Category: Analysis

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.

Indonesian smokers were worked up last month over rumours that the price of cigarettes would soon rise to Rp 50,000 (AU$5). As Dr Krisna Hort explains, the rumours originated from an article that showed that doubling the price of cigarettes would increase tax revenues to a level that could cover the current deficit in the national health insurance scheme (JKN).

President Joko Widodo made an appeal to Southeast Asian unity in the face of regional instability as the ASEAN Summit kicked off in Laos this week. Dr Avery Poole writes that this may bode well for Indonesia’s traditional leadership role in ASEAN but we are unlikely to see significant progress on key regional governance challenges.

President Joko Widodo has already shown signs that human rights will not be a top priority for his government. But as Christian Donny Putranto writes, few of Jokowi’s passionate campaigners would have ever imagined that two years after his election his administration would promote military officials involved in abducting pro-democracy activists to senior positions in security agencies.

Indonesia’s Constitutional Court will today hold a fifth hearing on a legal challenge to the Criminal Code that seeks to criminalise same-sex intercourse between consenting adults. PhD candidate Daniel Peterson writes that the Court’s approach when it upheld the Blasphemy Law in 2009 suggests that the outlook for Indonesia’s LGBT community is bleak.

Arcandra Tahar lasted just 20 days in cabinet, with the revelation that he also held US citizenship ending his stint as minister of energy and mineral resources. The former deputy minister of law and human rights, Professor Denny Indrayana, looks at the administrative errors that were made, and asks whether the incident will finally lead to action on multiple citizenship in Indonesia.

Joko “Jokowi” Widodo’s contrasting approach to foreign policy compared to his predecessor, Susilo Bambang Yudhoyono, stands to reshape Australia-Indonesia ties. In this public lecture, Dr Evi Fitriani charts President Joko Widodo’s distinct approach to foreign policy and outlines the implications for Indonesia’s relationship with Australia.