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In the Talking Indonesia podcast, Dr Dave McRae, Dr Jemma Purdey, Dr Jacqui Baker and Tito Ambyo present an extended interview each fortnight with experts on Indonesian politics, foreign policy, culture, language and more. Find all the Talking Indonesia podcasts and more at the Indonesia at Melbourne blog.
 
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Indonesian Islam has long been lauded as tolerant and "moderate". It is this moderate character that has enabled Indonesia – the world largest Muslim-majority country – to become a flourishing democracy, unlike many Muslim-majority countries in the Persian Gulf region. But recent years have seen rising Islamic conservatism in Indonesia, a trend tha…
 
Dr Elisabeth Kramer - Political candidates and anti-corruptionism Indonesia has announced it will conduct its next general elections on 14 February 2024, to select a new president and vice president, and members of the national, provincial and district legislatures. This will be the largest electoral event in Indonesia’s history, with more candidat…
 
Taking care of the environment in Indonesia, which has one of the highest levels of biodiversity in the world, is a massive challenge. Covid-19 has intensified this challenge, presenting new threats and accentuating old ones. The democratic regression and post-truth politics that have become a feature of Indonesia over recent years are also directl…
 
In 2022, Indonesia holds the rotating presidency of the Group of 20 (G20) a forum of 19 of the world’s major economies along with the EU. Indonesia has assumed the presidency at a time when the forum is bitterly divided over Russia’s invasion of Ukraine – in April, western finance officials walked out of a G20 meeting when Russian delegates were sp…
 
Indonesia’s largest Muslim organisation, Nahdlatul Ulama (NU), claims membership of 40 to 45 million people, and has long occupied a highly significant position in Indonesian society and politics. One of its most high-profile leaders (and Indonesia’s fourth president), Abdurrahman Wahid, remains a symbol for pluralism, remembered for his role in th…
 
In 2005, in the wake of Aceh’s devastating tsunami, the Indonesian government signed the Helsinki Peace Agreement, drawing to a close a thirty-year conflict with the Free Aceh Movement (GAM), which sought independence for the province. That agreement committed the parties to establishing a truth and reconciliation commission, designed to examine th…
 
One of the challenges that many countries around the world face when tackling the Covid-19 pandemic is widespread misinformation and disinformation polluting public discourse on health.In Indonesia, misinformation and disinformation often influence the way political, health, environmental and religious issues are talked about publicly. But the way …
 
Russia's invasion of Ukraine has been front of mind across much of the world for the past month – with Indonesia no exception. The Indonesian government has not joined the western sanctions regime nor criticised Russia by name in its statements, but it did support a UN resolution condemning Russian aggression. Most striking in Indonesian responses …
 
Dr Dicky Budiman - Omicron waveIndonesia has recorded more than 5.5 million cases of Covid-19 and more than 148,000 deaths since the beginning of the pandemic. These are official figures, assumed by epidemiologists to be far lower than the actual impact of the disease on the population.In July and August 2021, as the deadly Delta wave swept across …
 
Major social and technological innovation is expected to be required if countries are to meet development challenges into the future. But government initiatives have typically had limited success in driving the transformative change required. Recent years have seen increasing instances of the private sector financing startups to meet societal chall…
 
In the 80s and 90s, the influence of hip-hop in the music industry and urban cultures of Indonesia was unmistakable. One of the first nationally successful rappers in Indonesia was Iwa K, with his hit Bebas. Legendary hip-hop band Homicide, led by Heri "Ucok" Sutresna (aka Morgue Vanguard), gained a devoted following for its socially conscious, pol…
 
Progressive politics in Indonesia has historically enjoyed only a narrow support base. Nevertheless, there have been several attempts to mobilise the support of progressives for political purposes. In this week’s Talking Indonesia podcast, Dr Dave McRae chats with Dr Amalinda Savirani about one such example, the emergence of the Indonesian Solidari…
 
Researchers in Indonesia studying human society and its workings no longer operate under the strictures of the authoritarian era, when those working in the field of social science were expected to support the regime's policies. But do contemporary Indonesian social scientists enjoy the freedom to conduct socially relevant research on any topic of t…
 
Tito Ambyo - Supernaturalism onlineGhosts, spirits, kuntilanak, tuyul, and pocong. For most Indonesians these are familiar and, in some ways, even comforting companions from the supernatural realm. Ghost stories are passed down through generations, regardless of class, religion or belief system, and horror has long been a staple of Indonesian liter…
 
Both the Indonesian government and universities have sought to increase the international outlook of the sector in recent years, for example, through proposals to increase the number of foreign staff working in Indonesian universities, and by tying pay and promotion to international publications. But there has also been disquiet about the restricti…
 
The COP-26 climate summit in November – the 26th Conference of the Parties (COP) to the United Nations Framework Convention on Climate Change (UNFCCC) – focused the world’s attention on the challenges of global warming and government responses to it. But what targets has the Indonesian government set for itself, how were these targets formulated, a…
 
