Over Coffee #14: Indonesia and South Korea politics updates

In this recap, I cover some democratic shenanigans in Indonesia as the domestic political elites dangerously entertain a motion to allow the incumbent head of state to extend their term in office. Then, I move over to South Korea, where a new president has been elected. Finally, some updates on the effects of Western sanctions on the Russian economy.

But first, coffee. This week’s recommendation is again from 20mL Coffee’s (at this point, they should sponsor me) Corta blend, which is their proprietary blend of East Nusa Tenggara, Bali, and West Sumatran Arabica beans. I’ve brewed these beans using a V60 and a mokapot, with the mokapot brew served with frothed milk. The V60 brew had a subdued acidic flavor with a rather distinct hint of spices (can’t really tell which spices though, but it does remind me of cloves). The mokapot-brewed white coffee, however, had strong hints of chocolate with low acidity.

Now, on to the recap.

Indonesia’s democratic shenanigans

The proposal to prolong Jokowi’s presidential tenure, despite a constitutional limit of only 2 terms, continues to be entertained by Indonesia’s elites. But this time, they’re bringing out the big guns. Luhut Binsar Pandjaitan, Jokowi’s right-hand man and currently most powerful minister, joins the fray, citing the voice of 110 million Indonesian social media accounts wanting Jokowi to stay in office for another term. The claim contradicts the findings of many other pollsters, among them Kompas, whose poll of 1,000 citizens found the majority (62%) not supporting a delayed election. As usual, Jokowi has remained mum on the issue, which could be taken as tacit agreement to what is going on.

Indonesia’s new capital city — still controversial, by the way — seems to be chugging along, ceremonially, at least. On 14 March 2022, Jokowi, with an entourage of ministers and provincial heads, camped at the location of the new capital city. On the itinerary was the Kendi Nusantara ceremony, where provincial heads would bring soil and water from their provinces to be mixed in a symbolic vase. The mixing of the soil and water represents the unification of the archipelago (Nusantara).

South Korea elects new president

Meanwhile, South Korea’s presidential elections have come to a close with a marginal victory for conservative candidate, Yoon Suk-yeol. Yoon ran on a highly controversial platform — this is aside from the rumors he allegedly had a shaman on his campaign team, which seems to be a normal thing in South Korean politics — which includes market-based solutions and deregulation of the real estate sector to address South Korea’s housing crisis, abolishing the gender equality ministry, and a more hawkish approach to North Korea which involves ramping up sanctions, increasing military cooperation with the United States, and possibly foregoing dialogue.

There is a hint of optimism for Yoon’s Southeast Asia diplomacy, especially if his vision of South Korea embracing a more active global role persists. Yoon has showed interest in continuing engagement with ASEAN in line with his predecessor’s New Southern Policy. However, it would seem the focus of cooperation continues to be mainly economic in nature. As far as strategic cooperation is concerned, things might proceed as usual.

Feeling the sanctions

On a macro-scale, Putin has openly admitted that sanctions have had widespread structural effects on the Russian economy.

On a more human scale, everyday life has been very difficult for Russians both abroad and at home. Russian tourists and businesspeople in Bali, for example, have difficulties financing their activities as their credit cards are rejected due to Visa and Mastercard suspending their dealings with Russia. As more and more businesses withdraw from Russia, everyday commodities, such as medicine and sugar, along with digital services and cars, have experienced price hikes.

That’s all for this week. Come back next week for more coffee recommendations and coverage of interesting topics in the Indo-Pacific (with a side of Eastern Europe).

Header image: President-elect Yoon Seok-yool celebrates his election victory. Image from Korea.net

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