Learning about Indonesian language, history, society and culture

Month: November, 2014

Ahok Goes Social

On the Indonesian social media news site Boomee there is an Interesting social media case study (in Indonesian) looking at the reaction to Basuki Tjahaja Purnama (Ahok), a Chinese Indonesian Christian becoming Governor of Jakarta following the rise of former Governor Joko Widodo to President.

Whilst there have been violent street demonstrations by the irascible Islamic Defenders Front (Front Pembela Islam) and allies, this is a reminder that other voices have more creative ways to get their voices heard.

Notable among the contributions are a couple of catchy songs that have gone viral online. Yet although these videos are supportive of Ahok in their message, they could themselves be accused of bad taste (a stereotyped Chinese character in one, references to ‘slanted eyes’ (mata sipit) in the other).


Cash Flows: Money Politics in Indonesia

I have previously discussed dynastic politics in post Suharto Indonesia and the interlinking of national and local politics. A recent issue of Critical Asian Studies has brought me back to thinking about this. In particular Edward Aspinall’s article ‘When Brokers Betray: Clientelism, Social Networks, and Electoral Politics in Indonesia’ (the article is available open access). Two key themes come out of this (beyond the pervasiveness of money politics) as far as I can see. One is the personalisation of Indonesian politics and the other is the instability of the networks involved.

In explaining the personalisation of these networks he highlights several factors:

Introduction of direct elections for local government heads in 2005

Introduction of open list proportional representation in legislative elections from 2009 (voters generally vote for either a party or candidate. Seats are allocated to parties on the basis of their share of vote summed from votes from the part and individuals from their party. Then seats are allocated to individuals based on their individual share of the vote vs other candidates within their party. So candidates are incentivised to campaign for themselves more than their party).

Importance of clan, family and patronage networks held by influential local notables especially in poorer and more isolated

Whilst this all resonates very much with what else I have read on political networks in Indonesia, in the other theme of the article, that is the instability of these networks, I can see a tension with the cartelisation thesis of Dan Slater. I think I am still a long way off understanding the balance of stability and fluidity in the Indonesian political system, but at least these approaches provide tools to start getting to grips with it.