Post #8: Semester Reflection

Throughout the course of this semester in Global Citizenship, I had the opportunity to hear from numerous guest lecturers on a variety of very interesting topics. Our class learned about a range of global issues, from islamophobia to drones to the rights of the native people of the Cheslatta Lake in British Columbia, Canada. I personally found Peter Mueser’s lecture on trade and Sherry Mariea’s lecture on women’s rights the two most interesting lectures of the semester. The two lecturers were very knowledgeable on their respective topics, and I was also able to learn new information about topics I had previously known very little about.

Peter Mueser was one of our first guest lecturers of the semester. His presentation focused on global trade. He argued that the true essence of globalization and the reason our world is becoming more interconnected is because of trade. The exchange of goods and services across international borders connects countries that would otherwise not have any reason to interact with one another. Mueser brought up one point that I found particurally interesting. He pointed out that global trade creates strong pressures for world peace. He gave the example of Germany and France. Germany and France fought numerous wars against one another throughout the 20th century. Now, however, conflict between these two countries is very unlikely because they are heavily connected through trade. Both countries have too much to lose by attacking each other. This holds true for numerous other countries throughout the world. However, the most interesting part of Mueser’s lecture was when he discussed sweatshops. Most people believe that sweatshop labor is inhumane and should be abolished worldwide. While sweatshops do submit their workers to questionable conditions and low wages, Mueser pointed out that working in a sweatshop is actually not the worst option for people living in developing countries. The wages they make in sweatshops are better than nothing. If sweatshops were to close down, citizens of developing countries would be left with no consistent income, and would actually be worse off. Of course there are some ethical implications when it comes to sweatshops, but the issue is much more complicated than it is often painted to be.

Unknown
via Global Trade Review

I was immediately excited when I heard we were going to be having a lecture on women’s rights because I am a strong feminist. Sherry Mariea discussed a variety of very important topics during her lecture, such as gendercide, female genital mutilation, and sex-trafficking. These topics are often very difficult to talk about because of their heavy subject matter, and I am glad our class had the opportunity to become more informed on such important issues. Unfortunately, even though it is 2017, women and girls are still being persecuted and discriminated against around the world. As Mariea pointed out, this is often because of cultural stereotypes that lead men to be judged more valuable than women. Today’s intersectional feminism is meant to fight for women of all ages, cultures, races, and sexualities. What I actually found most interesting about this lecture however was how Mariea did not identify herself as a feminist. Despite detailing the changes in feminism seen in the past 200 years, Mariea revealed that she herself does not call herself a feminist. I found it very interesting how a strong, accomplished woman who obviously believed strong in women’s rights would reject the label of feminist, a word which by definition means someone who believes in the political, economic, and social equality of the sexes.

feminism definition
via Berry College

I spent this semester researching the country of Indonesia. I originally chose this country because I knew it was the most Muslim-majority country in the world, and I thought it would be interesting to learn about with the recent backlash against Islam coming in the wake of President Trump’s “Muslim Ban.” Indonesia is a country of over 250 million people spread across 992 islands in the Indian and Pacific Oceans. The relatively new democracy has managed to substantially grow its economy since the South Asian financial crisis of 1997. It is also making an effort to improve its environmental and human rights record. I very much enjoyed learning more about this diverse and populous country.

Indonesia.1
via Export Britain 

Post #7: Modern-Day Slavery

Sex trafficking is defined as the use of force, fraud, or coercion to obtain some type of commercial sex act. According to Equality Now, almost 21 million adults and children are sold into sex trafficking around the world. Unfortunately, women and young girls make up 98% of that number. Despite the laws in place that criminalize human sex trafficking in 134 countries worldwide, it remains the quickest growing global criminal enterprise. Sex trafficking is a violation of our most basic human rights. Those sold into sex trafficking are subjected to horrible conditions, and often suffer from both mental and physical abuse. They also have a greater risk of contracting dangerous sexually transmitted diseases, such as HIV/AIDS. Many women forced into sex slavery become pregnant, and are forced to endure unsafe abortions that threaten their lives. It is clear that sex trafficking is a pressing issue that must be addressed by countries around the world.

