Indonesian Forum Seminar: Deepening Local Democracy in Indonesia: Prospects and Challenges

Canberra – The advantages of decentralization practice in Indonesia since 2001 have been questioned by scholars and practitioners in Australia. A seminar organized by Indonesian Forum on Tuesday, 26 of June 2012 at University of Canberra, reveals that decentralization on power/authority has not been able to improve local economy and participation.

The first speaker in the seminar is Professor Mark Turner from University of Canberra. As an expert on decentralization, he argues that the promise of decentralization theory, which is decentralization give more advantage for local community, has not been met in Indonesia because it’s only advantaging some local elites. According to Turner, the role, supervisión and control from central government are still needed to keep local autonomy in it’s track. Furthermore, problems in the regions are not only about technical issues but also political issues.

Akhmad Akbar Susamto, the second speaker, in a different perspective sees that political party has an important role to determines the succesfulness of a local autonomy. According to Akbar, ANU PhD student, political party should acts as a mediator between the government and local community in order to form policy towards general welfare. In addition, the lack of clear visión in Indonesian political parties brings unclear political, economy and social decisions in the región.

Meanwhile, Dr. Ulla Fionna, researcher on Indonesian political parties from University of Sydney, explains that from her research, in some cases it is found that political party in district level tends to be more active than in municipality level. According to Fionna, political party in local level needs to consolidate themselves to improve it’s role. She also suggests that political party in national level should give more support to local political parties.

Indonesian Forum is a monthly seminar held in Canberra supported by University of Canberra, Indonesian Embassy in Canberra and several Indonesian student organizations. According to Ratih Maria Dhewi, the chairperson, Indonesian Forum is trying to provide ideas and thoughts for a better Indonesia by conducting scholarly seminars. The objective is to propose constructive solutions to current issues in Indonesia.

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