Devin Stewart and Joshua Kurlantzick
Carnegie Council for Ethics in International Affairs
Prepared for the International Security Research and Outreach Programme
International Security and Intelligence Bureau
The International Security Research and Outreach Programme (ISROP) is located within the Defence and Security Relations Division of The International Security and Intelligence Bureau. ISROP’s mandate is to provide the Department of Foreign Affairs and International Trade Canada (DFAIT) with timely, high quality policy relevant research that will inform and support the development of Canada’s international security policy in the areas of North American, regional and multilateral security and defence cooperation, non-proliferation, arms control and disarmament. The current ISROP research themes can be found at: http://www.international.gc.ca/arms-armes/isrop-prisi/index
ISROP regularly commissions research to support the development of Canadian foreign policy by drawing on think-tank and academic networks in Canada and abroad. The following report, Indonesia’s Lessons for The Middle East and North Africa and other Emerging Democracies, is an example of such contract research.
Disclaimer: The views and positions expressed in this report are solely those of the author and do not necessarily reflect the views of the Department of Foreign Affairs and International Trade or the Government of Canada. The report is in its original language.
Le Programme de recherche et d’information dans le domaine de la sécurité internationale (PRISI) fait partie de la Direction des relations de sécurité et de défense, qui relève elle-même de la Direction générale internationale de la sécurité et du renseignement. Ce programme a pour mandat de fournir au Ministère des Affaires étrangères et du Commerce international (MAÉCI), en temps utile, des études stratégiques pertinentes et de haute qualité qui permettent d’orienter et de soutenir l’élaboration de la politique canadienne en matière de sécurité internationale concernant la coopération nord-américaine, régionale et multilatérale en matière de sécurité et de défense, ainsi que la non-prolifération, le contrôle des armements et le désarmement. Les thèmes de recherches actuels du PRISI figurent à l’adresse suivante : http://www.international.gc.ca/arms-armes/isrop-prisi/index
Le PRISI commande régulièrement des études à des groupes de réflexion et à des réseaux d’universitaires au Canada et à l’étranger afin d’appuyer l’élaboration de la politique étrangère canadienne. Le rapport sommaire suivant, intitulé, Leçons tirées de l’expérience de l’Indonésie pour le bénéfice des démocraties émergentes du Moyen Orient, de l’Afrique du Nord et d’ailleurs, est un exemple de ce type d’étude.
Déni de responsabilité : Les vues et opinions exprimées dans le présent rapport sont exclusivement celles de l’auteur, et ne reflètent pas nécessairement la position du Ministère des Affaires étrangères et du Commerce international, ou celle du gouvernement du Canada. Le rapport est présenté dans la langue de rédaction.
Over the past decade, Indonesia has accomplished one of the most successful processes of democratization among developing countries, a success made all the more notable by the fact that it has occurred while democracy, throughout the developing world, has been in a period of regression for nearly ten years, according to studies by Freedom House and other analysts. Although the reasons for Indonesia’s transformation are varied, given that it is such a large and diverse country, the authors have concluded that several of Indonesia’s decisions have been critical:
The lessons of Indonesia’s transition offer several key lessons for North American policy-makers, as they consider how best to assist the potential emerging democracies of the Middle East, North Africa, and other developing regions. Key recommendations include:
Au cours de la dernière décennie, l’Indonésie a mené à bien l’un des processus de démocratisation les plus réussis parmi les pays en développement, succès d’autant plus digne de mention qu’il a été obtenu à un moment où la démocratie est en régression depuis presque dix ans dans l’ensemble des sociétés en développement, selon des études de l’organisme Freedom House et d’autres analystes. Compte tenu de l’immensité et de la diversité du pays, les facteurs qui ont contribué à la transformation de l’Indonésie sont variés, mais les auteurs ont conclu que certaines des décisions prises par le pays se sont avérées déterminantes :
Les leçons tirées de la transition de l’Indonésie offrent aux décideurs nord-américains certains éléments importants dans le cadre de leur réflexion en vue de trouver les meilleures façons de soutenir les éventuelles démocraties émergentes du Moyen-Orient, de l’Afrique du Nord et des autres régions en développement. Voici les principales recommandations :
To people who lived through the chaotic late 1990s and early 2000s in Indonesia, the turnaround to the situation today seems, on the surface, to be remarkable. The sprawling country, with the fourth-largest population in the world, appears to have achieved stability and defused the violence that had threatened to tear the archipelago asunder. Rather than disintegrating into Nigeria or Pakistan, Indonesia, to some observers, has become the democratic success story of the decade. It has fostered a broader and more inclusive civil society, and increasingly tolerated public protest, political opposition, and legislative horse-trading. Local areas have gained greater control over their natural resources, and their social welfare systems, and introduced new forms of local-level elections and other types of voter feedback. Jakarta’s Indonesian and English-language newspapers now give a daily roundup of planned (peaceful) protests that will be held on the capital’s streets, right next to the weather pages, a sign of how normal and routine popular such public participation has become.
Indonesia also, as it has become more open, has become a potential example of other democratizing nations, particularly those in the Middle East. Indonesia’s recent leaders have utilized the bully pulpit to condemn militants, while also integrating Muslim parties into the mainstream political sphere. Perhaps most impressively, they have managed to transform the military from the most powerful political actor in the country to one that operates under a reasonable degree of civilian control. Stability, engendered by public participation and devolution, has allowed for investment and stronger growth; except for India and China, Indonesia has posted some of the highest growth rates in the world in recent years. After its violent birth, the independent country of East Timor did emerge. Another secessionist conflict, in Aceh, was resolved following the devastating tsunami in December 2004. In recognition of Indonesia’s supposed turnaround, the United States, which all but ignored the country for a decade after Suharto’s fall in 1998, is once again courting it. The Obama administration has launched what it calls “comprehensive partnership” with Indonesia.
But Indonesia’s transition has not always gone so smoothly. Increasingly open and decentralized politics also at times has led to greater rent-seeking among a wider level of political officials, alienating the public and the business community. Although the government has overseen relatively strong growth, it has poorly managed expectations of how democracy would bring growth, leading to public dissatisfaction that the democratic period has not led to higher growth rates and reductions in income inequality. Although civilian leaders have taken effective steps to officially remove the army from its former political role, and to divest many army companies, it has failed to find alternative income sources for cashiered army soldiers, or provided enough transition funding and training; as a result, many former soldiers have formed mafias and vigilante groups. While the government has allowed a high degree of autonomy in some unique regions like Aceh, it has failed to make this autonomy promise standard, causing great unrest in West Papua, home to some of the most profitable mines in the world. Finally, although Indonesian President Susilo Bambang Yudhoyono, who has been in office throughout much of the transition period, has received some plaudits (particularly in the West) for his stable and seemingly reformist leadership, he also often has adopted a slow-moving, consensus-building style of leadership that has failed to translate his significant election victories into leverage, or to give the clear signals necessary for addressing graft, protection of minorities, the structure of the parliamentary system, coordination among ministries, and many other important facets of transition.
