Has Indonesia Resumed Leadership Role in Southeast Asia under Jokowi?

About the Webinar

Indonesian foreign policy elites have always thought that Indonesia is the largest country in the Southeast Asian region and hence, is entitled to play the regional leadership role. During Suharto presidency, Indonesia had indeed played a leadership role in the region. After the fall of Suharto, the subsequent presidents were preoccupied with domestic issues, except Yudhoyono (also known as SBY), who in the second term began to focus on Foreign Policy (FP). He was even known as the ‘Foreign Policy President’. Nevertheless, due to a lack of military strength, economic resources, advanced technology, and political influence, one can argue that during the Yudhoyono presidency, the Indonesian leadership role was limited. His successor, Joko Widodo (Jokowi), on the other hand, is more concerned with domestic issues, as seen with his first term of the presidency, where he was more involved with Indonesia’s economic issues as compared to other sectors. Jokowi has thus been known as the ‘Infrastructure Project President’. However, during the second term of his presidency, Jokowi began to become more active in the foreign policy field. His foreign minister, Retno Marsudi, supported by Jokowi, started dealing with the Indo-Pacific concept, paying attention to Myanmar and assuming the leadership in the G-20 in an attempt to be remembered as the President who also dealt with foreign policy. This webinar will thus examine Jokowi’s Foreign Policy records in comparison with that of his predecessors, particularly Yudhoyono. It will further assess whether Jokowi’s Indonesia has resumed its leadership role in Southeast Asia.

About the Speaker

Leo Suryadinata, Ph.D., is currently a visiting Senior Fellow at ISEAS – Yusof Ishak Institute (Singapore). He served as Director of the Chinese Heritage Centre (Singapore, 2006 – 2013, Nanyang Technological Institute, NTU) and was a Professor in the Department of Political Science, National University of Singapore (NUS), before joining NTU. He was also President of the International Society for the Study of Chinese Overseas (ISSCO, 2007-2013). He has published extensively on Indonesian politics, Indonesia’s foreign policy, ethnic Chinese in Southeast Asia and China-ASEAN relations. His book on The Rise of China and the Chinese Overseas: A Study of Beijing’s Changing Policy in Southeast Asia and Beyond was published in 2017 and a second edition of his book (with a postscript) entitled Indonesia’s Foreign Policy under Suharto: Inspiring to International Leadership will be published by ISEAS Publishing early this year.


This webinar will be delivered online entirely. You can join the webinar at the specified date and time using devices (computer, phone, or tablet) with internet connection.

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If you have questions for the panellists, please key in your questions via the Q&A, stating your name and affiliation. The moderator will field them to the panellist during the Q&A session.


Jan 12 2022


10:00 am - 11:15 am