Road to 2024 - Philips VermonteThe Indonesian government and General Elections Commission (KPU) have yet to agree on a date for the next legislative and presidential elections, which must be held by May 2024. Even though the concurrent elections are still more than two years away, with no incumbent candidate on the 2024 presidential ticket, gossip …
 
The Covid-19 pandemic has caused the most severe economic contraction since Indonesia's 1997-98 financial crisis, posing a stern challenge for recovery. Covid-19 struck amid a push by the Indonesian government to increase the role of science and technology in driving economic development. The government enacted a new Science and Technology Law in 2…
 
Please note that this episode discusses gender violence that some people may find disturbing or triggering. Listener discretion is advised.Images have always played an important role in Indonesia, not just in everyday life, but also in its ever-changing political landscape. Terms like pencitraan (political image building) are commonly heard during …
 
Dr Robertus Robet – Academic FreedomRecently, a number of high-profile cases have highlighted growing threats to academic freedom in Indonesia, amid a broader environment of shrinking civic space. Last month, the imprisonment of Dr Saiful Mahdi from Syaih Kuala University in Aceh, under the draconian Law on Information and Electronic Transactions (…
 
Last month, Time published its annual list of the 100 Most Influential People. Under the category of ‘Pioneers’, alongside pop star Billie Eilish, was an Indonesian scientist from the University of Gadjah Mada (UGM), Professor Adi Utarini.Professor Utarini is head of the Eliminate Dengue Project at the UGM Faculty of Medicine, funded by the Tahija …
 
Despite the fact that Indonesia’s deforestation rate reached a historic low in 2020, the social, cultural, and ecological wellbeing of people whose livelihoods depend on forests has continued to suffer greatly. The indigenous Marind people in Papua, for example, have seen 1.2 million hectares of their lands and forests targeted for oil palm and tim…
 
Yogyakarta is famous for its bustling cultural scene and its cosmopolitan, artistic atmosphere. But the Covid-19 pandemic has seen Yogyakarta’s arts scene grind to a halt. With health restrictions and regulations against public gatherings, it has been almost impossible for artists to continue performing, and this situation has severely affected the…
 
In recent years Indonesian cinema has enjoyed great success and acclaim at international film festivals around the world. In 2017 Mouly Surya’s film 'Marlina the Murderer in Four Acts' was met with rave reviews when it premiered at Cannes Film Festival and last month Edwin’s 'Vengeance Is Mine, All Other’s Pay Cash', based on the novel of the same …
 
Indonesia’s once-feted Corruption Eradication Commission (KPK) established itself as one of the most trusted institutions in Indonesia, through its prosecutions of ministers, heads of state agencies, political party figures and legislators from across the political spectrum, as well as judicial and law enforcement officers.But the KPK’s many oppone…
 
In July, Indonesia recorded its highest daily numbers of new coronavirus cases, making it the epicentre of the global pandemic, ahead of India and Brazil. The daily peak of 55,000 cases in mid-July, though shocking, only represented cases confirmed by PCR testing and reported by the government in its national tally. For many epidemiologists and oth…
 
Please note that this episode discusses gender violence that some people may find disturbing or triggering. Listener discretion is advised.UN Women recently described violence against women during Covid-19 as "the shadow pandemic". As Covid-19 has gotten worse, so has women’s experiences of domestic violence. Indonesia’s National Commission on Viol…
 
On 15 July, the Indonesian legislature (DPR) revised special autonomy legislation for Papua and West Papua provinces, extending the provision of additional funds to the two provinces. The extension of special autonomy – or otsus – has been hotly debated for 18 months, with many civil society groups and independence supporters rejecting special auto…
 
Dicky Budiman: the worsening pandemic crisisWe are bringing you this episode early this week in response to the current escalation in the pandemic crisis in Indonesia, especially in Java. Last week, 16 months after announcing its first case of COVID-19, Indonesia passed the ominous milestone of 2 million officially recorded cases, and daily case nu…
 
As the coronavirus pandemic extends into its second year, digital literacy is more important now than ever. Misinformation and hoaxes are everywhere. Cultural and political contests on social media have also become more intense, and politicians are already beginning to position themselves ahead of the 2024 elections. Being digitally literate entail…
 
The Indonesian government is aiming to vaccinate two-thirds of the population in order to reach herd immunity against the Covid-19 virus, but the sheer size of the population and its geographical extent make the vaccination task a very challenging one. In order to balance the vaccination drive with on-going productivity, they have enlisted the help…
 
Mass protest movements have increasingly become a feature of Indonesian democracy. The massive #ReformasiDikorupsi (“Reform Corrupted”) protests in 2019 were hailed as the largest democratic reform protests in the country in two decades. Nearly three years earlier, Islamist groups also showed their ability to mobilise through their “Defence of Isla…
 
