Author Archives: Duncan Graham

Duncan Graham

About Duncan Graham

Duncan Graham has been a journalist for more than 40 years in print, radio and TV. He is the author of People Next Door (UWA Press) and winner of the Walkley Award and Human Rights awards. He is now writing for the English language media in Indonesia from within Indonesia.

Diplomacy’s pointy end. Chinese vaccines in Indonesia.

The choreography was about reassurance. A well-masked Indonesian President Joko Widodo sitting before a large red sign saying AMAN dan HALAL – meaning safe and approved for Muslims. Alongside stood Palace doctor Professor Abdul Muthalib ready to show 270 million … Continue reading

Posted in Health, Politics | 4 Comments

Children in Prison: shame, Australia, shame

In February 2012 X Riyan and X Hadi were led into the Perth District Courtroom 7.1 by uniformed security guards.

Posted in Human Rights | 4 Comments

Sinophobia as a political weapon

Morality racketeering’ is Australian academic Dr Ian Wilson’s shorthand for Indonesian white-clad mobsters who dress in religious righteousness to terrorise their animus-du-jour. Last century it was vice. More recently it’s been blasphemers.  Now it’s the government of President Joko Widodo.

Posted in World Affairs | 10 Comments

Small nail, big hammer

Indonesian President Joko Widodo, a leader prone to blunders (he initially took the Trump no-worries approach to Covid-19 now ravaging the Republic), may have made another serious error. He’s banned a Muslim organisation that’s become the loudest and most militant … Continue reading

Posted in World Affairs | 2 Comments

The elephant, the canary, the wolf and other beasties to dispatch by journalists.

The tweeters are using the media as spittoons. Along with the contrived malice of Donald Trump and the spinmeisters of government they’re doing their damnedest to discredit our profession. We don’t need help: This is a job we’ve been doing … Continue reading

Posted in Media | 2 Comments

Sinophobia as a political weapon

‘Morality racketeering’ is Australian academic Dr Ian Wilson’s shorthand for Indonesian white-clad mobsters who dress themselves in religious righteousness to terrorise their animus-du-jour. Last century it was vice. More recently it’s been blasphemers. Now it’s the government of President Joko … Continue reading

Posted in Politics | 20 Comments

We pay lip service to our relationship with Indonesia

If a relationship just concentrates on STDs it’ll never mature. That goes for countries as well as couples.

Posted in Asia | 5 Comments

Corruption in Indonesia: Ants after sugar

Corruption is heavy stuff so let’s lighten with an old Indonesian joke:  A farmer’s goat is stolen so he reports to the police.  They’ll investigate if he pays.  The fee is a cow.  The theft is neither solved nor the bovines returned. 

Posted in Asia | 1 Comment

Let them all speak English

Did university administrators know of federal government policies to boost learning about Indonesia before they rushed to slash and burn? Or maybe they knew but are too blinkered to care.

Posted in Asia | 2 Comments

An early test of strength in Indonesia

Just a year into its second five-year term, Indonesian President Joko Widodo’s government is under threat. Opposition is being powered by a hate group led by an incendiary preacher demanding the nation abandons democracy for a sharia state. How serious … Continue reading

Posted in Asia | 1 Comment

A grog ban in Indonesia!

Hard hit by the pandemic, Indonesia is in recession. The government is desperate to revive the economy and draw overseas investors, particularly into the tourist industry which earned almost AUD 20 billion a year before Covid-19. So not the ideal … Continue reading

Posted in Asia, Politics | 2 Comments

Australian charity in Indonesia can be a problem.

Until recently Indonesia presented itself to the West not as a Muslim country but through Bali, a land of smiling faces, exotic dancers, paradisiacal landscapes.

Posted in Asia | 3 Comments

Return of the dangerman preacher

It was a full-on snub to history and a challenge to the social and business reforms of President Joko ‘Jokowi’ Widodo. More worrying is the likelihood of a return to faith-based hate politics in the world’s most populous Muslim country.

Posted in Politics | Leave a comment

Off the Ground: A new generation of foreign correspondents

Mazoe Ford is billed as the ABC’s ‘Southeast Asia Correspondent’. She’s been reporting on the civil strife in Bangkok – from Sydney.

