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Reformasi: The Struggle for Power in Post-Soeharto Indonesia is a non-fiction narrative that charts the course of Indonesian politics between 1996 and 2001.

8 December 2017

Politics: Golkar has committed to conducting an Extraordinary Congress (Munaslub) to elect a new chair.  In addition to the apparent front-runner, Industry Minister Airlangga Hartarto, six others may vie for the post.  At issue is whether delegates at the congress embrace moderate change or revert to past practices.  Meanwhile, incumbent Chair Setya Novanto could generate yet more legal controversy: his corruption trial is underway, but Judge Kusno of South Jakarta’s district court nonetheless decided to proceed with a pre-trial suit.  If Kusno favors Novanto, a conundrum would ensue (Page 2).  Rancor surrounds the extension of the term of the Constitutional Court chief justice (p. 3).

Policy News: If the Non‑Cash Food Aid (BPNT) program undergoes prolonged delay, the president would lose a chance to deliver a vote‑winner prior to elections (p. 4).  In discussing waste, the president was at his angriest.  He showed sincerity about en­visioning clean government – but his neglect of bureaucratic reform is a double standard (p. 5).

Infrastructure: Jakarta’s Light Rail (LRT) project is making progress (p. 6).

Appointments: President Joko Widodo’s early move to jettison Gen Gatot Nurmantyo as military chief eliminates a source of cabinet discord and unpredictability.  His replacement, Mar Hadi Tjahjanto, holds promise for pursuing long‑overdue changes and applying better policymaking instincts (p. 8).  A reshuffle of Army commands removed Lt Gen Edy Rahmayadi as Army Strategic Reserve (Kostrad) commander (p. 10).

Economics: A World Bank report sheds light on the under‑studied role of overseas migrant workers.  Further reforms could improve their conditions and earnings (p. 10).

International: Donald Trump’s Israel initiative is triggering anti‑US protests and calls from political parties for a re‑evaluation of relations with Washington (p. 13).

Outlook: The activity of political Islamist groups has waned in recent months, after the jailing of Jakarta Governor Basuki Purnama (‘Ahok’) and the flight from police of Islamic Defenders Front (FPI) leader Habib Rizieq.  But Trump has bolstered these groups by providing them with an enticing cause to exploit.  If this energizes voters and strengthens Islamic parties, the 2019 electoral math could change unfavorably for Widodo.  Lest an Islamic‑oriented opposition siphon their support, moderate candidates and parties face an imperative to join energetic denunciations of the US (p. 14).


Reformasi Weekly Review provides timely, relevant and independent analysis on Indonesian political and policy news. Delivered electronically every Friday, Reformasi Weekly is written by Kevin O’Rourke, author of the book Reformasi. For subscription information please contact. Reformasi Weekly is a product of PT Reformasi Info Sastra.
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