Oct 8, 2014

Two coming seminars on Indonesia organized by SEARC

SEARC will soon have two seminars about the 2014 general election in Indonesia in early October.


The first one will be presented by Dr Max Lane, a scholar who is specialized in Indonesian politics.
The title is: “The 2014 Indonesian Elections and the politics of Post Post-Suharto: a class analysis

The second one will be presented by Prof Michele Ford, the director of Sydney Southeast Asia Centre.
The title is: “Trade Union Engagement in Indonesia’s 2014 Legislative and Presidential Elections”.

Here are the detail information of these two seminars:

The 2014 Indonesian Elections and the politics of Post Post-Suharto: a class analysis
Dr Max Lane
Date: 6 October 2014 (Monday)
Time: 6 pm – 7:30 pm
Venue: Y5-203, AC1, City University of Hong Kong

In the 2 or 3 months leading to the Indonesian presidential election, all polls showed front-runner Joko Widodo’s substantial lead had diminished. This seminar argues that the well-financed “black campaign” against Widodo had this impact primarily because his campaign failed to respond aggressively to two major issues. The first is the link between foreign involvement in the Indonesian economy and widespread poverty. The second is the threat to democratic rights and a return to New Order-style politics represented by his rival, Prabowo Subianto. The seminar will consider the argument that these weaknesses were more detrimental to Widodo’s campaign than any perceived strengths on the part of Prabowo.
The election campaign divided the Indonesian elite and public, and the division will not disappear despite Widodo winning the election. What is behind this divide, and are there other potential divisions?

Trade Union Engagement in Indonesia’s 2014 Legislative and Presidential Elections
Professor Michele Ford
Date: 8 October 2014 (Wednesday)
Time: 4:15 pm – 5:45 pm
Venue: B5-311, AC1, City University of Hong Kong

During the Suharto era, the official trade union was strictly prohibited from engaging with political parties and all but one of the ‘alternative’ unions publically rejected political unionism, preferring instead to seek recognition as a socio-economic force. In the early years of Indonesia’s return to democracy, too, trade unions sat on the side- lines in elections and depended on mass protests to advance their demands. However, labour leaders’ position on electoral politics shifted dramatically after the 2004 election. Increasingly frustrated with the government’s failure to stem labour rights abuses, the ineffectiveness of the labour law enforcement, and the weakness of the social safety net, many unionists concluded that they must engage in ‘formal politics’ if they are to secure more favourable policies for workers. By the time of the 2009 election, the question was no longer whether unions should try to influence politics, but whether they should do it by lobbying parties from outside the system or by running candidates for office.
In a context where the parties vying for power within Indonesia’s political system have made little attempt to define themselves by a commitment to particular policies, and have faced little pressure from outside to do so, trade unions’ efforts to engage in electoral politics are tremendously significant for Indonesia’s emerging democracy. Drawing on case studies from five union-dense locations in Java and Sumatra, this paper examines trade unions’ engagement in the 2014 electoral cycle and makes an assessment of its significance for Indonesian politics.


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