Posted in Media, Public Policy | 2 Comments

While the US flounders, China plants ideas and friendship in Indonesia

Of all the corroded clichés used in reporting the US election, the rustiest claimed ‘the whole world was watching.’ 

Posted in Asia | 2 Comments

Where to send granny? Bringing the last generation back into total society

There used to be five. Two have died in the past year, so with just three using wheelchairs and walking frames the street looks less like an archipelagic version of what Australia used to call ‘nursing homes’. That was before … Continue reading

Posted in Health, World Affairs | Leave a comment

Pompeo came to Indonesia, he saw, he scurried

Does anyone in Washington know anything about Indonesia? Clearly not, or White House staff would have urged State Secretary Mike Pompeo to enjoy fall in Washington. So there must be another reason for a 32,000 km round trip other than … Continue reading

Posted in Asia | 2 Comments

Threats or inducements in dealing with China?

The day after US State Secretary Mike Pompeo announced he’ll be visiting India, Sri Lanka, the Maldives and Indonesia this month to try and keep the Indian Ocean nations on side, his rival for the region’s attention ,China, was making its pitch … Continue reading

Posted in China, World Affairs | 2 Comments

Protests against Indonesian economic reform: stability and a minimum wage have gone

Indonesian President Joko Widodo wants to snare foreign investors. They’re a wary lot. Though excited by big markets and the chance of bigger returns, they’re fearful of losing fortunes, and with good reason: Risk.

Posted in Asia, Politics | Leave a comment

Forgotten East Timor: Island, principles, people

Did Gough Whitlam greenlight Indonesia’s violent seizure of East Timor in 1975? The invasion and 24-year occupation took the lives of up to 300,000 people in a population of 650,000 living on a wretchedly poor leftover from European colonisation.

Posted in Asia, Politics | 3 Comments

The comeback kid heads to Washington

Champions of Donald Trump’s style of politics will warm to Prabowo Subianto. They’ll understand why Washington is forgetting Indonesia’s Defence Minister was once banned from the US and Australia for alleged human rights abuses, and get onside with another tough.

Posted in Asia | Leave a comment

Indonesia: keeping the communist myths flying

It’s that time of the year again when Indonesians look sideways at the neighbours, whisper about family histories, question loyalties.

Posted in Asia | 3 Comments

Oh dear, what will the neighbours say?

Widodo’s lacklustre leadership – compounded by going soft on corruption and nuzzling up to the army – is opening space to big business, the military and faith fanatics with no interest in reform. This is worrying indeed and should be … Continue reading

Posted in Asia, Politics | Leave a comment

Chinese workers the worry, not spies

Indonesia’s foreign policy seems divorced from reality. It’s called bebas-aktif (free and active) and supposed to mean no siding with world powers.

Posted in Politics | 3 Comments

Six Ways Sacked Hacks Can Keep Keyboarding

If airline pilots grounded by Covid-19 can retrain as header drivers to reap this year’s harvest, sacked political journalists can keep supplying readers’ needs through a little retraining.

Posted in Arts and Sport | Leave a comment

Local lad’s strife pips looming crisis

It’s one of journalism’s nastier cynicisms: When judging news values 100 distant deaths equals ten closer to home and one in the suburb where the paper circulates.  If public contempt for the media is to be cured then The West Australian … Continue reading

Posted in Media | 2 Comments

Coughing up a smokescreen

It isn’t accidental irony but a deliberate insult from Big Baccy – two fingers to the government, medicos and public health pros. Just above the small government warning on the ad banner’s bottom corner showing a tracheotomy is the latest … Continue reading

Posted in Health | 2 Comments

So much potential, so much let go

PM Scott Morrison wants the right to cancel agreements (there are reported to be 130) between foreign governments and authorities outside Canberra if deemed ‘contrary to Australia’s national interests’.The prime target is said to be Victoria jogging down China’s One … Continue reading

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Making the paranormal the new normal

Last Monday was going to be the most spectacular splash of all, a grand semi sesquicentennial commemoration of Indonesia’s independence. Then came Covid19. While the Jakarta government promised a vaccine, others were relying on ritual.

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Is Indonesia’s ‘dreamy idealist’ losing the plot?

Akhirnya! At last! Just in time for the 75th anniversary of the declaration of Indonesia’s independence next week (17 August) we’re starting to examine our big neighbour with some honesty.

Posted in Asia, Politics | Leave a comment