Editorial

Going the distance.

This week we’re looking at Joko Widodo's last chance for reform, Cambodia's looming EBA crisis and 50 years since West Papua's so-called Act of Free Choice

Paul Millar
August 13, 2019
Going the distance.

It’s hard to think of a corner of the world where the fight for independence has been as fierce as Southeast Asia.

To mark the anniversary of Indonesia’s independence, we’ll be looking ahead to President Joko Widodo’s second – and final – term in office. Freed from the need to secure his re-election through backroom dealings and compromise, we’ll be asking whether the once-beloved Jokowi will be able to enact the sweeping reforms the nation’s bloated bureaucracy needs.

But independence for Indonesia has come at a high price. In West Papua, the resource-rich province that continues to hold the dubious honour of the nation’s poorest corner, 50 years have passed since the so-called Act of Free Choice saw barely 1,000 hand-picked locals vote to join the larger nation. Half a century on, the bitter and often bloody fight for independence shows little sign of slowing down.

On Thursday, we’ll be looking at how Indonesia’s education system has rewritten history in an Orwellian attempt to quash the desire for sovereignty in West Papua. On Friday, we’ll be speaking with some of the activists imprisoned for fighting for autonomy from Indonesia’s central government – and the lawyers pushing for a re-run of the referendum that stripped the nation of its independence 50 years ago.

Lastly, we will also take a closer look at whether EU is deciding to revoke Everything but Arms(EBA), the duty-free market access for Cambodia’s exports, even though it tries to boost trade and defence ties with Southeast Asia.

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