The shape of the world a generation from now will be influenced far more by how we communicate the values of our society to others than by military or diplomatic superiority. William Fulbright, 1964

Wednesday, November 23, 2016


A river runs through it  

Greening is the now color for Corporate Social Responsibility projects – provided the manicured park is well exposed for the company’s care to be advertised.  But for closeted kampongs forget CSR.  Duncan Graham reports on a Do It Ourselves deal that organizers want others to see and follow:
Civilisations benchmark their birth with momentous events. Muslims use AH Anno Hegirae, the year of Hijra when the Prophet went from Mecca to what is now Medina.
Christians favor BC (Before Christ) and AD (Anno Domini), the year of the Lord.
Secular scientists prefer BP (Before the Present). For Indonesian environmentalists this stands for Before Plastic when wrappings were organic.
“Getting people to stop using our rivers for their rubbish is difficult,” admitted community leader Nurcholis. “We hang signs everywhere.  We talk about it whenever we can. But we cannot use laws and threats.  They don’t work.
“The way is to go gracefully and set an example.”
Nurcholis and his colleagues have followed his advice.  He heads the largest of eight RT (Rukun Tetangga – neighborhood administration units) flanking the Amprong River in Kedung Kandang on Malang’s outskirts.
 Last October after months of discussion they made a big decision: to tackle the eyesore levee built long ago to floodproof their kampong. The depressing sight greeting riverside residents was a long, barren, dusty and rubbish-strewn barricade. 
Massive river-taming by the Irrigation Department in the 1980s with rock and concrete walls had largely eliminated the need for the levee.  The last flood was in 1995 but the ugly earthworks were too big to shift. 
Kedung Kandang doesn’t belong in the nation’s much-hyped middle class luring investors. This is Struggle Street, Forgetville where no incomes are disposable. But that doesn’t mean its tenants don’t deserve a decent environment.
Though no local had ever wandered the world’s glamor waterfronts, why not turn the embankment into an educational area and promenade like Shanghai’s Bund or Singapore’s Marina Bay?  Maybe even the Left Bank in Paris minus the bars and hedonism for this is East Java and “99 per cent” of the kampong’s 800 are Muslim according to Nurcholis.
It seemed like a good idea at the time.  It was.
Winning a Rp 16 million (US $1,225) government grant for cement and bricks helped.  So did labor supplied by soldiers drafted to provide kerja bakti (community service).  Then followed the ancient principle of gotong royong (citizen self help).
Hundreds scrounged and recycled for playground gear, gazebos and park benches creating style inconsistencies that are more amusing than annoying. Time in the shade can be spent guessing the provenance of renovated iron and painted pipes, paving slabs and split bamboo.
Lion statues are a favorite as locals are 100 per cent backers of the Arema Football Club with its Leo symbol. There’s even a Hindu-style sculpture.
Professional park managers frequently favor monoculture flower beds in geometrical shapes rare in nature.  But here the donated bushes, flowers and trees have come from everywhere to make a rich mix.
 The other factor, whispered rather than shouted in a cooperative project, is the creative competition between RTs.
The park is never more than 10 meters wide. It meanders for about 400 meters with individual sections marrying, though there’s no sameness.  Everyone knows who did what and how good it looks.
Agus Surahman, a RW (rukun warga – a step up from RT), said no commercial companies had offered to assist, so no advertising making their secluded park unusual.
High visibility parks in Malang have been sponsored by cosmetic and food companies – ironically even a tobacco factory - keen to link their products with healthy lifestyles.
“When there’s an event we collect Rp 10,000 (US$0.80) from each family to pay for costs,” Nurcholis said.  “People who live here are drivers, factory workers and cleaners, but some have made bigger donations – including four boats.”
For Rp 15,000 (US$1.15) an hour families and couples can have a row on the river and enjoy the ambience as the fashionable do in London’s regal gardens and New York’s Central Park.
By Western standards muddy Amprong is no freshet.  It’s not just plastic that’s a problem. Cemeteries dot the riverbanks. Road waste drains into the river, used daily by people without access to bathrooms, toilets and laundries.
Fortunately heavy wet-season rains keep it moving.  All houses in the kampong are said to use septic tanks, but overflows must reach the river.
Choirul, 32, a coconut drink seller, wants to take the project further with a flying fox across the river and murals on the rockwork. 
That way he hopes upriver residents will copy their example:  “Then there’ll be less rubbish to pick out when the waters reach us,”
Locals say the do-it-yourself park has reduced friction because there’s space for all activities, including growing vegetable in the river mud.  Though no-one says so aloud, the park invites romance. Watching water flow encourages philosophical musings.
“There have been other advantages,” said Nurcholis’ wife Nur Rochma. “Young people now have somewhere to go and things to do. It’s much better here now than hanging around in shopping malls.   It’s given our communities a center.”
Food bowl
The Amprong is a major feeder into the 320-kilometer long Brantas, the Nile of East Java.
Second to the 600 kilometer-long Solo River (half in East Java), Brantas is a most curious waterway.  Sustained by 1,500 mountain streams and lowland channels known as anak-anak Brantas (children of Brantas), it heads for the Indian Ocean – a logical direction because that’s the nearest exit.
Then it turns west, then north.  On maps it looks much like a diagram of the human alimentary canal – which is apt.
After running hither and yon draining a catchment 17 times bigger than Singapore island it empties into the Java Sea near Surabaya.
Brantas sustains mega millions by watering the flatlands it traverses.  This is the province’s major food bowl.  It also supplies power through nine hydroelectric stations built during the Soeharto years, industrial and household water and fish.
Waeman, 61, who worked for the Irrigation Department for 37 years, said managing flows was “very difficult … it runs cold but farmers run hot when they don’t get enough water.
“Everyone needs the Brantas and Amprong.  As we say, sungai bersih, warga sehat (clean river, healthy people.)”
Outsiders should visit early Sunday mornings when locals set up colorful food and drink stalls; the public is invited to  jump up and down to loud music or promenade nibbling a fresh tempe (soybean) cake. The big companies may not be interested but here’s a chance to see how communities can make a difference – and what gotong royong means.  Kedung Kandang is 10 km east of central Malang

