Thursday, July 25, 2024 | 23:57 WIB

The Malang Tragedy, And What It Reveals About Indonesia

James Van Zorge
James Van Zorge, A business consultant in Indonesia who has worked for the Harvard Institute for International Development, Food and Agriculture Organization, McKinsey & Co., and A.T.Kearney’s Global Business Policy Institute. He completed his BA Degree in International Relations, summa cum laude, at the State University of New York at Albany, and he holds a Masters of Public Policy, International Economics, from the Kennedy School of Government, Harvard University

The police are not only being rewarded financially for its unprofessional and often deadly tactics in the field, they are also not receiving the training they need to improve themselves. Most of the national police budget is spent on procurement of equipment such as tear gas and batons, not training. And the training they do receive, for example in China for fighting cybercrime, does nothing to teach officers in critical areas such as crowd control. 

Unfortunately the Malang tragedy, along with the underlying and persistent problems with its national police force, reflects a much larger issue facing contemporary Indonesia: a militaristic police force often goes hand-in-hand with illiberal regimes, and so it does in the case of Indonesia with its steady slide towards semi-authoritarianism. 

The government’s authoritarian bent is also reflected in Indonesia’s foreign policy which, over just the past five years, has become increasingly aligned with Beijing. 

One example is how Jakarta conducts itself in international diplomacy. For instance, in a recent motion in the United Nations Human Rights Council to vote on holding a debate on China’s humans right record in its western province of Xinjiang, only a simple majority was needed to secure meetings to discuss the issue at the council’s next session slated for March.