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NEWS UPDATES Asean Affairs        24  February 2011

Yudhoyono Gives Jakarta Till 2020 to Solve Traffic

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President Susilo Bambang Yudhoyono has ordered the governor of Jakarta to free the capital of traffic gridlock by 2020, and added that significant improvement must be felt by 2014.

"The transportation target for Jakarta, and this is a heavy task for the governor, is that Jakarta's congestion must be overcome before 2020," Yudhoyono said at the Bogor Palace.

He said that otherwise, the residents of the capital would face traffic jams the minute they left their driveways.

The president also said that it was important that Jakarta Governor Fauzi Bowo begin seriously working on the complex issue of traffic immediately.

"Significant improvement needs to be seen by 2014," he said. "By 2014, Jakarta residents should be able to thank God for the traffic and its management. This may not be easy, but we need to do it earnestly."

The president also asked the police and the Jakarta Land Transportation Agency (DLLAJR) to improve the city's traffic management system.

"There are other countries with lots of vehicles but with good management," Yudhoyono said. "Why not learn?"

The order came a day after the president criticized the city administration for the dismal state of Jakarta's transportation sector. He also lashed out at investors that had made commitments in the transportation and infrastructure sectors but had failed to honor them.

Yudhoyono said the central government would help in whatever way it could in solving the capital's traffic problems.

"I don't want to blame anyone because I know it is not easy, but I think this is the moment for the provincial government and all of us to unite to solve this," he said.

Earlier on Tuesday, Fauzi, who is also facing problems on the political front after Yudhoyono's Democratic Party announced it would not back his re-election bid next year, deflected part of the blame to investors.

"Our experience shows that many commitments were not followed through on in Jakarta [on transportation]," he said. "Not all of this is related to Jakarta's governance."

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This year in Thailand-what next?

04 January 2011
By David Swartzentruber      

It is commonplace in journalism to write two types of articles at the transition point between the year that has passed and the New Year. As this writer qualifies as an “old hand” in observing Thailand with a track record dating back 14 years, it is time take a shot at what may unfold in Thailand in 2011.

The first issue that can’t be answered is the health of Thailand’s beloved King Bhumibol, who is now 83 years old. He is the world's longest reigning monarch, but elaborate birthday celebrations in December failed to mask concern over his health. More

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