Jakarta poll stirs fires of racism

PREMIUM CONTENT. To continue reading please login, or click on SUBSCRIBE above, or purchase access to this report for 1 month.


June 9, 2017

THE Jakarta election is a precursor to how race and religion may play a role in Indonesia’s upcoming 2019 Presidential campaign . . .

THE defeat of Basuki Tjajaja Purnama (Ahok) as Governor of Jakarta could have wider implications for Indonesia — beyond the politics of the capital itself.
Victory went to former Education Minister, Anies Baswedan, and his running mate, businessman Sandiaga Uno, on their pro-Islamic platform.
Ahok’s loss could affect the sometimes tenuous hold of President Joko Widodo (Jokowi) on the country’s Presidency, because it will embolden his opponents in coming months.
More immediately, ethnic Chinese in Indonesia are alarmed by the anti-Chinese sentiment whipped up during the campaign by pro-Islamic politicians.
Ahok’s defeat reveals a deep fissure in Indonesian politics, according to Charlotte Setijad, Visiting Fellow in the Indonesia Studies Programme at the ISEAS-Yusof Ishak Institute in Singapore.
Writing in the latest issue of Perspective, published by ISEAS, Setijadi says it cannot be denied that the political and societal commotion surrounding the Jakarta election has revealed the deep rifts that exist in society, as well as the shifting ground of Islamist politics in Indonesia.
“These have important implications for national politics and the 2019 Presidential election,” she wrote (before the result of the election was known).
“Not having Ahok as an ally at the leadership of the capital city would weaken the President’s hold on power. This is particularly true in the context of the struggle for dominance between elite players Jokowi-Megawati, Prabowo Subianto and SBY.