This paper looks at the possible paths for policy and development in Indonesia under the leadership of the seventh president of Indonesia, Joko Widodo, who will take office in Jakarta on 20 October. The first part is a stocktake of the challenges that lie ahead. The stocktake assesses the state of play in five areas: the political system; economic challenges; government and administration; social issues; and foreign affairs.
The Maldives, the Muslim-majority archipelago country in the Indian Ocean, is going through a tumultuous time, facing increasing Islamist activities at home, an exodus of radicalized youth to join the jihad in Syria and a growing domestic clamor for the implementation of Shari’a law. This has been accompanied by the targeted abduction and intimidation of local Maldivians who hold progressive ideals and secular values. Although the country is better known as a romantic honeymoon destination, these developments – which include the establishment of the “Islamic State of the Maldives” (ISM) group – have exposed the deep extremist undercurrents in Maldivian society and are increasingly drawing the attention of local and international security forces. Continue reading
Rising trends in piracy in the Indian Ocean, off the coast of Somalia, over the last few years have forced States to adopt innovative and collaborative approaches as effective counter-measures.The once tabooed private military security companies (PMSCs) are an attractive option today, which has triggered a huge demand for it. As of 2013, close to 140 security firms reportedly operated in the Northern Indian Ocean, the bulk of which were conceived in 2011.
The modus operandi is generally to place a team of four armed contractors on each ship for a specific length of the transit; these are generally passages that have been declared as High-Risk Areas (HRA). It is when these ships carrying armed PMSC contractors enter ports that the legal complications begin. Use and transport of arms are subject to international maritime conventions and treaties. Declaration of arms onboard before entry into territorial waters is mandated by several States, while a select few choose to completely debar weapons onboard any visiting vessel. Continue reading
Speakers: Elizabeth C. Economy, C.V. Starr Senior Fellow and Director of Asia Studies, Council on Foreign Relations
Richard N. Haass, President, Council on Foreign Relations
Shen Dingli, Vice Dean of the Institute of International Affairs, Fudan University
Sheila A. Smith, Senior Fellow for Japan Studies, Council on Foreign Relations
Simon Tay, Chairman, Singapore Institute of International Affairs
Producers: Jeremy Sherlick
April 21, 2014
The East and South China Seas are the scene of escalating territorial disputes between China and its neighbors, including Japan, Vietnam, and the Philippines. The tensions, shaped by China’s growing assertiveness, have fueled concerns over armed conflict and raised questions about Washington’s security commitments in its strategic rebalance toward the Asia-Pacific region.
“Maritime disputes in the East and South China Seas are a pressing issue for the United States, China, and much of the rest of the world,” says Elizabeth Economy, CFR’s Director for Asia Studies. The region is rich in natural resources, home to many of the world’s most dynamic economies, and an important global trade route for energy supplies and other goods. Continue reading
Despite a mild economic slowdown amidst China’s economic rebalancing and the U.S. Federal Reserve tapering—and despite a dip in Indonesian shares following a surprisingly weak performance by the favorites in Wednesday’s parliamentary election—the general direction of Indonesia’s economy seems clear: onwards and upwards. Since the Asian Financial Crisis and the fall of Suharto, Jakarta has learned lessons, expedited political reforms, and taken economic strides that today constitute a platform from which Southeast Asia’s largest country can continue to build on what it has achieved to date. That’s not to say corruption, infrastructure deficiencies and inequality do not remain problems for whoever takes the political baton after President Susilo Bambang Yudhoyono, but Indonesia’s economic trajectory is bending sharply in the right direction. Continue reading