2016 in a Nutshell: A Review of 2016’s Top Headlines


Here are the good, the bad, the controversial, the funny, the most loved and most hated, and of course the loudest stories that top the headlines of 2016—in Indonesia and the international world.


Indonesia: Indonesia started off the year with a shock after a series of coordinated bomb and gun attacks rattled in Jakarta on January 14. Five of the seven people killed were the attacked themselves, while two others were an Indonesian police officer and a Canadian tourist.

In the same month, Wayan Mirna Salihin died after drinking cyanide-spiked coffee in Jakarta. Her friend Jessica Kumala Wongso, who was with her when she died, was the focus of the investigation, before later accused as suspect in the murder case.

International: The spread of the Zika virus in Brazil has confronted many people in the world. Hundred of babies are being born with severe brain injuries after their mothers are infected by Zika virus, which brought by mosquitoes. By the end of January, the World Health Organization (WHO) declares the virus is “spreading explosively”.


Indonesia: Indonesian young pianist, Joey Alexander, for the first time received a standing ovation in Grammy Awards 2016. He got two nominations, for Best Improved Jazz Solo and Best Jazz Instrumental Album categories.

On the other hand (and much worse news), Canadian Neil Bantleman and Indonesian Ferdinand Tjiong, who were the Jakarta International School teacher and teaching assistant were initially sentenced to prison on charges of sexually abusing kindergarten boys between January 2013 and March 2014. This has been sending shock waves through the expat community in Indonesia.

International: North Korea defying warnings from the United Nations and the West, launched a long-range rocket with a satellite into space on February 7.

In February, Pope Francis met Russion Orthodox Patriarch Kirill in Cuba, nearly a millennium after the Western and Eastern branches of Christianity split. They appeal for an end to persecution and killing of Christians in the Middle East.


Indonesia: A total solar eclipse took place on March 8-9, 2016. The eclipse was clearly visible in many parts of Indonesia, including Central Sulawesi and Ternate. Many foreign tourists came to Indonesia only to see the eclipse.

International: The Brazilian political crisis steps up several notches, with millions of people taking to the streets in their respective political leaning. US President Barack Obama arrives in Cuba for an official visit, the first US president to set foot in the country since 1928.

In the same month, the world reels from the terrorist attacks in Brussels and from the revelation of their links to the attacks in Paris in 2015.


Indonesia: Indonesians were in grief after Yuyun, a 14 years old student from Bengkulu, died after being gang-raped and murdered by 14 drunken young men. She was found in the wood near her house. This case has brought Indonesia’s culture of sexual violence into focus.

International: The Panama Papers, a massive leak of documents from the Panama-based firm Mossack Fonseca, sheds light on the shady financial dealings of world leaders, politicians, soccer players and actors.
There were also hospital bombings in Aleppo, Syria, as increased Russion participation in Syrian President Bashar al-Assad’s war against rebels leaves the world at a loss. The war is still a major world issue until now.


Indonesia: Indonesia, the Philippines and Malaysia agreed on May 5 to establish coordinated maritime patrols following a series of ship hijackings by Islamist militants in the southern Philippines. The militant group Abu Sayyaf, which operates out of lawless Philippine islands, is responsible for most of the piracy activities in the region.

International: EgyptAir flight 804 crashed into the Mediterranean Sea between the Greek island of Crete and the Egyptian coast in May 19, on a trip from Paris to Cairo. 66 people on board the plane were killed in the crash. The Islamic State claims responsibility for an explosion on board.


Indonesia: A major news in health was the main focus of Indonesians in June 2016. The police have detained ten suspects after uncovering a syndicate responsible for fake vaccines that were to be administered to children below five years of age. The vendor is a couple living in Bekasi, West Java, who has been distributing vaccine to a number of community health centers.

International: The United Kingdom shocked the world when it voted to quit the European Union. As per British elections in 2015, pollsters got it totally wrong with Brexit, with the Leave campaign beating the Remain side marginally.

