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Jakarta Post

Reflecting on Indonesia’s political feudalism

  • Raafi Seiff

    Jakarta

PREMIUM
Jakarta   /   Fri, March 5 2021   /  01:00 am
Descending: South Sulawesi governor Nurdin Abdullah walks into an interrogation room at the Corruption Eradication Commission (KPK) headquarter in Jakarta on Feb. 27, 2021. KPK arrested Nurdin and five other individuals earlier in the day. (Antara/Dhemas Reviyanto)

During the European medieval era, serfs would huddle under the protection of their harsh rulers in a confined sanctum that shielded them from the dangers of the world outside. In return, the serfs worked their despotic lords’ lands to enrich them. The lines of serfdom and lordship are blurred today, when leaders are often subjected to the interests of their supporters; or better yet, their donors, who are more than happy to pull the puppet strings of power, concealed behind an elected official. Despite global efforts to enhance good governance, the politics of give-and-take still permeates election campaigns or are embedded in the policy proposals of elected officials. This is no different in Indonesia. The recent arrest of South Sulawesi Governor Nurdin Abdullah has once again started tongues wagging in the national media, with an almost routine dissection of the roots, c...