The Indonesia Study Group in the second semester of 2018

There were 21 Indonesia Study Group (ISG) seminars  held in 2018, with 13 of those in the first semester and the remaining were held in the second semester. The seminars continued to serve wide-ranging topics of Indonesian society, from labour market, family planning, 2019 election, to the apocalyptic discourses on Indonesia Islamism.  Three out of the eight seminars that were held in the second semester were given by international speakers from prominent institutions, such as Auckland University of Technology and the Institute for Democracy and Electoral Assistance (IDEA).

The second semester ISG started with a seminar by ANU Indonesia Project’s Honorary Associate Professor, Chris Manning, who spoke about the main findings from a recently published Asian Development Bank (ADB) book entitled “Indonesia: Enhancing productivity through quality jobs“. The seminar discussed interesting views of several new developments under Jokowi era, and what kind of policy dilemmas that practitioners find in the field.

In August, Sharyn Graham Davies from Auckland University of Technology presented a seminar on the women police in Indonesia, including the public furore concerning the recruitment steps and the consumed beauty in social media sites. This seminar reflected Indonesia Project’s continuing initiative to bring gender issue as one of the highlighted topics in ISG seminars. On the following week, Professor Hefrizal Handra from Andalas University, spoke about the role of village fund in reducing poverty in Indonesia. Prof. Hefrizal was one of the recipients of Indonesia Project Visiting Fellows program that aims to promote and assist Indonesian academics to visit ANU for undertaking scholarly research.

Professor Prema Chandra Athukorala presented his paper on the opportunity of Indonesia to join the global production networks at the end of September. The same topic was also presented at the 2018 Hadi Soesastro Policy Forum (HSPF) lecture that was held on July in Jakarta. In this seminar, Prof. Athukorala outlined how Indonesian manufacturing fits into the rising trend of global production networks and what how Indonesia performs compared to other major Asian countries.

In the following month, Chris Hoy, PhD Candidate from the Crawford School of Public Policy, discussed his research on whether perception of inequality has an effect on people’s concern about redistribution. This research is based on a Randomised Control Trial (RCT) experiment that surveyed over 3,700 Indonesians.


During Professor  Terry Hull’s Indonesia Study Group seminar on family planning program in Indonesia last November

In November, Professor Terry Hull from ANU School of Demography spoke to a full house audience about the institutional renewal of family planning program in Indonesia. He highlighted the lethargic fertility trends in Indonesia in recent years and the urgency to promote inter-agency coordination for family planning program implementation, both in logistical and service delivery. The seminar also discussed the new exposure of the new national health insurance system that should change the management of the family planning system.

To welcome 2019 as the election year, together with the Department of Political and Social Change (PSC), a special joint seminar was held in December 11. The seminar , titled “Road to Indonesia’s 2019 legislative and presidential election’ was chaired by Dr. Greg Fealy with a panel of speakers. The panel comprised Adhy Aman , senior program manager from the IDEA; Hasyim Asyari, commissioner of Indonesian General Elections Commission (KPU); and Fritz Siregar, commissioner of the legal division of Indonesian Electoral Supervisory Body (Bawaslu). Both KPU and Bawaslu are two pivotal offices that organise and monitor the elections. The seminar discussed the preparations for and challenges of the elections, regulatory forms of the elections, as well as the historical value of the election, given it will be first time that presidential and legislative elections are held at the same time.


During joint seminar on road to Indonesia’s 2019 elections last December

The ISG series of this semester is then concluded by another full house seminar from Dr. Greg Fealy, who presented the Indonesia’s apocalyptic discourses and how the exposure to those affects Muslim audiences. In this talk, Dr. Greg Fealy spoke about the rising interest of these apocalyptic discourses since the Surabaya bombing incident. The jihadist family of that most recent bombing were not primarily driven by a desire to support ISIS or other fellow jihadists, but rather their beliefs that the world would soon end. The apocalyptic narratives can both comfort but also deeply unsettle their devotees which in the worst case creating a sense of fractured reality that drives them into violent actions.

Each ISG seminar this semester was attended by approx 34 people on average, of which around a third were women. About 40 percent of the attendees are academics , and 30 percents are students. Some of the seminars were also joined by the general public and government officials, both from the Indonesian Embassy and from the Australian government. Most of the seminars were recorded, and the files were available on the ISG webpage.