INDONESIA PROJECT NEWS No. 12 July - December 2011

by Trish van der Hoek

The Highlights on the Indonesia Project calendar for the period July–December 2011 were the annual Indonesia Update Conference on the topic Indonesia’s Place in the World, which this year was preceded by a Mini-Update in collaboration with the Lowy Institute in Sydney on Thursday September 29; the 9th H W Arndt Memorial Lecture held on 1 September in collaboration with the Crawford School of Economics and Governance and entitled Globalisation and its Discontents: An Indonesian Perspective , presented by Dr Mari Elka Pangestu, Minister of Trade, Republic of Indonesia; and a public lecture delivered by Sri Mulyani Indrawati, Managing Director of the World Bank, on 23 August  on the topic G20: Issues of Importance for Developing Countries and Indonesia’s role. Co-hosts for this event were the Crawford School of Economics and Government and the Australia Indonesia Institute.

Greg Fealy, Ed Aspinall and Douglas Ramage during Political Update at the 2011 Indonesia Update Conference

The 2011 Indonesia Update Conference, now in its 29th year, on the topic Indonesia’s Place in the World was held at the Australian National University on 30 September–1 October. Convened by Anthony Reid (College of Asia and the Pacific, ANU), the conference attracted around 450 participants from academia, government, NGOs and the business community, including many from Indonesia. The question was whether  Indonesia’s time had finally come, reinvented as a large, stable and reasonably successful democracy, admitted to the world’s top table as a G20 member, and experiencing a growing economy far outpacing most OECD members in recent years. At a time of relentless globalisation in the movement of goods, capital, ideas, fashions, diseases and people, is Indonesia well placed to play its part?   ASEAN, for many years the bedrock of Indonesian foreign policy, is seen as a constraint by some Indonesian officials. Meanwhile the crucial relationships with China place strains on regional unity, while the new politics of global warming and carbon trading, the need to defuse violence in the name of Islam, and growing international flows of people pose new challenges to the Indonesian leadership.

Dewi Fortuna Anwar during her speech at the Update

Indonesia has often been seen as punching below its weight in world affairs, and as a consumer rather than a producer of global trends and ideas. Underperformance of the education and legal systems makes it difficult for Indonesia to act on the world stage as its size merits. Yet the globalising influences are as strong there as anywhere. The 2011 Indonesia Update’s aim was to consider Indonesia’s place as both consumer and producer of global trends in this newly interconnected world.

Academics and policy makers from Indonesia, Australia and elsewhere contributed to the conference. Speakers included established and early-career staff and graduates from Australian, Indonesian and other universities, staff of international agencies, NGOs and research institutions, and government and aid officials.

Podcasts, videos, and powerpoints from this and previous Updates are available from the Indonesia Update website.

A half-day Mini-Update on Indonesia was held on Thursday 29 September at the Lowy Institute for International Policy with the Indonesia Project as co-host, attracting an audience of around 30, comprising media, business people, and Indonesianists.

Sri Mulyani, former Indonesian Minister of Finance and currently Managing Director of the World Bank, gave an address on 23 August 2011 on the G20, Issues of Importance for Developing Countries, and Indonesia’s Role. More than 200 people packed the Molonglo Theatre at the Australian National University to hear her speak. The event was hosted by the Development Policy Centre at the Crawford School of Economics and Government, in association with the Australia-Indonesia Institute and the Crawford School’s Indonesia Project.

A video of Sri Mulyani’s speech can be viewed on the Crawford website.

The 9th HW Arndt Memorial Lecture; Globalisation and its Discontents: An Indonesian Perspective was delivered by Dr Mari Elka Pangestu, Minister of Trade, Republic of Indonesia, on 1 September in collaboration with the Crawford School of Economics and Governance.

Dr Pangestu expounded on the good times Indonesia is experiencing. Commodity prices are high, the economy is buoyant, and the 2008-09 global financial crisis had little impact. The economic and democratic reforms instituted in the wake of the Asian financial crisis have been bedded down successfully. The country is increasingly important on the regional and global stage, through ASEAN, the G20 and many other fora. She continued that in spite of this, the sceptics in the country’s influential political, business and NGO communities towards an open, liberal international economic order are as vocal and vociferous as ever.

A podcast of the talk is available.

The launch of the book that resulted from the 2010 Indonesia Update conference, Employment, Living Standards and Poverty in Contemporary Indonesia, edited by Chris Manning and Sudarno Sumarto, was held on the evening of 22 September 2011 at the Hedley Bull Foyer, ANU.  It was attended by approximately 50 people. Andrew MacIntyre, Dean of the College of Asia and the Pacific, various academics, Indonesianists and PhD students were amongst those who attended.

