News / Asia

Obama Seeks Stronger Ties With Widodo, Indonesia

Indonesian presidential candidate Joko Widodo talks to the media during his visit at a reservoir development project in Jakarta, Indonesia, July 22, 2014.
Indonesian presidential candidate Joko Widodo talks to the media during his visit at a reservoir development project in Jakarta, Indonesia, July 22, 2014.
Victor Beattie

U.S. President Barack Obama congratulated Indonesia’s President-elect Joko Widodo earlier this week and said the election outcome, in which Widodo defeated former army General Prabowo Subianto by about 8 million votes, indicates the commitment of the Indonesian people to democracy.  

Peter McCawley, a longtime expert with the Australian National University’s (ANU) Indonesia Project, said, despite Prabowo Subianto’s intention to challenge the election results, Obama’s statement is an implicit endorsement of the outcome.

"No doubt the election was not 100 percent clean. There have been reports of hijinks (misconduct), games, of maneuvers on both sides. We need to emphasize that, on both sides,” McCawley said.

“By world standards,the election was surprisingly good. The election authorities in Indonesia were well-organized, the count was well-organized, and the ballot boxes have been protected. There is some dispute about some voting in some parts of Indonesia, but the best observers say any faults in the system are minor.  And, they certainly do not undermine the overall result,” he added.

Comprehensive Partnership

The U.S. president reaffirmed the importance of “the close and cooperative relationship with Indonesia,” including the two countries’ Comprehensive Partnership.

Obama said he looked forward to meeting Widodo, widely known as Jokowi, and working with him to deepen ties and promote shared objectives.  

Their first opportunity to meet may be in Myanmar, also known as Burma, during an East Asia summit in November. Widodo is to be inaugurated in October.

The U.S./Indonesia Comprehensive Partnership was officially launched during Obama’s visit to Jakarta in November 2010 and focuses on energy, security, trade and investment, democracy, civil society, education, and climate and environmental issues.  McCawley said.

Across the board, the relationship has been good, although there are disagreements, he added.

"There is some concern, at present, about some policies at the Indonesian end about control of foreign investment. But this is the usual sort of push-and-pull in trade and investment matters between many countries and, in that area as well, the relationship is currently a strong and good one,” McCawley said. “There is, of course, the question now whether a new president brings changes of policies. But there is no sign that the new president is likely to do anything other than to continue this relationship."

Obama has tried to cultivate a closer U.S. relationship with incumbent President Susilo Bambang Yudhoyono as part of his administration’s rebalance to the Asia-Pacific region.  

ANU analyst Greg Fealy said Indonesia is an important part of the U.S. rebalance because of its strategic location:

"It is the world’s largest archipelagic nation and it sits astride many of the major sea routes between the Indian Ocean and the Pacific Ocean and their important trade routes and, of course, military routes,” Fealy said. “It’s also important as the dominant country in the Association of Southeast Asian Nations (ASEAN).

“So, it’s very important for U.S. diplomacy in Southeast Asia to have Indonesia supporting its initiatives, and that gives a much better chance that other regional countries will also be collaborating with the United States,” Fealy added.

Human rights report

The 2013 U.S. human rights report criticized Indonesia for failing to conduct transparent and credible investigations into allegations of extrajudicial killings by security forces, and expressed concern about the lack of protection of the rights of religious and social minorities.  

Fealy said the country’s human rights record should improve under Widodo.

"He’s very pluralistic in his orientation. We know that he got the vast majority of votes from the non-Muslim sections of the population, about 13 percent of the total population, and that shows that religious minorities trust him."

Fealy said Widodo has a track record, as governor of Jakarta and mayor of a major city in central Java, of being economically oriented. Widodo also knows that the success of his forthcoming administration will be in maintaining the country’s economic growth, Fealy said.

That means he will want to maximize trade and investment opportunities with countries like the United States, he added.

