Indonesia politics

While the “quick count” results from Wednesday’s five-yearly legislative election are only preliminary, it seems clear that the Indonesian Democratic Party-Struggle (PDI-P) has failed to fully capitalise on the popularity of its presidential candidate, Joko Widodo.

Having named Widodo, the highly regarded Jakarta governor, as its presidential candidate in March, PDI-P was targeting at least 27 per cent of the vote for the 560-member House of Representatives (DPR). But initial results showed that it secured 19 per cent, in spite of coming first.

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While Joko Widodo, the wildly popular governor of Jakarta, just about managed to restrain his euphoria when he was finally named as his party’s presidential candidate on Friday, investors were not so coy.

The Jakarta stock exchange jumped by three percent on Friday, its biggest one-day gain for six months, to reach a nine-month high, while the once-troubled rupiah has strengthened by 1.3 per cent against the US dollar since then. Continue reading »

Amid the feverish speculation over whether Joko Widodo will run for president of Indonesia, it is right to ask what he has achieved in just over a year as the governor of Jakarta.

Walking through the anarchic streets of Jakarta, while avoiding open sewers and choking on the traffic fumes, it does not seem that much has changed. But as Widodo – who is universally known as Jokowi – told the FT in an interview, there is much to do after years of neglect. Continue reading »

Nothing lasts forever, not even the Federal Reserves’ QE programme. And when it ends, emerging markets will have a new normal to contend with. Time to get ready.

Indonesia is hoping robust investment and the completion of much-delayed infrastructure projects will enable it to contend with the new “basic economic parameters” that will be required once the Fed starts tapering its asset purchases, the country’s vice-president (pictured above) said in an interview on Thursday. Continue reading »

Kevin Rudd has managed to get something out of his talks with Indonesian President Yudhoyono. It’s not a condemnation of Tony Abbott’s “send back the boats” pledge campaign but it’s something.

Yudhoyono has decided to hold a regional summit to explore ways of dealing with asylum seekers. Unsurprisingly Rudd has welcomed the move. Continue reading »

Kevin Rudd, Australia’s new prime minister, likes hobnobbing with heads of state on the world stage so much that during his first stint as premier he was dubbed Kevin 747.

Ahead of his trip to Indonesia this week for an annual bilateral leaders’ meeting, however, Rudd has been keen to dampen expectations of any deals or agreements, particularly on the thorny issue of border security. Continue reading »

With air pollution in Singapore sinking to the worst level ever recorded because of pervasive forest fires in the Indonesian island of Sumatra, the blame game is in full swing.

Vivian Balakrishnan, Singapore‘s environment minister, has called for “urgent and definitive action” by Indonesia, saying that “Singaporeans have lost patience, and are understandably angry, distressed and concerned”. But with accusations flying, who is really at fault? Continue reading »

Bumi, the Indonesian coal miner long plagued by allegations of accounting irregularities, on Friday reported an annual loss of $2.4bn after delaying the publication of its results.

The results, which were delayed following the suspension of the company’s shares, also revealed the company had discovered $200m of spending with “no clear business purpose”.

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Around two-thirds of adult men smoke in Indonesia, one of the world’s largest and least regulated tobacco markets. The government in Jakarta has tried to introduce legislation to restrict advertising but the proposals have been watered down after industry lobbying. The FT’s Ben Bland talks to smokers, lobbyists and health campaigners about why smoking is still so popular.

You’re attacked as a lame duck president, nearing the end of your second and final term. Your political party is mired in corruption scandals and infighting. And your government is under fire over a growing list of policy missteps. So what do you do to salvage your reputation? Join Twitter of course.

Susilo Bambang Yudhoyono, the Indonesian president universally known as SBY, surprised many when he took the plunge into the back-biting world of social media on Saturday. Continue reading »

It’s bad news for consumers and the government but good news for traders (and vampires). Indonesia is suffering from a garlic shortage and prices have skyrocketed as a result, up by an average of 31 per cent in February alone.

Indonesians like to eat garlic and the surge in prices, which contributed to higher than expected inflation last month, will make life particularly tough for the nearly half of Indonesian’s 240m people who live on less than two dollars a day. Continue reading »

Agus Martowardojo

Indonesian President Susilo Bambang Yudhoyono has set the cat among the pigeons with a surprise choice of nominee as central bank governor to succeed Darmin Nasution, whose term ends in May.

The rupiah has barely moved since Saturday’s news that the president had plumped for finance minister Agus Martowardojo (pictured left). But his record has been questioned by some members of parliament, which will have the final say on the appointment. Prepare for rumbles, with politicians increasingly focusing on the 2014 presidential election. Continue reading »

Shares in Bumi soared over 12 per cent on Friday on a Reuters report that financier Nat Rothschild was establishing a consortium to launch a counter bid for the troubled mining company.

Such a move would pit Rothschild against the billionaire Indonesian Bakrie family, which set up Bumi in a partnership with Rothschild that has since collapsed in acrimony.

It would also add political spice to the financial arguments, as the people Rothschild has reportedly approached with his plan include Prabowo Subianto, an Indonesian presidential election candidate, whose rivals in the 2014 will include Aburizal Bakrie, the Bakrie family head. Continue reading »

A compromise in Indonesia over the vexed question of the ownership of the country’s banks. The central bank has announced, as expected, that it is ending a near free-for-all in ownership of local banks by reducing from 99 per cent to 40 per cent the limit on shareholdings by other financial institutions.

But it said that it would grant exemption to particularly strong banks – which paves the way for Singapore’s DBS Group to complete its $7.2bn bid for Danamon Bank. That’s what investors were expecting, and both banks’ shares rose only slightly on the news. Continue reading »

Indonesia’s cautious president, Susilo Bambang Yudhoyono, usually likes to stay above the cut and thrust of the investor disputes that break out habitually in this vast country where there are as many money-making opportunities as there are unclear regulations.

But he has waded into a politically-charged battle between Churchill Mining, a small company listed on London’s junior Aim exchange, and the district government in East Kutai, Kalimantan. Continue reading »