According to the US State Department, sex trafficking is a major issue in Indonesia. The Department’s 2016 Trafficking in Persons Report states that all of Indonesia’s 34 provinces serve as both a source of and destination for sex slaves. Indonesian citizens working abroad, either with work visas or undocumented, are especially vulnerable to becoming victim to the sex trade. Reports show that the majority of Indonesian women who were bought and sold into sex slavery were trafficked mainly to Malaysia, Taiwan, and various countries in the Middle East. Research by various NGO’s has revealed that labor recruiters are responsible for the majority of Indonesian women sold into sex slavery abroad. These recruiters lure women in with the false promise of a job and a chance to make money. Many of these women are poor with very little options. Enticed by the false hope offered by these labor recruiters, these women eventually become a part of the global sex trade. The rise in popularity of social media has also made it easier to deceive women, specifically younger women, and force them into sexual slavery.

71349-full
(via KPCC)

UNICEF identified extreme poverty, a social acceptance of child labor, low birth registration, and a lack of gender equality as the main causes of sex trafficking in Indonesia. Poverty is a widespread issue in Indonesia. According to the World Bank, 11.3% of Indonesia’s population lived below the poverty line as of 2014. Many of those living in extreme poverty see selling their sisters or daughters into sex slavery as their only financial option, especially in a country with a questionable record on women’s rights. Poor women are also more vulnerable and more likely to fall prey to sex traffickers, who may make big promises in order to entice them.

The government of Indonesia has made small strides in terms of its efforts to stop sex trafficking within its borders. In the past ten years, the government has passed multiple pieces of legislation that specifically address sex trafficking, such as the Eradication of Criminal Act of Trafficking in Persons and the Decree of the Coordinating Ministry of People’s Welfare. A national task force was also created in 2008 in order to combat sex trafficking. However, the implementation and enforcement of these laws have been challenging for Indonesia, and sex trafficking remains a huge problem within the country.

SDGs-GlobalGoalsForSustainableDevelopment-05
(via the World Resource Institute)

The Sustainable Development Goals are a set goals created by the United Nations aimed at increasing prosperity for our world. They include ending poverty, combating climate change, and increasing global education levels. Sex trafficking is mentioned under Goal 5: Gender Equality. The objective of Goal 5 is to end all forms of discrimination against women, which includes eliminating all forms of violence against women, such as sex trafficking and sexual exploitation. In order to end sex trafficking worldwide, countries need to commit more resources to agencies that work against sex slavery. They also need to increase efforts to investigate sex trafficking cases, and harshen the punishments for those convicted of sex trafficking. They also need to eliminate any laws that might punish the victim of sex trafficking. Finally, countries must make more of a commitment to strengthening women’s rights and women’s access to education. Strong and educated women make for a stronger, safer, and more educated world.

 

Post #6: Linda Polman’s View on Humanitarian Aid

Linda Polman raises many concerns about the ethical implications and possible complications regarding humanitarian aid. Many people never question the distribution of humanitarian aid. Citizens believe aid agencies flawlessly solve human rights issues, and all money directed to foreign aid agencies goes directly to fighting those human rights transgressions. However, as Polman points out in her book, The Crisis Caravan, that is not always the case. She states that aid agencies are simply “dressed” like Mother Theresa. While they appear fautless on the outside, there are many systematic issues that stop aid agencies from helping people the best they can. The principle concerns Polman explores in her book are the emergence of MONGO’s, or My Own Non-Governmental Organizations, and the neutrality of aid agencies regarding the regimes of the countries where their aid is being directed.

