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.

DUNCAN GRAHAM . Can young voices get into elders’ ears?

Indonesian President Joko Widodo’s Cabinet selection has been met with widespread dismay by liberal progressives. There have been some weird choices noted here https://johnmenadue.com/duncan-graham-dont-cry-for-me-indonesia/ The most disturbing was making Widodo’s bitter and brutal rival Prabowo Subianto, 68, Defence Minister, even … Continue reading

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DUNCAN GRAHAM – Sunup in Sawojajar

Expat blogs praise the joys of living in Bali. A low-cost paradise, they say. Sundowners with fellow retirees while a maid (‘a real treasure’) prepares dinner and ‘our’ gardener trims the lawn. Good time to bitch about deemed interest rates … Continue reading

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DUNCAN GRAHAM Don’t cry for me, Indonesia

Though it started well earlier this year, the signals now flashing from across the Arafura Sea are no longer cheering. The world’s third largest democracy celebrated a successful poll in April when the voters made their wishes clear. Since then … Continue reading

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DUNCAN GRAHAM – Threatening unity by seeking harmony

Maintaining harmony (rukun) is a quality embedded in Javanese culture. This is one explanation for Joko Widodo publicly calling bitter rival Prabowo Subianto his ‘best friend’ at the Presidential inauguration. A few days later Widodo offered Subianto the Defence portfolio. … Continue reading

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DUNCAN GRAHAM How not to engage with Asia

Every decade or so a Western Australian politician on the cast-iron balconies of the State’s Parliament glances outwards. Looking away from the Darling Range rippling in the heat rising from the Swan Coastal Plain, the watcher wonders: What opportunities lie … Continue reading

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DUNCAN GRAHAM Bali alert! Busybodies at large

It was excruciatingly embarrassing. The hotel receptionist was adamant: We either proved our marriage or we left.  Voices were raised which drew more staff and onlookers to the foyer. Security guards appeared.

Posted in Asia, World Affairs | 3 Comments

DUNCAN GRAHAM. PM in gaffe-strewn Indonesian TV interview

Scott Morrison has given a rambling error-littered interview to Indonesian TV where he fudged the figures of casualties in the 2002 Bali bomb blast. The Prime Minister told English-speaking journalist Andini Effendi that “more Indonesians were killed than Australians” when … Continue reading

Posted in Asia, Media | 1 Comment

DUNCAN GRAHAM. Indonesia’s Dr Strangelove takes final flight

Indonesia’s fourth president, the late Abdurrahman ‘Gus Dur’ Wahid, was never short of a quip. “First president (Soekarno, who had nine wives) was crazy about women. The second (Soeharto, who allegedly stole US$35 billion) was crazy about money.  The third (Habibie) … Continue reading

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DUNCAN GRAHAM Raising the racist flag

The ironies were stark and troubling. On 17 August most Indonesians joyfully commemorated their nation’s proclamation of independence from the Netherlands 74 years ago. A few weren’t having fun. Next afternoon young Papuans studying in East Java and who are … Continue reading

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DUNCAN GRAHAM All hail, Queen Mega

This week Indonesian streets are bursting with red and white bunting, celebrating the late leader Soekarno’s proclamation of independence from the Netherlands on 17 August 1945. Then followed a four- year protracted guerilla war against the stubborn Dutch who couldn’t … Continue reading

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DUNCAN GRAHAM. Joko Widodo is no Lee Kuan Yew

Even read in English it’s a stirring speech with hints of John F Kennedy’s inaugural address: ‘Ask not what your country can do for you – ask what you can do for your country’.  By the standards of Indonesian President … Continue reading

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DUNCAN GRAHAM Focusing on Washington, glancing at Jakarta

The 17 April Indonesian elections and fallout could have been big news in Australia.  According to some experts they should have been. Instead media consumers Down Under got more of US President Donald Trump’s distant domestic political shenanigans than they did of … Continue reading

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DUNCAN GRAHAM Roaming for relevance

Politicians hunting the grey vote stalk retirement villages and pensioner clubs. Handy because electors mustered in dining rooms and community halls lean to groupthink. Dissidents don’t do well in confined spaces where they’re condemned to stay mum or risk exclusion. Wrong spots. … Continue reading

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DUNCAN GRAHAM – Past their use-by date but still current

They ignore the local statistics, but hang on to the exceptional example, Mahathir bin Mohamad. Next month the Malaysian Prime Minister will turn 94 and although he promised to hand over to Anwar Ibrahim, 71, that has yet to occur.

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DUNCAN GRAHAM Hungry for a result in the Indonesian election?

