Hamish McDonald was the Asia-Pacific Editor of The Sydney Morning Herald. He has been a foreign correspondent in Jakarta, Tokyo, Hong Kong, New Delhi and Beijing and has twice won Walkley Awards, and had a report on Burma read into the record of the US Congress. He is the author of books on Indonesia and India, and was made an inaugural Fellow of the Australian Institute of International Affairs in 2008. He is currently based at The Australian National University, Canberra.
Indonesia, a nation of thousands of islands and almost 250 million people, straddles the junction of the Pacific and Indian oceans. Current President Susilo Bambang Yudhoyono has presided over 6 per cent average yearly growth of its economy, to surpass $1 trillion. If this rate continues, Indonesia will join the world’s ten biggest economies in a decade or so, just behind the so-called BRIC countries. The much-discussed recent documentary The Act of Killing revived some of its darker past, and Barack Obama’s reminiscences about the childhood years he spent there briefly shone the spotlight on a country many Americans know little about. Yet as Indonesia approaches its 2014 parliamentary and presidential elections, its future is wide open. Though the largest Muslim nation by population, it remains a receiver of wisdom from the Arab world, rather than a messenger of multi-religious tolerance. Its pursuit of trade agreements with Japan and South Korea have burnished its economic ambitions, but its diplomacy is long on so-called “soft power,” and short on sanctions or force.
So what does the future hold for this pivotal place? Award-winning Asia-Pacific journalist Hamish McDonald’s Demokrasi is an accessible and authoritative introduction to the modern history and politics of this fascinating country.
A sweeping look at modern Indonesia, a rising economic and political force in the world