Still, despite these challenges, it can be concluded that there are several facets of Indonesia’s transition that could be applied to other emerging democracies. In their research, the authors focused on these keys to Indonesia’s successes.
The authors began the project with a literature review focusing on Indonesia’s transition and on several key elements of the transition that could be applied to other developing nations. These elements included: the role of Islam and Islamic parties in the transition period; the role of the army and other security forces in the transition period; the impact of political and economic decentralization; the role of presidential leadership and use of the media; the role of the relationship between the central government and unique outlying regions like Aceh, Papua, Timor, and the Malukus; the role of Indonesia’s transition in regional context, and its implications for regional and global leadership; the relationship between growth, perceptions of growth, and perceptions of democratic performance; and other areas.
The authors then conducted interviews regarding Indonesia’s transition and its lessons for other nations with a range of opinion leaders from Southeast Asia, the United States, Canada, the IFIs, and major international NGOs. These interviews came during two field research trips to Southeast Asia by Mr. Kurlantzick and Mr. Stewart, as well as in Washington DC and in New York, and by phone with a number of opinion leaders.
Without a doubt, Indonesia has made substantial progress since the chaos of the late 1990s, when many Indonesians and outside observers feared the country would break apart, be torn by violence replicating that of the mid-1960s, or regress once again into military rule. All of the major surveys examining the quality of democracy, including Freedom House, the Economist Intelligence Unit, and the Bertelsmann Foundation’s Transition Index, note significant increases in Indonesia’s quality of democracy between 2000 and 2011. Notably, during that same time period, most of these surveys found a global deterioration in the presence and quality of democracy in the developing world. Several of Indonesia’s most prominent neighbors, including Thailand, the Philippines, and Cambodia, suffered declines during that period in Freedom House and other surveys.
How did Indonesia, which seemed in the late 1990s to be poorly prepared for a democratic transition, manage a relatively successful process of democratization?
Relatively soon after the transition from the Suharto era, and even before Indonesia’s democratization was consolidated, successive governments embarked upon programs of significant economic and political devolution of power to provinces and cities. This was understood by many national policy-makers to be the only way to keep the country from fracturing, to satisfy divergent ethnic, religious, and linguistic groups, and to give the broader populace a stake in politics. Decentralization was not an easy concept for Java-based elites to embrace, and it was embarked upon in many ways as a desperate measure; had Indonesia been more stable in the late 1990s and early 2000s, the way a country like Tunisia is today, it might not have embarked upon decentralization at all.
The process of decentralization had several components, all of which made the decentralization among the most complete of any country in the world. Under Suharto, though a minor degree of power had been given to some localities, Jakarta dominated political and economic decision-making, as well as the collecting and distribution of government revenue. But in the early stages of democratization, the decentralization program began, and it had several parts.
One was allowing provincial, subprovincial, and city-level governments to keep and use a greater percentage of revenues captured from local natural resources and from taxation. By allowing not only provincial governments but also subprovincial governments to keep and use a percentage of resources, Indonesian legislators prevented provincial capitals from becoming locally dominant in the way Jakarta had been nationally, and ensured greater grassroots participation in economic decision-making, which was critical. A second was boosting provincial and city-level abilities to handle essential services, in part by transferring some 16,000 public service buildings and facilities to provincial, subprovincial, and city-level governments, and the hiring of at least 30,000 new provincial and city-level government officials to staff these facilities, bringing government service closer to people across the country. This included creating a new fiscal system to coordinate hiring and transfer of revenues between the national government and provincial governments. A third was increasing the scope and frequency of local and provincial-level elections, while also maintaining the special status of some regions such as Yogyakarta, a longtime sultanate. A fourth was decentralizing the media environment to make it easier for local radio stations and print publications to operate.
The decentralization process, in retrospect, seems natural for an archipelago of more than 14,000 islands, and one of the most diverse populations in the world. But as noted above, it was not natural for Jakarta-based elites to agree to this process, and required the chaos of the late 1990s and early 2000s to get Jakarta-based leaders to unite and support it, out of fear that without significant changes to the political status quo, the country might disintegrate or the military might try to step in and take control again. This suggests that, even in MENA nations where decentralization may also be effective due to tribal, ethnic, and religious divides, it will be extremely difficult to convince national-level leaders to embark upon such a process. Such a process may have to be combined with guarantees of sustained power for national-level leaders, such as immunity from prosecution for prior economic crimes or a guarantee that a certain percentage of tax revenue will always accrue to the national government.
By the early 2010s, the benefits of Indonesia’s decentralization process had become clear. By devolving power to localities and subprovincial areas, and by bringing government services closer to the ground, the national government had helped cool separatist sentiment nearly everywhere except for Aceh and East Timor and Papua. East Timor was allowed to vote on separation and eventually became an independent country, though not without significant bloodshed, and Aceh after the 2004 tsunami also agreed to a status agreement that helped bring peace there. Polling showed that in numerous areas of the country, including the Malukus, Aceh, West Timor, Bali, and other regions, devolution of political power had led to a substantial decrease in the numbers of people who believed that their region would be better off as an independent country or in some loose federation. Combined with more effective police work (to crack down on militias and weapon smuggling) and economic growth, devolution brought greater resources to many provinces, like the Malukus, that needed infrastructure improvement and rebuilding from the sectarian conflicts of the late 1990s. By the early 2000s, World Bank surveys of over 170 localities across Indonesia showed that a majority of Indonesians believed that decentralization had led to improved public services and infrastructure creation. The decentralization also naturally improved budget transparency, since it was harder for a larger number of officials to keep data secret from the media and from the public. Decentralization also, in some ways, fostered competition between provinces and cities for domestic investment and, to some extent, foreign investment. In some cases it also forced leaders from different religions and ethnic groups to have to work together in subprovincial and city councils in order to obtain and effectively manage the greater resources coming from Jakarta, though this was not always the case.
