East Timor: The would be assassins of Timornese President José Ramos-Horta and Prime Minister Xanana Gusmão have been given sentences ranging from 16 to 24 years in prison. This would-be junta rebels was mostly composed of disaffected police and military. This blog detailed the events that preceded this trial in more detail, here.
Indonesia: Another Bali Bombing Mastermind, Dulmatin (aka Joko Pitoyo), is reported to have been killed in a shoot out in Jakarta. He was believed to be a senior member of Jemaah Islamiyah.
The raid Tuesday was linked to ongoing security sweeps in Aceh province in northern Sumatra. Police have arrested 15 suspected militants and one has been killed. Three police officers have died in the raids.
Aceh Governor Irwandi Jusuf said that, for a year now, he has known about a militant training camp in the province. He said militants were seeking to establish camps similar to those run by Jemaah Islamiyah in the the southern Philippines.
This blog also followed the exploits and death of Noordin Muhammed Top, who was also suspected in masterminding the 2009 Jakarta Hotel bombings and aiding in both the 2002 and 2005 Bali bombings. As with Top, the Indonesian government will confirm the identity of the body pending DNA tests.
Also in Indonesian news, this years annual poll by the Political and Economic Risk Consultancy (PERC) shows that business interests feel Indonesia is becoming more corrupt. This is another hit to President Susilo Bambang Yudhoyono reputation, as anti-corruption efforts were a centerpiece of his first term. Yudhoyono is already under fire for alleged corruption in regard to his appointees.
The annual poll by the Political and Economic Risk Consultancy (PERC), made available to AFP on Tuesday, put Southeast Asia’s biggest economy last in a table of regional economies with a score of 9.27 out of the worst possible 10.
Indonesia also came last in 2009 but with a marginally better score of 8.32.
Cambodia was ranked the second most corrupt regional nation with a grade of 9.10, followed by Vietnam and the Philippines.
PERC’s poll was conducted from December to February, and involved 2,147 mid-level and senior Asian and expatriate business executives working in the 16 economies.
Myanmar: As an update on the plight of the Rohingya people, there are new allegations from the UN and EU that Bangladesh is forcing the Rohingya into camps on its eastern border with Myanmar, and starving them to dissuade other Rohingya from crossing, as if the Rohingya have a choice when being forced to cross at gun point by the Burmese military.
In other news, Myanmar’s military elite are trying to cash in by selling state assets to elite business cronies ahead of this year’s “elections”, which are supposed to be a transfer power to a civilian government. It is believed that the privatization plan was created by, none other than junta leader, Senior Gen. Than Shwe. Transferring government assets to private business interest (many of whom are closely linked to the military) is good business for the junta. If the junta holds semi-successful elections, they hope it will legitimize the Burmese government before the world, so that they may acquire more foreign direct investment (FDI), which in turn, will go right into the hands of the military/business oligarchy.
So the sell-off is not a move by the junta to move to a more market oriented economic model. Nor do people think the elections will be fair, but instead the junta plans to stack the deck as much as possible with former military elites and play puppet master to an impotent government. It is telling that over 2100 political prisoners are still locked up.
The junta has also put a clause in the voting rules that will allow it to shut down any voting station due to natural disaster or ” security reasons”. This clause will likely be applied to areas with ethnic minorities that are still in rebellion against the central government, having already refused numerous overtures. One of the smaller autonomous minority groups was liquidated by the central government as reported in August of 2009, by this blog.