The Asia-Pacific is in the clutches of tense geo-political rivalry, as states attempt to come to grips with a new balance of power in the region. 2014 is likely to see growing confrontations between Asian powers, mainly in the problematic but resource-rich maritime zones of East and Southeast Asia, in a struggle for influence, financial reward and territorial domination. Although not an ideological battle such as that seen following the Second World War, this ‘cold war’ is also made up of mutual recriminations and escalating tensions, as a background to the ongoing power shift in Asia, with regional actors attempting to manage and counter China’s growing assertiveness.read more
With the Middle East in turmoil and waves of violent outbreaks in Egypt and Syria, particularly against religious minorities in the latter, the international community tends to turn a blind eye to the rise of religious intolerance in Southeast Asia. Yet, the persistence of religious intolerance in the Asia-Pacific region has given rise to concerns in more than one way: whereas religiously-motivated discrimination not only poses a serious threat to the universal right to freedom of religion, it has also led to a rise in sectarian violence with troubling repercussions. At the heart of the matter lies Indonesia, the country which is known for its successful transition from dictatorship to democracy, but even more so for its philosophy of “Unity in Diversity”. Growing unease among the Muslim-majority population regarding the country’s religious minorities and the specific targeting of those minorities, supported by certain discriminating laws and policies, have paved the way toward what can be described as a ‘mainstream of intolerance’. Unfortunately, intolerance and violence against religious minorities, including Christians, Shias and the Ahamidya, in Indonesia has set off a chain reaction of violence – particularly in Myanmar where Buddhist ‘extremists’ have incited a spate of attacks against the country’s Muslim minority. In case both national governments do not find an adequate and effective response to the rise of religious intolerance, including a change of social attitude, their standing in the region, as well as worldwide, might be in serious peril.
NEW LEGISLATION FOR MINING SECTOR LIKELY TO HAVE REPERCUSSIONS TO OPERATORS IN INDONESIA
In a move which will likely have a huge impact on the mining sector in Indonesia, on 27 April 2012, Jakarta announced that from June 2012, coal exports would be subjected to a 25% export tax, which will be further increased to 50% from 2013. On 01 May 2012, Indonesian Energy and Mineral Resources Minister Jero Wacik announced that this export tax would not only be applied to coal exports, but would be widened to now include up to fourteen mineral commodities if sold in the form of ore, including copper, gold, silver, tin, lead, chromium, molybdenum, platinum, bauxite, iron ore, iron sand, nickel, manganese and antimony. The export tax is arguably aimed at preventing mining companies maximising their mineral recourse production, ahead of a ban on unprocessed exports in 2014, and is likely part of an effort to preserve domestic coal supplies at a time when the subject of fuel subsidies is weighing heavily on the ability for the government to manage the coffers, something which is also poised to become a potential deal breaker for voters ahead of 2013 presidential elections.