What's Going in Indonesia and Malaysia Right Now?

My mother-in-law asked JMP yesterday "so what's going on in Indonesia and Malaysia these days?" JMP cruised over to the Jakarta Post website and found this gem about 100 workers at an eyelash factory falling into a trance. So weird. I love that "the cause of the trance remained unclear."

But seriously, what is new in Indonesia and Malaysia these days? Well, lots. Indonesia is gearing up for Obama's scheduled visit in a couple of weeks. The Democrat Party (the prez's party, which is really new but is trying to become more than just his personal vehicle) chose a new chairman. Former finance minister Sri Mulyani Indrawati starts her new job as a managing director at the World Bank on Tuesday. This is good for Indonesia's pride, but potentially a bad sign, as it seems that she was ousted from her MoF position by powerful businessman (and Indolaysia patron) Aburizal Bakrie for being too much of a reformer. The new Minister of Finance is Agus Martowardojo, whom I know little about except for that Bakrie hasn't liked him much in the past, so we'll see how that goes. He does have a pretty good reputation. Separate from that, something really surprising is that Indonesia just put a two-year moratorium on deforestation. That's an amazing commitment, although one that I suspect will be nearly impossible to enforce.

In Malaysia, not quite so much. The background story is still that it's unclear how coherent the ruling coalition and the opposition coalition are. The ruling coalition has been looking a bit stronger as of late, but we would hardly know if they were about to fall apart. One interesting sign is that the horribly corrupt MIC President Samy Vellu is being challenged for the party leadership–thing is, he's resisted a number of challenges before, so I wouldn't be surprised if he withstood this one. Anwar Ibrahim's back on trial for allegedly sodomizing a young male aide. On the good side for the opposition, they did manage recently to win a by-election in Sarawak, where they have struggled to make inroads.

How about in Singapore? Uh, well, ummmm. Hm. Oh yeah. Two Singaporean badminton players were suspended by the Singapore Badminton Association for having a bad attitude.