In addition, devolution of political power helped with the consolidation of democratic political culture. Citizens in subprovincial and city-level areas were able to exert greater influence over policy-making, and thus felt they had a greater stake in the country’s political process, according to several provincial officials. What’s more, for most political parties other than Golkar, which had already built a national organization during Suharto’s time, the decentralization process forced parties to woo provincial, subprovincial, and city-level leaders, thereby giving these leaders more input into party platforms and organization.
Decentralization, however, was not without its downsides. Most notably, it led to a decentralization of graft. “Actors in the bureaucracy, judiciary, political parties, and in the army have reemerged as central players in a corruption free for all in democratic Indonesia,” writes economist Michael Rock in a comprehensive study of corruption in Indonesia and several other developing countries. His findings were echoed, in interviews, by opinion leaders across the Indonesian political spectrum.
A truly competitive legislature, a sharp change from Suharto’s compliant parliament, also has added to an increase in corruption. Again, in the long run a competitive legislature could bring transparency to politics, and studies by multiple economists have found that corruption eventually decreases as a democracy ages. But for now, it significantly increases the amount of money in the political system. Indonesian legislators no longer can count on winning office just by joining Suharto’s party, Golkar, but the young democracy has developed few rules governing how politicians should raise money to campaign. “With the emergence of a confrontational relationship between newly empowered legislatures and embattled presidents, members of parliament, who needed ample war chests to win re-election, used their new political powers to extort funds … Local officials also participated in extorting and taxing private firms,” Rock writes. Democracy has provided rent-seekers with many more opportunities to make money off the state, or from elections, but Indonesia has not yet developed the checks and balances to restrain them, he concludes.
Simply the fact that Indonesia now has more elections – for local political positions, for party leadership, for legislative seats – provides more opportunity for graft in the absence of strong traditions of clean elections or effective monitoring. During the 2006-7 race for the governor of Jakarta, similar to an American mayor, the U.S. embassy reported that some parties were trying to sell their nominations for the post to the highest bidder. Two years earlier, in the run-up to the national presidential election ultimately won by Yudhoyono, a similar problem had emerged: Powerful politician Jusuf Kalla, who would serve as Yudhoyono’s first vice president, allegedly won the chairmanship of the Golkar party by “[paying] enormous bribes to secure votes from party branches,” according to another U.S. embassy analysis. Since there were so many more party branches than during the dictatorship, and each one could exercise the kind of influence that local party offices never had during Suharto’s time, the amount of money needed to pay them off was far higher than in the past. As a result, Indonesian politics seemed likely to become dominated not by military officers, as in the past, but by tycoons like Aburizal Bakrie, who have the cash on hand to make both the legitimate and illegitimate investments necessary to build a political party in Indonesia today.
Even President Yudhoyono, who tried to build a reputation as a clean politician, rhetorically supporting the nation’s anti-corruption watchdog, even as it went after some of his closest associates, could not escape the country’s growing graft problem. The treasurer of Yudhoyono’s Democratic Party, a man named Muhammad Nazaruddin, fled the country in May 2011 and went on the lam, after being accused of massive corruption in the tender of buildings in Jakarta. While abroad, Nazaruddin claimed that many members of Yudhoyono’s party had been involved in his state contracts scheme, an allegation widely believed among Indonesian political, media, and business leaders.
Not surprisingly, despite its increasingly open politics, Indonesia has made little headway in recent years in Transparency International’s annual rankings of perceptions of corruption. The Political Economy and Risk Consulting, a leading Asian survey, ranked Indonesia as the most corrupt country in Asia, behind such paragons of clean politics as Cambodia and the Philippines. This decline in Transparency International rankings is echoed in other emerging democracies, where the enlargement of the franchise and the decentralization of political power, at least at first, seemed to make graft easier. As Thailand became more democratic in the 2000s, in terms of a broader franchise, freer voting, and a decentralization of power to provinces from Bangkok, its Transparency International ranking fell from 61st in the world in 2001 to 78th in the world in 2010. The Philippines’s ranking in Transparency International’s survey of corruption perceptions declined from 55th in the world in 1998 to 134th in the world in 2010. In fact, by analyzing over thirty developing countries that emerged from authoritarian rule to democracy in the late 1990s and early 2000s, Council on Foreign Relations researchers have found that in the majority of them, their Transparency International score for corruption perceptions actually declined in the first five years of democratic rule.
In a number of cities and provinces across Indonesia, newly empowered local officials – or party leaders like Nazaruddin - have built megaprojects, like a $600 million-dollar, 50,000-seat outdoor stadium in East Kalimintan on the island of Borneo, that allegedly have provided innumerable opportunities for contractors, in collusion with local officials, to skim money off of projects. From almost none a decade ago, when graft was controlled by Jakarta, today nearly a quarter of the Indonesian leaders charged with corruption come from district and provincial-level jobs. Because provincial and subprovincial anti-corruption authorities have not been given the resources and immunity from political influence that the national authorities have, their ability to make cases remains severely limited. Foreign donors, such as the IFIs and major bilateral donors, also have focused their anticorruption efforts on the national authorities rather than the provincial and subprovincial authorities, leaving the provincial and subprovincial authorities with minimal amounts of foreign funding, according to several corruption investigators.
2. Civilianization of the Armed Forces
At the end of Suharto’s regime, Indonesia’s armed forces had established themselves, over four decades, as the preeminent military, political, and economic institution in the country. A permanent role in political life was written into the constitution for them, and they had a percentage of seats in parliament. The armed forces had control or de facto control of a significant number of Indonesia’s preeminent enterprises. In outlying regions of the country, such as Timor, Aceh, and Papua, they operated with minimal civilian control, and had made alliances with local militias. They had engaged in numerous massacres in places like Timor and Aceh, and the public had no mechanism for accountability of military officers. The armed forces, in the doctrine of dwifungsi (dual function) considered themselves essential to the nation’s survival and the most important national institution; in this way, they shared many characteristics with Turkey in the 1990s. Yet because of the Indonesian military’s abuses, by the late 1990s they had been cut off from many exchanges and training programs by Western nations including the United States, and had turned to Russia and other alternative suppliers for arms and weapons systems. By contrast, Turkey’s armed forces remained a vital part of NATO, a key ally of the United States, and the major regional defense partner of Israel, and so it proved harder for civilian Turkish governments to convince the army to reform by utilizing the lure of regaining international prestige and contacts for the Turkish armed forces. Similarly, since Western nations already have deep engagement with many MENA nations’ militaries and security forces, including those of Jordan, Egypt, Oman, Bahrain, and the UAE, it may be harder to hold out the allure of military cooperation as a means of helping establish civilian control of these MENA militaries, since that cooperation already exists. In addition, many MENA militaries, unlike the Indonesian military, are not interested in publicizing their links to Western militaries, for these are far less popular with the public than they are in Indonesia.