President Joko "Jokowi" Widodo disappointed environmentalists at home and internationally last month, when he failed to set a date for Indonesia to reach net-zero emissions at US President Joe Biden's recent virtual climate summit. Leading up to the event, officials suggested Indonesia was considering setting a target of reaching net-zero by 2070.J…
 
Transgender women, commonly called waria, are an important part of contemporary Indonesian society. Growing discussion of LGBTQIA+ issues have seen gender and sexual minorities become increasingly visible in Indonesian public life, especially among younger and urban Indonesian populations.But what about the important role long played by waria in In…
 
In late March, Indonesia faced two terror attacks in the space of a week, with a husband and wife conducting a suicide bombing against a cathedral in Makassar, and a woman attacking Indonesian police headquarters carrying an Airsoft gun. Indonesian police described the perpetrators of both attacks as supporters of the Islamic State or ISIS – the gr…
 
International Women’s Day was celebrated on 8 March. It aims to commemorate the cultural, political, and socioeconomic achievements of women and bring attention to issues such as gender equality, reproductive rights, and violence against women. Since the fall of Soeharto, the Indonesian women's movement has been instrumental in pushing for affirmat…
 
What are effects of the Covid-19 pandemic on children and vulnerable populations in Indonesia? As most schools and educational institutions have been closed for more than a year, many children have to shelter in places that may not always be ideal. The pandemic has also restricted opportunities for children and vulnerable populations to express the…
 
The December 2020 elections for mayors and governors marked the beginning of Indonesia’s fourth wave of direct local elections. Mayors and governors have been directly elected by popular vote since 2005, replacing a previous system of indirect election by local legislatures that was widely perceived as corrupt. Most candidates though are still nomi…
 
Dr Ines Atmosukarto - COVID-19 and the vaccineOver the past few months, the Covid-19 crisis in Indonesia has escalated, with daily case numbers and deaths from the virus hitting record levels week after week. Without strict lockdowns, government efforts to encourage the public to comply with social distancing and masking advice has not been effecti…
 
At the end of what has been a challenging year, governments around the world are imposing movement restriction orders to prevent Christians from traveling home and congregating at churches. The issue of restricting people’s rights to practice their religious rituals due to Covid-19 is a challenging and controversial one. However, in a country such …
 
Religious harmony is a persistent challenge in Indonesia, whether between adherent to different religions or within each religious community. During the early years of the democratic transition, thousands of Indonesians were killed in large-scale inter-religious conflicts in several provinces in the east of the country; long after these conflicts h…
 
Indonesia has long been known as one of the most active Facebook and Twitter nations, but more recently Instagram has become the social media platform of choice for many young Indonesians. Some of the platform’s most prolific users are female Islamic activists who are keen to utilize social media as novel tools for proselytisation (or da’wa). Why d…
 
Rafiqa Quaratta A'yun - the omnibus Law on Job CreationSince early October, large-scale protests have taken place on the streets of Jakarta and other cities around Indonesia in opposition to the new omnibus Law on Job Creation (UU Cipta Kerja). The 1000+ page law includes 186 articles and revises 77 existing laws, yet it took a relatively short tim…
 
Indonesia’s micro, small and medium enterprises sector – in which most Indonesians work - has been hard hit by public health measures in response to the pandemic and by the broader economic downturn. How have these impacts varied for different micro, small and medium enterprises? How has the sector adapted to the pandemic? And has government assist…
 
Illegal, undocumented and unregulated fishing became one of the most prominent issues of the first term Jokowi government. Its prominence arose in part because of repeated confrontations at sea with the fishing fleets and coastguard of China and Vietnam, but more notably owing to the hardline enforcement approach of Jokowi’s first term fisheries mi…
 
According to Unicef, more than 60 million students in Indonesia have been temporarily out of school due to COVID-19, presenting the country’s education sector with unprecedented challenges. How have schools responded to these challenges? How have children and parents reacted? And what are the likely long-term implications of prolonged home schoolin…
 
A/Prof Marcus Mietzner - the Soekarno dynastyThe Soekarno dynasty is arguably Indonesia’s first and certainly most successful political family – able to count two presidents and the country’s largest political party, PDI-P - as its legacy, so far. Soekarno himself, was the nation’s founding father and first president and his daughter, Megawati, its…
 
Recent years in Indonesia have seen repeated instances of the hacking of activists’ social media accounts, the defacing of media websites, as well as the activities of political influencers and automated bots attacking critics and promoting a pro-government line. On top of these digital attacks, the Indonesian government also twice throttled or shu…
 
The relationship between Indonesia and Australia has not always been smooth, but the people of the two countries have mostly supported each other during times of crises. What is the state of Indonesia-Australia relations during these times of increasing international detachment and the defunding of public diplomacy programs? What are some of the co…
 
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