Seminar: The 2017 Indonesian Regional Elections: A Preamble to the 2019 Presidential Election?

About the Seminar

The 2017 round of simultaneous direct local elections (Pilkada) taking place on 15 February in Indonesia bears great significance for national politics. At stake is not only the Jakarta governorship, but also the presidency in 2019, as President Joko Widodo has shown that whoever wins the Jakarta election may have a shot at the presidency. The evolving saga of the gubernatorial race in Jakarta, which has seen the incumbent Chinese Christian governor Basuki Tjahaja Purnama accused of blasphemy against Islam and embroiled in an on-going court case, demonstrates that religious and ethnic sensitivities cannot be ignored in Indonesian politics. At the same time, elections in Jakarta and other regions continue to reveal the importance of factors such as the role of political parties, the electability of candidates and money politics in Indonesian national politics.

This seminar aims to outline the nuances of these trends in the 2017 simultaneous Pilkada, drawing not only on the Jakarta case but also cases in East Java and West Kalimantan. Through such a comparative perspective, we will consider the issues that will remain prominent in national politics as the 2019 presidential and general elections approach.

About the Speakers

Hui Yew-Foong is an anthropologist and Senior Fellow with ISEAS – Yusof Ishak Institute. His research interests include the Chinese minority in Indonesia, religion and politics in Southeast Asia, decentralization in post-Suharto Indonesia, and heritage politics. He had been a Visiting Fellow at Cornell University, the University of Hong Kong and Xiamen University. Besides Singapore, he has conducted multi-sited field research in Indonesia, East Malaysia, South China, Hong Kong and Taiwan. He is the author of Strangers at Home: History and Subjectivity among the Chinese Communities of West Kalimantan, Indonesia, co-author of Different Under God: A Survey of Church-Going Protestants in Singapore and editor of Encountering Islam: The Politics of Religious Identities in Southeast Asia.

Ulla Fionna is Fellow at ISEAS – Yusof Ishak Institute.  She studied at Airlangga University, the University of Warwick, and the University of Sydney. After receiving her PhD, she held post-doctoral positions and taught at the University of Sydney. She is the author of The Institutionalisation of Political Parties in Post-authoritarian Indonesia: From the Grass-roots Up (Amsterdam: University of Amsterdam Press, 2013), and editor of Watching the Indonesian Elections 2014 (Singapore: Institute of Southeast Asian Studies, 2015). Her latest article “The trap of pop-charisma for the institutionalization of Indonesia’s post-Suharto parties” was published in the Asian Journal of Political Science (2016). Her main research interests are Indonesian politics, political parties, electoral politics, and democratisation. Currently, she is observing the Indonesian middle-class Muslims and their political aspirations.

Charlotte Setijadi is Visiting Fellow at ISEAS – Yusof Ishak Institute. Her research interests include Chinese soft power in Southeast Asia, ethnic Chinese business networks, transnational migration, and identity politics in Indonesia. Charlotte completed her Ph.D. in Anthropology at La Trobe University, Melbourne. Prior to joining ISEAS, Charlotte was a Postdoctoral Fellow at the School of Humanities and Social Sciences, Nanyang Technological University. Her most recent journal article ‘”A Beautiful Bridge: Chinese Indonesian Associations, Social Capital and Strategic Identification in a New Era of China-Indonesia Relations’ was published by the Journal of Contemporary China (2016).

Johanes Herlijanto is a Visiting Fellow at ISEAS – Yusof Ishak Institute, Singapore. He earned his PhD in anthropology at Macquarie University, Sydney and Vrije Universiteit, Amsterdam. Johanes previously taught in the Department of International Relations, Bina Nusantara University, Jakarta, and in the Chinese studies program at the University of Indonesia, Depok. His publications include, “‘Search for Knowledge as Far as China!’ Indonesian Responses to the Rise of China”, in Chinese Encounters in Southeast Asia, How People, Money, and Ideas from China Are Changing A Region, Pal Nyiri and Danielle Tan (eds.) (Seattle: University of Washington Press Forthcoming). He also wrote an ISEAS Perspective “What Does Indonesia’s Pribumi Elite Think of Ethnic Chinese Today?”, and “Cultivating the Past, Imagining the Future: Enthusiasm for Zheng He in Contemporary Indonesia” in Zheng He and the Afro-Asian World, Chia Lin Sien & Sally K Church (eds.) (Singapore:  Melaka Museums Corporation [PERZIM] and International Zheng He Society, 2012). He is currently working on the perception of China and the ethnic Chinese in Indonesia, especially among the pribumi Indonesian political and economic elite


To register, please fill in this form and email it to by 16 February 2017.


Feb 17 2017


3:00 pm - 5:00 pm


ISEAS Seminar Room 2