Hot race in hidden gem

Farmers harvesting rice in Tarus village, Kupang, East Nusa Tenggara province. Many residents in the province - Indonesia's third-poorest - hope a new government will alleviate poverty and spur economic growth in the territory.
Farmers harvesting rice in Tarus village, Kupang, East Nusa Tenggara province. Many residents in the province - Indonesia's third-poorest - hope a new government will alleviate poverty and spur economic growth in the territory.PHOTO: TEMPO

More than 150 million Indonesians will vote for local leaders tomorrow in regional elections called Pilkada. Yesterday, The Straits Times looked at the battle for Java, Indonesia's most populous island. Today, the focus is on East Nusa Tenggara province, home to the legendary Komodo dragons and the only one of the country's 34 provinces where Roman Catholicism, not Islam, is the predominant religion.

East Nusa Tenggara is home to a chain of islands where pristine beaches and crystal-clear waters have enticed travellers from around the world.

But its natural beauty stands in stark contrast to the rampant poverty that affects more than a million people, or one-fifth of its 5.2 million population.

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A version of this article appeared in the print edition of The Straits Times on June 26, 2018, with the headline 'Hot race in hidden gem'. Print Edition | Subscribe