Saturday 21 May 2022 | 07:18 | SYDNEY
What's happening on

Indonesia

A flash in the pan? Indonesia’s palm oil export ban

The global vegetable oils industry was stunned after Indonesia’s President Joko Widodo announced late last month that his country, the world’s largest producer of palm oil, would impose a ban on exports. While Jokowi, as the president is widely known, cited domestic shortages in cooking oil as

What is at stake with new provinces in West Papua?

On 12 April, the Indonesian parliament announced plans to establish three new provinces in West Papua. Currently, the western part of the island of New Guinea consists of two provinces: West Papua Province and Papua Province. The plan is to break down these two administrative regions into five, with

Can Shah Rukh Khan help India “Act East”?

Of all the findings about how Indonesians view the world revealed by the Lowy Institute Indonesia Poll, it was notable that India fared rather unfavourably. The poll revealed that only 41 per cent of Indonesians report trust in India, a 17-point fall since a previous Lowy Poll in 2006. In the

Democracy or dynasty? Megawati delivers Jokowi a clip

A video clip dating from 2019 featuring Indonesia’s former president Megawati Sukarnoputri has caused a stir on Indonesian social media in recent weeks. The video shows Megawati, now chair of the Democratic Party of Struggle (PDI-P ), the largest political party in the country’s ruling coalition

Stiffening the ASEAN spine in the South China Sea

“Coalition” is one of those politically loaded terms that the sovereignty-conscious member-states of ASEAN tend to avoid – especially in dealing with disputed claims in the South China Sea. Keeping the region away from direct conflict with its giant neighbour the People’s Republic of China

Reading Southeast Asia on Ukraine 

Southeast Asia doesn’t much matter to the outcome of a war far away in Europe. Yet Southeast Asian countries responses to Russia’s invasion of Ukraine offer an insight into the region’s ability to navigate sharpening major power rivalries. So how does the region’s response stack up so far

Courting change for Indonesia’s invisible brides

This month, the Australia Indonesia Partnership for Justice 2 (AIPJ2) published data on child marriage in Indonesia in collaboration with a number of Indonesian government agencies. On the face of it, this may look like another set of numbers. However the fact it was published at all is quite a feat

Indonesia makes a big defence statement

The fuss made over Friday’s Quad meeting in Melbourne is quite out of proportion to the group’s significance. Australians shouldn’t take any comfort from rhetoric about democratic solidarity and common values. The bonds holding together the quadrilateral relationship between the United States

Indonesia standing between great powers

China recently upped its game against Indonesia in the South China Sea. It lodged an unprecedented protest over exploratory off-shore drilling for natural gas in waters known as the Tuna block, arguing this activity was a violation of China’s territory. Sanctioned by the Indonesian government, the

Could minilateralism work in the South China Sea?

Tensions with China over the South China Sea have prompted Indonesia to invite maritime security officials from five ASEAN member states – Brunei, the Philippines, Malaysia, Singapore and Vietnam – to meet in February to discuss a possible joint response to Beijing’s growing assertiveness.

Australia-Indonesia: burn the boats

Last week, Australian Border Force released photographs of burning Indonesian fishing vessels allegedly caught fishing illegally in Australian waters. Border Force reported it had found 16 Indonesian vessels operating unlawfully near the Rowley Shoals Marine Park off the northern coast of Western

Australia, Indonesia and climate change

In February 2020, Indonesia’s President Joko Widodo made a state visit to Australia and addressed a joint sitting of the Australian parliament. This was a rare privilege granted to only a few world leaders, and Indonesia’s popular president – known as Jokowi – used the opportunity to

Australia should donate surplus vaccine to Indonesia

In the middle of this pandemic, every vaccine is precious. Australia should give its spare locally-made AstraZeneca vaccines to friends in Indonesia. Indonesia has a vacuum of need for vaccines that is predominantly being filled by China, and yet Australia happens to have millions of spare doses

Indonesia: painted politics

Street art has been much discussed across Indonesia’s airwaves in the last couple of months. Three spray-painted murals expressing a critical perspective on the government’s handling of the Covid-19 pandemic were quickly covered over by officials, igniting heated debates about free expression

AUKUS + Indonesia

The debut of AUKUS – the trilateral military grouping between Australia, the United Kingdom and the United States – has sent a shockwave across the Indo-Pacific. Prime Minister Scott Morrison’s government seems to have turned its back on Australia’s newer partners in Asia in favour of older

Diagnosing Indonesia’s health challenges

In July, Indonesia was dubbed one of the global epicentres for Covid-19. Media reports warned of a health system collapse and cemeteries overwhelmed with burial demands. But a little more than a month later, Indonesia’s situation seems to be improving. The second week of September marked seven

The right climate for Indonesia-United States cooperation

Indonesia is feeling a little ignored. The recent visit by US Vice President Kamal Harris to Vietnam and Singapore led to speculation that Indonesia was not a priority for the Biden administration. “Snubbed again, Joe?” read one local headline. A few weeks beforehand, US Defence Secretary Lloyd

Will Jokowi pull off a three-peat?

