Politicians have used the review to shore up conservative votes at the expense of Indonesia’s LGBT community. At this stage, it is likely that the revision will be endorsed by parliament but it remains unclear whether it will be approved by President Jokowi.
A new platform for counter-terrorism dialogue may not yield tangible results for South-East Asia but could act as a useful diplomatic vehicle for Australia to deepen its strategic bilateral arrangements with key partners.
US interest in the Indo-Pacific may be worrying for Indonesia as it could hasten a scuffle with China over competing interests in the region. Indonesia, however, is not in a position to turn away from the US and must keep its options on the table.
A growing Indonesia will be confronted by numerous challenges in the years ahead. Among those challenges are Indonesia’s leadership role in ASEAN, its position as a Muslim beacon of democracy and the need to reduce its dependence on China by broadening its economic relationships with other countries. The appeal of populist policies and phantom threats that distract officials from addressing deeper foreign policy issues must also be addressed.
The recent arrest of the Golkar chairman could shift alliances in the governing coalition and hinder Jokowi’s chances at a second presidential term.
One of Australia’s most important bilateral partners, Indonesia is expected to become the fourth-largest world economy in terms of gross domestic product by 2050. With significant growth expected as the size of its middle class continues to expand, Indonesia provides an opportunity for Australian businesses to tap into a large and increasingly affluent market. So far, however, the economic relationship has failed to reflect the full geostrategic importance of the wider relationship.
Reducing deforestation in the Ciliwung River basin will help to improve water security in Jakarta and contribute greatly to the reduction of carbon emissions globally.
While the focus of Japanese support appears to be centred on enabling and protecting Indonesia’s fishing industry, there is also a geo-strategic motivation to counter the Chinese claim over most of the South China Sea.
Thousands of West Timorese seaweed farmers are still severely affected by the oil spill. More should be done to examine the damage and to assess the rehabilitation needed within Indonesian waters.
Aerial patrols will provide a significant boost to maritime patrols in the Sulu Sea through tracking militant movements. Further assistance from Singapore and Brunei is also likely.