Thursday, October 19, 2017

Kerry B. Collison Asia News: What’s Next for Indonesia-Vietnam Defense Ties?

Kerry B. Collison Asia News: What’s Next for Indonesia-Vietnam Defense Ties?:   Last week, the defense ministers from Indonesia and Vietnam led their respective delegations for another round of their bilateral d...

What’s Next for Indonesia-Vietnam Defense Ties?


 

Last week, the defense ministers from Indonesia and Vietnam led their respective delegations for another round of their bilateral defense meeting held in Jakarta. The meeting saw both sides discuss broader regional and global security issues as well as take stock of their bilateral defense cooperation, including outlining future steps for cooperation through the signing of a new joint vision statement out to 2022.

As Indonesia-Vietnam relations have developed over the years, from a comprehensive partnership agreement signed in 2003 to a strategic partnership in 2013, the two countries have also looked to make progress in the security domain as well. Recent defense dialogues have focused on further steps to implement their memorandum of understanding inked in 2010, efforts to develop defense ties more generally including joint exercises, dialogues, and military equipment, and means to better manage challenges, including the treatment of fishermen amid some recent clashes at sea.

Last year was an active year for defense ties, with Indonesian Defense Minister Ryamizard Ryacudu making his first Vietnam visit since assuming his position and then-General Secretary of the Vietnamese Communist Party Nguyen Phu Trong making a trip to Indonesia – the first by a Party chief since the late Ho Chi Minh in 1959 and the first by a top Vietnamese leader since the inking of the 2013 strategic partnership. Though the focus of his visit, which included a meeting with Indonesian President Joko “Jokowi” Widodo, was on the relationship more generally, there were some defense-related developments including the signing of a letter of intent on cooperation between their two coast guards.


This time around, Vietnam Defense Minister Gen. Ngo Xuan Lich was in Jakarta to meet with several top Indonesian officials, including Ryacudu for their defense meeting on October 13. During the meeting, both sides discussed the broader regional and global challenges they both confront, including terrorism, cybercrimes, human and drug trafficking, illegal fishing, and the South China Sea issue. Ryacudu in particular emphasized the fact that none of these challenges could be confronted alone and required partnership among regional states.

The two sides also discussed thornier issues, most notably managing their maritime boundaries amid some recent clashes at sea as both concluding negotiations on the delimitation of their exclusive economic zones. This has been an ongoing issue that has factored into their recent engagements even though it often is not as widely publicized in official accounts by the two sides as much as other areas of convergence.

They also reviewed the existing infrastructure of the bilateral defense relationship, agreeing to continue the joint working group for their armed forces and the implementation of a defense policy dialogue into 2018. They noted areas for future progress such as education and training and defense industrial cooperation. Both sides also inked a joint vision statement to guide the overall defense relationship out to 2022. That was both a notable step in the institutionalization of the defense relationship and yet another indicator of the emphasis they are placing on security ties as being a pillar of the broader Indonesia-Vietnam strategic partnership.

By Prashanth Parameswaran for The Diplomat

Wednesday, October 18, 2017

Kerry B. Collison Asia News: Indonesia, Russia Ink Defense Protocol Amid Fighte...

Kerry B. Collison Asia News: Indonesia, Russia Ink Defense Protocol Amid Fighte...:   Indonesia and Russia held the latest iteration of their talks on military technical cooperation. The dialogue, which saw the signin...

Indonesia, Russia Ink Defense Protocol Amid Fighter Jet Deal


 

Indonesia and Russia held the latest iteration of their talks on military technical cooperation. The dialogue, which saw the signing of a protocol agreement, comes as both sides consider ways to further boost their defense collaboration even as they manage existing challenges.

As I have noted before, as Indonesia modernizes its military, Russia, currently Jakarta’s largest military supplier, has obviously been part of the conversation. But though both sides have been mulling several deals as well as broader advances in defense cooperation over the past few years, they have also had to factor in their priorities, which on the Indonesian side includes a greater insistence on developing its domestic defense industry.