Andrew Leigh MP, and Chris Manning during the the launch of "Employment, Living Standards and Poverty in Contemporary Indonesia" in Canberra

Andrew Leigh MP, federal member for Fraser, spoke of the importance of poverty studies for Indonesian development. He referred to his earlier interest in Indonesia through his association with the late Herbert Feith and how he had learnt of development problems and poverty in Indonesia first hand when he was in Aceh as a boy. In reply, Chris Manning reflected that perhaps the current President of Indonesia, Bambang Yudhoyono, will be most remembered for the important new policies his government has initiated in the field of support for poorer households and communities.

Approximately 200 researchers from various universities, research institutions and government agencies in Indonesia convened at the 3rd Conference of the Indonesian Regional Science Association (IRSA) International Institute at Andalas University, Padang, West Sumatra, on 19–21 July 2011. The theme was Regional Development and Finances: Challenges for Expanding and Financing Public Services in the Decentralized Era.

The Minister of Planning and Development, Professor Armida Alisyahbana, opened the conference. Professor Iwan Jaya Azis delivered the keynote address on the issue of excess saving in East Asia and how Indonesia should take advantage of this situation.  Dr Eko Luky Wuryanto of the Coordinating Ministry of Economic Affairs and Dr Imron Bulkin of Bappenas then discussed the economic corridors to accelerate growth in Indonesia.  This was followed by the presentation of approximately 100 papers in parallel sessions.  Topics included regional development and economics, fiscal decentralisation, human capital, labour economics, migration, natural resources and the environment.  A complete program of this conference can be viewed on the IRSA website.

Two Indonesia Project staff members supported this event. Dr Ross McLeod delivered a lecture on fiscal decentralisation in Indonesia and Dr Paul Burke held a workshop on instrumental variable techniques.  After the conference, Paul also gave seminars at the Forum Kajian Pembangunan in Jakarta and a brown bag seminar at Padjadjaran University, Bandung.

Sadly, 2011 has seen the retirement of two long standing and valued Indonesia Project staff members, Chris Manning and Ross McLeod, both of whom devoted around 20 years of their lives to the Project.

On 16 September 2011, the College of Asia and the Pacific hosted a cocktail function to celebrate the life and work of Professor Jamie Mackie. Andrew MacIntyre, Chris Manning, Robyn Maxwell, Colin Mackie  and Greg Fealy all spoke about Jamie’s life and work to the Memorial gathering of around 50 people.

Jamie Mackie's son, Colin, spoke at "Celebrating the Life and Work of Jamie Mackie" at the ANU

Our regular Core Activities include the Bulletin of Indonesian Economic Studies (BIES) the Indonesia Study Group seminars and the Jakarta Seminar Series. For previews of the August and December issues of the BIES, click on the following links: August and December . They are also available online.

The Indonesia Study Group (ISG) program remains a dynamic on-campus activity with 20–30 people regularly attending the fortnightly and sometimes weekly seminar presentations and wide ranging discussions. While sessions tend to focus on political and economic issues, a wide range of other topics were covered in the July–December 2011 period, including Population and Human Development, the Pathways and Processes that are Leading Many Poso Jihadis to Disengage from Violence in Central Sulawesi, Food Security and the Logic of Land Transformation in the ‘Outer Islands’, Women’s Majelis Taklim Groups in Northern Ambon, The Female Saints of Java, Evolving Practices of Corporate Social Responsibility in Indonesia’s Pulp and Paper Industry, Child Health and Early-Life Rainfall, Electoral Conflict and the Maturity of Local Democracy, Religion, Politics and Gender in Indonesia, Economic Factors Underpinning Policy Research in Indonesia and Varieties of Cosmopolitanism and Indonesia’s Global Identity. Seminars continue to be attended by academics and students, as well as government officials from AusAID, DFAT and ONA, the Indonesian Embassy, and members of the general public.

Podcasts are available for most of the talks. See the Indonesia Project website for the full list. The last two ISG addresses for 2011 were:

  • Gavin Jones (Asia Research Institute, NUS) Population and human development: Indonesia in comparative perspective
  • Julie Chernov Hwang (Dept of Political Science and International Relations, Goucher College, Baltimore) Relationships, Rational Analysis and Random Acts of Kindness: The Disengagement of Jihadis in Central Sulawesi

The Jakarta Seminar Series, Forum Kajian Pembangunan, is run by a consortium consisting of various institutions in Indonesia, in collaboration with the Indonesia Project. Institutions in the consortium take turns on a monthly basis to host research based policy forums discussing research outcomes related to topical policy issues in Indonesia.

In the period July–December, 6 institutions took turns hosting the Forum for a month. In July, Kemitraan (The Partnership for Governance Reform) hosted a series of discussions, one of which featured Paul Burke of the ANU on the topic of economic growth and political survival. Bank of Indonesia was host during the fasting month of August, which nevertheless was very well attended. A presentation by Gustav Papanek (Boston Institute for Developing Economics), a long-time researcher of Indonesian economic development issues, attracted a record number of more than eighty participants. September’s program was quite short, as its first half coincided with the Idul Fitri holidays. The University of Padjajaran’s Center for Economic and Development Studies hosted two discussions, one on  Indonesia’s recent economic development by Chris Manning and Raden Purnagunawan (in preparation for the December 2011 issue of the BIES), and one on teacher certification, both of which were well attended.

