4 short comment pieces on contemporary Indonesian politics by Max Lane

Click on the link below each excerpt to read the full article.

President Joko Widodo’s Image Problems
26 JAN 2021

“The opposition’s weakness means that the Indonesian president’s recent problems carry few political costs – for the moment.

Last year, President Joko Widodo’s image as a populist “close-to-the-people” political leader suffered a series of blows. 2020 was marked by regular demonstrations protesting many of these issues, especially the Job Creation Law as well as a constant critical tone by influential media outlets, especially the Tempo news group. ”


To Be Young and Rich: Indonesia’s Vaccination Controversies
MARCH 3, 2021

No parliamentary opposition means the government is not held to account for its vaccination programme.

Indonesia’s pandemic response and relief efforts continue to struggle with the tensions between economic and health priorities. Last year, this manifested itself in the uneven and changing “lockdown” policies restricting social mobility. At the very beginning of the pandemic’s spread in Indonesia, President Widodo warned provincial governments not to endanger the economy by imposing lockdowns. Indonesia still is suffering from its’ first very long wave of confirmed Covid-19 infections.”

In January, 2021, this unresolved tension was revealed in a new polemic and policy flip-flop.  Government statements explained that the productive age group would receive Covid-19 vaccines first and people over the age of 65 later. To underline this prioritisation policy, President Widodo, who is 59, was vaccinated on 13 January. Vice-President Maruf Amin, who is 77, was not.”



Criticising Indonesia’s Anti-Criticism Law: Irony of Ironies
MARCH 3, 2021

Indonesia’s president Joko Widodo has called for criticism of his administration. He got more than he bargained for.

On 8 February, President Joko Widodo made a call for more criticisms of his government from society. Ironically, his call was met with a shower of criticisms that many people had been charged and jailed precisely for making criticisms, under the Law on Information and Technology (ITE Law) which regulates social media content. The Indonesian Legal Aid Foundation (YLBHI) stated the police “misused criminal provisions” against people who had made criticisms. Amnesty International recorded 119 cases of alleged violations of freedom of expression involving 141 accused under the ITE Law, calling on the President to release them all.”


The Democrat Party Split: Dynastic versus All-Party Politics
MARCH 16, 2021

“On 2 February, Agus H Yudhoyono (AHY), the Chairman of the Democrat Party (PD), publicly accused President Joko Widodo’s Chief of Staff, retired General Moeldoko, of plotting to organise an Extraordinary Congress (KLB) of the PD to seize the leadership of the opposition party. Moeldoko, not a PD member, denied the accusations.

AHY is the son Susilo Bambang Yudhoyono who preceded Widodo as president. Moeldoko was the Commander of the Armed Forces under President Yudhoyono from 2013 to 2015. Since January 2018, he has served as President Widodo’s Chief of Staff. He is also a central leader in the Indonesian Farmers Association (HKTI) alongside Fadli Zon, a leading politician from Prabowo Subianto’s Gerindra Party.”

On 5 March, a KLB of the PD elected Moeldoko as Chairperson of the party. AHY rejected this as unconstitutional under the party’s rules. His supporters claimed the party majority supported AHY. The party has split. The Moeldoko leadership has lodged its papers to seek formal recognition, which AHY is challenging. The outcome of their application could influence who sits as PD members of parliament. “


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