Category: Analysis

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.

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.

Donald Trump’s proposed ban on Muslim immigration to the United States made him a deeply unpopular figure in Indonesia. In the days since his surprise election victory, Indonesians have been struggling to come to terms with what a Trump presidency might mean for their country and the region. We take a look at how the Indonesian media greeted Trump’s win.

Jakarta Governor Basuki Tjahaja Purnama, or Ahok, faces accusations of blasphemy over a speech in which he quoted a verse from the Qur’an. The hard-line Islamic Defenders Front (FPI) has said it will continue to protest until Ahok is taken to court. Lies Marcoes examines the verse in detail, and writes that views on whether Ahok was at fault are largely dependent on how the Qur’an is interpreted.

The Indonesian Criminal Code (KUHP) is in desperate need of reform. But recent attempts to revise the code have faltered, as lawmakers have become bogged down in debates over the wording of specific articles. Hal Tilemann writes that the significant progress made by the national legislature in its discussion of the new draft code is cause for cautious optimism.

Indonesia has been praised for its relatively smooth transition from authoritarianism to democracy, especially in light of the dashed hopes of the Arab Spring. But the journey has not been easy. Dr Dewi Fortuna Anwar reflects on what Indonesia has achieved in the two decades since the start of the reformasi movement that led to the fall of Soeharto.

Last week, the Supreme Audit Agency (BPK) released a report confirming what many in the human rights community had suspected for years – members of the National Commission on Human Rights (Komnas HAM) have been embezzling public funds. Dr Ken Setiawan looks at the factors within Komnas HAM that have allowed this to occur.

Over recent months, the public has again had reason to question the quality of judges serving in the Constitutional Court. Muhammad Tanziel Aziezi, from the Institute for an Independent Judiciary (LeIP), examines the selection process for Constitutional Court judges and outlines what needs to change to ensure that Indonesia has better quality judges and, consequently, better quality decisions.

An Indonesian representative to the UN won praise last month for laying into Pacific countries that questioned Indonesia’s human rights record in Papua. Hipolitus Yolisandry Ringgi Wangge writes that defensive statements about sovereignty do nothing to address the humanitarian issues that are, in fact, the primary concerns of state and non-state actors in the Pacific.

Indonesians’ lack of interest in reading is well documented – a recent study put the country in 60th position out of 61 countries in terms of interest in reading. But is anyone doing anything to address the reading crisis? Dr Lily Yulianti Farid, founder and director of the Makassar International Writers Festival, takes a look at what is being done – and what should be done – to make reading more fun.