To understand why Indonesia is moving forward and Malaysia isn’t, consider this horrifying story, “Malaysia Court Canes Three Women.”
The recent canings of four Muslim men and, for the first time, three Muslim woman, for having sex out of wedlock come after last year’s caning verdict – still not carried out – against a 32-year-old Muslim woman caught drinking beer in a hotel bar.
The only conclusion one can reach is that radical Islam’s influence is growing in this lush southeast Asian country of rich natural resources. Will Malaysia’s forward-thinking Muslims, and its ethnic Chinese and Indian minorities, permit this drift to continue? Have a look at colleague James Hookway’s piece, in which he notes that the main moderate Muslim opposition leader, Anwar Ibrahim, is on trial for alleged sodomy – “a charge that he denies and that he says was fabricated to destroy his political career.”
Meanwhile, Indonesia, with its own Muslim majority, is enjoying robust economic growth and there are signs it’s becoming easier to do business there. Just this week, an Indonesian court issued a ruling that in effect will let France’s Carrefour keep a majority stake in a local retailer. As colleagues Edhi Pranasidhi and Reuben Carder write, “the decision will give a filip to Carrefour’s aim of competing for market share in Indonesia” as incomes and consumption rise. This is Indonesia’s moment, as I’ve written before.