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Web-only Exclusives
November 30, 2000

From Our Correspondent: Hirohito and the War
A conversation with biographer Herbert Bix

From Our Correspondent: A Rough Road Ahead
Bad news for the Philippines - and some others

From Our Correspondent: Making Enemies
Indonesia needs friends. So why is it picking fights?

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The Week Ahead: Greater Influence for Islam in Indonesia's New Assembly
Amien Rais's election as Speaker is evidence of the swing
By WAYNE MORRISON

also:
Hong Kong awaits a battle against pollution
A more stable BJP-led government likely in India

October 4, 1999
Web posted at 2:00 p.m. Hong Kong time, 2:00 a.m. EDT


    INTELLIGENCE
World Denimation
How to conquer the world, quietly
- Friday, Oct. 1, 1999

Helping Hand Gets Slapped
Hong Kong's would-be rescuers fall victim to cross-strait politics
- Thursday, Sept. 30, 1999

Reading the Entrails
If the chart-readers are correct, Asia may fall with the Dow. Or not
- Tuesday, Sept. 28, 1999

The Week Ahead
The going gets tougher for the peacekeepers in East Timor - and for the military and its backers in Jakarta
- Monday, Sept. 27, 1999

  ALSO IN ASIAWEEK
Daily Briefing
Today's headlines from across the region

  TIME ASIA
Asia Buzz
Daily commentary from the editors of TIME Asia

Market Q&A
Each business evening with analysts around the region

The region will be watching Indonesia's newly formed People's Consultative Assembly, or MPR, for indications of who it will elect president on Oct. 20 and new directions in the country's policies following the June elections, the first free polls since the Suharto era. At the weekend, the MPR elected as its Speaker Amien Rais, leader of the Muslim party PAN, which came fifth in the elections. Among present political leaders, Rais was the most outspoken opponent of Suharto in the months preceding his fall. As Speaker he will be at the center of horsetrading over candidates for the presidency. While he may be expected to steer the assembly toward Megawati Sukarnoputri, whose PDI-P won most seats in June, her election is not a forgone conclusion.

Muslim-based parties like Rais's won a sizeable chunk of votes in June and his election as Speaker -- supported by some in the ruling Golkar -- appears certain to give political Islam a role in the MPR. Even if Megwati is elected president, what has become known as the "Axis Force" of Muslim-based parties may well be a powerful influence on her administration. One of the first tasks for the new MPR will be to hear President B.J. Habibie deliver an account of his 16 months in power. How that speech is received -- and Habibie is already under fire on corruption and East Timor -- may determine whether he has any chance of retaining power as Golkar's candidate for president.

It will also fall to the new MPR to annul the law by which Indonesia annexed East Timor in 1976, and international pressure has been building for the assembly to take that step before the end of October.  

Awaiting Hong Kong's commitment to act on pollution
Hong Kong Chief Executive Tung Chee-hwa is expected to give unprecedented emphasis to the environment in his annual policy speech on Oct. 6.

Tung will probably unveil measures against air and water pollution and waste disposal, but it remains unclear how strong enforcement will be. Certainly the focus of the chief executive's policy on the environment will be local sources of pollution, such as auto exhaust emissions. Tung may also address possible steps to reduce pollution from sources in the mainland, although on this front he may only refer to a joint survey launched in the Pearl Delta recently. The environment is becoming a major issue in Hong Kong, especially because there is increasing evidence that the problem is affecting foreign-investment decisions. Of most concern is the effect on government's attempts to attract technology companies and experts in order to make Hong Kong an IT center in the region.  

In India, the prospect of a more stable BJP-led government
Indians and foreign observers will be watching the result of the month-long Indian election, in which voting ended on Oct. 3, to see whether the country will get a more stable government. While exit polls indicate that the Hindu-nationalist Bharatiya Janata Party -- which this time went into the elections leading the National Democratic Alliance (NDA) coalition -- will win sufficient seats to continue in government, the question of the victory margin will be crucial. The withdrawal of a coalition partner toppled Prime Minister Atal Bihari Vajpayee's minority BJP government earlier this year. Voter turnout has been poor for India's third election in as many years. Still, the NDA is expected to win a bare majority of seats in the election, for which vote counting begins on Oct. 6. The challenge then for Vajpayee, say analysts, will be to produce a concerted economic program which the country needs to boost growth. It would also be the best guarantee of governmental stability.

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