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Jokowi's bid to centralize power stirs Suharto memories

President's plan to cut red tape would take authority from local governments

Former President Suharto ruled Indonesia for three decades using a centralized system of government that neglected developments outside Java and fueled separatist movements.   © Reuters

JAKARTA -- President Joko Widodo's proposed omnibus bill to cut red tape and create jobs has excited investors but rankled critics, who say his plan to recentralize power stirs memories of former President Suharto's authoritarian New Order powers.

The roughly 1,000-page bill, if approved by parliament, would allow Jakarta to reclaim authority from local administrations in the processing of business permits in sectors including mining, energy and manufacturing. Widodo intends for lawmakers to complete their deliberations on the legislation -- a shortcut to amending as many as 79 laws -- in the next few months.

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