That Indonesia has established effective civilian control of the armed forces, reduced the military presence in many conflict-zones (though not in Papua), removed the armed forces from centers of political power, and generally inculcated in rising officers the idea that the military is divorced from politics, is cited by many Indonesian opinion leaders as the greatest triumph of the democratic period. It also has resonance for many newly liberalizing MENA nations where the military has played a central role in political life, including Egypt and Syria, but where, as in Indonesia, street protests and other displays of public sentiment after the initial transition period turned against the military.
Using this shift in public sentiment, civilian leaders after Suharto generally convinced military leaders that, in order to retain the armed forces’ positive national reputation, and to survive as an untarnished institution, it would have to divorce itself from politics- a shift that may be harder for militaries in the MENA region, in which trust of civilian leaders is lower, and the democratization process is much younger.
Civilian leaders in Indonesia were more successful in establishing civilian control than the AKP originally was in Turkey, where the military pushed back far harder; in part, this was because the AKP also was an Islamic party, and civilian leaders working against the Indonesian armed forces were not threatening to Islamicize Indonesia, which made them marginally more tolerable to the armed forces. For civilian parties in MENA to be able to exert the same control over militaries they will have to take major strides to convince military leaders that Islamicization of the society, and of the armed forces, is not their major goal; few MENA parties, at this point, seem capable of successfully offering those assurances.
Civilian leaders then made several other critical decisions in the early 2000s. They split the armed forces from the police, splitting training programs and cutting off most formal contacts between the two, and publicized this split to the public. This emphasized to the public that the police were responsible for domestic matters, including counterterrorism, and allowed the government to create new police divisions, focused on counterterrorism and countermilitancy, which were not tainted by the army’s past abuses. Unlike in the past, when public levels of trust for the police (and the army) were abysmal, the public came to trust these elite police divisions, which were able to disrupt Jemaah Islamiah and other militant networks in large part because the police had cultivated a large network of informants and public tipsters. The dividing of the two also reduced army training for new police recruits in coercive measures, and created a kind of rivalry between the two services that could be used to foster more professional behavior in both services, according to several Indonesian officials. This was in sharp contrast to some other Southeast Asian nations like Thailand, where the rivalry between the police (who tended to favor politician Thaksin Shinawatra) and the army (who tended to favor Thaksin’s enemies) actually fostered greater conflict, rather than pushing both services to improve their professionalism and conduct.
The devolution of economic power to provinces and subprovincial levels also had an impact, as it made territorial commanders marginally more responsive to local concerns, since provincial and subprovincial authorities had the ability to “top-up” military budgets with some local incentives, a strategy that did not exist in Turkey, for example, where military affairs were heavily centralized in Ankara.
Eventually, the Indonesian government also removed the military’s reservation of seats in parliament, the most important entrenched privilege it enjoyed. This had the consequence of leading many former generals to join national political parties and run for office. Some Indonesian commentators criticized this development, suggesting that Indonesia would become a society in which former generals, though no longer in uniform, would come to dominate politics, and military service would become critical to rising in politics, as has occurred in nations like Israel. But after the current generation of former generals-turned politicians leaves politics, it seems unlikely that this trend will continue, since the financial and political benefits accruing to junior army officers have diminished, making it likely that fewer political-minded men will join the armed forces in the future.
The Indonesian government also slowly replaced some officers’ seats on boards of major state companies with civilians, but did so while securing lucrative retirement pensions for senior officers who no longer could sit on boards of state companies. In addition, civilian leaders have privately reassured the military that, although their business interests would be divested, the government would steadily increase the budget for the military to partially compensate. Indeed, the military budget did increase from roughly $1.18 billion in 2003 to over $3.6 billion in 2010. This was directly modeled on Thailand, where in the 2000s the Thaksin governments augmented civilian control of the military while placating the armed forces with larger budgets; and, it was in sharp contrast to Turkey, where the AKP seemed determined to attack the military on all fronts in order to bring it under civilian control, a strategy that ultimately did result in civilian control but antagonized large numbers of officers and created a divisive, angry political climate.
In the process of reducing the size of the army in Indonesia, many lower and middle-ranking military officers though were left without livelihoods. As a result, graft, extortion, and militia activity by military and ex-military men became more common throughout the archipelago.
At the same time, though, civilian leaders made clear to senior uniform military that, if they went along with this transition, certain privileges and rights would be reserved to the armed forces. Again, this was in sharp contrast from a place like Turkey, but it was a realist decision in Indonesia that, ultimately, may have to be repeated in MENA nations like Egypt and Syria where the armed forces have such a large role in society. This was probably a necessary decision, though some Indonesian human rights activists still remain very angry at this bargain. Civilian leaders made it clear that, despite legislation passed in the early 2000s that created the possibility of human rights tribunals, no national government was going to prosecute former senior officers for abuses committed in Timor, Aceh, Papua, or during campaigns against communists, Islamists, or other political opponents during Suharto’s time. Successive Indonesian governments also offered only minimal cooperation to independent East Timor’s truth and reconciliation commission, a sign to the Indonesian military that the civilian government would protect them from international censure as well.
Civilian governments – in particular the Yudhoyono government – also worked hard to re-establish the armed forces’ relations with Western democracies including the United States, thereby bringing renewed prestige to the military. American Defense Department officials who worked with the Indonesian military, including former Dod Deputy Assistant Secretary Derek Mitchell, said that reintegrating with Western militaries had been a key objective of the Indonesian armed forces, and one that senior commanders were willing to bargain away some domestic political power for. This renewed international prestige, which also has included greater peacekeeping responsibilities in Southeast Asia (i.e., on the Thai-Cambodian border,) also allowed the Indonesian armed forces to play a larger role in support of regional security policy making in ASEAN, the ASEAN Regional Forum (ARF) and bilateral relations, even as they were playing a smaller role in domestic politics. In particular, this has brought greater prestige to the non-army branches of the armed forces, further diminishing the army’s hold on power, according to several former army officers.
