Jokowi on the offensive, World watching Cambodian polls and US-Vietnam trade deal

By: Will Feuer - Posted on: June 1, 2017 | Southeast Asia

Southeast Asia Globe’s daily rundown of the region’s top stories – 1 June 2017

Indonesian President Joko “Jokowi” Widodo gives a speech during the opening ceremony of the Indian Ocean Rim Association (IORA) 2017 in Jakarta, 7 March 2017. Photo: EPA/Bagus Indahono/Pool

The Region Today – 1 June 2017

Indonesia’s Jokowi considers outlawing more intolerant groups

Indonesian President Joko Widodo said he is considering disbanding organizations whose ideology and practices are not in line with the official state ideology of “Pancasila,” in an apparent response to the rising influence of extremist Islamic groups in the country.

Pancasila is premised on the principles of consultative democracy, social justice, humanitarianism, the unity of Indonesia, and devotion to a single God, while guaranteeing freedom of worship.

“I’ll clobber them with the existing legislation. I don’t talk about one or two organizations…it could be four, five or six,” Widodo said. The forceful statement comes only weeks after the government disbanded Hizbut Tahrir Indonesia for threatening Pancasila. [Kyodo News]

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Muslims protesting decision to close religious schools in Myanmar

In response to demands from an ultra-nationalist group of Buddhist monks in Yangon, Myanmar’s the government closed down two Muslim schools during of the holy month of Ramadan, leaving locals with few places to worship.

Last night, some 100 Muslims gathered on the street in front of one the close Islamic schools to pray and protest the closure. Authorities have also barred Muslim residents from worshiping in six other schools of the city.

“The government should immediately reverse these closures, end restrictions on the practice of minority religions, and prosecute Buddhist ultra-nationalists who break the law in the name of religion,” said Human Rights Watch’s deputy Asia director, Phil Robertson. [Anadolu Agency]

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World calls for Cambodian government to cease threats ahead of election

After weeks of violent threats coming from Prime Minister Hun Sen and his defense minister, calls were issued from around the world for an election free from intimidation ahead of commune polls on Sunday.

Hun Sen has said he is willing to “eliminate” 100 or 200 people if it’s necessary to maintain stability in the country, while General Tea Banh said he was prepared to “smash the teeth” of any opponents who protest election results.

A group of Asean parliamentarians released a statement saying that “Cambodia’s fragile democracy is under very grave threat,” while lawmakers in Australia raised similar concerns over the ruling party’s campaign of fear.

Ambassadors for the US, EU and Japan, who are all donors to Cambodia’s election commission, also called for a free and fair vote after meeting with officials. [RFA]

US and Vietnam pen trade deals worth billions

US President Donald Trump and Vietnamese Prime Minister Nguyen Xuan Phuc met in Washington yesterday, signing a trade deal that included 13 transactions worth some $8 billion.

These estimates of the deal are a far cry from Phuc’s initial claims of a $15-17 deal in the works. Nonetheless, Phuc told Trump that the two countries were now “comprehensive partners” after enduring “significant upheavals in history”. [Reuters]

Morbidly obese Indonesian 10-year-old undergoes successful surgery

A morbidly obese 10-year-old boy in West Java who once weighed 423 pounds has dropped 44 pounds since his successful bariatric surgery, meant to reduce a person’s stomach size and thus appetite.

“He has now lost 20 kilos,” said Arya Permana’s mother, Rokayah. “We are happy and relieved but he is still overweight for his age. We are hoping that one day he will lose all the extra weight and be as healthy as other children at his class.” [Inside Edition]