From October 10 to October 11, the two countries held the thirteenth iteration of their talks on military technical cooperation (MTC). During the talks, officials as well as defense industry representatives from both sides discussed several issues, including areas of potential cooperation as well as overcoming challenges.

Unsurprisingly, one of the areas of focus was how to ensure that ongoing defense collaboration between the two countries is in line with Indonesia’s existing procurement laws and its policy objective of developing its domestic defense industry. Indonesia’s Law 16 specifies that offsets, local content, and countertrade should be worth no less than 85 percent of the value of the contract, with local content making up no less than 35 percent of this.

One outcome from the meeting, the Indonesian defense ministry disclosed in a statement released thereafter, was the inking of a draft protocol. The agreement, Indonesian defense officials said, would facilitate not only the purchase of defense equipment from Russia, but also the strengthening of broader defense ties including areas like joint development and joint production as well as maintenance, repair, and overhaul (MRO) through technology transfers.

The military-technical agreement comes as both countries continue to make progress toward the inking of a long-mulled Indonesian purchase of Sukhoi Su-35 multirole combat aircraft. As I have noted repeatedly, the deal has faced repeated delays since Indonesian defense minister Ryamizard Ryacudu first announced Indonesia had decided to buy the aircraft in September 2015, including over procurement regulations (See: “Why is the Indonesia-Russia Fighter Jet Deal Still On Hold?”).

As of now, though Indonesia is not expected to build the aircraft or parts of it by itself, both sides have been working out the structure of the deal to include MRO, countertrade, and offset opportunities, including Indonesian export of commodities and defense products. Though specifics are still being negotiated, Indonesian officials have previously said that, within the $1.14 billion expected deal for 11 Sukhoi jets, around $570 million will be paid for in Indonesian commodity exports such as palm oil, tea, and coffee, with around $400 million sourced through an offset program, and the remaining paid for through cash.

Thus far, Russia, which is eager to make further inroads in the defense realm in key Asian markets, has been willing to factor in Indonesia’s domestic priorities into the discussion. This pattern continued at the dialogue held last week with the Sukhoi deal still on the horizon, with the latest date of finalization set by Indonesian officials as November.

By Prashanth Parameswaran for The Diplomat

Kerry B. Collison Asia News: Jakarta’s new governor doubles down on identity - ...

Kerry B. Collison Asia News: Jakarta’s new governor doubles down on identity - ...: Jakarta’s new governor doubles down on identity - the  pribumi /non- pribumi  cleavage is alive and well in Indonesian politics, and a l...

Jakarta’s new governor doubles down on identity - the pribumi/non-pribumi cleavage is alive and well in Indonesian politics, and a leading politician is betting that exploiting this cleavage is good politics


Jakarta’s new governor doubles down on identity - the pribumi/non-pribumi cleavage is alive and well in Indonesian politics, and a leading politician is betting that exploiting this cleavage is good politics

 

Jakarta’s new governor, Anies Baswedan, was inaugurated in a large and highly publicised ceremony on 16 October. After a highly racially and religiously charged gubernatorial campaign that saw Anies defeat incumbent governor Basuki Tjahaja Purnama—a Chinese Christian since imprisoned on charges of blasphemy—many Indonesians had hoped for a period of calm. Anies might have contributed to that by delivering a moderately religious but clearly nationalist and inclusivist inauguration address in his first speech as governor.