However, the lack of accountability for former senior officers did have significant downsides. It created a climate of impunity that, many human rights activists say, has contributed to the armed forces’ continuing abuses in the places where it still holds significant power, such as Papua. The civilian government’s unwillingness to centralize more power in the defense ministry, rather than allowing region commanders significant autonomy, also allowed impunity to continue to flourish in outlying areas. (Former president Abdurrahman Wahid proposed this centralization but it was not carried out, and was not revived by subsequent administrations.) The lack of accountability also has created a climate in which, despite the military’s diminished power, even many liberal lawyers are reluctant to take on cases, such as the one of the murdered human rights activist Munir that might put them at odds with the armed forces. Even when soldiers are put on trial, judges still seem reluctant to impose significant sentences, as in the cases of marines who allegedly shot demonstrators in eastern Java in 2007 or in the cases of soldiers who allegedly tortured activists in Papua in 2010 and 2011. Foreign criticism of this climate of impunity seems to have little impact, even though American defense officials argue that, although Indonesia has built closer military-military relations with China, it still desperately desires a full military relationship with the Pentagon and thus American criticism of impunity should have some impact.
In all likelihood, the gains made in the U.S.-Indonesia military relationship over the past five years will be sustained and strengthened. Though the Indonesian military balks at having Congress, and the Pentagon, try to bar some officers from participating in joint programs due to past human rights abuses, senior military leaders understand that, compared to a decade ago, when Indonesia was essentially shut out of any real cooperation with the Pentagon, the Indonesian armed forces have made major strides – strides that should be protected. Both sides say that they expect to see an increase in joint anti-piracy exercises, a rise in the numbers of Indonesian officers who come to the U.S. for exchanges, expanded assistance to army and police detachments focused on counterterrorism, and probably support from both sides for increased Indonesian leadership of regional peacekeeping efforts. Of course, if abuses continue to spiral out of control in Papua, much of this cooperation could be slowed, but it is unlikely to be canceled, as it was in the 1990s.
3. Combating Militancy and the Role of Political Islam
In the late 1990s and early 2000s, it appeared that militant Islamic groups were making considerable headway in Indonesia both in winning public support and carrying out attacks on Western and local interests. The anti-American and anti-Australian mood that pervaded elite society following the Asian financial crisis and the 9/11 attacks was eagerly played upon by Jemaah Islamiah and other militant groups. The lack of government investment in public education also helped JI recruit, as they and other militant groups had created their own networks of Islamic schools, which usually were cheaper than state schools, when parents took into account the sums they needed to pay at state schools to bribe teachers and administrators. But by the late 2000s and early 2010s, the Indonesian government had effectively dismantled JI, according to the most comprehensive analysis of the group, compiled by International Crisis Group. Polls and provincial-level surveys of public opinion also showed that the government had made significant headway in turning public opinion against militant Islamic groups, even though pro-American and pro-Western sentiment had not increased substantially. JI had splintered and no longer appeared capable of pulling off the high-profile, high-casualty attacks it had specialized in the early 2000s, such as the 2002 Bali bombing, which killed over 200 people.
In the first part of Indonesia’s democratization, the country benefited from having older, and relatively secular and liberal leaders at the top of the country’s main Islamic mass movements. These leaders, such as former president and NU head Gus Dur, helped integrate their movements, some of the largest Islamic mass organizations in the world, into a secular political system, affirm the power of civil law, and uphold the concept of Indonesia as a Muslim-majority but not a Muslim-only nation. This leadership helped reduce the sectarian strife that tore apart areas like the Maluku islands in the late 1990s and early 2000s, and set a standard for middle and lower-ranking leaders in NU and Muhammadiyah and other mass organizations. Unfortunately, other than in Turkey and Pakistan, there are few such moderate mass movements in the Middle East and North Africa. It is possible that Egypt’s Muslim Brotherhood will play such a moderating role; in its early statements on Egypt’s nascent parliamentary election process, it has seemed to stand up for the primacy of secular, constitutional law. But it remains to be seen whether the Brotherhood is actually committed to these ideals or is just mouthing them right now so as not to scare the Egyptian army, liberals, and Western donors like the United States. And few other MENA nations even have an organizations as large and potentially moderate as the Muslim Brotherhood to play this role, the role of legitimizing secular law and the secular political system.
Even in Indonesia in recent years, younger Islamic leaders less interested in the mass organizations, and more in touch with local communities, have pushed for a more Islamic-oriented vision of the Indonesian state, one that included attacks on minorities like Ahmadiyah and Christians, use of religious law rather than civil law, and fewer protections on freedom of worship. In some ways, decentralization has increased the power of these more radical actors – they concentrate in certain areas of the country, and can dominate local politics, and thus gain greater resources at their disposal than they ever would have during the Suharto era. This pernicious effect of decentralization has been well documented by the journalist Sadanand Dhume, as well as by several Indonesian human rights groups. It has led to a more than one hundred percent increase in attacks on Ahmadiyah and other religious minorities between 2009 and 2010, as well as the imposition of sharia for some family law situations in places like Aceh, where religious police modeled on the Persian Gulf countries now watch the beaches to look for unmarried couples who show any displays of open affection.
At the same time, through the effective use of the bully pulpit, television, and speeches by former jihadists, the Jakarta government has genuinely convinced the majority of Indonesians that militancy threatens them – and is not a bogeyman brought to Indonesia by the United States. This has allowed the government to more effectively prosecute a battle against militancy. President Yudhoyono, often a mild and consensual politician, has used his own high-level speeches to make this point, a point that was largely ignored by the previous Megawati administration, which appeared fearful of publicly embracing a battle against militancy. Former Vice President Hamzah Haz, an important leader with links to Islamic parties, in particular served as an obstacle to Megawati’s government taking any more proactive action against militancy. Using former militants on television, the Yudhoyono government also has shown the destructive impact of the terrorist attacks on Indonesians themselves and on Indonesian society. It has combined this public campaign with an equally high-profile deradicalization campaign. This campaign has been of mixed utility in actually deradicalizing militants and returning them to society, but according to several researchers who had studied public opinion, it did have the result of making Indonesia’s battle against militancy appear humane and lawful, which was critical to winning over public opinion.
In addition, Jakarta also has resisted using the threat of terrorism to tear apart the rule of law. Instead, it created an elite police counterterrorism force, which after taking down the top leadership of JI successfully has rounded up many local cells. But the elite police force, which also has received training and funding from the U.S. State Department, has not engaged in indefinite detention of suspects. The very fact that the government’s fight against terror generally upheld the rule of law has kept the Indonesian public on the side of the government.