41fLCOjEjZL._SY344_BO1,204,203,200_
via amazon.com

MONGO’s are organizations that have taken humanitarian aid into their own hands. As Polman explains, these organizations believe that traditional aid agencies have not done enough or worked hard enough to combat global poverty or human rights transgressions. While the people who work for these MONGO’s mean well, they often head into crisis zones with little to no experience or training. Often times they do not even have a plan or course of action. As a result, they often to more harm than good. According to Polman, these agencies clog up crisis zones, and donate excessive amounts of un-needed materials. This can be seen in the large amounts of winter clothes that were donated to the victims of a tropical tsunami. Another example are the expired food and medicine sent abroad that end up being unusable. Polman contributes the rise in MONGO’s partly to the increased broadcast of news across the television and Internet. This has made the general public more aware of the suffering going on around the world, and has led to increased personal motivation to stop that suffering firsthand. However, more often than not MONGO’s, if they end up providing any help at all, are only a Band-Aid, and do nothing to stop the systemic problems that led to countries requiring aid in the first place.

europe-is-planning-humanitarian-aid-for-greece--something-usually-reserved-for-war-zones
via businessinsider.com

Another problem against the international aid community Polman raises in her book is the tendency for aid agencies to overlook questionable political regimes when providing aid. When aid agencies operate in a country overtaken by a dictator or warlord, they often have to bend to the will of that dictator or warlord in order to be allowed to do any work whatsoever within that country. In many developing countries warlords take a portion of humanitarian aid. The aid agencies allow it, because they believe the other option, leaving millions of people without aid, is worse. In this way, humanitarian aid requires a sort of ethical blind spot. Aid agencies often turn a blind eye to corruption in favor of the “greater good.” However, Polman believes this is no longer an acceptable course of action. She argues that aid agencies can no longer remain neutral on matters of corruption and human rights violations. While traditional aid agencies such as the Red Cross have followed guidelines of neutrality, separating aid from the country’s government, Polman believes aid agencies have a duty to minimize human rights violations across the world, and condemning corrupt regimes is the first place to start.

aidcorruption

Aid agencies must work from within to combat these issues. They must make decisions on where to direct aid based on what area of the world needs it the most, not where they have the most lucrative donor contracts. They must also construct, and then adhere to, an ethical set of standards. Journalists must also work on holding aid agencies accountable. They must act as a watchdog, asking aid agencies the tough questions and investigating them if needed. We as citizens have a job to do as well. We also need to hold aid agencies accountable. We cannot contribute our time or money to questionable aid organizations. If we want to contribute to an organization, we should research that organization thoroughly before donating. Humanitarian aid can do a lot of good in the world. We simply need to be more careful, and more ethically conscious in the way we distribute it.

Post #5: Indonesia’s Record on the Environment and Human Rights

As I stated in my previous blog post, Indonesia is currently experiencing the devastating effects of climate change. According to the World Bank, Indonesia has been identified as one of the most at-risk countries in Asia. Its geographic location puts it at risk for flooding from rising sea levels. What little water Indonesians have is often polluted and un-drinkable. While not as severe as China or some other Asian countries, smog and haze are still a significant problem in Indonesia. The country’s population is also rising fairly drastically, which raises concerns about scarcity of resources. Deforestation is one of the country’s most pressing issues, contributing to overall greenhouse gas emissions and a decrease in biodiversity.

_75932625_459843497
Deforestation in Indonesia (via BBC)

Indonesia’s former president Suharto did not do much to protect the environment during his time in office. His favorable view of business and indifference towards regulations led to the expansion of factories and coal mines that contributed to Indonesia’s environmental degradation. Large amounts of Indonesia’s beautiful and environmentally valuable rainforests were destroyed to make room for plants and factories. However, in 1998, the country began moving in a different direction. Indonesia ratified the Kyoto Protocol, a global climate agreement aimed at reducing greenhouse gas emissions. The United States infamously refrained from signing the agreement. In 2014, Indonesia signed the Doha Amendment, which extends their commitment to the Kyoto Protocol until at least 2020. According to the Climate Policy Initiative, Indonesia has ambitiously pledged to reduce its overall greenhouse gas emissions by 26% by the year 2020. However, Indonesia’s commitment to these environmental policies is questionable. Indonesia has only a medium rating on Climate Action Tracker, an organization that monitors country’s commitment to promises they make regarding environmental policies. Indonesia received this rating because they are reportedly going to increase their reliance on coal, which will make it difficult for them to decrease overall emissions. This also contradicts their promise to increase their use of renewable energy to 23% of their total energy usage by 2025. Deforestation also does not appear to be decreasing within the country, further contributing to greenhouse gas emissions. Indonesia has made a lot of promises when it comes to fighting climate change. Whether or not they will stay true to these promises remains to be seen.

