Category: Analysis

Indonesia’s massive population is comprised of hundreds of ethnicities. The ethnic Chinese are one of the largest but their numbers are much smaller than is commonly believed. Charles A. Coppel takes a look at recent census data to provide a more accurate picture of this often stigmatised group.

Jakarta Governor Anies Baswedan has been ripped to shreds for saying that it was time for pribumi (‘native or indigenous Indonesians’) to be masters in their own land. Professor Denny Indrayana looks at the history of the term and questions whether there is any such thing as a true pribumi.

On 17 October, dozens of declassified files confirmed that the United States had detailed knowledge of and actively supported Indonesian military efforts to destroy the Indonesian Communist Party (PKI) and its alleged sympathisers. Dr Jess Melvin, who was involved in the declassification project, looks at the most significant revelations.

Two new online applications, AyoPoligami and Nikahsirri, have caused controversy for promoting polygamy. Hendri Yulius writes that the rise of such applications is a result of a shame and fear of sex in Indonesia, as well as competing religious and secular definitions of marriage.

Last month, a photo circulated on social media showing a very uncomfortable Papua Governor Lukas Enembe meeting with senior security officials in Jakarta. Dr Richard Chauvel unpacks the meeting and looks at the tensions between Jakarta and Papua approaching the 2018 regional head and 2019 presidential elections.

Blogger and provocateur Jonru has finally been called to account, arrested for hate speech on 29 September.
Muninggar Sri Saraswati takes a look at the controversial social media star, examining how he became such an influential figure and what his arrest might mean ahead of the 2019 elections.

Hopes are high for Indonesia to play a greater role in responding to the crisis in Myanmar’s Rakhine state. But Diah Tricesaria and Randy Nandyatama write that if Indonesia is to be seen as a legitimate actor in brokering peace in Myanmar, it must show leadership in the management of refugees at the domestic and regional levels.

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.

Given the partisan nature of most mainstream media, many Indonesians are now turning to alternative online sources, many of which encourage sectarianism. Dr Ross Tapsell writes that Indonesia is in dire need of a strong, independent public media that could provide an alternative to privately owned conglomerates and the spread of hoax news and disinformation.

The past two days have seen unprecedented attacks on one of Indonesia’s oldest civil society organisations, the Legal Aid Foundation (LBH). Former LBH Jakarta director Nurkholis Hidayat says the weekend’s events represent a deeply troubling new low for freedom of expression.

The government has ambitious plans to hand over 12.7 million hectares of forest to community management by 2019. Dr Abidah Setyowati writes that while the social forestry initiative could increase communities’ access to, and ability to obtain benefits from, forest resources, several major challenges remain.

What role did the internet play in the divisive Jakarta gubernatorial campaign? To what extent can the bitterness of the campaign be explained by Indonesia’s conservative turn more generally? Dr Jemma Purdey explores these questions and more with Associate Professor Merlyna Lim in the Talking Indonesia podcast.