On 9 June 2018, both Prabowo Subianto and Joko Widodo, the two presidential candidates for the 2019 Election announced their running mates. Prabowo would run alongside Sandiaga Uno, who was until recently the Vice-Governor of Jakarta; while Widodo would run with Ma’aruf Amin, the leader of the Indonesian Ulema Council.
Time and time again, Indonesia has seen many political outbursts due to the inflated fear of the Red Spectre of Communism. The most recent outburst occurred at a Lembaga Bantuan Hukum (Legal Aid Institute) in Jakarta following a seminar discussing the 1965 Communist massacre. The office was surrounded by protestors, entrapping the participants inside the walls. Most of those participants were the elderly – survivors and witnesses to the bloody pogrom that marked an important watershed in Indonesian politics. It was not until the following day that participants were allowed to leave, but the damage had already been done.
Involved in this incident were anti-Communist groups and a number of right-wing organisations, such as Front Pembela Islam. This incident indicates the continued stigma of Communism in Indonesia, a result of decades of indoctrination during the New Order.
The LBH office suffered some physical damage; however, I believe we can agree that the damage to Indonesia’s budding democracy should take centre stage.
The Ahok trial has come to an end. The judges ruled Ahok guilty of blasphemy and sentenced him to two years in prison. The sentence was higher than the prosecution’s demands — 2 years of probation and 1 year in prison if Ahok reoffended — and was considered an unfair decision by many of his supporters and the general public following the trials.
Justice has failed. If Ahok’s trial did anything positive, it showed the world that Indonesia’s blasphemy laws belong not in a democratic and plural society. It also showed that Indonesia may as well fall into extremist clutches.
The quick count results of the 2017 Jakarta gubernatorial elections show that Anies-Sandi has secured the majority vote. As shown below, Anies-Sandi is in the lead with 58%, leaving Ahok-Djarot behind with 42%. As history may show, quick count results tend to not be that far off the mark. So, Jakartans will have to welcome Anies-Sandi as their new governor for the next period.
A specter is haunting Indonesia – the specter of communism. Everyone’s freaking out about it, despite the Indonesian Communist Party (PKI) having been banned for almost 50 years now.
Unity in diversity. Unless you’re ethnic Chinese and non-Muslim.
A sobering quote written by a colleague of mine, Rocky, in a commentary regarding the recent rise of Sinophobia in Indonesia.
While 2016 was indeed a horrible year (which reached peak horribleness with the death of Harambe and President-elect Trump), for me, Sinophobia was a top highlight for Indonesia. Somehow, a select group of extreme Indonesians suddenly decided that Sinophobia was cool again. How did that happen and why should we care? To answer the latter part of my self-imposed question, unbridled Sinophobia will only serve to undo decades of progress.
What moves faster than light?
A hoax on social media.
A recent piece in the Jakarta Globe titled “Online Black Campaigns — the New ‘Divide et Impera‘” highlights a greater need to curb fake news sites aimed at spreading hoaxes and lies that could potentially divide the nation. In a country where (as of 2015) around 70 million people have social media accounts and are constantly plugged into the network, the dissemination of fake news and misinformation is a phenomenon that’s already snowballed into one tremendous problem. Add in charged and polarizing political tensions, and you’ve got yourself a problematic cocktail.
This article was originally published in The Jakarta Post, 22 December 2016.
The Indonesian Military (TNI) has become increasingly obsessed with selling the idea that Indonesia is in the midst of a “proxy war”. Gen. Gatot Nurmantyo has led this charge since 2014, when he traveled around the country to speak about how Indonesia was in the middle of a proxy war. In 2015, Defense Minister Ryamizard Ryacudu joined the bandwagon, claiming that the LGBT movement is a form of proxy warfare that is even worse than a nuclear bomb. Recently, Gatot devised a media proxy war defense pact, signed by Nahdatul Ulama, the Teachers Union and the Association of Publishers.
Is a proxy war truly happening in Indonesia? Or is it just an attempt for the military – especially the Army – to regain its political relevance? With such fierce campaigning from the military and government officials, it pays to step back and revisit the concept of proxy wars and how they are waged.
This article was originally published in The Diplomat, 17 December 2016.
Download the PDF here.
The previous Archipelagic Outlook strategy was inward focused; the new policy looks beyond Indonesia’s borders.
A recently published document titled Buku Putih Poros Maritim Dunia [Global Maritime Fulcrum White Paper] finally brings an authoritative voice to Indonesia’s Global Maritime Fulcrum (GMF) vision. The objective-oriented, 53-page publication constructs a narrative on the importance of the seas to Indonesia, the future trajectory of the GMF as Indonesia’s maritime vision, and the possible ways to achieve those ambitious ends.
Although the concept of the GMF was christened by President Joko Widodo, the policy objectives stated in the GMF White Paper are still largely rooted in the Archipelagic Outlook (Wawasan Nusantara). The GMF White Paper lists the Archipelagic Outlook as one of six fundamental principles on which the GMF is supposed to be founded. Is the GMF just really the Archipelagic Outlook with a new coat of paint? Or is it a shift from its predecessor?