20100506-deforestation-indonesia
Projected deforestation rates in Indonesia through 2020 (via WWF)

Indonesia also has a questionable record when it comes to human rights. Many hoped the country’s most recent president, Joko Widodo, would take a stronger stance on human rights violations than his predecessors. However, according to the Human Rights Watch, Widodo’s human rights record during his first few years in office is not impressive. He is an outspoken supporter of the death penalty, and authorized the execution of 14 non-violent offenders in 2015, one of whom reportedly suffered from mental disabilities. The president who came before him executed only 20 people in ten years. Religious minorities are at great risk in Indonesia. The Human Rights Watch reports that there were 194 violent attacks against religious minorities in 2015. Inter-religious marriage is also outlawed in Indonesia. Women in Indonesia also face discriminatory laws which reduce them to second-class citizens. Women applying to the military or police force must undergo sexist and medieval “virginity tests,” and the country’s Constitutional Court recently rejected an appeal to raise the minimum age of marriage for girls from 16 to 18.

indonesia1115_reportcover
Political cartoon from the Human Rights Watch 

Human rights and environmental issues are more intertwined than ever. Our earth’s current crisis is leaving more and more people without food or clean water. Rising sea levels are already affecting small, island countries such as Palau. Eventually, rising sea levels will force millions of people to migrate from their homes, becoming “environmental refugees.” If we as citizens are to remain committed to the protection of human rights, we must move away from our “Eurocentric” view and realize people around the world are already experiencing the devastating effects of climate change.

Post #4: Indonesia’s (and the World’s) Environmental Crisis

Our world is facing a global, environmental crisis. There is an overwhelming consensus among the scientific community that this recent climate shift our planet is experiencing is caused by human activity. The earth’s overall, average temperature has risen by 1.5 degrees Fahrenheit over the past one hundred years. According to the New York Times, the ten-year period between 2000 and 2010 was the hottest decade on record. Recent date from NASA shows that 2016 was the hottest year since annual temperature record-keeping began in 1880. 2016 was the third year in a row it had been “the hottest year ever.” Scientists agree that this drastic increase in global temperature is caused by an increase in CO2 and other greenhouse gases in the atmosphere as a result of the burning of fossil fuels. We are already witnessing the drastic effects of climate change. The increase in global temperature has led to rising sea levels and ocean acidification. Small, island nations close to sea level such as Palau and Kiribati are already experiencing the consequences of climate change. Rising sea levels have forced many of their citizens to migrate to homes further inland. Global leaders must begin taking action to combat climate change immediately. However, the earth’s major contributors to climate change, China and the United States, have been reluctant to adopt environmentally friendly policies at the risk of endangering domestic business. The United States’ newest administration will likely roll back regulations on US businesses, allowing them to release excess CO2 into the atmosphere and further contribute to climate change. Government officials need to be doing the opposite: passing strict regulations on corporation’s fuel emissions and providing incentives for businesses to “go green.” The current US administration has also approved plans to restart construction on various pipelines, which will have a serious impact on the environment. The government also needs to restrict fracking and drilling if the earth is going to start recovering.

waterhouse
Rising sea levels are already affecting the island nation of Palau (via PBS)

Indonesia is currently facing the effects of global climate change. As explained in my previous blog post, shifting climate patterns are affecting the monsoon that supplies the country with most of the water it uses for irrigation and agriculture. As a result, the country is currently facing a water crisis. According to water.org over 33 million people in Indonesia lack access to safe drinking water. Almost 100 million lack access to acceptable sanitation facilities. Many Indonesians lack the ability to improve their water quality situation because over 36% of the Indonesian population lives on less than three US dollars a day. Water.org began setting up programs in Indonesia beginning in 2014. Through the WaterCredit program, water.org has supplied Indonesia with over fifteen thousand WaterCredit loans, which is the equivalent of 4.4 million US dollars’ worth of loans. Over 66 thousand Indonesians have had the opportunity to improve their access to clean water through the programs operated by water.org.

