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NEWS UPDATES Asean Affairs                                 10  September 2011

SBY invites criticism of his anti-graft program

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President Susilo Bambang Yudhoyono used the occasion of his 62nd birthday — and his party’s 10th — on Friday to reaffirm his administration’s commitment to tackling corruption.

“I cannot promise much to my brothers and sisters who pray for me to be strong, patient and tough,” he said at a press conference at the State Palace.

“There are also those who wish [for me] to improve the government’s performance, mainly to eradicate corruption, and [who sent] other wishes through text messages, phone calls and social media.”

He said most of the messages referring to graft eradication supported his efforts so far. “Corruption is our biggest enemy and lies in the domain of law enforcers [to address],” Yudhoyono said.

“So let us support the KPK [Corruption Eradication Commission], the police, prosecutors, the courts and all those with the duty of eradicating corruption and upholding the law. If there are things that need to be corrected, please do criticize, including me.”

The president and his Democratic Party have taken heat in recent months from antigraft activists over their perceived softening stance against graft.

Much of the criticism stems from the case of Muhammad Nazaruddin, the ruling party’s former treasurer, who has been named a suspect in a bid-rigging case at the Sports Ministry. While on the run, Nazaruddin leveled a rash of graft allegations against senior Democrats.

Ray Rangkuti, a political analyst, said the Democrats, who marked their 10th anniversary on Friday, should use the occasion to re-evaluate their platform.

He pointed out that the party was established as a kind of fan club for Yudhoyono that built on his reputation as a graft buster.

“So the party now depends not only on the president’s popularity, but also on [what happens to] Nazaruddin,” he said.

“If the public senses that the government isn’t doing anything serious to unveil all the graft allegations linked to him, then the Democrats have a dim future.”

It is important that the party reclaim its antigraft credentials, he added, because that is one of only three platforms guaranteed to win votes.

He said the others were a pro-market platform, as espoused by the Golkar Party, and a left-leaning, pro-people bent, as championed by the opposition Indonesian Democratic Party of Struggle (PDI-P).

Edhie Baskoro Yudhoyono, the Democrat secretary general and the president’s son, agreed that the anniversary was the ideal time for the party to return to its roots as a beacon of clean, smart and honorable politics.


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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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