Category: Analysis

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.

Jakarta Governor Basuki “Ahok” Tjahaja Purnama’s time as leader has been marked by urban evictions on an unprecedented scale. Some 325 locations have been slated for eviction by the end of 2016, in the months approaching the 2017 governor’s elections. Dr Ian Wilson examines how urban poor groups, residents and their allies are mobilising and networking in response to the forced removals.

For more than a year, the People’s Consultative Assembly (MPR) has been quietly working on plans to amend the 1945 Constitution for a fifth time, and reinstate the State Policy Guidelines (GBHN). Bivitri Susanti writes that although the term “state policy guidelines” might sound rather innocuous, the return of the GBHN could have grave political consequences.

During the New Order period, the middle class was routinely depicted as small (less than 10 per cent of the population) and uninterested in democracy. According to Dr Gerry van Klinken, that picture now needs a serious overhaul. They are interested in democracy, he writes, and even more in decentralisation, and play a crucial role in holding the country together.

Last week, the government announced it would seek to ban three gay social networking apps, following the alleged misuse of Grindr in a child prostitution case. Hendri Yulius writes that the bans are representative of the government’s struggle to maintain power and authority in the internet era and show that the rapid development of information technology does not necessarily lead to advances in freedom of expression.

Anti-Chinese sentiment has deep roots in Indonesian society but there is a widespread perception that it has become worse over recent years, along with the rise of Jakarta Governor Basuki Tjahaja Purnama, or Ahok. Dr Robertus Robet writes that as Ahok’s opponents have struggled to formulate effective criticism against him, they have resorted to unsophisticated appeals to primordial concerns.