 

water

Many Indonesians struggle to find safe drinking water (via Healthcare Asia)

Greenpeace International is another environmental agency working in Indonesia. Their main goal is to protect biodiversity and prevent deforestation within the country. Large portions of Indonesia’s rainforests are being harvested because they provide plants that can be made into palm oil and paper. It is estimated that over 50% of Indonesia’s rainforests have been destroyed. This has devastating consequences on the health and biodiversity of the region. The burning down of trees has caused smog to cover villages located near the forests. Many animal species that call the rainforests home are now at risk of becoming endangered. The Javan Tiger is a species native to Indonesia that went extinct in the 1970s as a result of deforestation. Indonesia has recently taken steps to combat their environmental issues, but many more actions need to be taken in order to save what little forest Indonesia has left.

forests_indodestruction_906x600
Indonesia’s once beautiful rainforests are being destroyed (via Rainforest Action Network)

 

Post #3: Nationalism and Inequality in Indonesia

The acclaimed Merriam Webster Dictionary defines nationalism as, “a sense of national consciousness exalting one national above all others and placing primary emphasis on promotion of its culture and interests as opposed to those of other nations or supranational groups.” Journalist and author Fareed Zakaria explains why the rise of nationalism around the globe is actually dangerous for the international system. In Chapter 2 of his book, The Post-American World 2.0, Zakaria argues that rising nationalism in nation-states will lead them to become less willing to cooperate with one another and come together to solve global issues. Purposeful action and cooperation among nation-states is already difficult in the anarchist international system. According to Zakaria, increasing pride in one’s nation will make it that much harder to compromise with others. Nationalism is also rising in the developing world, which Zakaria believes is contributing to an overall resentment of the West in other areas of the world. As Manfred B. Steger states in Globalization: A Very Short Introduction, “This artificial division of planetary social space into ‘domestic’ and ‘foreign’ spheres corresponds to people’s collective identities based on the creation of a common ‘us’ and an unfamiliar ‘them’. Nationalism leads citizens to view their nation-state as “the best,” and are therefore unwilling to compromise with lesser nation-states, or ones they deem as not meeting their nation’s superior values. This is why many, including Zakaria, believe nationalism can be a dangerous force.

The word “Indonesia” first came into use in 1920 as a way to unify the group of islands then controlled by the Netherlands. A feeling of nationalism swept across the archipelago during the early 20th century, thanks in part to the rise of Indonesia Nationalist groups who helped inspire support Indonesian independence. One of these groups was the Indonesian Nationalist Party. Formed in 1927, the party’s goal was economic and political independence for Indonesia. While the party was disbanded in 1931 (it would re-emerge in 1946 after Indonesia had declared its independence), it was instrumental in spreading nationalist and anti-Dutch ideas across Indonesia. After a four-year battle, both the Dutch and the United Nations officially recognized Indonesia in 1949. The nationalist feelings inspired by political parties like the Indonesian Nationalist Party ultimately played a role in motivating the Indonesia people to successfully fight for their independence. Many scholars have observed a new nationalist attitude emerging throughout the Indonesian people. It became apparent following the 2014 presidential election, in which many citizens expressed their anger at the continued foreign involvement in Indonesia.

happy_indonesian_independence_day_greetings_6077404534
Indonesians celebrate their Independence Day (via fotoimg.com)

