Indonesia’s growing middle class are travelling overseas in record numbers but the numbers holidaying in Australia are disappointing. Ross B. Taylor writes that unless something is done about the expensive and onerous visa process faced by Indonesians, Australia will continue to miss out.

Many Indonesians are concerned about the damage that hoaxes and so-called “fake news” are doing to social cohesion. Professor Ariel Heryanto writes that it is difficult to find a more powerful hoax than the story of the 30 September Movement, which has provided the basis for numerous other nonsensical and dangerous hoaxes.

How pervasive is vigilante violence in democratic Indonesia? What drives the phenomenon, and how does the state respond when citizens turn to vigilantism? Dr Dave McRae explores these questions and more with Sana Jaffrey in the final Talking Indonesia episode for 2017.

Last week, the Constitutional Court rejected a controversial challenge to the Criminal Code that sought to outlaw same sex sexual relations. Hendri Yulius writes that the decision is a reminder that the state is far from uniform in its response to issues of gender and sexuality.

Last week, the Constitutional Court rejected a petition from the Family Love Alliance (AILA) that sought to criminalise consensual sex outside marriage. Rafiqa Qurrata A’yun writes that AILA’s petition was an attempt to bypass the normal process of formulating criminal law, and could have had serious consequences for the rights of citizens.

Islamic Defenders Front (FPI) leader Rizieq Shihab is Indonesia’s most prominent ‘Habib’ – an honorific title given to Islamic scholars who are descendants of Prophet Muhammad. Ahmad Syarif Syechbubakr traces the origins of the Habib in Indonesia and examines their influence over contemporary Jakarta politics.

Major changes are coming for the certification and marketing of halal products in Indonesia. Dr Stewart Fenwick examines the new halal regime, which he warns could see the Indonesian Council of Ulama (MUI) gain influence over most areas of commercial and industrial activity in the country.

Former State Secretary and Islamic scholar Djohan Effendi died in Geelong, Victoria, on 17 November after a long illness. His former student Ihsan Ali-Fauzi remembers a quietly principled man who was committed to challenging religious exclusivism.

Given that Australian leaders often describe the relationship with Indonesia as the country’s most important bilateral relationship, the newly released Foreign Policy White Paper is noticeably light on detail about Indonesia. The problem for Australia, writes Professor Tim Lindsey, is that Indonesia probably doesn’t care.

Indonesian universities now have far greater institutional autonomy than they did under the New Order regime. But Diatyka Widya Permata Yasih and Abdil Mughis Mudhoffir write that real autonomy involves the freedom to take a critical stance against the interests of the state and market. And this is where Indonesian universities are struggling.

The government recently announced that from 2018, state funding for political parties will increase 10 fold, from Rp 108 to Rp 1,000 per valid vote per year. Rezza Velayati Deviansyah writes that although there are reasons to be cautious, the government has made the right move.

Demonstrations on International Labour Day have recently featured somewhat surprising calls for the dissolution of the Industrial Relations Court. Dr Herlambang P Wiratraman looks at why the court – originally intended to provide greater protection for workers’ rights – has failed to live up to its promise.