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23 2 Prologue Yudhoyono’s legacy: an insider’s view Dewi Fortuna Anwar As an insider in both the Habibie and Yudhoyono–Boediono administra­ tions, and an academic who does not shy away from expressing candid opinions, I have been asked to evaluate the performance of the Yudho­ yono government from both an internal and a comparative perspective. It is indeed difficult to get a clear picture of what is happening in Indo­ nesia if one simply relies on media reports. Reading news or commentaries in Indonesian newspapers, or watching talk shows on Indonesian televi­ sion, would give one the impression that the country is a basket case. Indonesia is at times portrayed as a failed state, or one that is very close to failing, with a huge number of people still living in poverty, crumbling infrastructure, widespread social conflict and a high level of corruption.1 Moreover, many Indonesians are critical of the government’s perceived weakness vis-à-vis the outside world. Listening to the rhetoric during the 2014 presidential race between Joko Widodo and Prabowo Subianto, one would be left with the impression that Indonesia is a weak state, power­ less in the face of external machinations bent on controlling the country’s natural resources; an object rather than a subject in international rela­ tions; and a country lacking the wherewithal to stand up for itself and, by implication, be counted in an increasingly competitive and uncertain global era.2 1 ‘Indonesia negara gagal? Ini alasannya’ [Indonesia a failed state? Here are the reasons], Sorot News, 20 June 2012. 2 ‘Prabowo: negara kita lemah, saya patriot’ [Prabowo: our state is weak, I am a patriot], Tempo, 2 April 2014. Update book 2014-15.indb 23 19/04/2015 11:39 am 24  The Yudhoyono Presidency: Indonesia’s Decade of Stability and Stagnation In contrast, reporting in the foreign media has mostly been compli­ mentary towards Indonesia in recent years. Differing sharply from the negative image projected onto the world stage in the immediate postSuharto years, Indonesia is now generally seen as a success story.3 The country’s success in peacefully managing its democratic transition has received international plaudits, particularly when so many other coun­ tries have failed dismally.4 Indonesia’s economic recovery, its status as a newly emerging economy and its constructive role in the Southeast Asian region have drawn praise. Far from being regarded as a failed or failing state, Indonesia is regarded as a model for countries embarking on a democratic transition, whether in the predominantly Muslim coun­ tries in the Middle East and North Africa or within Southeast Asia. Obviously, official speeches by Indonesian government officials have emphasised this favourable narrative while glossing over Indonesia’s many remaining shortcomings. As is so often the case, however, the truth lies somewhere in between. Indonesia is neither a failed state nor an unmitigated success story. As I show below, the Yudhoyono adminis­ tration chalked up a number of significant achievements, while failing to meet expectations in other areas. SEVEN KEY ACHIEVEMENTS OF THE ADMINISTRATION Whatever one thinks of Susilo Bambang Yudhoyono’s overall record, one cannot deny that his administration notched up considerable achieve­ ments. To begin with, Yudhoyono will go down in history as Indo­ nesia’s first directly elected president. Moreover, he served two full terms (2004–09 and 2009–14), the maximum allowed by the amended 1945 Constitution. Yudhoyono’s election as president in 2004 with Jusuf Kalla as vice-president, and his re-election in 2009 with Boediono as vicepresident , marked the end of Indonesia’s democratic transition and the beginning of an early phase of democratic consolidation. As most of the fundamental enabling legislation for reform had been passed during the administrations of Presidents B.J. Habibie, Abdurrahman Wahid and Megawati Sukarnoputri (Crouch 2010; Horowitz 2013), Yudhoyono was charged with overseeing the implementation of the various reform meas­ ures in order to consolidate Indonesia’s hard-won democracy. He was popularly elected as president twice to rule over new institutions created to ensure greater political participation, improved government account­ 3 ‘In Southeast Asia, Indonesia is an unlikely role model for democracy’, New York Times, 4 September 2014. 4 ‘The Indonesian success story’, Manila Standard, 28 March 2014. Update book 2014-15.indb 24 19/04/2015 11:39 am Yudhoyono’s legacy: an insider’s view   25 ability, a more empowered civil society, a truly independent judiciary and stronger rule of law. Thus, his presidency needs to be judged accord...


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