Meanwhile in the US, a gunman opens fire at a gay nightclub in Orlando, Florida, killing 49 people and injuring another 53. Speculation turns to whether the perpetrator was an Islamist terrorist or a suppressed gay man.


Indonesia: At this time, Pokemon Go had not been officially launched in Asia yet, but players in parts of Indonesia appear to have been able to access the game ahead. Many local news reports confirmed the sightings of Pokemon around official landmarks in Jakarta. The game went viral in the matter of days, and local businesses even jumped on the Pokefever.

International: Terrorists attacked a café in Dhaka, Bangladesh, killing 22 people. In the same month, a terrorist drove a truck through a crowded promenade in Nice, France, killing 87 people including the driver on July 14, the country’s Independence Day.


Indonesia: Heavy downpours in South Jakarta on the end of August drowned the upscale district Kemang.

International: The summer Olympics in Rio de Janeiro, Brazil, opened from August 5 through 21. In the same month, another bad news appeared: creepy clowns start popping out of the dark woods of South Carolina and luring children into the woods. The phenomenon would later go national, with hundreds of sightings reported in the United States.


Indonesia: Indonesia and Denmark made history when they sealed an agreement on September 19 on a project to develop the country’s 60 megawatt wind farm in South Sulawesi. Minister of Indonesia’s State Owned Enterprise (BUMN) Rini Soemarno and Denmark’s Energy Minister Lars Christian stood witness to the agreement signing in Copenhagen.

International: The first debate in the US presidential election pitted Donald Trump against Hillary Clinton and debate host Lester Holt.


Indonesia: Cambridge University graduate and British banker Rurik Jutting pleaded not guilty despite the shocking video shown to a Hong Kong jury during his trial for the murder of two Indonesian women he picked up at a bar in 2014. The video showed Jutting saying his name and claiming he had murdered the woman whose lifeless body was seen lying on his bathroom floor.

In the same month, Jessica Kumala Wongso (who is a suspect of murder of Wayan Mirna Solihin), was sentenced to 20 years’ imprisonment by the Central Jakarta Court.

International: Trump shocked the world with his now infamous “grab them by the pussy” audio tape. His sexist and misogynist remarks put him beyond the pale for even more voters. Meanwhile, by late October, Hillary Clinton’s woes have taken another turn with news that the FBI will probe her private server emails again, this time in connection with her aide’s estranged husband Anthony Weiner.

In South Korea, a scandal starts to baffle observers as it transpires “eight fairies and a shaman” could spell the end for the country’s first female president, Park Geun Hye.


Indonesia: The 4 November protest was held, aimed against the Governor of Jakarta Basuki Tjahaja Purnama (Ahok), who allegedly insulted the Quran. The protest was attended by approximately 200,000 people, and was began around noon with a march from Istiqlal mosque to the Presidential palace in Jakarta.

International: the entire world was stunned when Donald Trump won the majority of the votes required from the Electoral College to win the presidential race. Trump’s history has been widely described as a historic event that will be considered one of the most divisive times in US history since the Civil War. In the same month, the Indian government announced the withdrawal of 1000 and 500 rupee notes overnight.


Indonesia: A 6.5 magnitude undersea earthquake rocked Aceh province on December 7. The earthquake killed and injured hundreds of people, and thousands left homeless. Another phenomenon that went viral was the “Om Telolet Om”, a chant that was popularized by children in Jepara, Central Java, to ask bus driver to honk their unique horns. Popular international DJs and stars were tweeting this phenomenon, and it resulted in several music mixes and videos created by people from around the world.

International: Assad, backed by Rusia and Iran, claims victory in Aleppo, where thousands of rebels and civilians have perished in a relentless aerial bombing campaign. As the UN presses for people not to forget the atrocities of Aleppo, an off-duty police officer assassinated Russian ambassador to Turkey Andrei Karlov while he delivers a speech at an art gallery in Ankara. He shouted “don’t forget Aleppo. Don’t forget Syria.”