawatts (MW) electricity crash program, will be transferred to private power producers (IPPs) as the state power company faces difficulties in securing financing for the projects, an official said.
U.S.-Indonesia Relations: Build for Endurance, Not Speed, Heritage Foundation, March 4
The relationship between America and Indonesia can and should expand far beyond its current level. There are critical interests around which the two countries can build a strong, mutually beneficial partnership, such as trade, counterterrorism, military-to-military cooperation, and democracy promotion. But a new and deep U.S.- Indonesian partnership must be given time to develop and remain focused on the big picture. Heritage Foundation Asia expert Walter Lohman explains how the U.S. can build an enduring relationship with the fourth-largest country in the world.
President Obama’s Visit to Indonesia: Putting the Country on the Map, Brookings, March 10
President Obama’s visit to Indonesia is not only personal but political. He will have the opportunity to visit the home where he lived as a young boy and the primary school he attended and learned the local language. None of the other 43 American presidents have had this kind of exposure to a non-Western country.
US, Indonesia in a tentative embrace, Asia Times, March 12
Indonesia is weighing the pros and cons of a new strategic partnership with the United States ahead of President Barack Obama's visit. The two sides are expected to sign a comprehensive agreement that some analysts believe could signal a strategic shift in US policy towards the region.
Boediono Team to Launch Ambitious Campaign to Overhaul Bureaucracy, Jakarta Globe, March 11
The government is anticipating a massive housecleaning after a special team formed by Vice President Boediono announced it would begin instituting sweeping administrative reforms. The National Bureaucracy Reform Team on Thursday said it would begin carrying programs aimed at weeding out corruption and increasing the efficiency of services being provided at a number of government agencies this month. The team was only waiting for President Susilo Bambang Yudhoyono to sign a decree requiring all state agencies nationwide to implement certain reforms, which include eliminating overlapping positions and revising job descriptions of civil servants.
Corruption worsens in Indonesia: business survey, AFP, March 9
Indonesia remains the most corrupt country in Southeast Asia and graft is getting even worse, a poll of businessmen says, dealing a blow to the president's efforts to clean up the country. The annual poll by the Political and Economic Risk Consultancy (PERC), made available to AFP Tuesday, put Southeast Asia's biggest economy last in a table of regional economies with a score of 9.27 out of the worst possible 10.
Indonesia: SBY struggles to live up to expectations, East Asia Forum, March 10
Four months ago, the mood in Indonesia was extremely positive: Susilo Bambang Yudhoyono (universally known as SBY) had been installed for a historic second term. He had chosen Dr Boediono, the country’s most respected technocrat, as his vice president. His Democrat Party had emerged as a major force in the DPR, the country’s parliament.
Fast forward to early 2010, and his administration is under attack from many quarters. The position of his two key economics officials, Vice President Boediono and Finance Minister Mulyani, is increasingly parlous. The nation has become ‘paralyzed’, in the words of the leading Jakarta Post daily. SBY himself seems unable or unwilling to silence the criticism.
Indonesia fin min sees investment grade within a yr, Alibaba, March 9
Indonesia should be able to reach investment grade within one year, Finance Minister Sri Mulyani Indrawati said on Tuesday, in a more confident assessment than many analysts who still see obstacles for Southeast Asia's biggest economy.
Susilo Bambang Yudhoyono cool on Kevin Rudd's Asia plan, The Australian, March 10
President Susilo Bambang Yudhoyono has told Kevin Rudd that Indonesia is unlikely to support his push for a new Asia-Pacific community as Jakarta sees the existing ASEAN bloc as its priority.