No easy way in the battle against misinformation

In light of the recent 22 May riots in Jakarta, the Ministry for Communication and Information (KOMINFO) enacted a “soft ban” on social media and messaging applications. Instagram and Facebook were blocked (surprisingly, Twitter was left alone), while WhatsApp users could not share images or documents (but could still receive and send text messages). The three-day ban was a preventive response to potential misinformation surrounding the Jakarta riots. However, despite the ban, as much as 30 pieces of fake news still fell through the cracks. The ban was also easily circumvented using VPN services. The ban has been criticized left and right on grounds of infringement of civil liberties.

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The first Indonesian Presidential Debate of 2019: a review

The first Presidential Debate was concluded on 17 January 2019. In the debate, centering on issues of human rights, corruption, law enforcement, and terrorism, both parties did not perform satisfyingly, but Joko Widodo could be said to have won by a slight margin.

In this post, I’ll do a thematic blow-by-blow of the debate with added commentary.

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THOUGHTS AND COFFEE #12: Communist-phobia still going strong in Indonesia

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.

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Reading science fiction in an age of political turbulence

Lately, I’ve found myself reading more classic science fiction. I went through Asimov’s entire Foundation saga, and am currently reading Clarke’s Odyssey series and his Rama series. The science fiction of old reflected a time of general optimism for space travel and colonisation. One day, we’d escape our cradle, Earth, and settle throughout the galaxy. We may or may not encounter other intelligent life-forms; even Asimov thought humans would be the dominant space-faring species in the Milky Way (but he hinted, at the end of Foundation and Earth, that Andromeda may host a new form of life we’ve yet to encounter).

The main enabler for us to engage in space travel would be technology. As we sailed the seas with ships and aircraft carriers, so too will we travel the stars in advanced starships like the USS Enterprise. At this moment, we’re taking baby steps towards the development of space technology, slowly and clumsily crawling towards that dramatic breakthrough or “revolution” that would propel us into the future. But, Asimov’s dreams of humans establishing a galactic empire tens of thousands of years into the future maybe under attack.

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THOUGHTS AND COFFEE #4: Towards a ‘greener’ Indonesia?

In October 2016, the Islamic Defenders Front (FPI) launched their first demonstration against Jakarta’s Chinese-Christian governor, Basuki Purnama, or better known as “Ahok”. Their chant was to not let Jakarta — a city that is by character pluralistic although Muslims and Javanese make up the majority — be governed by a leader who is not Muslim and Javanese. They quoted scripture, specifically a verse from the Quran (Qs. Al-Maidah: 51), which they interpret does not allow Muslims to elect or be led by a leader who is not a Muslim.

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Le’ Notes #12: Defence Diplomacy

This post discusses the workings of defence diplomacy, particularly focusing on Southeast Asian defence diplomacy.

Right smack in the middle of writing papers, I still have the brazen gall to procrastinate and blog about this. But as they say, the show must go on and I must continue to deliver content. Mostly for my sake.

Anyway, today’s topic is something that, at first glance, might come across as oxymoronic. Yup, when else do you see the words “defence” and “diplomacy” put together? Seems kinda weird to mix guns and howitzers into a word that’s more often associated with old, white men in suits talking in jargon over tea.

So how did we get from buff military men shooting each other in faces to buff military men talking about security issues over dozens of coffees?

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Le’ Notes #1: Strategic Culture, Geography, and Politics

This post covers the essentials on strategic culture and its links with geography and politics.

To make sense of the world, we need a pair of glasses. Glasses have two lenses, otherwise, you would lack depth perception. This analogy also holds true when we’re discussing defense/security policy. Policymakers need a “pair of glasses” that allows them to make sense of the world around them. One of those many glasses is strategic culture.

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