Wednesday 20 Jan 2021 | 23:48 | SYDNEY
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Indonesia

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

Keeping West Papua on the agenda

When Vanuatu’s Prime Minister Bob Loughman addressed the UN General Assembly last month, he echoed a concern that has often been expressed by his predecessors, not about the Pacific directly, but about alleged human rights abuses in West Papua. “The world is taking a selective approach

Covid-19 and Indonesian monetary policy

Even before the Covid-19 pandemic, it had become routine for central banks in rich countries to help fund budget deficits by buying government bonds. “Quantitative easing” (QE) has been common since the 2008 global financial crisis, keeping interest rates down. With Covid, some central banks

Indonesia – a country of disappointments

Ben Bland paints an insightful and intriguing portrait of Indonesia's leader in his new book, Man of Contradictions: Joko Widodo and the struggle to remake Indonesia. Jokowi, as the president is known, is a fascinating personality – a man who leapt from being a furniture maker to city mayor (of

The (un)making of Joko Widodo

Book Review: Ben Bland, Man of Contradictions: Joko Widodo and the struggle to remake Indonesia (Penguin, Lowy Institute, 2020) Indonesian President Joko Widodo, a man once dubbed “a new hope” for democracy, has instead presided over a period of democratic stagnation and regression, according

Where next for MIKTA?

After seven years, the informal middle power partnership bringing together Mexico, Indonesia, South Korea, Turkey and Australia (MIKTA), has achieved less than optimists envisioned, but lasted longer than pessimists imagined. MIKTA emerged from the G20 in 2013, bringing together middle powers

Brookings Report: Historical tensions and contemporary governance challenges in Southeast Asia: The case of Indonesia

In this report published by the Brookings Institution, Ben Bland explains why Western nations need to engage with Indonesia in its own right, not as a part of plan to counterbalance China. To do so successfully, they need to develop a much better understanding of the long-running (and ongoing)

Indonesia: Still caught between trade and protectionism

The entry into force of an ambitious Indonesia-Australia trade deal on Sunday is a boost to the bilateral relationship, coming after nearly a decade of difficult negotiations. No two neighbouring G20 economies trade as little as Australia and Indonesia, and the investment relationship is similarly

West Papua: Looking for an opening

When the world is grappling with the kind of calamity few of us have experienced before, it can be easy to forget other crises. Climate change springs to mind. So, too, does the record level of human displacement around the world, a problem largely driven by conflict. That brings us to the long-

Maluku: Obscure and notorious

We were 45 metres up, precariously perched on a platform in the rainforest canopy, looking north towards West Papua as the early morning mist cleared to reveal the shimmering coastline. “They arrested him near the waterfall, just on the other side of the valley over there,” said Pak Johan. He

Economic diplomacy: Indonesian trade deals and real deals

Moving on It is notable that while the three old Cs (curry, cricket, and the Commonwealth) still reappear at Australia-India gatherings, this week’s Indonesian summitry occurred with little reference to the parallel three Bs (boats, beef, and Bali). These two strange neighbours seem

Australia-Indonesia: Building trust

Indonesian Foreign Minister Retno Marsudi highlighted the importance of developing what she called “strategic trust” in Australia-Indonesia relations, just ahead of the visit to Canberra this week by President Joko Widodo (“Jokowi”). Retno declared a more trusting Australia-Indonesia

Jokowi’s Canberra trip: A step ahead on a long road

In any relationship, it’s never a great sign when both parties have to reassure each other constantly about the strength of their bond. The more you feel the need to say it, the less true it tends to be. So it was revealing that both Australian Prime Minister Scott Morrison and Indonesian

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