15 März 2021

One Year After the Pandemic in Indonesia: From Health Crisis to the Crisis of Constitutional Democracy

It has been a year since the first Covid-19 case was confirmed in Indonesia, in early March 2020. At that time, the Indonesian government underestimated the dangers of Covid-19, which proved fatal since the virus continued to spread gradually to all Indonesian provinces within a month. At the time of writing, Indonesia is the country with the highest number of positive cases in Southeast Asia with 1,419,455, even the Covid-19 death rate in Indonesia is among the highest in the world. Continue reading >>
22 September 2020

Reinstating Corruption

Since he was elected in 2014, Indonesia’s President Joko “Jokowi” Widodo has incrementally used constitutional and legal mechanisms to undermine democratic values. Last year, on 17 September 2019, the Jokowi administration and the House issued the biggest move to weaken the law enforcement institutions: an amendment to the law of the Anti-Corruption Commission (KPK). The KPK used to be the most trusted law enforcement institution in Indonesia, but the past year has demonstrated clearly that it is no longer able to exercise its authority to effectively prosecute and investigate corruption cases. Continue reading >>
01 September 2020

Court Packing, Indonesia Style

Once, Indonesia’s democracy was hailed as the most stable in Southeast Asia. But recently, the Jokowi government and the House of Representatives proposed a Bill that shall revise the Constitutional Court Law. A successful promulgation will affect not only the Constitutional Court, but also the future of Indonesian democracy. Continue reading >>
21 April 2020

State of Emergency Through the Back Door

One of the problems for Indonesia’s government when dealing with the coronavirus crisis was its non-transparent approach towards the public. Not least because of that, many people in Indonesia do not trust the government when it comes to handling the pandemic. The government’s attempt to declare the civilian emergency status which would have enabled it to control the flow of information has failed due to public opposition. A move by its police chief, however, is now trying to introduce emergency powers through the back door and in blatant disregard of a Constitutional Court ruling. Continue reading >>
14 April 2020

Abstract panic: On fake news, fear and freedom in Southeast Asia

In Southeast Asia, which is the world’s most dynamic laboratory of fake news legislation, the corona crisis has put previously created laws to practice and sparked additional legislative activity. The professed goal is to prevent public panic. Recent enforcement actions, however, demonstrate the complete irrelevance of any panic indicators. A falsehood’s panic potential is simply assumed. In short, an abstract panic threat is fought with very concrete measures: Arrests and criminal prosecutions. Cases from across Southeast Asia prove the trend, whereas two decisions in Singapore deserve particular attention. Continue reading >>
07 Dezember 2019

Truth vs. Free Speech

Southeast Asian governments have been stepping up their efforts to actively manage the truth by combatting false information. Among the main tools are correction orders and state-run “fake news centers” that monitor and “rectify” alleged falsehoods online. In addition, government discourse employs increasingly belligerent language to denounce the perceived threats. The Southeast Asian “war on fake news” thus makes the region the world’s most vibrant laboratory of anti-falsehood legislation. The protection of the truth is becoming an increasingly accepted ground for restricting free speech. Continue reading >>
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