In my previous blog post I briefly touched on the current status of income inequality in Indonesia. While Indonesia has managed to successfully bounce back from the Asian financial crisis of 1997, income inequality is still a major problem for the country. Although Indonesia is currently experiencing a rising GDP and declining poverty rate, a 2015 study conducted by the World Bank reveals that Indonesia’s wealth gap has risen more than any other Asian country since 1990. Indonesia’s Gini Coefficient did drop from 40 to 39 in 2016. However, the country’s Gini Coefficient was only 30 in 1990. This leads economists to believe that Indonesia’s current economic growth is benefitting their rich more than their poorer citizens. In the aforementioned study, the World Bank identified four majors factors the Indonesian government must address if it hopes to combat its rising inequality. These factors are as follows: 1). Inequality in opportunity, 2). Inequality in the labor markets, 3). High wealth concentration, 4). Unequal resilience to stocks. The Indonesian government has identified combating inequality as a priority and works to implement policies to narrow their country’s wealth gap.

poor_indo_000_hkg4580636_595
A poor Indonesian village contrasted by skyscrapers in the background (via theeconomist.com)

Post #2: Indonesia’s Diversity of Language and Current Economic Conditions

Indonesia is a diverse country with a population of more than 250 million people. According to The Washington Post, there are officially 7,102 living languages in the world. Of those 7,102 living languages, 2,301 are spoken in Asia. Of those 2,301, over 700 different languages are spoken in Indonesia alone. As stated in The Washington Post, if you were to randomly select two people from Indonesia, there is an 82% chance they will speak a different language from one another. The majority of Indonesians are bilingual, and many are proficient in three or four different languages. This is because Indonesians grow up speaking a regional language in the home, and then are taught Bahasa Indonesian, the country’s official language, later on in school. Bahasa Indonesia is the formal language used throughout Indonesia business, education, and government. It is a modified version of the Malay language, and is the first language of more than 23 million people. However, over 140 million people identify Indonesian as their official second language. The most common regional languages spoken throughout Indonesia are Javanese and Sudanese. Javanese is spoken by over 75 million people in central and eastern Java, one of the many islands that make up Indonesia. Javanese is the 14th most widely spoken language in the world. Sudanese is spoken by over 39 million people, concentrated mostly in western Java.

map_of_indonesia
Map of Indonesia (via Lonely Planet)

Indonesia officially became the 60th member of the United Nations General Assembly on September 28th, 1950. However, only 15 years later, former President Sukarno made the decision to withdraw from the UN due to their decision to elect Malaysia to a temporary position on the Security Council. Sukarno then created the Conference of the New Emerging Forces (CONEF) in an attempt to rival the United Nations in 1965. CONEF did not last long, as General Suharto dissolved the organization on August 11th, 1966 after gaining control of the Indonesia government earlier that year. Suharto then resumed full Indonesian cooperation with the United Nations on September 28th, 1966.

603029-indonesia
Former Indonesia President Susilo Bambang Yudhoyono speaks before the UN in 2014 (via un.org)

Indonesia has been elected to a temporary position on the UN Security Council three separate times. This occurred in 1974, 1995, and 2007. According to The Jakarta Post, Indonesia has recently expressed desire to increased its involvement with various aspects of the United Nations. Indonesia’s ambassador to the UN, Dian Triansyah Djani, has stated the country specifically would like to participate in more UN peacekeeping missions. Eventually, Indonesia would like to take on a leadership role in the UN. The country also indicated it hopes to once again serve on the Security Council during the 2019-2020 term.

Indonesia is also a part of the International Monetary Fund (IMF), officially becoming a member on April 15th, 1954. While Indonesia temporarily withdrew from the IMF, along with the UN, in 1965, it was soon reinstated in 1966. Indonesia has received assistance from the IMF in the past. The IMF aided Indonesia in 1997 after the East Asian financial crisis, and in 2004 after a tsunami devastated a large portion of the country. However, according to a 2016 study conducted by the IMF, Indonesia qualifies as “one of the best performing emerging market economies.” This is due in part to the 5% rise in Gross Domestic Product Indonesia experienced from 2015 to 2016. Indonesia still has room for economic improvement. The IMF specifically cites infrastructure as one of the country’s main issues. However, overall, the country has reasons to be optimistic about its economic future. Indonesia has also been a member of the World Trade Organization since 1995.

