Wed, 04 Nov 2015
The broad sequence of events that led to the fall of President Suharto and the rise of democracy in Indonesia are well known. But few of us know the details of that period like former coordinating minister for economy, finance and industry Ginandjar Kartasasmitra and former Harvard faculty member Joseph J. Stern.

Their book, "Reinventing Indonesia," shines a new light on that period, bringing forth a wealth of information about the times, while demonstrating how the actions of the period align with and inform the academic literature on democratization that has arisen over the past few decades. Both lead the reader to consider the implications of current events for the future of democracy in Indonesia.

The book begins with an overview of the New Order period to put the events of 1997 and thereafter in context. In the 1960s and 70s, President Suharto and his New Order government made an implicit bargain with the people: the regime would deliver social order and strong economic growth but also place limits on democracy and political freedom. This bargain worked well for many years, but the New Order was a victim of its own success.

As Samuel Huntington and others have pointed out, increasing incomes create new and different demands on rulers. By the mid-1990s, with the rise of a new middle class that did not live through the trauma of the early- and mid-1960s, demand was growing for a new social compact. This was intensified by the exposure of Indonesians to ideas from outside of the country that came from greater integration into the global economy. All that was needed was a spark to begin to set the whole house on fire.

As demonstrated in "Reinventing Indonesia," the economic crisis of 1997 was that spark. The crippling of the economy during that period and the ensuing unrest undercut the legitimacy of the government.

The book really hits its stride when discussing the events of 1997 and 1998. It provides an often first hand account of the economic and political crisis that led to the resignation of the president in 1998. Dealings with international institutions and foreign governments are described along with key actions and meetings that led to the end of the New Order and the beginnings of recovery and democratization. This includes the critical role that was played by president B.J. Habibie in the early post-Suharto period.

The portrait of President Habibie in the book is of a leader who, when he could have taken strong steps to consolidate power in an uncertain time, instead embraced a more open, participative, and democratic process.

Why was this the case? The book does not answer this directly but the picture painted by the authors is of a man who recognized times were changing and that Indonesia’s governance had to change as well. As noted in the book, President Habibie and the parliament “produce[d] 67 laws that formed the legal foundation for the establishment of strong political and economic institutions that are essential to the development of a democratic nation…”

The authors then show how the events of that period fall within the analytical framework of democratic transition as articulated by political scientists, including Huntington and Larry Diamond. A key issue is the consolidation of democracy which, for Indonesia, begins with the presidency of Abdurrahman Wahid. The turbulent years after his election in in 1999 to the the election of President Susilo Bambang Yudhoyono illustrate both the challenges that democracy in Indonesia faced and the resilience that it showed during that period. With an emphasis on the constitutional changes that helped to further institutionalize Indonesian democracy during that period, the authors continue to mix a first person narrative with keen insights into the application of the theoretical literature to the case of Indonesia.

Having applied this framework to the period of transition from 1997 to 2004, the book then turns that lens briefly on more recent developments in Indonesia. But that part of the story is still unfolding, leaving the reader to consider the implications of the past for the future.

The election of President Joko Widodo illustrates the continuing struggle for consolidation and expansion of democracy in Indonesia. As the authors note, there is a bit of Huntington’s authoritarian nostalgia in the country. But Joko showed in this campaign and his election victory that democratic forces continue to prevail.

That being said, one must wonder whether the current economic weakness in the country will fuel a backlash against this democratic leader. The government’s ability to deliver inclusive economic growth, provide leadership, maintain security, and fight corruption will be critical. In a still consolidating democratic system, failure in any of these areas can create challenges for the continued legitimacy of not just the current government but the entire system. "Reinventing Indonesia" provides us insights into how these forces have played out in the past, which can help us to understand how they may play out in the future.

Timothy Buehrer is chief of party at US-Asean Connectivity Through Trade and Investment (US-ACTI).