On 13 August, Indonesia’s President Joko Widodo, better known as Jokowi, granted an audience to Bambang Soesatyo, Speaker of the People’s Consultative Assembly (MPR), to discuss how to advance some “limited” constitutional amendments. The country’s press was immediately abuzz with interest

Hobbling Indonesia’s anti-corruption body

Ask any Indonesian about their country’s most pressing problem and more likely than not the answers you’ll get are “the economy” and “corruption”. This is with good reason. Indonesia ranks 102 of 179 on Transparency International’s 2020 Corruption Perception Index, falling over four

Building stronger Australia-Indonesia ties

When then Indonesian President Susilo Bambang Yudhoyono addressed the Australian parliament in 2010, he argued that the bilateral relationship faced four major challenges: improving mutual public understanding, managing diplomatic differences, boosting economic ties and adapting to emerging regional

How Gaza occupies Indonesia’s identity wars

Indonesia’s public debate over the issue of Palestinian rights was reawakened by the latest violence, which claimed at least 243 lives in Gaza and 12 in Israel before an eventual ceasefire. Social media was especially animated by vehement arguments as most Indonesians – 86.7% of whom identify as

PNG can’t turn a blind eye to the conflict next door

A video recently surfaced on social media in Papua New Guinea, featuring a group of about 20 men, gathered around their apparent leader, declaring war on Indonesia. “People of East Sepik,” the leader says, referring to one of the two provinces which stretch along PNG’s northern coastline

Andrew Peacock’s Timor legacy

Since his death on 13 April, tributes to former Australian foreign minister and leader of the federal opposition Andrew Peacock have flowed from across the political divide. He has been remembered as a huge figure who left an “indelible” mark on Australia in the 1970s and 1980s. Former Liberal

Indonesia raises ASEAN’s bar on Myanmar

For much of his presidency, Indonesia’s Joko Widodo has taken a mercantilist view of foreign policy, pushing the country’s diplomats to promote trade and investment while keeping their heads below the parapet on most thorny international issues. Indonesia’s inward-looking approach compounded

Indonesia gambles on special ASEAN summit on Myanmar

In a bid to resolve Myanmar’s political crisis sparked by the February military coup, Indonesia will host a leaders’ summit for the Association of Southeast Asian Nations (ASEAN) in Jakarta on 24 April. Myanmar’s coup leader, Senior General Min Aung Hlaing, is expected to attend,

Helping Indonesia’s children in a time of pandemic

While the Indonesian government is taking important steps to improve pandemic management – appointing a new Health Minister and Minister of Social Affairs and preparing to provide a free vaccine for all – its attention is mostly focused on adults, people with underlying health conditions

The cleric shell game in Indonesia

When Indonesian authorities recently banned well-known extremist group the Islamic Defenders’ Front (FPI) – having first arrested its leader, Rizieq Shihab – many lauded the move as a bold pushback against radicalism. But, weeks later, the world was equally stunned to learn that

Australia-Indonesia relations need to talk the talk

This year has been one of great tumult at Australian universities. Not least are the nonsensical proposals to axe Indonesian language programs by several universities, such as La Trobe, Western Sydney University and Murdoch. Australian universities are closing the door of opportunity to the

Indonesia’s Omnibus Law won’t kill corruption

Indonesia's new Omnibus Law has attracted a great deal of commentary. As a piece of legislation meant to make investing in the country easier, its provisions, including changes to labour rights and environmental protection, were controversial enough to spark mass protests. But one feature

What RCEP can tell us about geopolitics in Asia

Much of the economic gains from the newly signed mega trade deal known as the Regional Comprehensive Economic Partnership will come from mitigating what is called the Asian “noodle bowl effect”. The deal will harmonise what have to date been separate rules of origin across the region into

Indonesian cleric re-enters the fray

The return of Jakarta’s notorious cleric Rizieq Shihab portends more upset in Indonesia’s devastating year of pandemic and recession. But for the thousands of Islamic Defenders Front, or FPI, who gathered at the Soekarno-Hatta Airport just outside Jakarta to welcome the religious leader’s

Pages