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Indonesia has recently seen a surge in enthusiasm for capital punishment, with public officials lining up to declare their support. How can this be explained? Are officials just responding to public demands? Nurkholis Hidayat examines Indonesia’s embrace of the death penalty and looks at what it means for the justice sector.

Husni Kamil Manik’s leadership of the General Elections Commission (KPU) was marked by a commitment to openness and transparency, which played a critical role in securing the disputed 2014 presidential election result. Titi Anggraini reflects on his achievements following his sudden death on 7 July.

Over the past few years, the idea that Indonesia will be the next rising power in Asia has grown in prominence among academics and political and business leaders. But Professor Richard Robison argues that a number of characteristics of the Indonesian state mean that these “great power” aspirations will remain unfulfilled.

Rapid urbanisation poses many challenges for Indonesian policy makers, including traffic congestion, pollution, and a lack of parks and green space. How have Indonesian leaders responded to these challenges? What has been done to address heritage conservation amid this rapid change? In Talking Indonesia this week, Dr Ken Setiawan discusses these issues and more with Professor Widjaja Martokusumo.

Defence Minister Ryamizard Ryacudu has been out talking up his ministry’s Bela Negara program, which apparently aims to inspire a love for the homeland and protect it from “extreme ideologies”. But is Bela Negara really about strengthening nationalism, or is it just another attempt to introduce compulsory military service? Bhatara Ibnu Reza takes a look at the program.

Last week marked one year since we launched Indonesia at Melbourne on 1 July 2015. Today we present a brief look back at our first year, highlighting the 10 most viewed blog posts and five most popular podcasts. We hope you have enjoyed the blog as much as we have enjoyed producing it.

The past month has seen rising tensions in the South China Sea. What are the implications of recent developments for Indonesia, and how can it best respond? Will Indonesia’s relations with China be affected? Dr Dave McRae speaks to Dr Makmur Keliat, from the University of Indonesia, about these issues and more in the latest Talking Indonesia podcast.

Indonesians often complain about kelas menengah ngehe, or the “awful middle class”, on social media. But despite the ubiquity of the term, there is little consensus on how to define it. Who are the awful middle class? And what makes them so ngehe? Dr Salut Muhidin takes a look at the phenomenon.

More than a year after 1,000 Rohingya asylum seekers arrived on the shores of North Aceh, few have been resettled in western countries. The fact that many Rohingya are poor and illiterate means they are not considered a priority. Lies Marcoes found that the global indifference to their plight may be driving them to join the Islamic State.

Rumours of a “same-sex marriage” between comedian Aming Supriatna Sugandhi and Evelyn Nada Anjani in early June saw a return of the national hand wringing over sexuality that Indonesia witnessed earlier this year. Hendri Yulius writes that their relationship demonstrates the complexity of gender and sexuality issues and exposes the inadequacy of Indonesian policy to cope with this complexity.

For 10 years, hot mud has been erupting from the ground in Sidoarjo, East Java. It has submerged villages and displaced about 39,700 people, and disaster management costs have exceeded $2.7 billion. Earthquake expert Associate Professor Mark Quigley examines the origins of the mud volcano, which remain controversial after a decade.

Since the advent of democracy, Islam has become increasingly visible in Indonesian society and politics. But the electoral success of Islamic parties remains limited. How does this compare with the experiences of other Muslim-majority countries? Will Islamic parties ever be able to dominate Indonesian politics? Dr Ken Setiawan chats to Professor Vedi Hadiz about these issues and more in the latest Talking Indonesia podcast.

Founded 16 years ago, Indonesia’s National Ombudsman has often been dismissed as an ineffectual body. But the institution has recently received an injection of budget funds and its new members are widely seen as competent and committed individuals. Indonesia at Melbourne spoke to the new chair of the Ombudsman, Amzulian Rifai, about problems in public service delivery and how the Ombudsman is working to address them.

Images of a woman pleading with officials as they confiscated food she was selling went viral over the weekend. Netizens were furious and donated almost $27,000 in support of the woman. Ihsan Ali-Fauzi writes that the case is a chance for the central government to send a strong message to local governments that it is serious, and able, to act against intolerance and discrimination.

Although freedom of religion and freedom of expression are guaranteed in the Indonesian Constitution, these guarantees have not been sufficient to protect non-religious expression in the public sphere. Ismail Hasani looks back at the case of Alexander An, jailed for writing “God does not exist” in a Facebook post.

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