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NEWS UPDATES Asean Affairs        29  April 2011

Indonesia’s Yudhoyono asks for help with radicals

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In an acknowledgment that religious-based violence posed a serious threat to the nation, Indonesian President Susilo Bambang Yudhoyono called on Indonesians not to rely on the police but to help stamp out extremism’s spread from inside their communities.

“Our nation faces a continuous and serious threat in terrorism and in horizontal violence,” he said on Thursday while addressing a National Development Planning Meeting in Jakarta.

Horizontal violence, a term often used in reference to student bullying, refers to abuse or aggression by individuals on their peers around them.

Yudhoyono said a rising tide of threats and intolerance were a serious matter that generated a negative impact on everyone and threatened the public’s sense of safety.

“Let us not allow this to happen,” he said. “Everyone has a duty to prevent and overcome this. Let us conduct prevention efforts as early as possible. Terrorism and horizontal violence under various motives should not be just handed to the National Police.”

He urged all regional leaders, down to the smallest units, to actively participate in monitoring the situation and provide early warning of any suspicious activities in their communities.

During the meeting at the Bidakara Hotel, Yudhoyono said another problem facing the nation was the rise in radicalism based on religion and ideology.

“It is the radicalization that is wrong, not the religion,” he said, adding that what was worrying was the effort to radicalize elements of society and promote the use of violence.

His call for vigilance came after a number of incidents during the past six months, when small cells, many with no known links to Jemaah Islamiyah or other large jihadi organizations, have raided police stations and assassinated officers.

Mail bombs have been sent to liberal Muslim activists and an antiterrorism chief, and a suicide bomber targeted a mosque on April 15, a first in the country.

Yudhoyono called on religious leaders to live up to their positions and lead by returning religious teachings to a peaceful path.

Without change, he said, society faced a growing threat, and the nation’s character of tolerance, harmony and peace was at risk.

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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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