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Fake news and hoaxes are now a ubiquitous part of the public conversation online in Indonesia. Dr Airlangga Pribadi Kusman writes that when political engagement is based on lies or manipulated data, public participation in the political process may end up harming, rather than strengthening, democracy.

What role do political dynasties play in Indonesian politics? What motivates political families to attempt to establish themselves as dynasties, and how do they do so? Dr Dave McRae discusses these issues and more with Dr Jemma Purdey, in the first Talking Indonesia podcast for 2017.

In our final post for 2016, we send off this rather depressing year by taking a look back at some of the expert commentary and analysis published on Indonesia at Melbourne. Thanks again for your loyal readership and support, and we look forward to seeing you again in mid-January.

On 10 December, Indonesia lost one of its most passionate, outspoken and committed public intellectuals and activists: George Junus Aditjondro. Professor Ariel Heryanto reflects on the rich and colourful life of his friend and colleague, who died in Palu, Central Sulawesi, at the age of 70.

What are the most important online tools for pro-ISIS groups in Indonesia, and what do these groups use them for? How do their online activities differ to fellow Indonesian jihadis who oppose ISIS? How can the Indonesian government monitor and counter extremists’ activities online? Dr Dave McRae explores these questions and more with Nava Nuraniyah in the final Talking Indonesia podcast for 2016.

The bizarre arrest of Perth teenager Jamie Murphy in Bali last month prompted another round of tabloid reporting about Australians whose dream Bali holiday had turned into a nightmare. But Professor Tim Lindsey writes that the image of Bali as a dangerous “Yobbo Paradise” is inaccurate. In fact, of the more than one million Australians who travelled to Bali last year, only 60 had direct contact with police over issues or charges.

Apakah signifikansi “Aksi Bela Islam III” secara politik dan agama? Apakah besarnya demonstrasi tersebut adalah bukti lebih lanjut tentang penguatan konservatisme Islam di Indonesia? Associate Professor Greg Fealy menyajikan analisa mendalam tentang demo 2 Desember dan konsekuensinya bagi demokrasi Indonesia.

Police Chief Tito Karnavian has said that about AU$7.65 million was spent on security for the rallies to “defend Islam” on 4 November and 2 December. But as Ihsan Ali-Fauzi writes, these material costs are only part of the picture. Of far greater significance is that the protests have eroded the foundations of democracy and undermined the influence of “moderate” Muslim leaders.

What is the political and religious significance of the massive protest to “defend Islam” in Central Jakarta on 2 December? Does the huge turnout indicate a hardening of mainstream Muslim attitudes in Indonesia? Associate Professor Greg Fealy presents a comprehensive analysis of the events of 2 December and their consequences for Indonesian democracy.

Rising incomes and easy access to credit have resulted in huge growth in the number of motorcycles on Indonesian roads. But poor attention to and enforcement of road laws has also seen a spike in traffic fatalities. The World Health Organisation estimates that more than 100 people die on Indonesian roads every day. Dr Tim Brickell examines this growing and largely preventable problem.

Indonesia has taken a leading role in the promotion of human rights at the level of the Association of Southeast Asian Nations (ASEAN). To what extent does the development of regional mechanisms mean that human rights are accepted in the region? How does Indonesia’s support for a regional mechanism relate to its domestic human rights challenges? Dr Ken Setiawan discusses these issues and more with Associate Professor Dinna Wisnu in Talking Indonesia this week.

Dr Budi Hernawan has analysed 431 cases of torture that occurred in Papua between 1963 and 2010. He writes that although torture is generally considered a hidden crime, in Papua it is performed for an audience, sometimes spectacularly, and is designed to convey a message of terror from state authorities to the Papuan public. It is part of a larger strategy of domination by the Indonesian state, he says, in which the practice of torture is sanctioned and part of policy.

Professor Tim Lindsey examines the blasphemy allegations against Jakarta Governor Basuki ‘Ahok’ Tjahaja Purnama. He writes that the case reveals two problems at the heart of Indonesian democracy: the rise of religious intolerance among Indonesia’s Muslim majority and the manipulation of that intolerance by the small group of elite politicians who dominate Indonesian politics.

Police declared Jakarta Governor Basuki Tjahaja Purnama, or Ahok, a suspect for blasphemy last week, following major protests from hard-line religious groups. How has the 1965 Blasphemy Law been used in democratic Indonesia? What type of behaviour is typically deemed blasphemous? Is Ahok likely to receive a fair trial? We spoke to Dr Melissa Crouch, who has published widely on the Blasphemy Law, about these questions and more.

On 16 November, police declared Jakarta Governor Basuki Tjahaja Purnama, or Ahok, a suspect for blasphemy over a speech he made in which he quoted a verse from the Qur’an. Why have Ahok’s comments provoked such an intense reaction in Indonesia, and what can we learn from this case about the position of non-Muslims and ethnic Chinese Indonesians in Indonesian democracy? Dr Dave McRae speaks to Dr Nadirsyah Hosen about the case.

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