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Monday, 28 November 2016

Fidel Castro

Fidel Castro, the commander in chief of Cuba revolution and an icon for those that dream of a communist regime, died at age 90 on November 25th 2016. Every death is a sadness, but did Fidel bring any benefits to Cuban and the world during his lifetime? or in bold question,


Western media portrayed him as unpopular leader, a ruthless murderer and a cruel dictator, but black people in Africa or Afro-America don't see him as a monstrous that many westerns think he was. Cuba, like the United States has a slave history, but Afro-Cubans live longer, have better education and have penetrated the cuban middle class. In Africa, Castro's support for anti apartheid efforts in south Africa, Namibia and his support for Angola's independence movement made him a darling of the masses.

Like other communists regime around the world, Fidel achieved power through force of military. He came to power leading an impressive revolution, through great guerilla tactics, against repressive totalitarian military dicatator, Fulgencio Batista who was controlled by American interests, both legitimate and mafia related. Batista was a murderous, vicious thug. With US help, he maintained an extremely repressive dictatorship in which all his political enemies were imprisoned or murdered.

Throughout the 50's and into 80's, the US backed some of notorious dictators the world has ever seen, in the name of stopping communism. Castro then overthrew the pro-US Cuban government and instituted a new government, on that he controlled as a dictator. His time in power was also destructive, with strong persecutions of political opponents, killed thousands of people, and led more than 1 million people to flee their island.

In Castro regime, Cuba, while a poor country, enjoys high standards of medical care. However, doctors are poorly paid. His foreign policy was based on war, with his legionaries providing support to all communists around the globe, with doctors and teachers helping the country to develop.

Dictator aren't always bad, -look Julius Caesar for example-, Roman people wanted Caesar to be their dictator. On the other hand, just as Caesar, Castro had made many enemies in the process and people wanted him to be killed.

I am trying to be objective. Ideally there are always two sides to an issue. Some people think Castro a hero, but some others think he is a traitor.

For all those reasons and more, both Castro and his legacy are complex, and to depict him as an angel or a monster, he was neither. He was deeply flawed man who believed in his ideology and made Cuba free of everyone but itself.

Thursday, 20 October 2016

Jokowi After Two Years

President Joko Widodo is entering the third year of his rule with a much stronger political base and a better coordinated working team in his cabinet. These two factors would make his leadership and economic management more effective in pushing through his people-centered programs during the rest of his tenure until October 2019.

His seems to have learnt many lessons from his first year in office, which was ruin by much political noise and bickering within his own cabinet. The second cabinet reshuffle last July produced a better coordinated working team, especially with the appointment of Sri Mulyani Indrawati, formerly managing director in the World Bank, as the new finance minister at a time the fiscal conditions worsening rapidly.

All key social and economic indicators during the second year show improvement, though not strong as expected. Economic growth is slightly up at 5 percent from 4.79 percent. Even though the performance of his administration is still below expectations of the people who voted for him, the public seems to trust him as the president of the common people, due mainly to his impeccable integrity and his priority programs that are rooted in the greatest interest of the common people.

His stronger political foundation and more in-tune working team will enable him to speed up the implementation of more than a dozen reform package launched since last September to minimize excessive bureaucracy and speed up business licensing and the delivery of public services.

For example, the great success of the tax amnesty will significantly broaden the tax base and increase revenue for financing infrastructure. Which has been on top of Jokowi's program from the beginning. It would be extremely difficult to accelerate economic growth above 5 percent, if the infrastructure gap remain as it is now, because poor and inadequate makes the economy uncompetitive as a result of grossly inefficient logistics.

The remaining major piece of homework for Jokowi is to maintain policy consistency and predictability, which is vital for the efficient and effective implementation of policies and programs. The public sector will perform better when there is stability in macro and strategic policies, and funding of existing policies. This requires attention to the balance between short term and long-term issues.

Saturday, 15 October 2016

ASEAN Without The King

It's not an exaggeration to say that ASEAN in particular and the world in general share the grief of Thailand, which has lost it's charismatic King Bhumibol Abdulyadej. For the past seven decades the king has walked beside his people, accompanying them through the ups and downs, in good times and bad times, in sickness and in health, until his unfortunate departure on 13th October 2016. The King is regarded as a demi-god by many Thais, and his popularity has been viewed as unifying force during times of political unrest.

For ASEAN the king will remembered for his contribution transforming the region's from a mere colony of the world powers to one of the main drivers of global economy today. The 70 years of King Bhumibol's reign witnessed the work in progress of a region intent on reaching a dream community that not only prospered, but one that also shared one identity. He will not see the result of the collective, Herculean effort, but he has left a legacy that will hopefully continue to guide ASEAN to reach its common goals.

The king's long-lasting legacy to the region should rest with his personality, which President Joko Widodo has said made him a leader who was close to his people and bearer of peace, unity and prosperity for his people, as evident in numerous projects he launched to bring deep and far-reaching benefits to all corners for his country.

Thailand King's Bhumibol Adulyadej, one of the world's longest reigning monarchs.
Courtesy of CNN. 
The King's passing is a great loss to ASEAN, not simply because Thailand under the guardianship of the king had evolved into a prominent, emerging economy. Thanks to the king, too, Thailand has remained united despite the power play that has sparked concern among many about the country's prospect of democracy. King Bhumibol sucesfully ensured the monarchy continues to enhance Thailand's unity despite the deep rivalry between its civilian politicians and military. The real test facing Thailand and ASEAN, however, will soon begin following the king's demise. Thailand without King Bhumibol is perhaps unthinkable and gives cause for my concern not only in South East Asia second-largest economy but also in the entire region. It will not be easy for his controversial, 64-year-old son, Prince Maha Vajiralongkorn, who attended the Royal Military College in Duntroon to exercise a similar role.

Of course, Indonesia and the rest of the world earnestly expect Thailand to go through a smooth royal succession, or else major economic disruptions and political instability will arise. With King Bhumibol helping Thailand survive 17 military coup d'etat and keeping the nation from disintegration, we hope that it continues to prove its mettle without its most revered leader.

In the name of ASEAN solidarity spirit, Indonesia and other members of the grouping should stand ready to lend a helping-hand to Thailand.