Yet as Indonesia wrapped up JI’s top leaders, the organization has metastasized in a way Jakarta had not anticipated – a lesson for MENA nations that are making progress, on a high level, against militant groups. The splintered and wounded local networks of JI actually became more dangerous, International Crisis Group found, since they no longer cared as much about building public backing for some larger goal, like establishing an Islamic caliphate, but merely sought to lash out in all directions. “Unlike the small group proponents, advocates of ‘organizational’ jihad believe that nothing can be accomplished without a large organization and a strong leader, but if the ultimate goal is an Islamic state, then it is imperative to build public support,” Crisis Group wrote in one recent report. No longer seeking to build such support, JI’s diffuse cells now were freed to just kill at will.
The wounded JI networks also, out of necessity, began building alliances with other dangerous organizations, alliances they might not have made when they were stronger, according to several Indonesian analysts of the militant group. Local cells made alliances with criminal networks that could help them rob banks and commit other crimes to gain funding sources, for example. Overall, this splintering has produced fewer mass-casualty attacks but more local-level damage. JI’s broken cells now put a “greater focus on local rather than foreign “enemies”, with officials who are seen as oppressors, particularly the police; Christians; and members of the Ahmadiyah sect [of heterodox Muslims] topping the list,” ICG reported. In recent months, local cells have destroyed numerous Ahmadiyah gatherings, seriously denting Indonesia’s example as a tolerant nation, and also have organized multiple shootings of local policemen and other officials. They also have sent letter bombs, attacked moderate mosques seemingly at random, and committed numerous other attacks across the archipelago. And while these attacks are far smaller than, say, the Bali bombing, because they are spread out all over the country, rather than concentrated in major tourist sites like Bali or Jakarta, they actually have instilled more fear in local populations.
4. Creating National Unity
As the Indonesian government has taken important strides to promote national unity and heal old wounds, the Yudhoyono administration has, at times, proven strikingly diffident. Although Yudhoyono has maintained a reputation as a personally clean and honest politician, he too often has disappointed reformers who saw in him a way to break the hold of old oligarchic business interests and tycoons linked to Golkar. Too often, Yudhoyono has not taken advantage of his popular mandate and has not backed reformers in his government like former finance minister Sri Mulyani Indrawati or Vice President Boediono. He has instead preferred a consensual, mystical, Javanese style of leadership that has sometimes confused even his allies and certainly has confused many foreign governments – though it in some ways is reminiscent of Suharto, the master of Javanese indirection. In this way, cultural values of the dominant island in Indonesia have persevered in politics but actually may in some ways be hindering not only unity but also reform, a lesson that may be applied to several MENA nations. More dangerously, Yudhoyono’s diffidence has made it tougher for the administration to push through far-reaching reforms to improve labor rights, or launch large-scale programs to improve public education and cut extreme poverty. Partly as a result, despite consistent growth rates of above six percent over the past five years, Indonesia’s income inequality is widening, portending future class-based conflicts as in neighboring Thailand, Singapore, Malaysia, and the Philippines.
Other first-generation democratic leaders in Indonesia have similarly proven incapable of effective leadership – particularly in terms of accepting that a loyal opposition is a critical part of functioning democracy. In Golkar under Suharto, they rose up in an organization where losers were purged, or worse. And even in the opposition movements during Suharto’s time, in order to retain their influence in the face of repression, the opposition often had to instill tight, almost authoritarian control of its membership – so that some of the opposition groups, like those that developed into PDI-P and other parties, were almost dictatorships themselves. This lack of any experience in the compromise and horse-trading of politics could come to be a problem for many MENA nations also, where the first generation of democratic leaders also will either come from the former authoritarian regime or from opposition movements that, because they were outlawed and intensively repressed, developed structures of their own that, internally, resembled authoritarian regimes.
Each Indonesian political party now understands that, unless it wins, it will be cut out of all patronage – the amount of vote buying and intimidation tends to increase. Voter intimidation also has increased in the past two elections. According to a recent report by the UNDP, voting “has come at a high price [in emerging Asian democracies including Indonesia.] Each year hundreds of people lose their lives in connection with competitive elections.”
Treading a line between populist policies that keep the poor supporting democracy and reduce inequality and reassuring large capitalists is not impossible. After coming into office in 2003 in Brazil, former president Luiz Ignacio Lula da Silva, a longtime labor activist and hero of the working class, kept the poor on his side by launching progressive programs to fight extreme poverty and improve primary education, but he also took pains to ensure big capitalists, and the middle class, that he was not interested in seizing their assets, or launching redistribution. In fact, Lula continued many of the orthodox macroeconomic policies of his predecessor. During Lula’s time in office income inequality in Brazil dropped, as measured by the country’s Gini coefficient, and yet Lula amassed the support of much of the Sao Paolo business elite, creating stability that was critical for domestic and foreign investment. Lula left office after two terms the most popular president in Brazil’s history – with both the poor and the elite.
Graft, vote-buying, rising inequality, and the poor quality of leadership has led to a decline in Indonesian views of democracy as the preferred political system. Indonesian leaders’ failure to effectively manage expectations, so that the public understands that democracy does not immediately bring high growth and lower income inequality, has added to public anger. Added to this problem is that no democratic administration has been able to develop a national ideology to replace pancasila, which is inexorably tainted by its links to Suharto and Sukarno.
Some elites worry that as Indonesia democratizes yet remains overall a very poor country, future democratically elected leaders might try to reduce elites’ social, economic, and political privileges, as happened in neighboring Thailand under the governments of Prime Minister Thaksin Shinawatra and his successors. Ultimately, many upper middle-class and elite Indonesians thus have not fully bought into the democratic transition: They house their capital offshore (principally in Singapore), educate their children outside of the public system, and sometimes celebrate potential anti-democratic solutions to public policy questions.
In neighboring Thailand, this elite-poor split ultimately resulted in a crumbling of the democratic system, and street violence; similar splits already appear to be occurring in Egypt, Tunisia, and other Middle Eastern nations. Yudhoyono and his advisors recognize the possibility for such a split to occur in Indonesia, and so have tempered their populist promises, but such a dangerous split still could occur.
This lack of public support for democracy is a serious concern repeated in many other emerging democracies in Asia, Africa, and Eastern Europe, and one that has only been exacerbated by the global economic crisis, which has exposed crises of governance even in the most stable democracies of the West. After the “third wave” of democratization in the 1970s, 1980s, 1990s and early 2000s, support for democracy in Asia, Africa, and Latin America (as measured by the Barometer series of studies) decreased measurably in most developing nations over the past five years. In a study by Indonesian research organization Survey Circle, released in late 2011, only twelve percent of respondents believed that the current group of politicians in the democratic era were doing a better job than leaders during the era of Suharto, one reason why Suharto’s son Tommy is attempting to make a return to political life, a la Imelda Marcos and her clan, who are again powerful political players in the Philippines. “This underscores the fact that for a majority of Indonesians, democracy has not delivered a better life,” noted the Jakarta Globe, commenting on the results of the survey. In another poll released in May 2011, residents of Indonesia, the supposed democratic success story of the 2000s, said, by a margin of two to one, that conditions in the county were better during Suharto’s time than under the government of democratically-elected Yudhoyono.
