17 February 2014
The latest regulation to apply sharia law in Aceh to all residents — including non-Muslims — has created international headlines.
Some agencies and communities perhaps wonder whether this is still the same region they helped in the tsunami tragedy almost a decade ago, and whether it was a mistake to help such a region that is now keen to push religious law, rather than clean and efficient governance.
Prior to the 2004 tsunami, Aceh was torn by three decades of civil war, as a faction of the Acehnese fought for independence, driven by the injustices of the New Order that saw most oil revenue go to the capital.
Although the Acehnese spoke up against this injustice, they felt Jakarta ignored them as a minority, compared to the largely Javanese ruling elite of the New Order.
… The writer is an associate research fellow of S. Rajaratnam School of International Studies, Nanyang Technological University in Singapore and a fellow of the Marthinus Academy in Jakarta.
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