Indonesia

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Scores of firefighters on Maui have fought a high number of brush fires this summer that have burned hundreds of acres of land. This week, fires elsewhere in the Pacific are causing problems for several countries.

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At least ten people are reported dead and dozens arrested as political unrest continues in West Papua. Indonesia blames pro-independence groups for the violence, and has banned further protests.

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Climate change is affecting various parts of the world differently, and many of the initial impacts are in the Asia Pacific. That includes Indonesia, which has announced plans to move its national capital.

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The Jakarta Post reports that Indonesian President Joko Widodo will visit restive West Papua next week after violent protests there on Monday. Demonstrations erupted on news that Papuan students in Java had been subjected to racial abuse and arrest over the weekend.

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Here in Hawai’i we’re in the annual season of possible tropical storms and even hurricanes. But elsewhere in the Pacific, there’s another weather-related concern. In parts of Southeast Asia, it’s fire season — and emergency workers are trying to get ahead it.

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One area where most of Hawaii scores well compared to many other locations in the world is air quality. It’s an increasing focus for many cities in the Asia Pacific, and in one place residents are actually suing the government.

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There’s a new trend underway in many developing countries across the Asia Pacific. It’s about shipping — but with an unusual twist.

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One of the steadiest economies in the Asia Pacific in recent years is Indonesia. This week, the World Bank had praise for some government policies, but also warnings about plastic in the ocean.

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The United Liberation Movement of West Papua has again applied for full membership in the Melanesian Spearhead Group. The ULM hopes that new leadership in the Solomon Islands and Papua New Guinea may improve its chances.

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At least half a dozen people in Jakarta have been killed in rioting over the past several days. The protests followed the release of the official results of Indonesia’s presidential election.

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The president of Indonesia is on a shopping trip this week. He recently won re-election to a second term, and at the top of his wish list is a new capital.

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Indonesia’s Navy reports that one of its patrol boats was rammed by a Vietnamese coast guard vessel in the South China Sea. The incident stemmed from a dispute over fishing rights.

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Indonesia’s restive provinces in West Papua are not expected to factor heavily in this week’s national elections, but while most eyes will focus on results for President, vice president and the legislature, Papuan advocates are trying to get their issues into public view.

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This is campaign season in several places around Asia. India has already started voting in elections that will last for a month.  And in Indonesia, voters go to the polls tomorrow in one of the most complicated elections in the world.

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Over the past few months, fighting has escalated in a remote part of West Papua. Last December, the West Papua Liberation Army massacred at least 16 construction workers; the Indonesian government sent in a strong force of troops and police, but violence continues.

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Fire season in Southeast Asia won’t reach its peak for several months. But parts of Indonesia are already being hit with forest fires and heavy haze.

Office of the Vice President

While politicians in the United States continue to focus on the partial government shutdown, in some parts of the world attention is shifting to upcoming elections. That includes Southeast Asia . . . where one presidential contest appears headed for a rematch.

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Internships are a way for students to gain real world experience as part of their education. But the value of an internship depends in part on a company’s willingness to assign students to meaningful work. And in Asia, that’s an issue this week.

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The government of Indonesia denounces a report that it used chemical weapons in West Papua as "baseless, not factual and totally misleading." A story in Australia's Saturday Paper said that Indonesian forces attacked villagers with white phosphorous weapons, and published a picture of a man with severe burns on his leg.

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At least 24 people have been killed in one of the worst outbreaks of violence in West Papua in many years. Indonesian officials described those killed as construction workers, the rebel group that took responsibility for the attack says they were Indonesian troops disguised as civilians.

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Plastic and oceans are a bad combination. It’s a growing problem not only here in Hawai‘i but around the Pacific. And an event this week in Indonesia is the latest reminder.

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The U. S. Army Corps of Engineers is working to help preserve a series of ancient Hawaiian petroglyphs at Pōka‘ī Bay on the west side of O‘ahu. Other drawings in caves and on rocks have been found all over the world. But a new discovery announced this week in Indonesia is capturing attention not only from the archeologists, but also in the world of art.

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Warnings from a UN panel this week about the pace of climate change are putting a new focus on the use of fossil fuels. When it comes to one form of renewable energy, several countries in the Asia Pacific are expanding their goals.

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The United States, Mexico, and Canada aren’t the only neighbors working on Free Trade Agreements. Just a few days after taking office, Australian Prime Minister Scott Morrison will travel to Indonesia this week to announce what’s being described as an historic deal.

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“Smart Cities” use technology to connect citizens and government. One example is Bandung--the third largest city in Indonesia. The mayor who brought a technology upgrade to the city has just been elected to be the next Governor of West Java. Ridwan Kamil is in Honolulu as part of an event at the East West Center--the “Smart Cities Thought Leaders Forum.” He talked with Bill Dorman about what it means to be a “Smart City” in 21st century Asia.  

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In less than a month, more than 11,000 athletes from 45 countries will go to Indonesia for the “Asian Games.” The country’s capital is going through a number of preparations — including some dealing with water pollution.

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The Trump Administration is reviewing rules about foreign investment in the United States. But it’s not the only government taking a closer look at how foreign businesses operate in other countries. And last week, that sparked some confusion in Indonesia.

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As you’ve been hearing on NPR, there’s a lot of attention swirling around a potential summit meeting between President Trump and North Korean leader Kim Jong Un. But another top-level meeting in Asia this week may also have significant strategic importance. HPR’s Bill Dorman has more in today’s Asia Minute.

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The source of a deadly oil spill off the coast of Borneo has been identified. After denying responsibility for days, Pertamina, Indonesia’s state oil company now admits that unknown quantities of crude oil leaked from a crack in one of its underwater pipelines. We have more from Neal Conan in today’s Pacific News Minute.

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The long running division in the Melanesian Spearhead Group has erupted into public. Senior officials in the Solomon Islands and Fiji have attacked each other over the issue of West Papua. We have details from Neal Conan in today’s Pacific New Minute.

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