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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.

15 January 2021

Politics: For police chief, President Joko Widodo nominated his former adjutant, Com Gen Listyo Sigit Prabowo, who would be the first non‑Muslim in the post since 1978.  Parliamentary support appears overwhelmingly positive, which attests to the president’s consolidation of pro‑government support among the elite (Page 2).  The National Commission on Human Rights (Komnas Ham) determined that four deaths among members of the Islamic Defenders Front (FPI) on 6 December were “unlawful killings” by police. 

Health: Vaccination commenced with the president receiving the first injection, along with a host of national figures, as a means to boost public confidence.  Poor communica­tions from Sinovac about CoronaVac’s efficacy are causing uncertainty at a crucial juncture, and anti‑vaccine remarks from a pro‑government parliamentarian compound matters, but the rollout is nonetheless proceeding apace among frontline workers.  Indonesia also received a batch of ingredients with which PT Bio Farma can produce 15 million doses.  Urgency is paramount as hospitals reach full capacity and the nationwide testing positivity rate remains exceedingly high (p. 6).   

Policy News: A draft revision of Presidential Regulation (Perpres) #44/2016 – the so‑called Negative Investment List (DNI) – would dramatically improve the regulatory regime, if the government actually enacts it.  The administration has repeatedly pulled back from such proposals in the past (p. 9).  As fiscal conditions deteriorate, the president turned attention to Rp33 trillion in fertilizer‑subsidy spending, which largely goes wasted (p. 12).   

Disasters: Investigators have yet to explain the cause of the Sriwijaya Airlines crash that killed 62.  Regulators are inspecting all 737 Classics and reviewing airline personnel management practices (p. 13).  

A 6.2 magnitude  earthquake in West Sulawesi killed at least seven in the early hours of 15 January (p. 13).

Election Systems: The accomplished head of the General Election Commission (KPU), Arief Budiman, has suffered ouster due to a highly contentious ruling from the Election Administration Honor Council (DKPP). The 20‑month saga may yet continue: parliament is review­ing it and the president could act (p. 14).

Health: A 78 percent efficacy rating for CoronaVac, as determined by a Phase III trial in São Paulo, Brazil, bodes well for Indonesia, which will rely heavily on the Sinovac product from China in the months ahead (Page 2).  Nationwide case detections continued  a steady rise, despite yet another week of lackluster testing rates.  National positivity remained at 20 percent – a level so high that official case data is clearly not capturing the epidemic’s true scope (p. 2).  Strict mobility restrictions will apply for the next two weeks in urban areas of Java and Bali, in an attempt to slow transmissions as ICUs and isolation wards reach or approach full capacity (p. 6).  Interim results from Sinovac’s trial in West Java are imminent and the government expects inoculations to start nationwide for healthcare workers on 13 January.  Capacity appears adequate for conducting this first stage, but vaccinating the general public will require a major push for cold‑chain transport and storage equipment (p. 4).  The president affirmed that materials for producing CoronaVac will arrive from China next week and State Enterprise Minister Erick Thohir outlined monthly production targets for PT Bio Farma; the government targets 30 million vaccinations by end‑March (p. 5).  A governor and two cabinet members pledged to pro­mote use of GeNose breathalyzers, which could finally enable effective screening (p. 7). 

Politics: The new social minister is making dogged use of spot checks, a trademark practice of hers, thereby focusing attention on the plight of Jakarta’s poor.  Coincidentally or not, it also impugns the governor, whom she might challenge in the next election (p. 8). 

Justice: A Hong Kong NGO’s report prompted the US to ban palm oil and derivatives from Sime Darby plantations in Malaysia, but the ruling may inevitably affect Indonesia.  The ban seems unlikely to effectively serve the goal of improving worker conditions (p. 9).  

Policy News: An Energy Ministry official has promised incentives for upstream investment – but momentum will likely be lacking for anything more than marginal tweaks, which would be too little to rectify an oppressive regulatory framework (p. 11).  

Economics: The government fell short of its revised spending target, missing an opportunity for additional stimulus.  It also fell short (by a lesser margin) of its revenue target; the 2020 deficit was 6.1%  of GDP (p. 12).

Outlook: Trumpian radicals storming the US Capitol could sap faith in the rationale for de­mocratization – but it shouldn’t.  The episode high­lights the need for all demo­cracies to fortify their foundations (p. 14).   

Summary Overview

1 January 2021

Health: Grim prospects loom at the start of 2021 as hospitals approach full capacity, Covid‑19 case levels are rising and the positivity rate remains precipitously high.  But it is an open question whether the more transmissible B117 variant is already present (Page 2).  Jakarta’s vice governor acknowledged the possibility of re‑tightening restrictions next week, as the Foreign Ministry announced a ban on entry for foreigners from 1‑14 January (p. 5).  Health officials expect interim Phase III trial results from Sinovac’s CoronaVac product next week, while indications suggest that Sinopharm’s product has ample efficacy (p. 5).  The foreign minister reports having secured commitments of vaccine supplies from Pfizer‑BionTech, AstraZeneca and Novavax (p. 5).  Ministers engaged the Indonesian Red Cross (PMI) for assistance in vaccination rollout, as a survey indicates that at least 64 percent of the public will accept injections (p. 5).  A Covid breathalyzer from Yogyakarta, GeNose, will go into use in February.  Its accuracy report­edly exceeds 90 percent; if so, rapid and inexpensive screening will be possible (p. 6).

Politics: The Widodo administration blundered again in its handling of the Islamic Defenders Front (FPI).  Instead of resolving questions surrounding the 6 December killings by police, the government instead abruptly declared FPI invalid and prohibited its activi­ties, shuttering its office and removing its insignia.  This hands FPI greivances for use in recruiting (FPI leaders have already founded a new group with the same acronym) (p. 7).

The president appointed five vice ministers, including the career consultant and banker Pahala Mansury in the State Enterprise Ministry (p. 9).  Development Planning Minister Suharso Manoarfa won election as United Development Party (PPP) chair (p. 10).

Surveys: President Joko Widodo’s approval rating bounced back from an October dip surrounding protests against the Job‑Creation Omnibus Law.  A nation­wide Saiful Mujani (SMRC) poll shows continued strength for Central Java Governor Ganjar Pranowo, while the arrest of PDI­‑Perjuangan’s social‑affairs minister had no effect on the party (p. 11).

Policy News: The latest draft of a long‑awaited regulation on renewable energy reportedly enables only small‑scale projects to attain feasible pricing (p. 15).  

Economics: Extraordinary debt financing measures are necessary to overcome the crisis, cushion impacts and stimulate growth.  But Indonesia’s fiscal prudence has set it apart from other emerging markets, and it would face risks if it squanders this lifeline (p. 16).

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.