Viewpoint: A Political Success Story

Bay Ismoyo / AFP / Getty Images

CROWD PLEASER: S.B.Y. (holding a gas cylinder) mingles with the masses

Indonesia used to be a reliable punch line for jokes about Third World ineptitude. Crippling corruption? Check. Homegrown terror movements? Check. Protectionist policies that dissuade foreign investment? Check. But in recent years, Indonesia's leadership has matured. In a region where one nation's political system is still reeling from a military coup (Thailand), another's top economic advisers are confounded by runaway inflation that's threatening much-vaunted growth (Vietnam) and the politics of a third is mired in racial recrimination (Malaysia), Indonesia — led by its first-ever directly elected President — has emerged as Southeast Asia's unlikely...

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