Jakarta Selatan, September 2017
"The “Muslim” has come to be a hollowed, emptied term that functions as a trigger for white anxiety. Little surprise then, when you add Muslim next to another anxiety-laden word “immigrant”, the result equates to half the country reaching out for the treadmill’s emergency red stop button.
Modernity’s pace seems too quick for some, but the keen reader would have noted that in my opening agreement I put the Muslim in scare quotes. I do this for a reason. The word “Muslim” belongs to a conversation born out of the “war on terror”. I distinguish it from the quote-less everyday Muslim whose complex life is beyond the headline and Hanson’s narrow parameters.
Any one simplified and generalising statement about Islam betrays the religion and its communities’ diverse contests, betrays Muslims’ internal debates on how to best articulate Islam’s universality. Whereas, the “Muslim” functions in a pure simplicity. It simply means them. It represents an abject figure that has to be excluded from the circle of us so to imagine a supposed pure integrity of our culture."
Happy Mothers Day Mum & Rima
To My Mother
Because I feel that, in the Heavens above,
The angels, whispering to one another,
Can find, among their burning terms of love,
None so devotional as that of “Mother,"
Therefore by that dear name I long have called you—
You who are more than mother unto me,
And fill my heart of hearts, where Death installed you
In setting my Virginia’s spirit free.
My mother—my own mother, who died early,
Was but the mother of myself; but you
Are mother to the one I loved so dearly,
And thus are dearer than the mother I knew
By that infinity with which my wife
Was dearer to my soul than its soul-life.
Edgar Allan Poe
Happy Birthday Rima & what a day we have planned:
- Food: Papaya, cantelope & banana, Juice, coffee & toast
- Music: Amy Winehouse wailing in the background
- Physical exercise: Walking up and down the length of the house while clutching heavy, emerald jade lion book ends
- Shopping: Looking for a crock pot (present from parents) & suitcase (present from self)
- More food: Organic chocolate cake from Chef Icon on Kampung Bahru Rd
- Sporting interlude: Man Utd v Burnley. Let's hope we can actually win
- Further food: Dinner at Tamarind Hill restaurant above Labrador Park
Jokowi has won.
"Mr. Joko will lead a country that has successfully consolidated its democracy and enjoyed strong economic growth under the departing president, Susilo Bambang Yudhoyono, who has served two five-year terms. Indonesia has had one of the fastest-growing economies in Asia in recent years, along with China and India. But that same economy, which achieved annual growth rates of more than 6 percent from 2010 to 2012, mostly thanks to the country’s abundant natural resources and robust domestic consumption, is facing several serious challenges.
They include a trade deficit, a national fuel subsidy that sucks tens of billions of dollars each year from the state budget, inadequate infrastructure, corruption, poverty and a growing disparity between the country’s rich and poor."
Alison Martin comments in the Guardian on what a Jokowi Presidency means for the Indonesian Australian relationship:
"Indonesia went as far as to directly request Australia not take unilateral action on that issue, saying Jakarta's "close cooperation and trust" was at risk. Australia, true to form, forged ahead with its "turn back the boats" policy, later prompting Indonesia to deploy warships to monitor its southern border. It is relatively rare for an issue relating to Australia to make front-page Indonesian news, yet these incidents have been regularly canvassed. The relationship is in the diplomatic doldrums, and improving slowly.
During last month’s foreign policy election debate in Indonesia, both candidates acknowledged the distrust between the two nations. Although each indicated they would seek to heal the rift with Australia, they also agreed that Indonesia should not allow itself to be belittled by its neighbour.
In light of Australia’s military intervention in East Timor just 15 years ago, and its role in Konfrontasi some decades prior, there is understandable anxiety when an Australian government brands its border protection programme, which impinges upon Indonesia's sovereignty, “Operation Sovereign Borders”. It's easy to comprehend why national security has been cited by Jokowi as a priority, suggesting further incursions will not be received lightly.
In contrast to SBY, Jokowi will not be so personally invested in the bilateral relationship. Australia will have to work much harder to collaborate with Indonesia."
On or around 22 July, the Indonesian Presidential election winner will be officially announced. Initial polls and pundits say Jokowi will win but Prabowo is also claiming victory. It's likely Prabowo will appeal to the Courts and a period of increased uncertainty and turmoil may begin in Indonesia.
Bob Lowry in The Strategist, The Jokowi Presidency on some of the key challenges facing Joko - not least what to do with both Jusuf Kalla & Prabowo:
"The anticipated election of Joko Widodo (known as Jokowi) is a John Fitzgerald Kennedy moment in Indonesian history—a change of generations and a herald of hope that Indonesia can take a great leap forward in reforming its sclerotic state apparatus and unshackling its economy."
"The closeness of the vote demonstrates that there were considerable doubts about Jokowi’s readiness for the presidency so he’ll need to move quickly on forming his cabinet, creating a workable parliamentary coalition, and use executive powers to set his program in motion. He’s unlikely to be challenged in the way Kennedy was over Cuba but he could find some of his domestic opponents and vested interests just as tough."
A more pessimistic tone is taken by Ed Aspinall & Marcus Mietzner in New Mandala, Prabowo's Game Plan:
"...the confusion is part of Prabowo Subianto’s strategy to steal the election, a strategy that evidently has been long in the making. Reportedly, one of Prabowo’s chief campaign strategists, Rob Allyn, has been known not only for his expertise in negative campaigning but also for producing surveys which create the impression that an electorally weak candidate is competitive, and using the subsequent confusion among the electorate to manoeuvre this candidate into a more favourable position. Allyn has been known for this strategy in Mexican elections. It seems Indonesia is fertile ground for the same method."
"We think that it is likely that Prabowo will fail in his efforts. The scale of Jokowi’s victory is such that too many votes would need to be shifted to Prabowo’s side of the ledger in order to steal the result. However, we cannot be fully confident about this prediction: what we know about Prabowo’s ruthlessness, past experiences of widespread fraud in vote counting, the weakness of the PDI-P’s monitoring apparatus, the strength of the Prabowo’s political networks in the regions, and the vast material resources they have at their disposal all suggest that the Prabowo camp will be able to make a concerted effort to overturn the result. Doing so, however, will not be easy. The scale of the manipulation required means it will be relatively easy to detect, and it will invite massive resistance from Jokowi’s supporters. A major escalation of political conflict is possible."
This is the start of a fascinating period in Indonesian history.
We'll be back in Jakarta from 25 July for Hari Raya Idul Fitri and it will be good to hear Papa Eko's experiences working for the KPU (National Electoral Commission).