This is not what he delivered. Instead, Anies has doubled down on the identitarian religious rhetoric that sustained his campaign and propelled him into office. One particular line from his speech as attracted particular attention among Indonesia’s liberals, progressives, and religious and ethnic minorities:

Jakarta ini satu dari sedikit, satu dari sedikit kota di Indonesia yang merasakan kolonialisme dari dekat. Penjajahan di depan mata itu di jakarta, selama ratusan tahun. Di tempat lain mungkin penjajahan terasa jauh, tapi di Jakarta bagi orang Jakarta yang namanya kolonialisme itu di depan mata. Dirasakan sehari-hari. Karena itu bila kita merdeka maka janji-janji itu harus terlunaskan bagi warga Jakarta. Dulu kita semua pribumi ditindas dan dikalahkan. Kini telah merdeka, kini saatnya menjadi tuan rumah di negeri sendiri. Jangan sampai Jakarta ini seperti yang dituliskan pepatah Madura: etek se bertelor, ajam se rameh, katanya. Itik yang bertelur, ayam yang mengerami. Kita yang bekerja keras untuk merebut kemerdekaan. Kita yang bekerja keras untuk mengusir kolonialisme. Kita semua harus merasakan manfaat kemerdekaan di ibu kota ini.

Jakarta was one of only a few cities in Indonesia that felt colonialism from up close. Colonisation was in front of one’s eyes in Jakarta, for hundreds of years. In other places, perhaps, colonisation felt far away, but for the people of Jakarta colonialism was right in front of their eyes. It was felt on a daily basis. Because of that, when we became independent, those promises [of independence, as Anies mentioned earlier: namely prosperity, protection, and knowledge—Ed.] had to be fulfilled for citizens of Jakarta. Previously, all of us pribumi [indigenous people] were oppressed and defeated. Today we are independent, and it’s time to become the hosts in our own country. Don’t let Jakarta like what is written in the Madurese saying: etek se bertelor, ajam se rameh. The duck lays the eggs, but the chicken broods. It was we who worked hard to contest independence. We who worked hard to drive out colonialism. We all have to feel the benefits of independence in this capital city.

There are three important observations from this excerpt.

  1. Even after nearly seventy years of independence, colonial legacies matter. Anies is able to compose a powerful political message that invokes the socioeconomic effects of colonialism. Anies (or his speechwriters) believe that this is message that still resonates. In my view, he is right.
  2. This is a presidential speech, not a gubernatorial one. The looks exactly like the speech of a candidate preparing himself for a 2019 presidential run, placing Jakarta at the centre of national politics and staking a claim for himself as a national politician. Elsewhere in the speech he invokes folksy sayings from ethnic groups around the archipelago (Acehnese, Batak, Banjar, Madurese, Minahasa, Minang), figuratively pushing a pin in each of Indonesia’s regions and saying “I am speaking to you too.”
  3. Every Indonesian who hears this speech will understand that it is targeting ethnic Chinese Indonesians. Specifically, it is associating Chinese Indonesians with the long colonial period and its legacies on everyday politics. Pribumi is a term that connotes indigeneity, but specifically, it identifies those citizens of Indonesia who are viewed to be descended from foreign populations (Chinese, Arabs, Indians, Europeans, and others). Anies appears to have conveniently forgot that he himself is of Hadrami descent. Alternatively, he might not have forgotten at all, but rather he knows that Indonesia’s wealthy Arab Indonesian elite faces none of the discrimination that Chinese Indonesians face in places like Jakarta. The visual imagery surrounding Anies’s installation reflects similar kinds of politics. One notable banner that has generated much discussion appears below:

The long term consequences of this for Jakarta and Indonesian politics are hard to predict. However, anyone hoping that Anies would revert to the moderate Islamic persona that he had cultivated prior to his gubernatorial campaign must now be disappointed. His lickspittles might argue that his use of non-Muslim religious language at the beginning and end of his speech signals his understanding that Jakarta (like Indonesia) is a religiously diverse city. But this view ignores the reality of Anies’s inauguration: the pribumi/non-pribumi cleavage is alive and well in Indonesian politics, and a leading politician is betting that exploiting this cleavage is good politics.

…………………………

Tom Pepinsky is an associate professor in the government department and a faculty member of the Southeast Asia Program at Cornell University. He studies comparative politics and political economy, with a focus on emerging market economies in Southeast Asia.