ST forum to explore Jakarta terror attack, impact on region

Indonesian police securing the area outside a damaged Starbucks coffee shop after a series of explosions hit central Jakarta on Jan 14, 2016.
Indonesian police securing the area outside a damaged Starbucks coffee shop after a series of explosions hit central Jakarta on Jan 14, 2016. PHOTO: AFP

On Jan 14, shortly after four terrorists attacked a Starbucks cafe and a nearby police post around a busy intersection in downtown Jakarta, The Straits Times' Indonesia bureau chief Francis Chan was on the scene.

He did not know it then, but he was just metres away from a clutch of haversacks packed with five improvised explosive devices (IEDS). They had been abandoned by the terrorists, who had planned to set them off in a multi-phase attack.

Mr Chan will speak about his close encounter and the security implications of the attack at a breakfast briefing on Feb 24 as part of The Straits Times Global Outlook Forum this year.

The forum, an annual conference that brings together experts from The Straits Times' global network and some of Asia's finest minds to discuss issues facing the region, is returning for its fifth edition - with a difference.

This year, The Straits Times, in partnership with sponsor OCBC Premier Banking, will hold a series of quarterly briefings leading up to the main forum in November.

Each briefing will zoom in on a particular country or region in Asia.

This month's briefing - the first in the series - is titled "Terror and Turbulence in Indonesia" and will feature two other speakers alongside Mr Chan.

They are Mr Barry Desker, distinguished fellow at the S. Rajaratnam School of International Studies at Nanyang Technological University, and Ms Selena Ling, OCBC's head of treasury research and strategy.

The speakers will explore different facets of the Jan 14 incident - the first major terrorist attack in Indonesia since 2009 - as well as the broader economic and political situation in Indonesia.

Mr Desker, a regular contributor to The Straits Times Opinion pages, brings great experience and rich insights to the discussion, having been Singapore's ambassador to Indonesia from 1986 to 1993.

He will provide the macro view of what the Jakarta attack implies about the menace posed by the Islamic State in Iraq and Syria in South-east Asia, and the implications to the region of the group's growing influence.

OCBC's Ms Ling will examine the impact of the attack on South-east Asia's biggest economy, which is already facing headwinds amid a slowing global economy and uncertainties over China's financial and economic prospects.

She will also touch on the outlook for Indonesia's investment climate, and give an analysis of the country's economic reforms and central bank policy.

  • The Feb 24 briefing will be held at 10am in the OCBC Centre Auditorium, on the 50th floor of the bank's headquarters in Chulia Street. A limited number of seats have been set aside for Straits Times readers. Readers who wish to attend must register online at http://str.sg/globaloutlook There is no entrance fee.
A version of this article appeared in the print edition of The Straits Times on February 08, 2016, with the headline 'ST forum to explore Jakarta terror attack, impact on region'. Print Edition | Subscribe