Monday, April 24, 2017

Would 'Ahok' have lost last week's Jakarta election even if he hadn't faced blasphemy charges?

Dear members and friends


Jakarta governor 'Ahok' has been swepted from office on a tide of religious hatred. But was there more to his significant loss than just religious conservatism and hatred? 

Max Walden from the Asia Journal writes that other factors contributed to the loss by 'Ahok':


"It wasn't just religious hatred that that cost 'Ahok' the Jakarta vote "


But Professor Tim Lindsey is in no doubt on the prime reasons for the defeat of 'Ahok' and looks at the implications for a nation that prides itself on religious pluralism and tolerance.  


"Jakarta elections a very bad look for Indonesia"


Our Indonesia Institute president, Ross Taylor also asks if the outcome of the election is a defining moment for a post Soeharto Indonesia?


We are also privileged to have a comment from Richard Woolcott AC on this matter and his words lead this week's Blog',


What do you think? Please add your comments and tell us your views.


Next weekend we will change the theme to education and an also interesting piece by Surabaya-based journalist Duncan Graham. More on that later. 

We welcome your comments and interest in our Blog and we also welcome your membership of our institute as

Here is our blog link for ease of access or just scroll direct to the article of interest to you..

With our warmest regards

Lisa Bentley
Indonesia Institute Inc.,
Perth, Australia

24th April 2017

The election of Anies Baswedan as Governor of Jakarta needs to interpreted very carefully.

By Richard Woolcott

The election of Anies Basweden, a former Minister for Education and Culture, as Mayor-Governor of Jakarta, with a very substantial majority, needs to be carefully interpretated.

We should acknowledge that it was always improbable that the acting Mayor, 'Ahok', following Jokowi's election as President,would be elected to the position in which he is acting; even with Jokowi's support.

 Is it really reasonable to expect that an ethnic Chinese Christian, a member  of a minority, also before the court on an undecided blasphemy charge, could be elected to be the Mayor of the capital city of the country with the largest Muslim population in the world - even if he had developed a reputation for efficiency ?

 While there will be an understandable tendency in Australia (and the West ) to consider extremist Islam has been greatly strengthened, I do not think the election result can be seen as a manifestation of an upsurge of Islamic extremism (in Indonesia) at this stage.

Many moderate Muslims would have voted for Basweden simply because they would more easily identify with him, as an Indonesian Muslim.

 It is true that President Jokowi's popularity has had a minor setback .He would have expected that, but he considered it necessary to press in public for a wide community approach to the election. The extremist Islamic Defenders Front ( FDI )'s influence is actually quite limited. Basweden does not welcome its extremist views and since his election he has been calling for a community approach.

 Only time will tell the extent to which Islamic extremism may grow in the Indonesia of 2017.

Richard Woolcott AC  is a former Secretary of The Department of Foreign Affairs and has held numerous ambassadorial positions including Ambassador to Indonesia from 1975-1978.