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NEWS UPDATES Asean Affairs                      9  August 2011

Graft case arrest grips Indonesian politics

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Within hours of the announcement on Monday of Muhammad Nazaruddin’s arrest in Colombia, his colleagues in the Democratic Party quickly issued statements praising the work of the country’s law enforcers.

“The arrest is what our party wants,” said Saan Mustopa, the party’s deputy secretary general. “All party members, from the beginning, really expected him to be arrested immediately.”

But political observers and analysts have a different take on the arrest of the country’s most-wanted graft fugitive: This, they say, is going to be the true test for the ruling party and the president.

From his hiding place, the 32-year-old lawmaker and former Democratic Party treasurer spent the past two months launching damning attacks against officials of both the party and the Corruption Eradication Commission (KPK).

Nazaruddin has accused Democratic chairman Anas Urbaningrum of graft worth billions of rupiah (hundreds of thousands of dollars). Also, he accused Youth and Sports Affairs Minister Andi Mallarangeng and Democratic lawmaker Angelina Sondakh of complicity in the Southeast Asian Games athletes village graft scandal — the same one he is a suspect for.

He has also accused at least three KPK officials of unethical behavior and colluding with Democratic officials to spare Anas from any investigation.

And he has claimed he has evidence to prove his allegations. In a video interview over Skype broadcast on television, Nazaruddin showed the supposed proof: a flash drive, a compact disc and a document bearing Anas’s signature.

In the wake of all this, separate surveys in the past month have shown damage inflicted to the reputations of both President Susilo Bambang Yudhoyono and the KPK.

Politicians, analysts and activists interviewed by the Jakarta Globe on Monday all agreed that with Nazaruddin’s return, light should be shed on the allegations.

“With this [arrest], everything will be revealed, nothing can be covered up anymore,” said Sutan Bhatoegana, a Democratic Party lawmaker and close friend of Nazaruddin.

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This year in Thailand-what next?

AseanAffairs   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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