Refining the role of government in the Australia–Indonesia live cattle trade

Indonesian workers unload Australian cattle from a ship in Jakarta, Indonesia. (Photo: AAP).

Author: Ray Trewin, ANU

The governments of Australia and Indonesia have become heavily involved in the live cattle trade. The 2011 Australian ban on live cattle exports to Indonesia, after some animal cruelty was drawn attention to, may have been the blackest day for Australian agricultural politics. And the issues continue, as governments inappropriately use trade policy to address sensitive domestic non-trade issues (like Australian animal welfare and Indonesian self-sufficiency). But government involvement, rather than disadvantaging trade and livelihoods by raising uncertainty and lowering prices as is the case now, could help solve these issues. Read more…

Indonesia’s manufacturing sector needs a new industrial policy

An Indonesian worker makes incense in Malang, East Java, 19 March 2014. (Photo: AAP)

Author: Mohammad Zulfan Tadjoeddin, UWS

The World Bank and Asian Development Bank have recently advocated the importance of Indonesia’s manufacturing sector. Manufacturing is considered a key sector for the advancement of the country’s overall economy and as an important source of formal employment. The reality on the ground since the 1997–98 economic crisis, though, reveals a troubling picture about the sector. Read more…

Indonesia’s cash for health program

A woman cleans outside an informal dentist shop in Jakarta, Indonesia, 18 October 2013. (Photo: AAP)

Author: Margaret Triyana, Stanford University

Indonesia’s conditional cash transfer program, Program Keluarga Harapan (PKH), provides cash to poor households in exchange for meeting specified health targets. It aims to reduce poverty and improve maternal and child health. But does it work? Read more…

The promise of a Jokowi presidency in Indonesia

Indonesian presidential candidate Joko Widodo gestures after delivering his victory address in Jakarta on 22 July 2014 as the General Elections Commission declared Widodo the winner. (Photo: AAP).

Author: Peter Drysdale, Editor, East Asia Forum

Most would concede that the contest that saw the election of Joko Widodo (Jokowi) as Indonesia’s next president was a tough test for democratic transition in Indonesia. The election campaign was certainly one with an edge to it — ‘one of the dirtiest election campaigns in Indonesian history’, as Marcus Mietzner has called it. There are still legal appeals to be heard, but the size of Jokowi’s victory and the very public evidence on the count, make anything but confirmation of the result a most unlikely outcome. Read more…

Can Jokowi transform Indonesia’s economy?

Jokowi inspects an urban development project of his administration in Jakarta shortly before the General Elections Commission declared him of winner of the presidential race. He now faces the daunting task of taking the third-biggest democracy forward as resistance to reform lingers. (Photo: AAP).

Author: Shiro Armstrong, ANU

Indonesia’s president-elect Joko Widodo (Jokowi), who takes up the position in October, has declared he aims to push the growth rate of the economy above 7 per cent a year. The growth rate has been running below 6 per cent a year, and the World Bank and IMF predict that it will continue at 5.6 per cent and 5.8 per cent, respectively, in 2015. Read more…

Time for a new approach to Indonesia’s energy subsidies

A State Oil Company (Pertamina) employee checks a tank at an oil pump station in Jakarta, Indonesia. Indonesian energy subsidies will constitute a quarter of total government spending this year. (Photo: AAP).

Authors: Stephen Howes and Robin Davies, ANU

Indonesia’s new president, Joko Widodo (Jokowi), will face many challenges but none more pressing and immediate than dealing with Indonesia’s energy subsidies, which this year will constitute a quarter of total government spending. Everyone agrees that these subsidies are wasteful, but their persistence is striking. They were 20 per cent of expenditure when President Yudhoyono (SBY) came to power, and they will be almost 25 per cent when he leaves office later this year. Read more…

President SBY’s second-term development scorecard

Indonesian president Susilo Bambang Yudhoyono has a mixed policy scorecard at the end of his second and final term of office. (Photo: AAP).

Authors: Stephen Howes and Robin Davies, ANU

The recent election of Indonesia’s next president, Joko Widodo (Jokowi), provides an opportunity to reflect on the legacy and performance of Indonesia’s outgoing president Susilo Bambang Yudhoyono (SBY).

A useful starting point is to compare Indonesia’s performance against the targets SBY set in his 2010–14 National Medium-Term Development Plan. Read more…

Can Jokowi offer a new hope for the poor?