Indonesian leaders have however admirably proven willing to exhume the past – particularly the bloody riots of the mid-1960s – in order to reintegrate former dissidents, former members of the communist party, and ethnic Chinese into Indonesian society. The reintegration of ethnic Chinese in particular has been successful, with many entering politics in the late 2000s, a decision that would have been shocking only a decade prior. In addition, the previous government of Gus Dur emphasized the secular and inclusive character of Indonesian governance, also through a serious of high-profile initiatives and public speeches. In interviews, numerous ethnic Chinese Indonesian business leaders said that, compared to even five years ago, they felt much more open to show Chinese heritage and culture, with minimal or no ramifications for their place in business and society. Several mentioned that they had become active in politics in Jakarta and nationally in the mid-2000s and late-2000s, and that they only had become active because they felt completely secure of their place in society. Prior to the mid-2000s, they said, they would not have become active in politics for fear that their ethnic Chinese heritage would be magnified and they would possibly be attacked, even physically, by political opponents because they were ethnic Chinese.
Yet these successes have reached a ceiling. No one ideology has replaced pancasila, and though outlying regions like Aceh have ended violence (or, in the case or E Timor, left the country), decentralization has not been based around a core set of principles – as in Spain, for example - -that provide some sense of national unity.
Meanwhile, in Papua, the Indonesian security forces have continued to act much as they did during Suharto’s time, and have been given a free hand to effect brutal tactics against local separatist and pro-autonomy movements. The Papua tactics, abetted by the climate of impunity described above, have seriously detracted from Indonesia’s democratic story, and harmed its international image, making it harder for Indonesian leaders to criticize other nations in the region, like Myanmar or Thailand, for their human rights abuses, and for Indonesia to take a larger regional leadership role.
In addition, the continuing violence in Papua has hindered the growth of the U.S.-Indonesia relationship, and Indonesia’s relationship with other established democracies: The U.S. Congress will not approve a much-enlarged military-military relationship with Indonesia while the Indonesian security forces continue to act so brutally in Papua, and other established democracies will have similar concerns. However, a lack of military-military engagement could leave greater room for China to increase its military relationship with Indonesia including by increasing the number of programs for officer exchanges, working more closely on nontraditional security issues like piracy, becoming a larger arms supplier, and other areas. Though, as discussed above, senior Indonesian military leaders want to balance between Beijing and Washington, Chinese officials, and Indonesian officers, say that training of Indonesian officers in China has already increased in the past five years. However, many of those officers interviewed who studied in China returned to Indonesia awed at the economic progress in China but underwhelmed by the quality of Chinese equipment and the professionalism of the Chinese officer corps – though this may change as China’s defense budget continues to increase and its forces modernize. In sum, if they had a choice, every one said they would still prefer training in and weapons from North America, Scandinavia, or India, though Indonesia is more cautious in partnering with India than neighbors like Vietnam, since Indonesia is not a claimant in the South China Sea dispute and thus is not seeking to balance against China as aggressively as nations like Vietnam.
5. Impact of Indonesia’s Transition on Regional and Global Affairs
During the late 1990s and early 2000s, Indonesia’s domestic instability was so overwhelming that the country’s leaders all but opted out of playing a major role in ASEAN, ASEAN-related organizations, and global organizations. During that time, when one of the authors worked in and lived in Southeast Asia, Indonesia relied upon Singapore and Thailand to lead ASEAN meetings, and rarely tabled proposals, participated intensively in fact-finding missions, or led debates on ASEAN’s future. Many Indonesian officials, worried about criticism of Indonesia’s own lack of democracy, and its abuses in Timor, Aceh, and Papua, worked with officials from authoritarian regimes like Vietnam and Cambodia to stifle any discussion within ASEAN about human rights and democracy.
Today, Indonesia has largely returned to a leadership role in ASEAN, but this is not necessarily because of Indonesia’s democratization. To the extent that democratization has restored a degree of stability to Indonesian domestic politics, it has given Indonesia’s leaders confidence at ASEAN forums and the space to take a larger role again in ASEAN. However, if that stability had been engendered by a new, and prosperous authoritarian regime after Suharto, Indonesia also might well have resumed its leadership role in ASEAN, according to numerous Indonesian officials working on ASEAN affairs. Stability allowed Indonesian leaders to refocus on regional affairs, and economic recovery from the Asian financial crisis allowed Jakarta to increase weapons purchases from Russia, China, and other sources. A shift in focus away from exclusively domestic politics also allowed successive Indonesian governments to devote more of their leading officials to foreign affairs including trade, regional institution-building, and regional nontraditional security issues. In particular, Indonesia took a far greater regional lead on piracy and environmental degradation, in particular the toxic smoke that comes from the burning of large quantities of virgin forest across the archipelago each year. This environmental leadership was a direct result of democratization as it allowed Indonesia’s local environmental groups to play a much larger role in domestic politics, and force Indonesia’s leaders to address the issue on the regional stage. Indonesia has also cooperated with Malaysia and other nations on the joint Malacca Strait Patrols to combat piracy, and it has pushed to increase the frequency of joint anti-piracy exercises with U.S. Navy ships based in Japan.
Only on one issue, Burma, did the post-Suharto Indonesian government take a position advocating for greater democracy in an ASEAN member, and post-Suharto Indonesian governments still played a relatively low-key role in the creation of an ASEAN human rights charter and of making human rights a higher priority for the organization. In recent years, Indonesian officials have offered extensive public (and private) criticism of Burma’s slow progress toward democratization, and how Burma’s poor international image has harmed ASEAN. Some Indonesian leaders, including Yudhoyono, have sat down with senior Burmese officials and tried to explain to them the Indonesian progression away from military rule. In recent months, as Burma has begun to open and embrace reforms, Indonesian leaders have been publicly supportive, while also backing the Obama administration’s plan of principled engagement with Naypyidaw. In addition, Indonesian officials have pushed their Burmese colleagues to adopt some degree of political and economic decentralization, since the lack of an effective federal structure in Burma remains a major stumbling-block to permanent peace in Burma’s ethnic minority regions.