The Indonesia Project co-hosted the October Forum with LPEM FEUI, featuring topics concerning the mineral mining conflict and the economics of M-PESA (a mobile phone-based banking application). Also in October, CSIS Jakarta hosted the launch of Peter McCawley’s ADBI book, The Asian Tsunami. In November, BAPPENAS hosted a series of 4 discussions, including a comparison of Indonesian, Vietnamese and Cambodian labour law—a timely topic given recent labour protests in the country. The last series for the year, in December, was hosted by the Bogor Agricultural University (IPB), with talks on agrarian reform, and the contribution of international tourism to the Indonesian economy.

Overall, nineteen Forum events were held in the second half of the year. Attendance continues to be strong, with relatively even attendance by both men and women, although some topics are better attended than others. A higher number of graduate students, staff of non-governmental organisations and staff of the Indonesian national legislative body are attending the events; hopefully in the future, more will participate.

Other presenters not mentioned above include researchers and academics from Padjadjaran University, Cornell University (Ithaca), University of Indonesia, (Depok), Bogor Agricultural University (IPB), The Arndt-Corden Dept of Economics (ANU), Bappenas, the Indonesian Bureau of Statistics (BPS), The World Bank, AusAID, USAID, Georgetown University, and others.

In October, members of the Forum Organizing Committee also conducted their annual meeting in Jakarta. Thirteen members of the Committee were able to attend to review past events and plan for the future. One immediate plan for implementation is the announcement of hosts as far in advance as possible. Currently, monthly hosts are confirmed until July 2012. Committee members also discussed the possibility of a larger FKP-sponsored event every year. Additionally, it was agreed that future Forum events will be voice-recorded and the file uploaded onto the Forum’s website.

Detailed agenda of these group discussions are available on the website as well as the full seminar paper for most of them.

Times and venues of the forums are on the website and they are free and open to the public. If you would like to subscribe to the email list, please send your contact details (including email address) to

The Project hosted several academic visitors in the second half of 2011. Devanto Pratomo (Senior Lecturer, Faculty of Economics, University of Brawidjaja, Malang, Indonesia) visited from August 24–September 7 to work with Chris Manning on Labour Migration and Occupational Mobility in Indonesia. Susan Olivia and Katy Cornwell, both from Monash University, visited in October to strengthen their ties with the Indonesia Project and both presented seminars. Susan Olivia gave an Economics Department Seminar on Assessing the Impact of Improved Sanitation on Child Health. Katy Cornwell gave an ISG talk on Child Health and Early-Life Rainfall. Tom Pepinski visited from Cornell University, Ithaca, NY, and gave an ISG talk on Varieties of Cosmopolitanism and Indonesia’s Global Identity, Raden Purnagunawan visited to finish the Survey of Recent Development  for the December issue of the BIES and to attend the Indonesia Update, and Gavin Jones  came from the Asia Research Institute, NUS, and gave an ISG talk on Population and human development: Indonesia in comparative perspective and attended discussions concerning the Indonesia Update 2012, which he will be convening with Daniel Suryadarma.

Congratulations to two Indonesia Project PhD students who graduated on 16 December:

  • Ditya Nurdianto
    A General Equilibrium Perspective on Energy and Environmental Policies in ASEAN
    Present position: Staff, Ministry of Foreign Affairs, Republic of Indonesia
  • Raden Muhamad Purnagunawan
    Minimum Wages and Labour Market Outcomes in Decentralised Indonesia
    Present position: Researcher, Centre for Economics and Development Studies (CEDS or LP3E), Department of Economics, Padjajaran University, Bandung, Indonesia

Noteworthy Upcoming Events include:

Update 2012: Professor Gavin Jones and Dr Daniel Suryadarma will be the convenors of the 2012 Indonesia Update: Education in Indonesia. The Update will be conducted on 21–22 September 2012.

Sadli Lecture: Michael Rock , Gilbert F White Fellow from Resources for the Future, Washington DC, is expected to give the 2011 Sadli Lecture on the topic, What Can Indonesia Learn from China’s Industrial Energy Saving Programs?

Mini-Update and Book Launching: It is anticipated that the Update book from the 2011 conference will be launched at a Mini-Update conference in Jakarta in June.


Contact Details:
Indonesia Project
Arndt-Corden Department of Economics
ANU College of Asia & the Pacific
The Australian National University
Canberra ACT 0200
T: +61 2 6125 3794
F: +61 2 6125 3700

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The Indonesia Project wishes to thank ANU and AusAID for their substantial and continuing support.

All underlined items are live links. Please click on the link to read a more detailed article on the topic. For previous issues of the Indonesia Project Newsletter please visit: