Photo: Ian Wilson

Jakarta: inequality and the poverty of elite pluralism

Judging from national and international headlines, Jakarta’s gubernatorial election on 19 April represents not just a major turning point for the nation’s capital and city of 12 million, but potentially for the entire country. The alarmist tone is largely due to the unsettling direction campaigning has taken over the past eight months, that has seen any possible substantive policy debates over how to best tackle Jakarta’s complex infrastructural, economic, and social problems subsumed by sectarian identity politics.

Initially a relatively fringe movement led by serial troublemakers the Islamic Defenders Front, objections to Ahok as governor on the grounds he was a non-Muslim snowballed after allegations he insulted Islam, and the subsequent laying of blasphemy charges. It presented the perfect opening for his rivals, who pumped significant financial and political resources into reframing opposition to him on identity lines. Focusing for most of the campaign on modest policy achievements and managerial competence, Ahok’s team recently responded in turn with an emotive campaign video highlighting a commitment to pluralism and tolerance.

While the campaigns present, at one level of analysis, a stark contrast between ‘diversity’ on the one hand and sectarian populism on the other, a shared point of commonality is the respective silence regarding a significant shaping force in Jakarta, and arguably the election: rising levels of economic inequality.

Indonesia’s Bureau of Statistics has recorded steady increases in levels of economic inequality in Jakarta, reflecting the national trend of the past decade. The country’s much-heralded economic growth has been marked by growing concentrations of that wealth in the hands of a few, and a stagnation if not deterioration in the standard of living of a vast majority of Indonesians. According to a 2017 Oxfam report on the widening wealth gap, inequality has been driven by a combination of ‘market fundamentalism’, high concentrations of land ownership, and the second lowest rate of tax collection in Southeast Asia.

The poor and precarious bear the most drastic and damaging impacts of economic inequality, though in a densely populated megacity like Jakarta it is felt by all social and economic classes — albeit in often vastly different ways and with a range of social and political consequences.

For Jakarta’s upper middle classes the desire for security, lifestyle, and convenience — together with the push by developers for profitable all-inclusive developments — has meant increasingly self-imposed spatial separation from other social and economic groups within gated estates, apartments towers, shopping malls and private vehicles. Once a city of economically mixed neighborhoods, large parts of the city are spatially divided by class and ethnicity. This can be seen in the city’s north, where remaining kampung sit in uneasy tension alongside luxury apartments and gated communities.

This socio-spatial shift has been reflected politically in middle class demands for an ‘orderly’ city free from the inconveniences of traffic congestion, overcrowding, and flooding, but minus the self-sacrifices required to achieve these. The poor provide convenient scapegoats. It has also fed the popularity of strong, ‘uncompromising’, and arguably authoritarian leadership styles as represented by Ahok, but also his former party chief and now political adversary Prabowo Subianto.

For the lower middle class, perhaps the closest to a socioeconomic ‘majority’ in the city, rising inequality and social disparity creates a host of contradictory anxieties and tensions. As seen elsewhere in the world, fears over job and tenure security with rising costs of living can manifest in receptiveness to populism and conspiracy culture.

Populism is fueled not only by anxiety over economic conditions, but also cultural and social tensions. What may be fluid identities in the course of everyday life can harden in the face of ongoing uncertainties, such as seen in the well documented rise of self-conscious displays of religious piety and social conservatism.

Both campaigns have appealed to these rising anxieties resulting from broader economic transformations, albeit in different ways.

Ahok’s program of neoliberal urban redevelopment and infrastructural improvement has been explicitly pitched to a middle class anxious to enjoy amenities and lifestyle comparable to Singapore or Seoul. His unwavering stance regarding the eviction of informal neighborhoods, for example, has been popular with middle class constituents, in part due to the perception of a commitment to the rule of law, but also because they have been exempted from it.

While his double minority status has not been used as an explicit focus of campaigning it has been regularly cited by supporters, such as Teman Ahok, as an inherent positive within the context of Indonesian democracy and a sign of the city’s embrace of pluralistic tolerance, albeit one now seemingly under threat. As Walter Micheals has argued, the emphasis placed by liberal elites on diversity often masks social and economic inequality, and the economic structures from which their own wealth and status are gained. The diversity of an elite is used to rationalise its existence.

In mixed poor and lower middle class neighborhoods in Jakarta, where heterogeneity is considered by many a simple fact of life, resentments towards ‘elite pluralism’ have been exploited by a variety of political opportunists. The Islamist anti-liberalism movement, for example, has drawn significant support from this social base, which later dovetailed with the religiously framed opposition to Ahok. The advocacy or defence of policies deeply hostile to the poor and working class by liberal commentators and activists has served to underscore the view that liberal pluralism is corrupt and self-serving.

Anies Baswedan’s campaign has opportunistically embraced the political benefits of the fanning of identity politics, while either pretending not to see it or insisting it isn’t really an issue at all. His supporter networks (including hardline clerics) have been less reticent, exploiting anxieties and material hardship via rhetoric that mixes critiques of neoliberalism and democracy with xenophobia.

Throughout the New Order, ethnic Chinese Indonesians were maintained as a convenient scapegoat for the regimes failure to make good on its trade off of curtailed political freedom in return for economic development and to distract from the systemic looting of the country’s resources by the Suharto family and its cronies. This ‘tradition’ has been revived through the spread of conspiracy theories via mosque sermons and social media.

Even a cursory glance at the composition of the candidates’ political coalitions provides an insight in to why inequality may not be a political or policy priority.

Ahok and the rise (and fall?) of state capital

Forget oligarchy. Ahok's governorship, like Jokowi's before him, has been a boon for state enterprise.

Ahok, a former protégé of Golkar and Gerindra, has well documented links to developer conglomerates such as Agung Podomoro, Sinarmas and Agung Sedayu and is backed by an alliance of parties that includes, among others, media mogul and National Democrat party leader Surya Paloh. Similarly, his rival’s running mate Sandiago Uno is listed in the top 50 richest Indonesians, as is Gerindra financier Hashim Djojohadikusumo. Other backers of Anies Baswedean include ethnic Chinese billionaire and Trump supporter Hary Tanoesoedibjo. The conspicuous silence from Anies’ supporters surrounding Hary’s backing, despite the racialised attacks on Ahok, is indicative of its instrumentality.

These constellations of rival political elites collectively constitute a substantial percentage of the greatest beneficiaries of Indonesia’s economic growth. Economic inequality is, for them, arguably less a crucial problem to be tackled through structural reform than one to be politically managed and manipulated. The framing of elections in terms of polarising identity politics, be it sectarian or pluralist, and the subsequent arranging of social conflicts, serves to both obscure and capture the anomie generated by inequality.

The victims of this politics of misdirection are those vulnerable minorities for whom the stoking of sectarian sentiments poses a very real and potentially dire threat, together with those for whom the channeling of their anger into identity politics will provide no concrete answers to the economic pressures that they face.

……………

Ian Wilson is a lecturer in politics and security studies and a Research Fellow at Murdoch University’s Asia Research Centre. You can follow him on Twitter at @iwilson69.

All photos in this article are the author’s own.

More Indonesia at New Mandala

Jakarta: inequality and the poverty of elite pluralism

Framing Jakarta's election as a referendum on Indonesian pluralism is a way to avoid addressing inequalities of political and economic power.

Jakarta: inequality and the poverty of elite pluralism

Framing Jakarta's election as a referendum on Indonesian pluralism is a way to avoid addressing inequalities of political and economic power.

44 Responses

  1. Another angle of analysis..

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  2. Chris Beale

    At last the REAL issues are being addressed. Most of the anti-Ahok movement is NOT about Islamic extremism. It is about the way Ahok has rode roughshod over the poor.

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    • Chris Scott

      No, the REAL issue has not changed – it’s all about jockeying for power and influence (and hence increased affluence) amongst the same small elite that has been there since the Suharto era – Prabowo (Suharto’s son-in-law) & his brother Hashim, the property mafia, etc. As usual, as throughout history, the “poor” get used as tools in these struggles but gain little, if anything. The shame this time is the way the race/religion card was played (although that’s been going on in Jakarta for hundreds of years) – is it the end of Pancasila?

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      • Chris Beale

        Chris Scott – no : it’s NOT the end of Pancasila. Because younger military officers will take over – if these crones, cronies, and old crocks, can not sort out the country’s problems.

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    • Errr, no, poll shows 70percent Jakartans are satisfied with how Jkt is run. Even if we assume that ALL of the other 30 percent are not satisfied because said roughshodness (rather than, oh I don’t know, parking? Ha) that’s less than a third.

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  3. Irfani

    I’m of of those jakarta’s middle class.
    Some of my friends change their decision to Anies in hope for more affordable housing and better economy. #jktproblem

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  4. syam

    Jakarta gubernatorial election has shown the quality and maturity of democracy. Not only by the Jakartans, but also by the people of Indonesia, since the election took a lot of attention from all elements of the nation.

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  5. pearshaped

    The aust media have framed this misleadingly. Do Bali, manado, Ntt, Papua elect muslim governors? Nope. What hypocrisy. Manado at a pinch may elect a chinese christian, the others wouldnt. Bali elect a muslim governor? Would pdip even dare to put one up as a candidate? Oh jeez don’t make me laugh.

    Unlike the recent jakarta election these non muslim majority provinces don’t need overt anti Muslim campaigns. The systemic sectarianism is all handled quietly, implicitly.

    Now, let’s see Bali take the high moral ground and elect a Muslim governor.

    How stupid is pdip. They could have run horses for courses, chosen a Muslim instead of ahok and would probably have won. Instead they’ve just handed prabowo the presidency. Stupid deserves to lose.

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    • Medan and North Sumatra elected Muslims, and numerous other areas where minorities lead majorities you should look it up. Actuallly someone probably has a dataset somewhere.
      https://m.detik.com/news/berita/d-3386774/icmi-ada-bupati-tionghoa-di-kabupaten-99-persen-muslim
      http://m.hidayatullah.com/lensa/read/2016/05/31/95620/wajah-muslim-di-raja-ampat-papua.html

      If not for his candor on Almaidah, Ahok would have won.

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      • pearshaped

        ‘If not for his candor on Almaidah, Ahok would have won.’

        I agree. He has done magnificently just to reach 40-45%. He wouldn’t have got that much in Bali because he’s the wrong ethnicity and religion.

        His loss is a setback but a temporary one and PDIP must be honest when drawing conclusions. With a track record such as theirs, it’s not guaranteed. The next time an ethnic Chinese Christian throws his/her hat in the ring for PDIP in Jakarta, they should refrain from quoting the Koran to Muslims, as if they were religious authorities. It seems they will have a deficit of just 5-8% to pull back if they are to win and that should be possible. The long term goal of eliminating ‘primordialisme’ from Indonesian politics is just that – long term. This is a tactical not strategic loss.

        But that’s not the narrative editors of the Aust msm papers, and their readers, want to read about. Even if their journos were brave enough to leave the safety and camouflage of the herd and go for a wander on the Serengeti.

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        • Iwan Sugiarto

          Its only been 3-4 elections cycles. And the 1-2 elections was during reformasi era they usually elected the holdovers from the Suharto era.

          Tell me what differences does it make if they are district / provincial elections. Its most likely these regions will elect Muslim governor before Jakarta does, because they don’t have run offs. Its very unlikely Jakarta will ever elected a non-Muslim governor, largely because of run off system. To be frank, Governors outside of Jakarta/Aceh/Yogyakarta don’t have as much funds/power as a bupati does.

          As for those regions not electing a Muslim governor, all I know is they don’t do the following 1) Go running around the street in the hundred of thousands shouting kill the unbeliever 2) Don’t go on rampages / riots wanting to kill Muslims 3) Press for a blasphemy trial 4) Want to lynch said Muslim candidate 5) Threaten the female supporters of said Muslim candidate with rape. 6) Intimidating the candidate everywhere he goes. It seems that you are praising such tactics over the implicit and soft bigotry found in non-Muslim provinces.

          As for the stupidity of the PDI-P.. Maybe you should run the PDI-P instead of Megawati. Most of us wouldn’t last a week in that position, so don’t pretend like most people in New Mandala that you can do better. The problem isn’t PDI-P, its the fact that the opposition is willing to use sectarianism because its easy. And its naive to think its restricted to Ahok. They went after Jokowi in 2014, and they are going after Kamil in 2018. And the reason they do this is because they have no or a very poor record (ie PKS in West Java). And why do you suppose that the PDI-P would have won if they put a Muslim candidate in Jakarta?

          Yes Jokowi will lose if his opponent double down on the sectarian card, because that is the only way they can win. He has always been vulnerable to this issue since he ran for Jakarta Governor in 2012. Jokowi has never carried the majority of the Muslim vote in Jakarta/Indonesia. So what mindset can the PDI-P change so Jokowi isn’t vulnerable to those attacks? PDI-P can’t change over night, just as the PKS can’t all of a sudden embrace non-Muslims.

          The strategy of accommodating Muslims sentiments might be obvious to you in the short run, but if you take a long run view its bad for secular parties like the PDi-P. They have been doing this in regional election since 2004. Want to get support of the PKS/PPP, a PDI-P Bupati makes Muslims female civil servants wear the hijab. Slowly over time more religion creeps in. Instead of being stupid as you seem to imply, maybe the national leadership in the PDI-P and other secular parties are finally realizing the monster they built on short term electoral expediency. Its most likely too late.

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    • Iwan Sugiarto

      It depends on region. Ambon, NTT, Kalimantan have elected Muslim officials in non-Muslim majority areas. Again its far more complicated then you make it out to be. There is a lot wheeling and dealing going on in many regional elections, and religion to be frank often doesn’t have much of a part.

      As for picking a Muslim for Governor of Jakarta they might have won the Jakarta election, but that doesn’t necessarily correlate to a win in 2019, which is a long way off. Trying to make predictions based on the assumption that Anies can actually do the work. all it takes is 2 major floods and Prabowo is finished. By the way Prabowo can’t control the weather.

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      • pearshaped

        ‘It depends on region. Ambon, NTT, Kalimantan have elected Muslim officials in non-Muslim majority areas.’

        Ambon elected a Muslim Governor once, because the demography had been altered by transmigration and free settlement from Java and Sulawesi. The result was a war in which they forcibly changed the demographics. Now they take it in turns for fear of another war. When was the last time NTT elected a Muslim Governor? Suwandi was appointed not elected.

        ‘religion to be frank often doesn’t have much of a part.’

        Nonsense.

        ‘Prabowo can’t control the weather’

        Then he should get a new paranormal.

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        • Iwan Sugiarto

          I think your analysis isn’t very good, despite trying to sound like a edgy PhD student. The reason why Muslim leaders in non-Muslims areas are not mentioned often, because there are quite common, even post-1998. Here are some examples.

          https://id.wikipedia.org/wiki/Awang_Ishak
          Awang Ishak – Islam. Mayor of Singkawang 2002-2007 / 2012-2017.

          Singkawang is not just majority Christian, but majority Chinese.

          https://id.wikipedia.org/wiki/Jarot_Winarno Bupati of Sintang,

          http://ardi-lamadi.blogspot.ca/2013/07/jumlah-penduduk-berdasarkan-agama-di_8470.html

          Sintang – 37% of the population is Muslim

          If you drill down the data for the other kabupaten in Kalimantan Barat, you will see non-Muslim areas electing Muslim leaders. Its common enough that its hardily mentioned. Its like this across much of Kalimantan.

          Its the same in North Sumatra, if you look at election results at Kabupaten level. Why? because they are won on a simple plurality of the votes, rather than requiring a majority for the second round.

          In situations like this in the long run religion isn’t important. Why? Minority candidates have a good chance of winning.
          First the Muslim candidates aren’t going to go all Sharia, because they will lose in the next election. So they down play Islam. The Christians parties seeing that do the same. In Kalimantan, the same when the situation is reversed

          When you don’t have run offs, and the race is 3-4 way as they usually are in Indonesia, Candidates don’t use the religion card when the minority makes up 15-40% of the vote because what happens is minority candidates can rally the minority vote and win. In a 3-4 way race, religious polarization is dangerous, because minorities will vote along identity and what results is a block voting. Meaning people vote based on religious identity for protection. This is what happens with Ahok, and even with Jokowi.

          If Jakarta didn’t have run offs, over time it would encourage more minorities to run. People are far less likely to use the religion card in the long run. And after changing Muslim / Non-Muslim mayor / bupati the 5-6 time, religion becomes irrelevant as in Kalimantan. Elections would be less polarizing at the provincial level if plurality is used as in the case at Tingkat II. Of course there are problems with plurality, you can elect a Duterte.

          As for Prabowo-Anies. Its still too early to tell. PKS could lose West Java in 2018, and it could go over to Nasdem/secular parties (Ridwan Kamil). Reason is for the last five years, West Java isn’t improving as fast as Jakarta or East/Central Java, Unemployment hasn’t recovered to even close to pre-Reformasi levels. Manufacturing jobs / Investment is being gobbled up East and Central Java. Now West Java is the largest supplier of TKI, 30-40% above levels in East and Central Java. Per capita income has slipped, in 2011 it was ranked the 14th richest province. In 2015 it slipped to 22nd. Most likely by the time the election comes around it would have slipped below Central Java.

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  6. Timo Duile

    Thank you for this insightful article! One of the best contributions to that topic since it concerns the economic factors often not taken into account. Whereas many only highlight the issue of pluralism vs. reactionary Islamism, issues like elite politics and contradictions within Indonesian capitalism fall short.

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  7. Iwan Sugiarto

    Its indicative of the low quality of the articles in New Mandala. Using Jakarta Post article to reference statistics, put some effort into it. Secondly, why the hell did the author take an article that is over 2 years old. According to the latest figures, economic inequality in Indonesia has dropped.

    http://indonesiaeconomicforum.com/article/read/income-inequality-on-decline-in-indonesia

    Would any people here bet there tenure or their job, and say that its largely about poverty and Ahok riding roughshod over the poor? Just assume that Ahok didn’t evict people and there was no blasphemy case, would he have won? There is a very good chance he wouldn’t have

    Its easy for Westerners who haven’t faced discrimination as minorities feel in Indonesia, to paint it as poverty, and that race/religion is used as a smoke screen. The religious / racial issues are NOT the distraction, they are the main issue.

    The scary part is the solutions recommended by researchers are always in the form of lets help the poor by giving them money or help them become entrepreneurs. Well that is stupid. The reason why Economic inequality has increased in Indonesia despite all the lavish social programs enacted since Reformasi is because not enough high equality jobs are created in the formal economy due to 1) Shortage of technical personal 2) Neglect in infrastructure. The Suharto era was defined by crony capitalism galore, but income inequality under the Suharto period was lower than it is now.. Because Suharto build enough infrastructure to attract manufacturing investment that provided factory jobs that lifted many out of poverty.

    The response by Western intellectuals, increasing the minimum wage for workers in Jakarta, cash handouts, more social spending, help “entrepreneurs” means less money on infrastructure, which in turn means less investment and fewer jobs. Help people setup informal undustries is a dead end, because the state often doesn’t capture the benefit (ie tax revenue)

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    • Chocolate Java

      Agree… and the issue of massive corruption and public service inefficiency on every level will now blow out again. This impacts entrepreneurs far more than microloans or grants.

      Ahok made symbolic gains which are small in the big picture but important.

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      • niky

        Btw Anies’s record in fighting corruption was one of action. He is member of Team 8 KPK back in 2010, to examine the cases of the alleged criminalization of Anti-Corruption Commission (KPK) Leades (Bibit & Chandra) and in 2013 Anies requested by the KPK to lead the Committee of ethics.

        Recently Novel Baswedan, a senior investigator at KPK that handling few high level corruption cases had suffered burns after acid attack is actually Anies cousin.

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  8. wawan

    Insightful analysis indeed. Sadly, the trace of ahok & his supporters perceived arrogance on issue of eviction of urban poor, will only reinforce the misleading negative stereotype of chinese and christians as untrustworthy. Those evicted urban poor will always remember very well, how ahok has failed to deliver jokowi’s promise of no-eviction policy, back in 2012 when jokowi and ahok ran for jakarta’s governatorial candidate. Or how ahok’s middle class supporters (who were once boastful that they are with urban poors against fauzi bowo’s cruel eviction) suddenly vilified and humiliated their suffering. It is something they forget very soon.

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  9. Lydia

    If you plot incidence of poverty and % votes for the incumbent, it is high likely you will always have a negative correlation, i.e. the higher the poverty level, the lower the proportion of votes for the incumbent. Even if we’re talking about relative (not absolute) poverty. People who see their neighbors better off would risk their chances with the other guy. The Jokowi & Ahok duet probably won in 2012 in some part by taking advantage of this widening income inequality and making themselves as different as the incumbent as possible. So inequality is always a factor in all elections. Only this time, the other guys are going to extremes in making themselves different by taking advantage of the minority leadership issues (Chinese, Christian). Actually, one can argue that sectarian tactics needed to be used because economic issues were not cutting it (the so-called evictions weren’t cruel enough). It would be these sectarian tactics which will be used in the national scale in 2019 because it’s proven effective, and because it is also less likely that the economic angle will work against Jokowi. In hindsight, it’s good that this is happening now, as everyone can prepare for 2019 to make sure the worst outcome doesn’t happen.

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  10. Iwan Sugiarto

    I strongly disagree with the analysis is its about poverty. Its clearly about religion.

    Ahok polled 80% among Bataks in Jakarta, higher than even among Chinese Indonesians. All other predominately non-Muslim ethnic groups he was pulling above 70%, whether they came from Bali, NTT, Manado etc How many Christian Batak Metro Mini drivers participated in the protest?

    The author falls to understand that in Indonesia, religion is important. Increasingly how people interact is based on religion. Poor Christian Indonesians live among poor Muslims in Jakarta, but beyond that they live separate lives, they don’t worship in the same places, they go to different schools, they rarely intermarry , take on different jobs etc. Anti-Christian discrimination in many of public schools in Jakarta is nasty, and its why Christian parents spend a fortune sending their children to Christian schools if they can afford it.

    In the West people have forgotten how sectarian their own cities were 100 years ago. Ahok trial is like Dreyfus affair in France

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    • Kalam

      The analysis isn’t saying religion wasn’t a factor. It states over and over sectarianism was a significant factor. Between this and your previous comment it’s as if you haven’t even read the piece. It argues that socio-economic tensions were channeled into sectarian politics. This is convenient for elites because making it about religion and ethnicity ignores other socio-economic issues, such as their own siphoning of the nations wealth. Similar arguments have been given many times explaining the rise of the religious right in the US, Europe etc. It’s a shame you also seem to have to use boorish caricatures of ‘the West’, as if that offers any insight in to the article. It doesn’t.

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      • Iwan Sugiarto

        I read the piece. The elites used religion pure and simple. They didn’t have to channel the social economic issues into sectarian ones, when sectarian issues have always been present in Indonesia across all segments of society

        Secondly the number of people impact by evictions and their extended family is at most 60,000. Its not enough to significantly influence the vote.

        Thirdly, define Ahok position that were neoliberal. KJP and KJS neo-liberal? Going after people for taxes neoliberal.

        As for boorish comments about the West. Just because I like to mock the know it all in New Mandala is that boorish. This is supposed to be an academic blog, but using 2 year old articles from the JP about income inequality is something to be mocked.

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        • Liam Gammon

          Hi Iwan,

          Liam Gammon, NM’s editor here. If you have it in you to writing a post critiquing the points in Ian’s article we’d be happy to host it. Get in touch if this appeals.

          Thanks
          Liam

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  11. John Roosa

    While the word “neoliberal” can be ambiguous, there is a broadly accepted core definition: it refers to policies that privatize state assets, reduce state funding for health, education, and welfare, and remove state regulations on the private sector. Defined in that way, Ahok’s policies are the opposite of neoliberalism. Ahok, like Jokowi before him, was trying to increase state revenue (especially by cracking down on the embezzlement and rent-seeking by city government officials) and then use that revenue for public purposes: drainage, schools, transport, parks, etc. This article says nothing about that strategy even though it was the strategy that earned him such high approval ratings before the blasphemy case. It is not just middle class people who want less flooding, better schools, and less pilfering of public funds. This is, of course, not a revolutionary strategy of leveling but it is a strategy to make life marginally better for many poor people. To condemn liberals like Mulya Lubis who defended the Bukit Duri eviction as “deeply hostile to the poor and working class” is to caricature their position. The “poor and working class are, of course, not one united mass of people. There are plenty of renters in Jakarta, like those in neighborhood where I sometimes dwell, who do not get worked up about the removal of people from state lands, many of whom were living rent-free, and then the provision of apartments for them at lower-than-market rates. Again, Ahok did not get such high approval ratings, and 42-43% of the vote in the two rounds of voting, by being completely hostile to the poor and working class. He did not lose because of his economic strategies. He lost because of a reactionary campaign over religion. Now any kind of left agenda of leveling is even more difficult.

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    • Margie

      I agree. There should also be analysis about the community response in The Smart Jakarta Card, Healthy Jakarta Card, free ambulance, etc. I do disagree with the eviction process which seems not fair for the poor compared to Kemang and malls, but I have to admit the more effective and no cost public service for any legal issues, the reduced burden of health, education, the better public transportation and its progress, etc. There are always pros and cons with the government programs (and always will with any other government), but there should be an overall analysis on the whole program to be fair.
      Also the sectarian issues should considers that not all the minority, either by ethnic or religion, are middle class people. Most of them are among the poor too, something I have not read in many articles.

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  12. joko

    Ahok acts as Jakarta governor since Nov 19, 2014. BPS’ Jakarta gini ratio: 2013 (0.364), 2014(0.436), 2015(0.460), 2016(0.394).

    The Gini ratio trend under Ahok’s influence (2015-2016) is decreasing then by more than 0.06 points.

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  13. […] an excellent article by Ian Wilson posted by New Mandala, the case is made that the recent Gubernatorial election in Jakarta was an opportunity for the poor […]

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  14. […] lalu Ian Wilson menulis di New Mandala (yang berafiliasi ke ANU) artikel berjudul Jakarta: inequality and the poverty of elite pluralism—yang kemudian dimuat ulang di the Jakarta Post dan beberapa media berbahasa Inggris lain […]

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  15. pearshaped

    ‘Don’t go on rampages / riots wanting to kill Muslims’

    Kerusuhan Kupang 1998. Had to be there. Hush – we won’t mention Maluku either.

    ‘The strategy of accommodating Muslims sentiments might be obvious to you in the short run, but if you take a long run view its bad for secular parties like the PDi-P.’

    The late, great, PDIP luminary Chris Siner Key Timu would’ve disgreed with you. His involvement with the Petisi 50 stemmed from his disagreement with the Church and it’s binary ‘Minus Malum’ strategy ie TNI or Islam – guess which one the Church chose – for which he became a non-person. Chris believed the task of ‘socialising’ Islam to Liberal Democracy was a long term project, but one had to begin somewhere. Unofficially of course, his home in Slipi was buzzing.

    Perhaps you contributed to the buzz?

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    • Iwan Sugiarto

      Yes, and you didn’t mention incidents in Papua.

      But my point still stands that has the Church or any other religion used violent intimidation in non-Muslim dominant areas for electoral gain? If they do it, they definitely not stupid enough to do out in the open.

      The last time I heard there were no Catholic Priest going around Flores extorting money from bars and hotels, as the FPI does. They don’t have to, people go to Church every Sunday and do so willingly. That is pure genius. Currently, the closest you get to that in non-Muslim areas is incidents in Bali. But as far as I know Protestants/Catholics/Buddhists/Hindu don’t come even close to producing someone like Imam Besar Habib Rizieq. FPI is the perfect conjunction of religion/politics/criminality. Often you see two of the three together, rarely do you see all three come together in such a perfect union. Islam in Indonesia is certainly blessed with his presence.

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  16. pearshaped

    ‘But my point still stands that has the Church or any other religion used violent intimidation in non-Muslim dominant areas for electoral gain’

    Definitely. The recent events in Jakarta are not unique. I refer you to the ‘blasphemy’ cases in NTT during the 90s where communion hosts were allegedly desecrated. The reaction was violent and organised. Senior PDI leaders, some of whom were also responsible as Catholic student leaders for one of the biggest massacres in 1965, were involved, as were younger PDI activists, cutting their teeth so to speak. Rioters attacked bars and brothels – there were very few such places – forcing those inside to flee to the hills, some still naked. One was seen running and killed because of his ethnicity and presumed religion. Behind the activists was, let’s say a ‘faction’ within the Church.

    ‘The last time I heard there were no Catholic Priest going around Flores extorting money from bars and hotels’

    And the last time I sent this comment I named one, this time I won’t. You could enquire about the priest who had his own paper Gita Nusantara, promoted his own alleged mystical prophethood and was paid by miners to ‘lobby’ for their operations. The Church doesn’t like to talk about these scandals but they happen. Nor does the Church do much to dissuade the Florinese ‘debt collecting’ gangs in Jakarta from their extortionate ways.

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  17. Iwan Sugiarto

    “And the last time I sent this comment I named one, this time I won’t”

    You never named any Priest in any of your comments, not by name. Just some Catholic Youth leaders The fact that you had to go as far back as the 1990s shows something. The closest you come if saying a Catholic priest setup a deviant branch and a newspapers and asked for donations from minors.

    The Catholic Youth leaders of 1965 raiding brothel / bars you seem to imply that it was religious motivated, because they killed one person based on religion. No facts, just a story that happened 20 years ago. Nothing to back it up. Was the Church involved? Where they doing it in the name of Catholicism?

    It looks like you have been in Indonesia way to long, when you start using different standards for different people. Catholic Church turning a blind eye to the activities of NTT gangs in Jakarta. Well if that is the case what makes them any different from 99% of the Muslim imam in Indonesia would be guilty.

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    • pearshaped

      The initial comment I sent wasn’t shown. As I’ve had similar problems previously, I deleted some details including the name of a cleric, a slightly flippant secondhand account of how a murder took place, and resubmitted. It also included a link to a priest who was sentenced to death for murder. These are contemporary events, but yes, I’ve lived in Indonesia too long and I’m old enough to remember the bad old days of the New Order, which many Panglossians from ANU thought were the good days, the best days.

      I won’t name the Catholic student leaders involved in the ’65 massacres on Flores.

      The blasphemy cases involving alleged communion host desecration occurred in the 90s. Those events are very well known by everyone on Flores, the Church, and NTT. The naked man fleeing for his life, who was killed, was a member of TNI. He was killed because of his ethnicity first, and presumed religion. Generic resentment towards Javanese and TNI had begun after the tsunami and earthquake, a turning point in the history of the Island which was allegedly used by Islamist elements in Java to destroy the historic dependency and client relationship between the Island and the Mission. The same selebaran2 gelap spread by provocateurs during this period later appeared in Maluku and Kalimantan during the conflicts. There remain many unresolved question pertaining to that period for historians interested enough to delve.

      ‘No facts, just a story that happened 20 years ago. Nothing to back it up. Was the Church involved? Where they doing it in the name of Catholicism?’

      This is a simple comment box. I gave some introductory facts. The link between Catholicism, PDI then PDIP is well known to all in NTT and Jakarta. Resistance to Suharto and the New Order, and breaking that resistance preemptively, were other factors.

      The alleged blasphemy events also spread – or were spead – to the former Province of Timtim, occurring in Suai and Aileu, where Belo made use of them for propaganda.

      Lest readers think I’m being too harsh on the Church, to it’s great credit, the Catholic Church stayed out of the conflict in Ambon. This placed enormous strains in students from Kei, who followed their Mandonese Bishop to his favourite gentleman’s club in Jakarta, obtained receipts and collated a compromising dossier to try and force a change. If you want evidence of the complicity of Protestant clerics in the violence on Ambon, you don’t have to dig deep. I would remind you that the ethno-religious violence was in pursuit of electoral success, designed to change the demographics. Muslims too had their war aims but, again, this is a simple comment box and both sides decided to use Kalla’s faux reconciliation process to cover the truth rather than expose and confront it, risking reputations and careers.

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  18. chocolatejava

    Maybe the writer wishes to comment on yesterday’s conviction and how this is the result of Ahok’s poor treatment of the lower classes?

    Yes the conviction is an indication of the quality of the judiciary ( Refer to JIS, Jessica cases for further high profile examples and there are many more documented). However there appears to be a strong divergence in people, with one group feeling that Ahok was guilty and the other not, straight down religious lines and across racial lines. It cuts across education and social class. Not 100% accurate but it seems close.

    And the issues of corruption and rent seeking are in there.

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  19. R. N. England

    I think Ian Wilson is broadly right here: the same thing is going on all over the world, and the religious aspect of the Jakarta events is overplayed. When uninformed people are suffering, they tend to put the blame on somebody or some group, when the real cause is cultural failure that can be explained dispassionately in abstract terms that only the scholarly (and therefore disinterested) are likely to appreciate. Millions of embittered victims of cultural failure are whipped into action by diverse opportunists who use them as a means to pull down their rivals and leap-frog to dominant positions in the power hierarchy. The same story, the failure of market fundamentalism, is told in recent election results from Jakarta, the United States, France (where the opportunists failed but the cultural failure remains unsolved), or Europe in the 1930s. The opportunists can be religious crackpots, confidence tricksters, ultra-nationalist thugs promising to turn the victims into conquerors, or thugs promising to murder the rich and fling their money about. Not last to leap on the bandwagon of bitterness are journalists keen to improve their hit rate.

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  20. Stephen Sherlock

    “The diversity of an elite is used to rationalise its existence.” You have summed up the problem of Ahok and his team very well, Ian. And in doing so you eviscerated elitist liberal versions of “identity politics” and their studied ignorance of class.

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  21. […] Wilson (2016) and Mietzner and Muhtadi (2017) respectively saw the 2016 protests as being due more to the destructive effects of economic inequality, on the one hand, and primordial, religious sentiment on the other. But the Ahok case showed a link between expressions of Muslim solidarity and resentment of existing socio-economic conditions. […]

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  22. […] Ahok case shows a link between expressions of Muslim solidarity and resentment of existing socio-economic conditions. Such resentment is not exclusively held by poor Muslims — […]

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  23. […] an excellent article by Ian Wilson posted by New Mandala, the case is made that the recent Gubernatorial election in Jakarta was an opportunity for the poor […]

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