Success Story

Harmaini, headman of the village of Padang Japang, is a political dinosaur. The calendar in his office is a year old and his pen and paper supply ran out weeks back. But the 63-year-old shows up everyday in a freshly-pressed safari suit, does some retirement planning and is actually eager to welcome his imminent replacement, a village chief elected in a whole new way. "I'm relieved," he says, "that we'll finally be going back to a system that truly suits our community."

Jakarta is voluntarily loosening its control of Indonesia's 361 regions, and that may be a...

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