Professor Tim Lindsey writes that Jokowi’s backtracking on plans to release Abu Bakar Ba’asyir is a reminder that there are still powerful nationalist forces in government who regarded Islamist hardliners as an existential threat.
Indonesia has achieved remarkable change since Soeharto stepped down. But Professor Tim Lindsey writes that where the country will head next is far from certain, and recent developments suggest its future may be less liberal and less welcoming of foreign engagement.
Prime Minister Malcolm Turnbull appears to have developed a strong rapport with President Joko Widodo. But Professor Tim Lindsey and Dr Dave McRae write that this may not be enough to overcome the mutual misunderstandings and suspicions, and tensions over human rights issues, that complicate the bilateral relationship.
Given that Australian leaders often describe the relationship with Indonesia as the country’s most important bilateral relationship, the newly released Foreign Policy White Paper is noticeably light on detail about Indonesia. The problem for Australia, writes Professor Tim Lindsey, is that Indonesia probably doesn’t care.
President Joko Widodo has offered little support to the Legal Aid Foundation (LBH) since the shocking attack on its offices two weeks ago. Professor Tim Lindsey writes that civil society should not expect much from Jokowi, who is in the unenviable position of having to keep the oligarchs happy and Islamist agitators at bay.
President Joko Widodo recently issued an interim emergency law (or perppu) partly intended to allow the government to ban Hizbut Tahrir Indonesia (HTI). Professor Tim Lindsey writes that the regulation has ended up forcing civil society groups that are usually threatened by hard-liners into their camp.
The conviction for blasphemy of former Jakarta Governor Basuki “Ahok” Tjahaja Purnama was not a surprise, writes Professor Tim Lindsey. What was surprising was that the judges decided to follow the usual pattern in blasphemy cases when the case before them was so very unusual.
Anies Baswedan will be the next governor of Jakarta, following a bitterly fought campaign against Basuki ‘Ahok’ Tjahaja Purnama. Make no mistake, Professor Tim Lindsey writes, it was the mobilisation of racial and religious hatred achieved by his enemies that led to Ahok’s defeat in this election.
The exact details of what instigated the recent dispute between the Indonesian and Australian militaries remain unclear. But whatever the cause, Professor Tim Lindsey writes that the bilateral relationship is changing, and this kind of turbulence is likely to become more common.
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.
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.
Will Australia see a return to warm relations with Indonesia after Prime Minister Malcolm Turnbull’s meeting with President Joko Widodo? Professor Tim Lindsey, director of the Centre for Indonesian Law, Islam and Society, spoke to ABC’s The Drum, about the prospects for the bilateral relationship.