At last a serious attempt is being made to tackle the serious traffic problems in Palma. Mayor Joan Fageda should be congratulated for the traffic plan unveiled yesterday but it will win him few friends. He says that he no longer wants the car to be King in Majorca, but the car is King here. The figures speak for themselves: the Balearics have the largest car fleet per capita of any province within the European Union. There isn't a public transport culture in the Balearics. You get the impression that the only people who take the bus or the train are those who can't afford a car, are too young to drive or too old. And that isn't the only problem facing Fageda. First, he must make sure that the new traffic regulations are enforced and do not become another another slice of council legislation which is just filed away. Secondly, greater emphasis must be placed on public transport. Convincing motorists to leave their beloved cars at home is not going to be easy. Perhaps the Mayor of Palma, will set a good example and walk to work, because he lives within walking distance of the city hall. Or would this is asking too much?
Future of Indonesia
It is all too easy to think of Indonesia as a faroff country of which we know little and on that account to disregard its difficulties. But in fact it is a nation of great importance whose current political and economic difficulties can unsettle the whole of SouthEast Asia and beyond. A vast country of more than 300 islands stretching from the Malaysian mainland to New Guinea, it is the fourth most populous country in the world, with 225 million inhabitants, and has the largest national Muslim population in the world. Indonesia's natural resources are among the richest in the world yet, except for a brief period in the 1980s, prosperity has eluded its people, particularly those in the more remote islands. It is of this volatile nation that Megawati Sukarnoputri became President earlier this week. Although the immensity of the task facing her is almost beyond imagining, she has the right credentials for the job since she is the daughter of the man who first bound Indonesia together when the Dutch gave up their colonial rule in 1945. She succeeds the hopelessly inadequate Abdurrahman Wahid whose eighteen inconsistent months in office have only worsened the difficult situation he inherited. The TV shots of President Wahid fast asleep while a speech he had written was being read for him is an image that, perhaps unfairly, remains in many people's minds. President Sukarnoputri now has to find the right formula to balance the powers of politicians and military, to reinvigorate the economy and to hold together a country whose multitudinous people speak 250 languages and have little in common with each other beyond the fact that they were once ruled by the Dutch.
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