The GINI Coefficient is a statistic that measures a country’s economic inequality. A score of zero means the country has perfectly equal economic conditions, while a score of one means that country has perfectly unequal economic conditions. As of March 2016, Indonesia’s GINI coefficient was 0.397. That is a decline from 0.408 in 2015. That means that Indonesia was able to slightly narrow its wealth gap. Economists cite Indonesia’s rising middle class as the major reason for the decline.

gini-map-large
Global distribution of the GINI Coefficient (via The Atlantic)

 

Post #1: Indonesia’s Current Political Climate

The Republic of Indonesia is located between the Indian and Pacific Oceans in Southeast Asia. According to cia.gov, Indonesia is comprised of 13,466 separate islands, 922 of which are inhabited. This makes it the world’s largest, archipelagic state. Its population of over 250 million qualifies Indonesia as the fourth largest population in the world, and the third most populous democracy.

Ever since declaring its independence in 1945, Indonesia has become an increasingly stable, populous, and economically successful country. Indonesia officially became a constitutional democracy in 1950; however, many of the country’s presidents, including former President Suharto, attempted to take Indonesia in a more authoritarian and communist direction. Since Suharto’s resignation in 1998, Indonesia has made great strides towards becoming a true democracy. This can be seen in the country’s recent corruption scandal that unfolded in December of 2015. Setya Novato, the elected speaker of Indonesia’s House of Representatives, was caught on tape attempting to extort four billion dollars from the company Freeport-McMoran, which is based in Jakarta, the country’s capital. The incident has been referred to as “Indonesia’s Watergate,” not just for the parallels between Novato and former U.S. president Richard Nixon, but also for the role the press played in the incident. Under former president Suharto, the press had been suppressed, and unable to actively report on government corruption. The Novato scandal marked a change. The press thoroughly covered the emerging scandal and subsequent ethics hearings, putting pressure on the government to force Novato’s eventual resignation. Indonesia’s free and active press, as well as increasingly democratic leaders and a newfound commitment to fighting government corruption, are aiding the country’s transition into a full and practicing democracy.

4691_52439aa6ce9ee-386x289
Indonesia fights back against corruption (thediplomat.com)

Since establishing its official borders, Indonesia has been involved in relatively few international conflicts. In fact, Indonesia has actively been involved in international peace-keeping. According to The Jakarta Post, it recently sent 140 personnel on a UN peace-keeping mission to Sudan. However, in the early days of 2017, Indonesia was involved in a conflict with one of its closest allies, Australia. On January 4, Indonesian government officials announced the country has suspended both military and economic cooperation with Australia. According to The New York Times, this was due to offensive material found on an Australian military base. Official training materials had said to have contained writings insulting “Pancasila,” which is belief that is very important to the Indonesian people. However, two days later, leaders from both countries made public statements claiming Indonesia was no longer completely withdrawing from its relationship with Australia, and that the relationship between the two countries remains amicable and unchanged. Indonesia will only suspend ties in “language training” until Australia takes action to rectify the issue of offensive information found on their base.

Indonesia has recently come under fire for its relationship to the recently elected U.S. President Donald Trump. Donald Trump’s organization is said to be moving ahead with two new business deals in Indonesia, despite the many conflicts of interests it would cause for the new president. Trump is said to be working closely with Indonesian billionaire Hary Tanesoedibjo. Tanesoedibjo previously ran for vice president in 2014, and plans for run for public office again in the future. His relationship with Trump is raising many concerns about the possible dangers and conflicts of interest that could arise if two world leaders are involved in business together. Trump’s ties to Indonesia have already come under scrutiny. Despite being the world’s largest Muslim-majority country (87.2% of the population identifies as Muslim), Indonesia was exempt from Trump’s recently imposed “Muslim Ban.” Trump signed an executive order which bars people with passports from seven Muslim-majority countries from traveling to the United States. Many suspect Trump excluded Indonesia from the executive order because of his personal stakes in the country.