A woman takes a nap outside her hut in a slum in Jakarta, Indonesia, 4  April 2014. Around 40 per cent of the Indonesian population still live on less than US$2 a day. (Photo: AAP)

Authors: Arief Anshory Yusuf, CEDS, and Andy Sumner, IDI

As Joko Widodo (Jokowi) was declared president, new research revealed that the gap between Indonesia’s richest and poorest has never been so great. So will the new president — with his reputation for clean governance and modesty — be able to build on his progressive track record to deliver change for the poor and address rising inequality? Read more…

Will Indonesia’s new president turn the tide on resource nationalism?

Freeport security personnel look on at the Freeport McMoRan's Grasberg mining complex, one of the world's biggest gold and copper mines, located in Indonesia's remote eastern Papua province, 16 August 2013. After an export ban last year, Freeport recently agreed to pay high royalties and taxes, and concede divestment provisions. (Photo: AAP)

Author: Eve Warburton, ANU

Resource management is a pressing policy problem in Indonesia, but it is also ripe for nationalist grandstanding. In the lead up to Indonesia’s recent elections, both presidential candidates deployed the mantra of energy independence and resource sovereignty in their campaigns.

The victor, Joko Widodo (Jokowi), used far less incendiary language than his competitor, Prabowo Subianto. But both espoused a nationalist vision for the mining and energy sectors Read more…

Jokowi saves Indonesia’s democracy (and maybe Southeast Asia’s too)

Indonesian presidential candidate Joko Widodo and his wife Iriana show their ballots before giving their vote during the presidential election. (Photo: AAP).

Author: Thitinan Pongsudhirak, Chulalongkorn University

Many years from now, the electoral victory of Indonesia’s president-elect Joko Widodo (Jokowi) may be seen as pivotal to the fate of democracy and regionalism in Southeast Asia. A win by Jokowi’s opponent Prabowo Subianto would have been a retrograde step for Indonesia, promising shades of authoritarianism even with a popular mandate. Jokowi’s victory, on the other hand, bodes well not just for Indonesia’s future but also for the region’s democratic prospects and ASEAN’s forward momentum. Read more…

Indonesia has to make hard decisions on debt

Indonesian workers at a construction site in Jakarta, Indonesia, 25 November 2013. Indonesian policy makers will have to tackle a fear of international borrowing in order to invest in much-needed infrastructure. (Photo: AAP)

Author: Peter McCawley, ANU

Indonesia’s next president will need significant funds to fulfil election promises. But both candidates Joko Widodo (Jokowi) and Prabowo Subianto have expressed caution about international borrowings.

So should Indonesia undertake the risks of borrowing from overseas? Read more…

Indonesia’s democratic strength

Two Indonesian women show their fingers marked with ink after they voted at a polling station in Banda Aceh, 9 July 2014. Although uncertainties will remain until the last vote is counted, this election is a great victory for the people of Indonesia. (Photo: AAP).

Author: Peter Drysdale, Editor, East Asia Forum

Democracy has taken a battering in Southeast Asia in recent times, as Thailand, the region’s second-largest economy and one of its economic success stories over the past few decades, has fallen prey to yet another military coup. So it is with a mixture of pride and relief that Indonesia — the region’s largest economy, the world’s third-largest democracy, the world’s largest Muslim country and the epicentre of the ASEAN polity — is on the cusp of successful completion of the election of its new president Read more…

Indonesian democracy stronger, but not yet out of the danger zone

Indonesian presidential candidate Prabowo Subianto applauds after addressing a rally on 11 July 2014. Both sides claimed victory on 9 July 2014 in the tightest and most divisive Indonesian presidential election since the end of authoritarian rule. (Photo: AAP).

Author: Edward Aspinall, ANU

Last week’s presidential election will be remembered as one of the most significant events in Indonesia’s modern history. The all-but-certain defeat of ex-general Prabowo Subianto, and the election of Jakarta governor Joko Widodo (Jokowi), represents not only the victory of one candidate over another but also the preservation of Indonesia’s post-Suharto democratic system — if only by the skin of its teeth. Read more…

Indonesia’s presidential elections: Jokowi in, Prabowo out

Indonesian electoral officials check ballot boxes at a local election center the day after presidential elections in Jakarta on 10 July, 2014. (Photo: AAP).

Author: Marcus Mietzner, ANU
Indonesians went to the polls on 9 July to elect a successor to Indonesian president Susilo Bambang Yudhoyono, who had served two terms between 2004 and 2014 and thus was constitutionally barred from seeking re-election.

Two candidates stood in the elections, and the contrast between them couldn’t have been starker: Read more…