You May Like

India PM Modi's Party Distances Itself From Religious Conversions

BJP under fire for being slow to rein in hardline affiliate groups allegedly trying to promote Hindu-dominant agenda by luring Muslims and Christians to convert More

Anti-Whaling Group Found in Contempt of Court

Radical environmentalists who threw acid and smoke bombs at Japanese whalers in the waters off Antarctica continue their campaign to disrupt Japan's annual whale hunt More

UN's Ban Urges End to Discrimination Against Ebola Workers

Ban was speaking in Guinea on the second day of a whistle-stop tour aimed at thanking healthcare workers of the countries at the heart of the epidemic More

This forum has been closed.
Comment Sorting
Comments
     
by: riano baggy from: ina
July 24, 2014 8:17 AM
yes we hope two countries have better vision to make good stability for ASEAN territorial and also make strong commitment to ease even stop conflicts in middle east, afrika and asia etc to make better world.

Featured Videos

Your JavaScript is turned off or you have an old version of Adobe's Flash Player. Get the latest Flash player.
US Decision on Cuba Underscores Divisions Among Miami Cubansi
X
Sharon Behn
December 19, 2014 9:34 PM
For decades, older, more conservative Cubans have been gathering at Café Versailles on the corner of Calle Ocho to eat Cuban food and talk politics. After hearing of President Barack Obama’s decision, a number of them gathered in front of the café with posters to protest. VOA's Sharon Behn reports on the situation.
Video

Video US Decision on Cuba Underscores Divisions Among Miami Cubans

For decades, older, more conservative Cubans have been gathering at Café Versailles on the corner of Calle Ocho to eat Cuban food and talk politics. After hearing of President Barack Obama’s decision, a number of them gathered in front of the café with posters to protest. VOA's Sharon Behn reports on the situation.
Video

Video Three Cities Bid for Future Obama Presidential Library

President Barack Obama still has two years left in his term in office, but the effort to establish his post-presidential library is already underway. The bid for the Obama Presidential Library is down to four locations in three states -- New York, Hawaii, and Illinois. As VOA’s Kane Farabaugh reports, each of them played an important part in the president’s life before he reached the White House.
Video

Video Cuba Deal is Major Victory for Pope’s Diplomatic Initiatives

Pope Francis played a key role in brokering the US-Cuba deal that was made public earlier this week. It is the most stunning success so far in a series of peacemaking efforts by the pontiff. VOA religion reporter Jerome Socolovsky has more.
Video

Video Fears of More Political Gridlock in 2015

2014 proved to be a difficult year politically for President Barack Obama and a very good year for the U.S. Republican Party. Republican gains in the November midterm elections gave them control of the Senate and House of Representatives for the next two years -- setting the stage for more confrontation and gridlock in the final two years of the Obama presidency. VOA National Correspondent Jim Malone has a preview from Washington.
Video

Video Sudan School Becomes Target of Aerial Attacks

The school dropout rate is at an all-time high in Sudan's South Kordofan state because many schools have been destroyed during the three-year civil war between the government and SPLA-N rebel forces. Adam Bailes visited Sudan's Nuba Mountains' region and reports many children are simply too scared to go to school
Video

Video VOA Reporter Tours Devastated Peshawar School

Islamist militants wearing military uniforms and strapped with explosives attacked a military run school Tuesday in the northwestern Pakistani city of Peshawar. At least 141 people were killed in the horrific attack, most of them young students. VOA reporter Ayaz Gul visited the devastated school and attended the funeral of the principal who courageously tried to save her students from the deadly attack.
Video

Video Nigerians Fleeing Boko Haram Languish in Camp Near Capital

In its five-year effort to impose Islamic law in northeastern Nigeria, the Boko Haram extremist group has killed thousands of people and forced hundreds of thousands to flee. Some of those who ran for their lives now live in squalor on the edges of the capital, Abuja. Chris Stein reports for VOA.
Video

Video Aceh Rebuilt Decade After Tsunami, But Scars Remain

On December 26, 2004 there was an earthquake in the Indian Ocean so powerful it caused the Earth’s axis to wobble a few centimeters. Onshore on the island of Sumatra, the resulting tsunami was devastating. A decade later, VOA Correspondent Steve Herman reports from Banda Aceh, Indonesia, where although there is little remaining evidence of the physical devastation, the psychological scars among survivors remain.

All About America

AppleAndroid