Govt 21 Jan said five citizens kidnapped by Abu Sayyaf militants in southern Philippines after fishing in Philippine waters (see Philippines). Tensions rose following Chinese incursion in exclusive economic zone off coast of northern Natuna island on southern edge of South China Sea, President Widodo 8 Jan visited island saying “De facto, de jure, Natuna is Indonesia”. Military spokesperson 9 Jan stated that Chinese coast guard vessels and fishing boats had departed; Widodo 10 Jan called on Japanese FM to invest in Natuna islands to bolster coast guard coordination (see South China Sea).
A dispute over a flag in Aceh is testing the limits of autonomy, irritating Indonesia’s central government, heightening ethnic tensions, reviving a campaign for the division of the province and raising fears of violence as the 2014 national elections approach.
Indonesian President Susilo Bambang Yudhoyono needs to act more firmly against institutions and officials that defy national court rulings or his inaction risks prolonging local conflicts.
The only measure likely to halt violence in Indonesia’s Papua province in the short term is a major overhaul of security policy.
Almost ten years after the 2002 Bali bombing, Indonesian extremists are weak and divided but still finding partners for new operations.
Election monitors should begin deployment to Aceh long before the 9 April election to deter intimidation.
Despite years of investment in community policing, the Indonesian police remain deeply distrusted by the people they are supposed to serve.
Lecture by Sidney Jones at International Policy Studies program of Stanford University, 5 December 2012.
Originally published in The Interpreter
Originally published in The Jakarta Globe
Originally published in Myanmar Times