Webinar on “The Indonesia National Survey Project 2022: Engaging with Developments in the Political, Economic and Social Spheres”

In this webinar, Dr Burhanuddin Muhtadi, Dr Siwage Dharma Negara and Dr Hui Yew-Foong discussed the results of a nationwide survey conducted in Indonesia and extensively analysed Indonesians’ attitudes toward political, economic, and social-cultural issues.


Monday, 30 January 2023 – ISEAS – Yusof Ishak Institute hosted Dr Burhanuddin Muhtadi (Visiting Fellow, ISEAS – Yusof Ishak Institute), Dr Siwage Dharma Negara (Senior Fellow and Co-Coordinator of the Indonesia Studies Programme, ISEAS) and Dr Hui Yew-Foong (Visiting Senior Fellow and Coordinator of the Indonesia Studies Programme, ISEAS) to speak in a webinar titled “The Indonesia National Survey Project 2022: Engaging with Developments in the Political, Economic and Social Spheres”.

Moderated by Dr Hui Yew-Foong, this webinar elaborated on some of the key findings of ISEAS’ second nationwide survey titled “Indonesia National Survey Project (INSP) 2022”. This survey was conducted with 1,620 respondents across 34 provinces of Indonesia, with questions focusing on issues in the economic, socio-cultural and political spheres. Through this webinar, the speakers compared and analysed the patterns observed between the current results and the first survey results conducted in 2017. The full survey report will be made available in an upcoming ISEAS Trends.

Dr Burhanuddin Muhtadi compared and elaborated on changes in the perception Indonesians had toward politics and democracy in Indonesia. The session was moderated by Dr Hui Yew-Foong. (Credit: ISEAS – Yusof Ishak Institute)

Dr Burhanuddin Muhtadi began his presentation by introducing the background of the study, highlighting how the survey intended to assess the public’s perception of Indonesia’s achievements after two decades of reform. Focusing on democracy in Indonesia, Dr Muhtadi reported that most of the general population supported and preferred democracy as the mode of Indonesia’s governance. However, democratic satisfaction significantly declined from 77.4% in 2017 to 71.7% in 2022. The decline was observed mainly in freedom of expression and the trust in the government to account for their actions. Dr Muhtadi elaborated on the relationship between the electorate and political parties. Through the survey, he observed that the majority of the respondents were not attached to any political party. In fact, there was a decline in the proportion of people who indicated being close to a political party (from 9.6% in 2017 to 8.9% in 2022), which was also reflected in party membership applications, decreasing from 10% in 2017 to 1.7% in 2022. Dr Muhtadi, therefore, believed that the new generation of Indonesians was more inclined to vote according to their assessment of the candidates than their association with political parties. Additional questions on people’s reactions toward the relocation of the capital showed that most were generally aware of the move. Further analysis also reflected that people who disagreed with the project tended to be from Jakarta, Banten and West Java, with 65% of Jakarta respondents disagreeing with the move. In terms of Indonesians’ perception toward foreign countries, respondents had perceived impacts from China more negatively, with admiration towards China remaining the lowest among countries listed.

Dr Siwage Dharma Negara elaborated on Indonesians’ perception of economic issues. (Credit: ISEAS – Yusof Ishak Institute)

Dr Siwage explored the findings on people’s perception towards the Indonesian economy. He first highlighted the people’s evaluation of Indonesia’s economy and explained that people are generally optimistic, despite worrying about the effects of the current global economic situation. When asked to list the three most pressing issues, respondents indicated unemployment (44.0%), inflation (36.0%), and economic management (33.0%) as the top three issues. Concerns for inflation and job creation remain critical for the 2017 and 2022 surveys, with more women and people living in urban areas experiencing difficulty finding jobs. Questions on energy transition reflected mixed sentiments, with most respondents agreeing on the need to reduce reliance on coal, oil and natural gas, shift to renewables, and increase the usage of electric vehicles. Interestingly, Dr Siwage also observed an equally high proportion of respondents wanting the government to maintain fuel subsidies. In terms of economic openness, Indonesians were generally more welcoming towards foreign investments and economic cooperation. However, respondents were more hesitant toward attracting foreign talent to work in Indonesia, with 72% feeling that companies should attract Indonesian talents to return from overseas. Attitudes to the Belt and Road Initiative (BRI) also tended to be negative, with most respondents feeling that it would create a financial debt trap and increase Indonesia’s reliance on China.

Dr Hui Yew-Foong elaborated on Indonesians’ perception of key social and cultural issues. (Credit: ISEAS – Yusof Ishak Institute)

Dr Hui Yew-Foong continued with the presentation by first elaborating on new patterns in organisational membership. In particular, respondents who were members of Parent-Teacher Associations (PTA) had grown from 6.7% in 2017 to 16.2% in 2022, potentially due to the pandemic as parents took on a more active role in their children’s education. Focusing on perception towards women wearing the hijab, the majority felt that women should wear it, with more female and rural area respondents indicating the same option. In contrast, a higher percentage of respondents from the high-income group suggested that this matter should be left to the individuals. Divisive debate among fellow Muslims remained the top challenge facing Islam, showing signs of an increasingly heterogeneous society. Dr Hui also discussed findings on stereotypes towards Chinese Indonesians. The most prevalent stereotype was the idea of Chinese Indonesians being privileged in Indonesia. Surprisingly, there was a slight increase in those who perceived that Chinese Indonesians were still loyal to China, despite them being citizens of Indonesia for many generations. Dr Hui hypothesised that it could be due to the recent influx of Chinese migrants into Indonesia, making it challenging for people to differentiate between new migrants and Chinese Indonesians. Most respondents also felt that Chinese Indonesians had gained influence in the economic and political spheres, and the majority were not willing to accept Chinese Indonesians taking up key leadership positions in the government (e.g., President or Vice-President) but were slightly more tolerant towards them taking up other roles without executive powers such as parliamentary members.

The webinar drew an audience of 111 online participants from both Singapore and abroad. During the Q&A segment, the panel discussed various topics relating to the survey. One prominent issue discussed was energy transition. While the survey shows support toward the transition, fossil fuel subsidies might be a major challenge as the government would face significant political opposition to omit this scheme. As one of the attendees suggested, public-private partnerships and sustainable investments might help drive innovation in energy transitions. Another question was related to China’s BRI, where the panel saw an increasing trend of Chinese investments flowing into Indonesia. On social issues, discussions on hijab and the prevalence of religious moderation in social media were brought up. Finally, the panel discussed the capital relocation issue further, including the prospects of sustainable investments in the capital and people’s perception of moving the capital.