Red and White coalition spells trouble for Jokowi

Indonesian activists and students chant during a protest against a new bill on local elections outside the parliament building in Jakarta on 25 September 2014. (Photo: AAP).

Author: Adelle Neary, CSIS

Many commentators assumed following Indonesia’s 9 July presidential election that members of defeated candidate Prabowo Subianto’s six-party ‘Red and White’ coalition would not want to be locked out of government and would seek to realign themselves with president-elect Joko Widodo (‘Jokowi’). Read more…

Why abolishing direct local elections undermines Indonesia’s democracy

Members of Indonesian parliament speak to Priyo Budi Santoso, the head of the assembly meeting on the local elections bill during a vote in Jakarta on 26 September 2014. (Photo: AAP).

Authors: Jonathan Chen and Adhi Priamarizki, RSIS

A bill that will transfer the election of local leaders in Indonesia from the people to the Regional Legislative Councils is currently being contested. The Indonesian parliament passed the bill to end direct local elections on 26 September. But outgoing President Susilo Bambang Yudhoyono announced on 30 September that he is preparing an emergency presidential decree to overturn the decision and restore elections. Direct elections at the local level — or Pilkada — have been in place since June 2005. Read more…

Indonesia and Malaysia need to focus on a ‘soft’ approach to tackle IS support on social media

A government worker removes ISIS (Islamic State of Iraq and Syria) flags painted on to walls near Veteran Street in Surakarta City, Indonesia, in an attempt to discourage the promotion of the jihadist group in the region, 5 August 2014. (Photo: AAP)

Authors: Stefanie Kam and Robi Sugara, RSIS

In response to the rise in Indonesian and Malaysian fighters joining the extremist Islamic State (IS) group, Jakarta and Kuala Lumpur have taken action to criminalise membership. The Indonesian Ulema Council (MUI), the nation’s top Muslim clerical body, also released a statement that it was haram, or forbidden, for Muslims to participate in IS activities. Malaysian Prime Minister Najib Razak has also issued a strongly worded statement condemning IS for its actions, which ‘run counter to Islamic faith, culture and to common humanity’. Read more…

Why is Indonesia terminating its bilateral investment treaties?

Authors: Leon E. Trakman and Kunal Sharma, UNSW

The value of investor-state dispute settlement (ISDS) procedures has been questioned by Australia and, more recently, Indonesia. The Australian government’s controversial 2011 Trade Policy Statement — stating that Australia would not agree to ISDS in its treaties — caused significant debate. In part, Australia’s policy was motivated by Philip Morris’ legal action against the government over legislation requiring the plain packaging of cigarettes. Read more…

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…