Indonesia. In January, Indonesia criticized the new US President Donald Trump’s proposed entry ban on people from seven Muslim-dominated countries. People-rich Indonesia, the world’s largest Muslim-majority country, however, was not included in the ban. The Jakarta government felt that the decision made the fight against terrorism more difficult. US Vice President Mike Pence praised Indonesia’s moderate form of Islam when he visited the country in April.
But the issue of reduced tolerance for Indonesia’s minorities continued to be debated. The pressure was on the country’s LGBT minority. Two young men convicted of having sex with six were publicly seen in May in the province of Aceh in northern Sumatra, which has Sharia law. Several incidents were also reported in other parts of Indonesia against gay clubs and venues popular with gays. The arrested were allowed to run in front of journalists.
According to Countryaah.com, another case involved Jakarta Governor Basuki Tjahaja Purnama, who is an ethnic Chinese and Christian. He was running for re-election in the capital, despite a legal process for having blasphemed Islam during his election campaign. In April, Purnama, better known as Ahok, conceded in a second, decisive round. Challenger and former Education Minister Anies Baswedan mobilized among conservative Muslim groups. There, the Front of Islam’s defense and Hizb ut-Tahrir, an Islamist movement with branches in 40 countries, wanted to introduce Sharia law and a caliphate. Ahok was sentenced in May to two years in prison.
In July, President Joko Widodo signed a decree banning Hezb ut-Tahrir, citing that the movement threatened the state ideology, Pancasila, intended to keep the country together despite many ethnic and religious groups.
Three police officers were killed in May in a suicide attack against a bus terminal in the capital, Jakarta. The Islamic State (IS) took on the deed, believed to have been carried out by a local support group. At the beginning of the year, 17 Indonesians expelled from Turkey were arrested on suspicion of attempting to join IS. The arrest was also reported on the island of Bali. Indonesia intervened with the popular, encrypted Telegram messaging service used by IS and other groups to recruit followers.
Widodo went out in July and urged police to shoot foreign drug dealers as part of the fight against drugs. The statement was seen as a way to strengthen his image among dubious voters ahead of the 2019 presidential election, but received criticism from human rights groups.
Several corruption cases created headlines. In September, a judge in the Constitutional Court was sentenced to eight years in prison for bribery. At the end of the year, a bribery investigation was launched against Parliament Speaker Setya Novanto, leader of Golkar. The former government party has been a member of Widodo’s government coalition since 2016. The bribes would have been given in connection with the purchase of electronic ID cards in 2010.
Indonesia’s economy was expected to grow by 5.1% in 2017 and slightly more in 2018, according to forecasts from the International Monetary Fund. The government Widodo’s target is 7% 2018.
The government must also continue to widen the tax base, which is narrow compared to Thailand and the Philippines, for example, according to the credit rating agency Moody’s. A tax amnesty that expired in March withdrew about $ 350 billion. But only a third of the working population of 118 million adults is believed to pay taxes.
China sent two giant pandas to Jakarta in September as part of its so-called panda diplomacy. The countries have cooperated for 60 years. But they disagree about borderlines in the South China Sea that Indonesia chose in July to call the North Natuna Sea to bolster its claim in an area outside the Natuna Islands.
In September, preparedness was increased on the island of Bali following warnings of increased activity in the volcano Gunung Agung. Nearly 140,000 people were temporarily evacuated. At the end of November, activity increased again, which contributed to the cancellation of air traffic and new evacuations.
During the year, the discovery of a new species of orangutan, the Tapanuliorangutang, was reported in the northern Sumatra Highlands. But with only 800 specimens, there is a great risk that it will be eradicated in pace with deforestation to give way to, among other things, oil palm plantations.