News Search/Filter
Transaction Rates
18 Aug 18
Buy
Sell
AED1
3,903.45
3,903.45
AFN1
197.07
197.07
ALL1
130.34
130.34
AMD1
29.73
29.73
ANG1
7,773.43
7,773.43
AOA1
53.38
53.38
ARS1
481.95
481.95
AUD1
10,490.26
10,490.26
AWG1
7,996.69
7,996.69
AZN1
8,421.78
8,421.78
BAM1
8,350.42
8,350.42
BBD1
7,169.04
7,169.04
BDT1
169.69
169.69
BGN1
8,385.58
8,385.58
BHD1
38,014.93
38,014.93
BIF1
8.03
8.03
BMD1
14,338.09
14,338.09
BND1
9,492.24
9,492.24
BOB1
2,075.18
2,075.18
BRL1
3,666.46
3,666.46
BSD1
14,338.09
14,338.09
BTC1
93,164,188
93,164,188
BTN1
204.62
204.62
BWP1
1,318.14
1,318.14
BYN1
6,994.33
6,994.33
BZD1
7,135.19
7,135.19
CAD1
10,978.67
10,978.67
CDF1
8.87
8.87
CHF1
14,401.31
14,401.31
CLF1
613,263.11
613,263.11
CLP1
21.47
21.47
CNH1
2,097.87
2,097.87
CNY1
2,085.67
2,085.67
COP1
4.77
4.77
CRC1
25.27
25.27
CUC1
14,338.09
14,338.09
CUP1
562.27
562.27
CVE1
147.53
147.53
CZK1
638.23
638.23
DJF1
80.55
80.55
DKK1
2,199.22
2,199.22
DOP1
288.17
288.17
DZD1
120.67
120.67
EGP1
801.95
801.95
ERN1
956.11
956.11
ETB1
517.71
517.71
EUR1
16,417.81
16,417.81
FJD1
6,746.23
6,746.23
FKP1
18,283.95
18,283.95
GBP1
18,283.95
18,283.95
GEL1
5,786.87
5,786.87
GGP1
18,283.95
18,283.95
GHS1
2,941.14
2,941.14
GIP1
18,283.95
18,283.95
GMD1
297.62
297.62
GNF1
1.60
1.60
GTQ1
1,915.16
1,915.16
GYD1
68.76
68.76
HKD1
1,826.31
1,826.31
HNL1
596.67
596.67
HRK1
2,211.00
2,211.00
HTG1
212.85
212.85
HUF1
50.81
50.81
IDR1
1.00
1.00
ILS1
3,917.15
3,917.15
IMP1
18,283.95
18,283.95
INR1
205.43
205.43
IQD1
12.04
12.04
IRR1
0.33
0.33
ISK1
133.56
133.56
JEP1
18,283.95
18,283.95
JMD1
106.24
106.24
JOD1
20,180.08
20,180.08
JPY1
129.75
129.75
KES1
142.22
142.22
KGS1
210.42
210.42
KHR1
3.52
3.52
KMF1
33.21
33.21
KPW1
15.93
15.93
KRW1
12.80
12.80
KWD1
47,235.00
47,235.00
KYD1
17,211.00
17,211.00
KZT1
39.83
39.83
LAK1
1.68
1.68
LBP1
9.46
9.46
LKR1
89.37
89.37
LRD1
92.95
92.95
LSL1
1,005.82
1,005.82
LYD1
10,315.17
10,315.17
MAD1
1,504.91
1,504.91
MDL1
861.14
861.14
MGA1
4.32
4.32
MKD1
265.84
265.84
MMK1
9.62
9.62
MNT1
5.87
5.87
MOP1
1,773.80
1,773.80
MRO1
40.10
40.10
MRU1
398.61
398.61
MUR1
413.80
413.80
MVR1
928.02
928.02
MWK1
19.72
19.72
MXN1
758.89
758.89
MYR1
3,494.98
3,494.98
MZN1
242.84
242.84
NAD1
986.47
986.47
NGN1
39.71
39.71
NIO1
450.03
450.03
NOK1
1,696.62
1,696.62
NPR1
127.89
127.89
NZD1
9,514.75
9,514.75
OMR1
37,236.18
37,236.18
PAB1
14,338.09
14,338.09
PEN1
4,314.71
4,314.71
PGK1
4,322.34
4,322.34
PHP1
269.03
269.03
PKR1
115.92
115.92
PLN1
3,820.02
3,820.02
PYG1
2.49
2.49
QAR1
3,937.95
3,937.95
RON1
3,524.08
3,524.08
RSD1
138.89
138.89
RUB1
213.97
213.97
RWF1
16.56
16.56
SAR1
3,822.93
3,822.93
SBD1
1,817.45
1,817.45
SCR1
1,055.13
1,055.13
SDG1
795.67
795.67
SEK1
1,565.78
1,565.78
SGD1
10,455.83
10,455.83
SHP1
18,283.95
18,283.95
SLL1
2.19
2.19
SOS1
24.78
24.78
SRD1
1,922.51
1,922.51
SSP1
110.06
110.06
STD1
0.68
0.68
STN1
665.34
665.34
SVC1
1,638.94
1,638.94
SYP1
27.84
27.84
SZL1
986.48
986.48
THB1
432.45
432.45
TJS1
1,523.21
1,523.21
TMT1
4,096.61
4,096.61
TND1
5,203.83
5,203.83
TOP1
6,205.52
6,205.52
TRY1
2,384.12
2,384.12
TTD1
2,127.55
2,127.55
TWD1
466.65
466.65
TZS1
6.28
6.28
UAH1
517.81
517.81
UGX1
3.82
3.82
USD1
14,338.09
14,338.09
UYU1
454.18
454.18
UZS1
1.83
1.83
VEF1
0.10
0.10
VND1
0.62
0.62
VUV1
132.14
132.14
WST1
5,539.08
5,539.08
XAF1
25.02
25.02
XAG1
212,201.32
212,201.32
XAU1
17,021,536.87
17,021,536.87
XCD1
5,305.39
5,305.39
XDR1
20,009.05
20,009.05
XOF1
25.02
25.02
XPD1
13,148,784.06
13,148,784.06
XPF1
137.58
137.58
XPT1
11,328,907.24
11,328,907.24
YER1
57.27
57.27
ZAR1
984.51
984.51
ZMW1
1,399.24
1,399.24
ZWL1
44.47
44.47
Taxation Exchange Rates
31 Aug 16 - 06 Sep 16
USD 1
13,232.00
AUD 1
10,043.30
CAD 1
10,213.70
DKK 1
1,999.40
HKD 1
1,706.22
MYR 1
3,283.28
NZD 1
9,623.63
NOK 1
1,605.23
GBP 1
17,433.70
SGD 1
9,757.68
SEK 1
1,569.45
CHF 1
13,631.10
JPY 100
13,101.00
MMK 1
11.01
INR 1
197.29
KWD 1
43,920.70
PKR 1
126.23
PHP 1
285.00
SAR 1
3,528.53
LKR 1
91.12
THB 1
382.08
BND 1
9,756.53
EUR 1
14,885.50
CNY 1
1,987.61

Okusi Associates: Indonesian Business & Management Services