The Stream

Is Indonesia starting to move away from democracy?

President Joko Widodo’s public approval ratings have dropped at a critical time for his country and his tenure.

Huge anti-government protests are rocking Indonesia this month, shortly before Joko Widodo begins his second term as president. Tens of thousands of demonstrators are taking to the streets to decry new draft legislation that would impose serious limits on civil liberties.

Proposed changes include criminalising premarital sex, “black magic” and insulting the president. Parliament planned to vote on the bill in late September before its term expired, but Widodo has postponed the move in response to widespread outcry.

However, demonstrators say the proposed legislation is only one of many grievances. They also want the government to repeal a newly passed law that weakens Indonesia’s anti-corruption body, address ongoing human rights abuses in West Papua, and tackle raging forest fires around the country.

Police have responded to protests with tear gas and water cannons, killing at least two students and injuring and arresting hundreds more. Demonstrators say they are undeterred and will continue to rally to preserve the secular democracy’s hard-fought reforms. But conservative Muslim supporters say the new legislation accurately reflects the changing “character and personality of the Indonesian people and nation.”

As protests continue, all eyes are on Widodo to see where he takes the country in the coming five years. 

On this episode of The Stream, we speak with: 

Anindya Restuviani @anindyavivi
Co-Director, Hollaback! Jakarta

Uni Lubis @unilubis 
Editor-in-Chief, IDN Times

Noory Okthariza 
Researcher, Centre for Strategic and International Studies

Read more:
Indonesia protests continue as vote on sex-ban bill delayed – Bangkok Post
Jokowi, House call for probe after two students die following protests in Kendari – Jakarta Post
Indonesia protests: Hundreds hurt in student-police clashes – Al Jazeera

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