In the G-20 and in the OIC, Indonesia also has been relatively reluctant to play a major role, in part because its efforts to play a larger role in the early 2000s in the Islamic world were mostly rebuffed. A few Indonesian leaders, such as Abdurrahman Wahid, offered their democratization process as an example for other moderate Muslim nations in the early 2000s, but many Indonesians did not like being portrayed as solely a “Muslim nation” after years of non-sectarian pancasila, a national ideology developed during independent Indonesia’s founding and based upon unity, democracy, social justice, and monotheism. In addition, many Middle Eastern leaders tended to look down on their Indonesian peers as outside the core of the Islamic world, so these nascent efforts largely went nowhere, Indonesian officials said. Other globetrotting efforts by the Wahid administration similarly were viewed as failures, such as a proposal to recognize Israel, and distracted from domestic politics, several of Wahid’s advisors recalled. That said, Indonesia under Yudhoyono has played a major role in the Bali Democracy Forum, which offers a platform to show off Indonesia’s changes but which has not really served the purpose of “advancing democracy in Asia” in any clear way.
Largely because of Indonesia’s own Cold War past and adherence to the nonaligned movement, the country’s leaders, even in the post-Suharto era, tended to remain wedded to an international affairs doctrine of sovereignty, nonintervention, and hedging and balancing between major powers. These strategies have not been changed much by Indonesia’s transition, though the Yudhoyono government clearly views itself in a stronger position to make foreign policy decisions than the previous Megawati, Wahid, and Habibe governments. A study by Ted Piccone of the Brookings Institution think-tank of the voting behavior at the United Nations of major emerging democracies (Indonesia, India, Brazil, South Korea, Turkey) found that in recent years Indonesia has opposed nearly every human rights and democracy initiative at the United Nations. Indonesian leaders also have been sensitive to any criticism by other Muslim nations that could link them to the global war on terror, since Jakarta has accepted substantial assistance from the United States for its elite counterterrorism forces.
Most Indonesian officials believe that it will take at least another generational shift among Indonesian leaders – to a generation with fewer military officers in politics, and fewer raised in the Nonaligned Movement era – for Indonesia to potentially align itself more seriously with democracies in global forums, or for Indonesia to potentially shift from its current stance of hedging on security issues between the United States and China. A similar generational shift probably will have to take place in India – particularly on the left – and in Brazil for these emerging powers to become more advocates of democratization and human rights outside their countries. Indeed, while a number of Southeast Asian nations have taken tough stances against China over the past two years, as Beijing has more aggressively stated its claims to the South China Sea and other disputed waters, Indonesia has taken a muted stance in contesting China’s claims, in contrast to the more confrontational stances of Vietnam and the Philippines. In part, Indonesian officials said, this is because the Indonesian government does not possess the level of trust in the U.S. and other Western actors that the Philippines and even Vietnam do; remembering how the U.S. cut off defense assistance in the early 1990s, Indonesia’s leaders worry that if they too aggressively join the Philippines and Vietnam in advocating for a continued U.S. defense presence in the Sea, they cannot trust that Washington will stand behind them in the long-term, or that the U.S. will remain engaged in the South China Sea into the next two decades. Instead, some Indonesian officials have suggested that Jakarta could be an effective mediator in the dispute, though senior officials in the Yudhoyono cabinet privately shy away from this role.
In the long term, it seems likely that Indonesia will be playing a larger role in mediating disputes within Southeast Asia, such as the Thai-Cambodian border dispute, or possibly claims over the South China Sea among ASEAN members. From the inception of ASEAN, Indonesia always held a leadership position, and Indonesia’s democratization and strong growth during the 2000s has only revived its claim to leadership. However, it seems unlikely that, even as it grows, Indonesia would be able to play a mediating role outside of ASEAN, such as between China and other claimants of the South China Sea. Indonesia’s diplomatic corps, though growing, is still very small for a country of its size and inexperienced in English and other critical global skills; and, Northeast Asian powers like China and Japan, though supportive of Indonesia’s growth, are unlikely to yield to it as a mediator on important issues given that Indonesia could only “deliver” other ASEAN nations and does not have a strong enough relationship with the U.S. to “deliver” the U.S. in any mediation.
Even as Indonesia’s foreign policies remain similar to the late 1990s, democratization has complicated some aspects, particularly related to trade and investment. As noted above, Indonesia has numerous factors that, in the coming years, would make it an attractive destination for investment: A demographic boom; relatively low wages; abundant natural resources including oil and gas; membership in ASEAN, which is committed to a real free trade community; and other factors. Yet Indonesia remains a laggard in terms of investment from the U.S., Canada, and many other developed nations, and many American (and Asian) corporate leaders express extreme reluctance to make new investments in Indonesia or to expand the investments they have already made. Japanese businesses, which have historically been the largest investors in the country, have maintained operations but notably have not made large new investments and are shifting many operations to Vietnam, where the Japanese companies see the corporate environment as more predictable, in part because of the stability of the (authoritarian) national government, and to India, where despite other infrastructure issues it remains easier, and less costly, to launch investments than in Indonesia.
Indeed, democratization, and decentralization actually have in some ways hurt Indonesia’s trade and investment relationships, which should be a warning for MENA nations and other emerging democracies. Diplomats and business executives from North America and other developed nations had built longstanding relationships to Suharto-era leaders, and tended to have little knowledge of politics outside Jakarta – a tendency still in evidence today. Despite shifts in the US State Department and other foreign ministries toward emerging democracies, they also tended to have little understanding of and interaction with Indonesia’s increasingly vibrant local civil society, which could complicate trade and investment far more than during the Suharto era. So, said several Western business executives and diplomats who had worked in Indonesia, companies and Western governments, they were unprepared for local public opposition to investments, increasing local union pressure for higher wages (in the case of Freeport, for example), and local religious leaders’ growing influence over policy, particularly in areas like the tourism industry in which investments could be perceived to clash with local mores. U.S. Trade Representative officials frequently complained that they would make progress with national-level counterparts on issues like IPR, coordination among Indonesian ministries, a future TIFA, and other areas only to find the progress they thought they had made undermined by growing public pressure against it, or by lack of coordination between national-level and provincial-level policy-makers. By contrast, in some other emerging Southeast Asian democracies, like Thailand, foreign policy-makers and investors praised the better coordination between national-level and local-level policy-makers, but this might also be because Thailand’s civil society and provincial-level politics has withered in the 2000s and early 2010s.
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