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Thugs target anti-corruption watchdogs

Activists call for an investigation as Tempo magazine is bombed after exposing police corruption. Australia and Indonesia discuss boat people measures. Supreme Court reverses itself, letting the government keep Suharto assets. Scientists find a massive underwater volcano. Plus, a smoking toddler takes on kindergarten.

Top: Outraged anti-corruption activists called for an investigation of the Indonesian National Police, after the offices of a prominent weekly newsmagazine was firebombed and an anti-graft investigator brutally beaten by unknown assailants. The magazine had written an expose about alleged police corruption

On the night of July 6, two men on a motorcycle threw Molotov cocktails at the editorial offices of Tempo magazine, just days after the magazine published a cover story detailing suspicious bank accounts containing millions of dollars that allegedly belonged to several senior National Police officials. The homemade bombs started a fire, but alert security guards quickly put it out.

Less than 30 hours later, armed men pulled Tama Satrya Langkun, an investigator with Indonesian Corruption Watch, off a motorcycle as he was driving home in the early hours of July 8 and beat him unconscious. He was rushed to hospital and remained there for more than a week.

Indonesian President Susilo Bambang Yodhoyono ordered an immediate investigation, but urged the public not to jump to any conclusions that police officials had ordered the attacks. Separately, on July 15, the car window of another investigator with Indonesian Corruption Watch was smashed up unknown individuals, who also stole a bag from the vehicle.

Indonesia and Australia’s foreign ministers met to discuss an Australian proposal to create a detention and processing center in East Timor for illegal asylum seekers attempting to reach Australia by boat. Indonesian Foreign Minister Marty Natalegawa said that more discussion would be needed before his country could support the idea, following a meeting on July 16 with Australian Foreign Minister Stephen Smith.

On July 6, new Australian Prime Minister Julia Gillard unveiled a strategy to deal with boat people trying to reach Australia by placing them in East Timor, a former Indonesian and Portuguese territory that borders both Indonesia and Australia. The steady flow of boat people trying to reach Australian shores via human smugglers is a major political issue there and new elections are expected in the coming months.

Money:Indonesia’s Supreme Court has overturned a previous ruling and allowed the government to keep $135 million in seized assets belong to a defunct company run by the son of the late dictator president, Suharto.

The Supreme Court reversed a ruling it had made two years ago based on new evidence from the Finance Ministry, and ruled that the government should keep money seized from Hutomo "Tommy" Mandala Putra's defunct car maker, Timor Putra Nasional.

Tommy Suharto, as he is popularly known, was a flamboyant playboy during his father’s corruption-ridden 32-year regime and came to symbolize the crony capitalist system in which the strongman president handed out monopolies and rich contracts to his family and supporters.

Acting Bank Indonesia Governor Darmin Nasution has spoken out against a plan to create a new financial “super body” to take over the regulation of lenders, capital markets, and non-banking financial institutions from the central bank.

“The central bank must have prudential monitoring [over the banking system], not just of the macro level but the micro level as well,” Nasution told a seminar on July 15, referring to the view that close supervision is crucial to ensure the health of individual lenders.

The proposed Financial Services Authority would also take control of the Capital Market and Financial Institution Supervisory Board, which not only regulates securities markets but also non-banking financial institutions such as insurance firms, pension funds and brokerages.

Indonesian and American scientists found a massive active volcano underwater off the northern coast of Sulawesi Island. The volcano, whose crater is more than 6,500 feet under water, showed hydrothermal activity and was spurting hot water.

The discovery of the volcano in early July, as well as living crustaceans, fish, and coral in the area, were made via one American and one Indonesian vessels engaged in a joint exploration of the ocean depths near the Sangihe-Talaud Islands of North Sulawesi.

The expedition, which began on June 24 and is expected to continue for a month, involves 32 Indonesian scientists and 12 American scientists from different fields.

Elsewhere: A foul-mouthed, smoking Indonesian toddler who became a global sensation on YouTube has started kindergarten, just weeks after being temporarily taken from his parents and put into child protective services to undergo rehabilitation. Sandy, aged 4, attended his first day of school at Pelita Hati Kindergarten in Malang, East Java on July 12, behaving extremely well and playing nicely with his classmates.

In March, a three-and-a-half minute video posted on YouTube had shown young Sandy repeatedly inhaling deeply from a large clove cigarette and blowing smoke rings while answering questions posed by adults in Javanese. Using explicit language, he announced that he wanted to be a thief when he grew up and spend his money on prostitutes in an infamous red light district in the East Java city of Surabaya.

http://www.globalpost.com/passport/indonesia/100716/thugs-target-anti-corruption-watchdogs