The differences are stark. When Labor lost Bill Shorten quit and said: ‘Now that the contest is over, all of us have a responsibility to respect the result, respect the wishes of the Australian people and to bring our nation … Continue reading

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DUNCAN GRAHAM Why didn’t Widodo do better?

Slowly, carefully, nervously, Indonesia is retreating from the threat of a bloody revolution following the 17 April election.

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DUNCAN GRAHAM Kingsford Smith forecast: Expect churls Inbox x

In his 9 April post on this website ANU Professor Ramesh Thakur put the question: Who Will Bell the Sydney Airport Security Madness?  The expert on disarmament then asked: Is it possible that pranksters with a perverse sense of humour are in charge of … Continue reading

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DUNCAN GRAHAM Last post for the old guard?

Have Indonesia’s oligarchs performed their final farewell tour? More than two decades after the fall of second president Soeharto’s authoritarian New Order government a commoner has retained the presidency.

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DUNCAN GRAHAM. Indonesia – after the count – chaos?

The alphabet of election campaign hyperbole runs from Absurd through Fatuous and Stupid to Zero (as in logic).  Most statements are ephemeral for the nonsense spruikers know little is taken seriously once the losers are trampled by the triumphant. But in Indonesia pledges … Continue reading

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DUNCAN GRAHAM: Vote patriotism – who wouldn’t?

Impossible to imagine: Scott Morrison and Bill Shorten start a pre-election national TV debate with handshakes and a hug. Two and a half hours later after gently tapping a few verbal shuttlecocks to-and-fro they pledge to remain friends forever. That … Continue reading

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DUNCAN GRAHAM The Fear of Trading Dangerously

In early March The West Australian published an opinion piece by Professor Stephen Smith on selling to Indonesia;  

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DUNCAN GRAHAM Doing democracy differently

Outsiders who propped their eyelids apart to watch Indonesia’s third TV ‘debate’ ahead of next month’s national elections would have concluded the campaign is bloodless. For 150 minutes – minus about a third for commercials and promos – vice president … Continue reading

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DUNCAN GRAHAM Could Kiwi values fly north?

New Zealand’s image has always been less coarse than Australia’s. Both nations claim to be egalitarian, peopled by ‘can-do’ improvisers. The Jolly Swagman’s cousin is A Good Keen Man. They salute the ‘fair go’, sharpen scythes to slash tall poppies … Continue reading

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DUNCAN GRAHAM. Old soldiers don’t die – they just imagine

Historians and older Westerners know well what followed the 1933 events in Germany known as ‘the burning of the books.’ Few Indonesians are aware that the forceful Student Union campaign against literature which didn’t promote the ‘German spirit’, fomented fascism. They … Continue reading

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DUNCAN GRAHAM When sinking looms, jump.

Imagine if almost six per cent of the Coalition reckoned they’d lose their seats at the next election so switch to Labor.  Chances are they wouldn’t be piped aboard, as ship jumpers are not favoured in Australian politics, distrusted by … Continue reading

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DUNCAN GRAHAM. Ignoring the Doings Next Door

On a recent edition of ABC TV’s free-for-all Summer Drum, participants sounded off about possible Democrat nominees for the 2020 US Presidential election. Social commentator Jane Caro sprayed the screen with alternatives. The Australian columnist Greg Sheridan, who comes across … Continue reading

Posted in World Affairs | 2 Comments

DUNCAN GRAHAM. ASEAN: Wethers, not rams.

Half a century ago five neighbouring nations got together with a set of fine ideals.  These included boosting economic growth, promoting peace and lifting living standards.  That was the excuse. The real purpose was to block the spread of Communism, … Continue reading

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DUNCAN GRAHAM.Jerusalem and a Free Trade Agreement with Indonesia

  Now here’s the weirdest thing about the way we handle policy with the neighbours:   Canberra politicians are proven fumblers and bumblers when dealing with big Muslim-majority Indonesia. Yet at the Australian National University just a ten-minute bike ride … Continue reading

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DUNCAN GRAHAM. Troubled by truth telling in Indonesia

Does the present government really understand Indonesia? Or want to? Ministers get detailed briefings from diplomats in Jakarta squirreling away in our biggest embassy, plus wisdoms from academics close to home.

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DUNCAN GRAHAM. Putting the zing into statecraft

Foreign affairs (the political version, not dalliances abroad) is seldom a synonym for fun.  The standard photo has a line of suits trying – and failing – to look human.Their media statements, labelled ‘communique’ to maintain the mystique, are triumphs … Continue reading

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