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NEWS UPDATES Asean Affairs        28  April 2011

Indonesian government criticized on radical group

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Two of Indonesia’s highest institutions have blasted the government for either missing the rapid formation of the extremist Indonesian Islamic State or worse, allowing it to occur.

In a recent joint news conference in Jakarta, Constitutional Court Chief Justice Mahfud M.D., accompanied by People’s Consultative Assembly (MPR) Deputy Chairman Lukman Hakim, questioned how the “massive” movement, also known as NII, had evaded detection.

He said he considered it impossible that the “dangerous virus” could have recruited tens of thousands of people without being detected.

“The government should provide a concrete answer about this,” he said.

The group — former members of which were reportedly linked to the foiled Good Friday bombing of a Tangerang church — aims to establish an Islamic caliphate by enlisting the support of educated young Indonesians and sympathizers.

Mahfud said that in conjunction with the MPR, he would hold a national discussion at Gadjah Mada University on May 2 -3 to discuss the weakening of belief in the state ideology, Pancasila, particularly the concept that Indonesia was a secular nation.

He said the growing strength of NII was indicative of the government’s neglect of the threat of increasing radicalism and sectarianism.

He said Indonesian unity was under attack.

Mahfud, a senior figure within the moderate Muslim, nationalist Nahdlatul Ulama, said he had a message from Islamic figure Achmad Mustofa Bisri to pass to President Susilo Bambang Yudhoyono, namely to uphold Pancasila and combat extremism.

“He said that villagers will be behind the president to combat every movement that could endanger the state,” he said.

Lukman said he was concerned that NII’s teachings threatened the unity of the nation and the government should have the resolve to dissolve it.

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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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