In a trying year when Covid-19 dominated our lives, it is no surprise that Covid-19 articles also dominated Indonesia at Melbourne in 2020. Here we present the most popular articles on Indonesia at Melbourne and the most popular Talking Indonesia episodes this year. Thanks for your support during this difficult year, and we will see you again in early 2021.
Indonesia at Melbourne
Less than a month after Indonesia recorded its first official cases of Covid-19, Ahmad Syarif Syechbubakr tapped into widespread public frustration with the government’s response to the pandemic, which he noted was marked by denial, complacency, and a lack of transparency.
Dr Nadirsyah Hosen looked at the dilemma religious communities face during the Covid-19 pandemic – worship at home or defy social distancing requirements to participate in the public rituals that are an important part of worship for many believers.
While criticism of the Indonesian government’s slow initial response to Covid-19 is warranted, wrote Dr Linda Bennett, it is also crucial to acknowledge the strengths of the community response and the fact that a huge proportion of people who can isolate, social distance or support the Covid-19 response, are choosing to do so.
One of the few issues that cut through the Covid-19 noise was the trouble faced by the “millennials” in President Joko Widodo’s inner circle. Ibnu Nadzir wrote that the problem with these millennial special staff was the expectation that millennials (and their association with the digital economy) were inherently transformative.
Early on in the pandemic, Dr Ian Wilson examined the challenges faced by Indonesia’s urban poor, who in the face of government inaction were being forced to rely on themselves and each other to survive.
Ravando Lie presented fascinating historical detail on the Dutch colonial government’s poor handling of the 1918 Spanish Flu, looking at what lessons it could provide for Indonesia as it struggled to get on top of Covid-19.
One of the other major events of 2020 in Indonesia was the passage of the widely criticised omnibus Law on Job Creation. In June, Dr Nadirsyah Hosen, Dr Jeremy Kingsley and Professor Tim Lindsey wrote that the bill was not really about job creation at all – about 80% of its provisions regulate investment.
When the bill was passed in October, and protests sprung up in several cities across the country, Dr Abdil Mughis Mudhoffir and Rafiqa Qurrata A’yun wrote that legal avenues to overturn the controversial law may no longer be the answer.
The omnibus law was widely criticised for its problematic content, but Rizky Argama wrote that the process by which the bill became law was also deeply flawed procedurally.
Yoes Kenawas looked at the huge surge in dynastic politicians competing in the 2020 regional head elections, exploring the origins of the problem and strategies to prevent it from getting worse.
Dr Belinda Spagnoletti looked that the challenge posed by the annual mudik exodus to policy makers – banning travel would have been better for preventing coronavirus spread, but it would also have meant that many poor Indonesians would be worse off.
Racist abuse of Papuan students in Java sparked widespread protests in 2019. On the anniversary of the racist incident that triggered the protests, Usman Hamid wrote that the government needed to be prepared to have a more open conversation about Papua.
In the first and most popular episode of 2020, Dr Dave McRae spoke to Emirza Adi Syailendra about recent tensions between China and Indonesia north of the Natuna Islands, and what these tensions tell us about the implications of China’s rise for Indonesia.
In the wake of devastating floods in Jakarta, Dr Jemma Purdey spoke to Roanne von Voorst about informal riverbank communities, how they live with the dual threats of flooding and eviction, and the role they can play in tackling flooding.
Before the coronavirus pandemic had begun to hit, Dr Dave McRae spoke to Diatyka Widya Permata Yasih about the gig economy and its implications for workers’ rights.
Growing religious conservatism in Indonesia has turned some Islamic preachers into minor celebrities and influential political power-brokers. Dr Dirk Tomsa spoke to Professor Julian Millie about the development and proposals to regulate Islamic preaching.
Dr Jemma Purdey spoke to Ignatius Praptoraharjo about the barriers for LGBT Indonesians to access basic services, including health care, and the implications if they are left behind.
What can Indonesia do to mitigate the spread of Covid-19 while also minimising the damage to the economy? Dr Charlotte Setijadi discussed this and more with Dr Puspa Delima Amri.
Dr Dave McRae chatted to President Joko Widodo’s former deputy chief of staff, Dr Yanuar Nugroho, about the factors influencing the Indonesian government’s slow initial response to Covid-19.
As the economic impacts of the Covid-19 pandemic began to take their toll on Indonesia’s poor and vulnerable, Dr Jemma Purdey chatted to Athia Yumna about what more could be done by the government to assist them.
At a time of increasing international detachment and the defunding of public diplomacy programs, Dr Charlotte Setijadi spoke to Dr Elisabeth Kramer and Elena Williams about the state of Indonesia-Australia relations.
In June and July, the #BlackLivesMatter protests threw a spotlight on racism towards Papuans in Indonesia, prompting Indonesians to use the hashtag #PapuanLivesMatter. Dr Dave McRae spoke to Ligia Giay about the drivers and impacts of racism against Papuans.