Indonesia Intelligencer

A round-up of the most essential political, business, and cultural news from Indonesia every week, produced by the editors of Coconuts Jakarta.

A Substack newsletter by Byron Perry

A round-up of the most essential political, business, and cultural news from Indonesia every week, produced by the editors of Coconuts Jakarta.

Crisis far from over for Sulawesi | Prabowo’s big mistake | Indonesia Intelligencer (Sept 31- Oct 5)

Welcome to this free edition of Indonesia Intelligencer, your concise weekly digest of the most important news and thought-provoking features from the archipelago. We occasionally send out free editions of I.I. like this to show potential readers what this newsletter is all about, but only paid subscribers will receive every week’s newsletter and have full access to our archive.

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Special section: Devastation in Sulawesi

Due to the significance of this week’s twin disasters in Central Sulawesi, we’re including this special section outlining the most important information about the crisis and response efforts as well as highlighting the best coverage we’ve seen. If you want to contribute to the aid organizations working to help the survivors of the crisis, please check out this list of trustworthy charities you can donate to.

Recommended reads

  • The Guardian’s Kate Lamb and BBC Indonesia’s Rebecca Henschke have been doing a fantastic job reporting from the disaster zone and their tweets have been just as riveting and insightful as their published coverage.

  • 'I saw my neighbours get buried alive': the mud-swamped Indonesian village (The Guardian): Harrowing accounts from survivors in Petobo, a village that was virtually annihilated by the massive earthquake and subsequent soil liquefaction.

    It’s like that movie, 2012: doomsday,” says 24-year-old Joshua Michael, as he struggles for a fitting reference to the fate of Petobo, his village on the Indonesian island of Sulawesi where more than a thousand are feared buried in the mud that swept over it after Friday’s earthquake.

    Standing next to the remains of his house, the silver roof flattened to the ground, clothes strewn all around it, he is trying to make out where the homes of his neighbours once were.

    “The houses just got sucked into the earth and then the mud came over and sealed them over,” he says. “I saw my neighbours get buried alive.”

  • Indonesia earthquake: In Palu disaster, grief has no religion (Al Jazeera)

    It was two hours before sundown and a dozen or so women, some in full black headdress, stood weeping silently, watching the men carry the coffin of a family member whose body was retrieved six days after a deadly earthquake struck this city.

    Moments later, a female Christian pastor led the burial rites, while many in the group whispered Muslim prayers before the white casket - bearing an image of the Last Supper on both sides and a small cross on top - was lowered into a dirt grave in a patch of a public land by the hillside overlooking Palu and the bay.

  • ‘Proud to have known you’: Heroic air traffic controller Anthonius Gunawan Agung’s colleagues remember him (Coconuts Jakarta)

    “Safe flight Batik Air. Take Care.”

    Those were the heartbreaking last words of Anthonius Gunawan Agung, who has been hailed as a hero not only in Indonesia but around the world for his sacrifice which saved hundreds of lives.


Business

  • ‘Not the end of the world’ for rupiah

    • Despite several rate hikes and numerous measures to lower trade deficit in the last few months, the rupiah continued its slide against the US dollar, surpassing the psychologically-significant barrier of IDR15,000 and trading above IDR15,100 at the close of Thursday.

    • Even so, Bank Indonesia Governor Perry Warjiyo said it’s “not the end of the world” and urged the public to remain calm as the rupiah’s performance isn’t as bad as some currencies, including India’s rupee and the Turkish lira.

    • Finance Minister Sri Mulyani Indrawati says the rupiah’s continued slide was not caused by the Central Sulawesi disaster, blaming it on external global economic factors, mainly Italy’s commitment to lower the deficits of its national budget.

  • Rollover risk: The World Bank said in a report released Thursday that developing Asian nations may find it difficult to refinance foreign debt if capital outflows are increased, with Indonesia and Thailand most at risk of debt rollover. However, the threat of bankruptcies in the two nations are still limited due to relatively low levels of foreign debt.

  • Bali welcomes the IMF and World Bank

    • Bali is set to host the annual IMF-World Bank meetings on October 8-14, in which the boards of governors of the two bodies will discuss a range of issues related to poverty reduction, international economic development and finance (you can view the event’s calendar as well as live stream several talks here).

    • While President Joko Widodo is hopeful the meetings will have a positive effect on Indonesia’s economy, his challenger in the 2019 election Prabowo Subianto has asked for the event’s postponement in light of the Central Sulawesi earthquake-tsunami, with funds for the event be redirected towards disaster relief instead.

  • Tax office cracks down on online retailers: The government will require online merchants to use tax identification numbers starting this year in order to boost revenue and up compliance in the booming e-commerce sector. Tokopedia and Bukalapak.com have already agreed to ask their sellers to comply with the regulation.

  • Mitsu-boost-shi: Japanese automaker Mitsubishi continues to up its investments in Indonesia, announcing plans to increase the production capacity of its Bekasi factory from 160,000 vehicles per year to 220,000 in 2020. Its increasingly popular Xpander model — which Mitsubishi’s Indonesian production facilities are exporting to neighboring countries — will account for 160,000 of those.

  • Islamic financial district in PIK: Malaysian investment holding company Matrix Concepts has signed a joint venture agreement with an Indonesian consortium company to build a world class Islamic financial district in North Jakarta’s Pondok Indah Kapuk (PIK) district. The development, named Indo City, will include 4,000 hectares of integrated developments including houses, apartments, shopping centers and a light rail transit system.

Recommended reads


Politics

Recommended reads

  • Rupiah and race: where Indonesian election will be won or lost (SCMP)

    As campaigning begins for the Indonesian elections, new polls suggest a falling rupiah and rising racial and religious tensions are the key issues standing between President Joko Widodo and a second five-year term.

    But challenges are also mounting for Widodo following the double disaster of the 7.4-magnitude earthquake and the tsunami that hit Sulawesi last week, with a death toll that stands at more than 1,400 people and is expected to rise as search and rescue efforts continue.

  • Ma’ruf Amin and the inclusion–moderation thesis (New Mandala)

    The inclusion–moderation thesis might predict that Ma’ruf would temper his conservatism and turn to moderation should he be elected alongside Jokowi in 2019. The vice presidency would require him to cooperate with more stakeholders, including those from minority ethnic and religious groups in Indonesia. Thus, it seems logical that he will become more tolerant as a vice-president than he was as the head of MUI, as Greg Fealy has recently argued at New Mandala.

    Nevertheless, we think such an assumption is too optimistic.

  • Hijrah - Between Radical And Moderate Islam (Strategic Review)

    A rising tide of Islamic religiosity in Indonesia is being propelled, among other influences, by a local “hijrah movement,” which demands greater personal adherence to Shariah law, but which some observers believe has the potential to further spread radicalism and create major divisions within Indonesian society. Conformity with conservative Muslim identity – ironically just as Muslims in the Middle East are becoming more liberal – is impacting all age groups here. Since at least 2010, young Indonesians have been increasingly attracted to the movement in their quest to become better Muslims and abandon what they have come to see as bad habits.


Top Coconuts Stories

A round-up of the most essential political, business, and cultural news from Indonesia every week, produced by the editors of Coconuts Jakarta.