In the race for Jakarta’s next governor, Basuki “Ahok” Tjahaja Purnama’s ethnic Chinese and Christian identity has become a controversial feature of the campaign. As Dave McRae discussed with Dr Nadirsyah Hosen in November, complaints from the Islamic Defenders Front (FPI) about comments Ahok made on the campaign trail late last year sparked a series of mass protests opposing the governor. Charges of blasphemy were eventually laid against Ahok and he is now on trial.
Ahok is the first ethnic Chinese governor of Jakarta and one of very few ethnic Chinese Indonesians to have reached positions of high public office since the fall of New Order. But just how much is the controversy around Ahok related to his ethnicity and religion and how much is it about popular politics in Indonesia today? How has Ahok’s own political style played a part? What does racism look like almost 20 years after the fall of the New Order?
I discuss these issues and more with Professor Ariel Heryanto, formerly professor at the School of Culture, History and Language of Australian National University and the incoming Herb Feith professor for the study of Indonesia at Monash University.
In 2017, the Talking Indonesia podcast is co-hosted by Dr Dave McRae from the University of Melbourne’s Asia Institute, Dr Jemma Purdey from Monash University, Dr Charlotte Setijadi from the Institute of Southeast Asian Studies in Singapore and Dr Dirk Tomsa from La Trobe University. Look out for a new Talking Indonesia podcast every fortnight. Catch up on previous episodes here, subscribe via iTunes or listen via your favourite podcasting app.
Photo by Hendra Nurdiyansyah for Antara Foto.