Indonesia’s New Dawn

Today Indonesia swore in its new President. Being the fourth largest country in the world by population, that should be big news. It occupies an area the size of Europe or the US, is home to 19,000 islands, hundreds of languages and cultures. It’s economy is now the 16th largest in the world and set to grow on the back of its vast resources. The economy is set to be larger than the UK by 2030. It’s also the world’s most populous Muslim country and yet it just elected a man who will celebrate this inauguration by attending a rock concert tonight. Moderate diversity like this needs to be highlighted and upheld.

Equally important, Indonesians voted for a man from outside the political elite and the military for the first time. In true meritocratic fashion, Jokowi is not from any connected family but born in poverty in the slums. He came to prominence as the mayor of cities including Jakarta and addressing the matters that matter, improving the basic health and transport infrastructure of the many. He did this by promising and delivering on hope over fear and what matters to most people, including Muslims; a better life.

This populist approach has and will bring him enemies within Indonesia’s elite. During the election, his opponent, a tainted military man, implicated in various military massacres and the son-in-law of the former dictator Suharto whose family are believed to have been the biggest plunderers of any country in modern times, used every scare tactic from questioning Jokowi’s religion to even his ethnicity. Being of Chinese descent in Indonesia can be dangerous in Indonesia during times of upheaval. Check out the pogroms of the mid-1960s and even 1998. 

Jokowi is now president but it won’t be easy. He faces a Parliament controlled for now by the opposition who have already pushed through legislation to scrap elections for regional officials, in a move which already limits Indonesia’s fledging democracy. Soon enough we’ll see moves by the business elites, a small group of entrenched cronies with deep, military links to discredit and undermine Jokowi. They’ve done very well out of the old system.

The standard moves will be used. The police will seek to uncover corruption. The controlled media will pursue it. Local pork barrel politics will ensure a discredited man and the military, who believe themselves to be the guardian of the nation, will talk of the nation being undermined, hinting at intervention. Much will depend on how the economy performs especially resource prices. Indonesia needs to diversity it’s economy. And much depends on whether the twenty and thirty-somethings can keep their dynamic voice heard.

Indonesians have taken a brave step and voted for optimism. It’s not a naive move. It was the only move. All countries should be encouraged and helped along it’s way to greater freedoms and prosperity. Any one who’s visited will remember the beauty of Bali and the outer islands, the orangutan of Sumatra, the temples, and volcanoes of Java (see the banner picture), the delicious food and abundant green but mostly how Indonesians like to talk. They will also remember the shy smiles you encounter. By supporting Jokowi, we’re supporting a progressive Muslim President improving the lives of his many people. It’s no easy task.

Semoga berhasil

Films Watched


Her – This is a brilliant commentary on modern life, relationships and emotions. The use of technology to communicate without seeming effort and the pain it can cause. Phoenix is mesmeric. 5/5

The Counselor – It’s dark, ugly and while attempting to be Shakespearean, it misses too many steps. What is also tells me is how actors are just actors. I am sure a lot happens beyond the scenes but the fact that the actors sat there and said those lines tells you either about their credibility or that they don’t give a shit. This was an old guy in McCarthy getting people to physically perform his notions that normally would only be committed to page and the imagination. I bet he opened a bottle of whiskey after this and had a fat wank. However its well-crafted and watchable and beyond some of the script and the bullshit speech at the end by Diaz, its good imo. 3/5

Locke – One man show from Tom Hardy as his life falls apart as he drives. Hardy can really act. 4/5

Grudge Match – Sly and De Niro meet in a boxing comedy with some decent gags and by the numbers plot and acting. 2/5

Maleficent –  an odd film, sitting between two stools of child fantasy and adult viciousness, bizarrely edited. It was a bit shit. 2/5

Kick-Ass 2 – I liked the first KickAss but this one sucked. It was unfunny and overly-violent. 2/5

Under the Skin – Scarlett Johansson roams around Glasgow and the Highlands finding local men and consuming them. It’s a real art house effort, odd and entrancing. Johansson’s English accent is pretty good. 3/5

Edge of Tomorrow – Tom Cruise, aliens and action meets Groundhog Day and its smooth, fun and excellent. Cruise’s stellar status has gone. He’s too much a name to be a superhero and yet can’t be an action hero as before. He needs to re-start acting cos this path is fucked. 4/5

The Grand Budapest Hotel – As expected, it’s brilliant, quirky, funny, I’ll use a word I’ve never written before, exquisite. 5/5

Lucy – Typical Luc Besson. Style over ridiculous notions and some crackpot philosophy. You wonder how long he spent dreaming up the ideas and script (which is complete nonsense) and how long to film it. Its slick, short, silly and idiotic. 2/5

Divergence – a reasonably entertaining sack of shit. 2/5