Category: Analysis

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.

The Instrument Builders Project was a collaborative initiative that ran from 2010-2014 and involved Australian and Indonesian artists from a diversity of practices and backgrounds. Program co-curator Kristi Monfries reflects on the role of collaboration and experimentation in the artistic process.

The shocking gang-rape and murder of a 14-year-old girl in Bengkulu has galvanised the Indonesian public. PhD candidate Hannah Loney looks at the case and how Indonesian feminists and activists used online spaces to draw critical attention to the issue of sexual violence in the country.

In February, President Joko Widodo passed a regulation aimed at accelerating the implementation of the One Map policy, which is designed to harmonise all sectoral maps from government agencies into a single map to prevent overlapping claims to land. But as Nanang Indra Kurniawan writes, unless customary claims to land are included, the process is bound to fail.

Jokowi was produced by a decentralised democratic system in which negotiation, including with oligarchs, was necessary for advancement. But now that he is president, he finds that he has nothing to bargain with except his personal popularity. As Professor Vedi Hadiz writes, negotiating with oligarchy may end up eroding the popularity Jokowi needs to negotiate with them in the first place.

On 18-19 April, Indonesia held an unprecedented national symposium to discuss the violence of 1965, involving victims, activists, and government and military officials. Associate Professor Katharine McGregor and Dr Jemma Purdey present a detailed analysis of last week’s events.