INDONESIA IN 2010: Moving on from the Democratic Honeymoon

By Platzdasch, Bernhard | Southeast Asian Affairs, January 1, 2011 | Go to article overview
Save to active project

INDONESIA IN 2010: Moving on from the Democratic Honeymoon


Platzdasch, Bernhard, Southeast Asian Affairs


Until a few years ago, appraisals of Indonesia as Southeast Asia's foremost democratic success story were common place. There has been broad consensus that Indonesia is a model of procedural democracy, most of all manifest in three successfully held consecutive national elections. President Susilo Bambang Yudhoyono has been described as a reliable partner to Western nations, a Muslim moderate, and a pohtical stabilizer. Owing to his credentials as a reformer, he has also been termed a "political game-changer".1 Indeed, Yudhoyono's administration received deserved praise for its resolution of communal conflicts and for its reformist economic pohcies. Under the rigorous leadership of Finance Minister Sri Mulyani Indrawati, state finances and tax structures were improved, corrupt officials in the customs and tax services replaced, and fuel subsidies reduced.2 The President made it a priority to end three decades of futile military oppression of the province of Aceh; he also spearheaded a successful campaign against Islamic terrorism. In Papua, the role of the army and police has been less restrained than elsewhere and human rights abuses still occur frequently, but special autonomy has delivered substantial local civilian rule.

During 2010 many observers, however, began to question how successful Indonesia's democratic consolidation had been. Over the last two to three years they have gradually been replaced by a more balanced and more sober perspective on the country's state of affairs. It has gradually become clear that Indonesia's swift transition to democratic rule and its proud standing as the world's largest Mu slim- majority democracy has clouded over underlying and deeply rooted deficiencies in the country's political culture.3

The year 2010 reinforced the view that improving the quality and efficiency of Indonesia's public institutions and the extension of internal reforms in a poorly performing bureaucracy and police force remain among the biggest challenges for Yudhoyono's government. Several high-profile corruption cases revealed the country's legal system to be graft ridden. Despite the creation of independent bodies such as the Judicial Commission, the successes of procedural democracy have done little to strengthen the rule of law. These deficiencies render Yudhoyono's second term in office somewhat of a second transitional period in post-New Order Indonesia, as much defined by irresolution as by growing awareness of persistent shortcomings. In his state of the nation address on 16 October 2010 the President thus announced "a second wave of reform". This second wave, he said, was "not about changing but accentuating the objectives (of the first wave) ... and to increase the pace of change".4

A Bad Start to a Shaky Coalition

The year 2010 had a decidedly adversarial start, one that would leave its mark on much of the remainder of the year and severely disrupt the government's work. It dawned with the breaking of a major political scandal and the early rumblings of an interrelated and, as it turned out, even more momentous affair. Several other messy and lengthy corruption and tax evasion cases were to follow. Underlining the longevity of these and other sticking points, Edward Aspinall predicted in 2009 's review of Indonesia in this publication that various shortcomings "pointed toward future dangers" and that they exposed "underlying systemic problems in Indonesian democracy".5

The two most serious political scandals of 2010 were carried over from 2009: In late 2009, two members of Indonesia's Corruption Eradication Commission (KPK, Komisi Pemberantasan Korupsi) - Chandra Hamzah and Bibit Samad Rianto - were accused of graft.6 The eventual evidence, presented in late 2010, pointed to a complex plot involving the office of (former) Attorney General Hendarman Supandji, members of the National Police, and a shady businessman by the name of Anggodo Widjojo, to bring down the KPK.

The rest of this article is only available to active members of Questia

Sign up now for a free, 1-day trial and receive full access to:

  • Questia's entire collection
  • Automatic bibliography creation
  • More helpful research tools like notes, citations, and highlights
  • Ad-free environment

Already a member? Log in now.

Notes for this article

Add a new note
If you are trying to select text to create highlights or citations, remember that you must now click or tap on the first word, and then click or tap on the last word.
Loading One moment ...
Project items
Notes
Cite this article

Cited article

Style
Citations are available only to our active members.
Sign up now to cite pages or passages in MLA, APA and Chicago citation styles.

Cited article

INDONESIA IN 2010: Moving on from the Democratic Honeymoon
Settings

Settings

Typeface
Text size Smaller Larger
Search within

Search within this article

Look up

Look up a word

  • Dictionary
  • Thesaurus
Please submit a word or phrase above.
Print this page

Print this page

Why can't I print more than one page at a time?

While we understand printed pages are helpful to our users, this limitation is necessary to help protect our publishers' copyrighted material and prevent its unlawful distribution. We are sorry for any inconvenience.
Full screen

matching results for page

Cited passage

Style
Citations are available only to our active members.
Sign up now to cite pages or passages in MLA, APA and Chicago citation styles.

Cited passage

Welcome to the new Questia Reader

The Questia Reader has been updated to provide you with an even better online reading experience.  It is now 100% Responsive, which means you can read our books and articles on any sized device you wish.  All of your favorite tools like notes, highlights, and citations are still here, but the way you select text has been updated to be easier to use, especially on touchscreen devices.  Here's how:

1. Click or tap the first word you want to select.
2. Click or tap the last word you want to select.

OK, got it!

Thanks for trying Questia!

Please continue trying out our research tools, but please note, full functionality is available only to our active members.

Your work will be lost once you leave this Web page.

For full access in an ad-free environment, sign up now for a FREE, 1-day trial.

Already a member? Log in now.

Are you sure you want to delete this highlight?