Indonesia always does well in the Department of #YouCouldn’tMakeItUp. Exhibit A: this article from the Jakarta Globe about clowns marching for political peace. There’s so much about this story that delights me: That Indonesia even has a national clown’s association (and one that has almost as many members as the House of Representatives). That the Jakarta police felt the need to deploy 60 police officers “to ensure the clowns could march safely to Monas.” But mostly of course: That Sumarsono,…
Though the common sense of most Indonesians gives me hope, I’m more disappointed than ever by politicians, who pander to thuggish interest groups, and technocrats, who can’t seem to cope with honest criticism.
Earlier this month, tens of thousands of white-robed protesters stomped through the streets of Jakarta, baying for the blood of Jakarta governor Basuki Tjahaja Purnama, aka Ahok. To simplify a complex story, Ahok stood accused of the sin of quoting the Quran while being Christian. In the best Indonesian tradition of rent-a-crowd politics, many of the “protesters” were there for the promise of money and a packed lunch; one told TV reporters that, though he came for the cash, he…
Gay-bashing is the latest fashion among Indonesian politicians. It proves they are very slow learners: Indonesians do not tend to re-elect intolerant politicians.
Earlier this year, Indonesia’s national parliament passed a law that tried to curb dynastic succession in politics. This was frankly a little surprising. The chairwoman of the largest party in parliament, Megawati Sukarnoputri, is the daughter of Indonesia’s first president. Though she never did manage to get elected herself, Megawati did spend some time in the top job after her boss President ‘Gus Dur’ was impeached. After a bit of political arm-twisting, her own daughter now sits in the cabinet….
An analysis of Indonesian President Joko Widodo’s first 100 days in power. Jokowi’s attempts to restore himself in the eyes of the public after several political blunders have led to some very poor policy-making.
The department of You Couldn’t Make It Up has been working overtime in Indonesia lately. Parliament has just confirmed a notorious corruption suspect to head the police, and the President thinks he can make fishermen richer by sinking ships.
Watching Indonesia from far away through the filter of the Twittering classes and foreign news coverage, it’s hard not to be mildly despairing that new president Joko Widodo’s promise of a Mental Revolution has melted so quickly back into playground politics.
Tomorrow ushers in a new era for Indonesian politics. For the first time since 1957, when then president Sukarno did away with parliamentary democracy, the country will have an executive and a legislature that have different loyalties. But for the first time, too, there may be a chance of amputating the ageing hands that have so leadenly guided the nation’s political parties for the past decade and a half.
So it has happened: Indonesia’s democracy has been undermined by the nation’s elected representatives. When I wrote a fortnight ago about the threat posed by parliament’s discussion of the local election bill, I was still hopeful. In a month of travel in Eastern Indonesia