Category: Analysis

Over the past few years, the idea that Indonesia will be the next rising power in Asia has grown in prominence among academics and political and business leaders. But Professor Richard Robison argues that a number of characteristics of the Indonesian state mean that these “great power” aspirations will remain unfulfilled.

Defence Minister Ryamizard Ryacudu has been out talking up his ministry’s Bela Negara program, which apparently aims to inspire a love for the homeland and protect it from “extreme ideologies”. But is Bela Negara really about strengthening nationalism, or is it just another attempt to introduce compulsory military service? Bhatara Ibnu Reza takes a look at the program.

Indonesians often complain about kelas menengah ngehe, or the “awful middle class”, on social media. But despite the ubiquity of the term, there is little consensus on how to define it. Who are the awful middle class? And what makes them so ngehe? Dr Salut Muhidin takes a look at the phenomenon.

More than a year after 1,000 Rohingya asylum seekers arrived on the shores of North Aceh, few have been resettled in western countries. The fact that many Rohingya are poor and illiterate means they are not considered a priority. Lies Marcoes found that the global indifference to their plight may be driving them to join the Islamic State.

Rumours of a “same-sex marriage” between comedian Aming Supriatna Sugandhi and Evelyn Nada Anjani in early June saw a return of the national hand wringing over sexuality that Indonesia witnessed earlier this year. Hendri Yulius writes that their relationship demonstrates the complexity of gender and sexuality issues and exposes the inadequacy of Indonesian policy to cope with this complexity.

For 10 years, hot mud has been erupting from the ground in Sidoarjo, East Java. It has submerged villages and displaced about 39,700 people, and disaster management costs have exceeded $2.7 billion. Earthquake expert Associate Professor Mark Quigley examines the origins of the mud volcano, which remain controversial after a decade.

Images of a woman pleading with officials as they confiscated food she was selling went viral over the weekend. Netizens were furious and donated almost $27,000 in support of the woman. Ihsan Ali-Fauzi writes that the case is a chance for the central government to send a strong message to local governments that it is serious, and able, to act against intolerance and discrimination.

Although freedom of religion and freedom of expression are guaranteed in the Indonesian Constitution, these guarantees have not been sufficient to protect non-religious expression in the public sphere. Ismail Hasani looks back at the case of Alexander An, jailed for writing “God does not exist” in a Facebook post.

Since the 1990s, inequality has risen faster in Indonesia than in any other East Asian country except China. What is causing rising inequality, and how is the Jokowi administration addressing it? What still needs to be done? Dr Matthew Wai-Poi, from the World Bank in Jakarta, examines Indonesia’s rising divide.

Luqman-nul Hakim recently argued that the dismissal of Fahri Hamzah from the Prosperous Justice Party (PKS) indicated that the party was returning to its ideological roots. But Abdil Mughis Mudhoffir and Andi Rahman Alamsyah contend that the party’s recent political manoeuvres suggest it will continue to favour a pragmatic approach. It will need to because of its weak position in politics.

Thousands of residents were evicted from North Jakarta coastal region of Pasar Ikan last month, the latest community to be relocated under Jakarta Governor Ahok. While many Jakarta residents have praised Ahok for his efforts to transform the capital, Dicky Pelupessy writes that we should be mindful of the disruptive experience of displacement for evictees.

Over the past couple of weeks, security officials have confiscated books on the 1965 violence and leftist ideas to prevent what they describe as a “reawakening of communism”. Hendri Yulius looks at the long history of book banning and book burning in Indonesia and examines what this recent episode means for freedom of expression in the country.