First published in J Plus - The Jakarta Post  19 November 2016

Tuesday, November 22, 2016


When eagles cease to soar     

All this month six years ago Yogyakarta and surrounds were on red alert as Merapi blew 38 meters off its peak, bringing it down to 2,930. The nation’s most active volcano threatens regularly forcing evacuations.  Should outsiders get involved?  Duncan Graham reports.
Once it was a sure portent of troubles to come – eagles soaring higher than normal above Central Java’s ferocious and fickle ‘fire mountain’.
Villagers on the slopes below knew this could prelude black pyroclastic clouds as the rising heat created thermals for the birds to spiral to new heights.  But the Javan Hawk Eagle - Indonesia’s national bird - is now rare; there are fewer than 350 breeding pairs left in the wild and extinction expected in a decade.
With the passing of the raptors goes local wisdom that has helped generations cope with the violence of nature.  Both are irreplaceable.
So no avian early-warning system for threatened farmers.  Now they rely on official alarms provided by government scientists they seldom trust, according to French author Elizabeth Inandiak (above)..
“Villagers tend to be suspicious of authorities,” she said. “That’s why they are often reluctant to leave their homes in an emergency.  They are landless agricultural workers but their tenure is through adat (customary law) and fear official agencies won’t recognise their ownership when they return.  And few want to be shifted elsewhere.”
Inandiak, now 57, is no ingénue. She’s lived in Central Java since 1989 studying language and culture.
Yet she was still surprised by local resilience and ingenuity following the May 2006 Yogyakarta earthquake which killed 5.700 and injured 37,000. Earlier that month Merapi had erupted and 11,000 were evacuated.
Among the many devastated villages was Bebekan, about 20 kilometers south west of Yogya.  Two of the 400 residents were killed and several injured. The writer’s house was not damaged but she was asked to help by one of the women made homeless. 
“How could I not get involved,” said Inandiak.  “The need was overwhelming and I had contacts in Europe who could donate.”
Within days the Euros started to flow and the European transplant was thrust into a new role.  She was already well known in the academic community as translator into French of the almost forgotten Serat Centhini.
This is the Javanese epic of 17th century life first published in the 19th century and known to some as the Kama Sutra of Java for its erotic passages.
Her work won prizes in France including the Chevalier de la Légion d’Honneur (Knight of the Legion of Honor) for services to literature and improving Franco-Indonesian relations.
But for seven years after the earthquake she gave up writing to be involved with community work.  She broke the drought this year with her novel Babad Ngalor-Ngidul (the chronicle of pointless pursuits) based around the eruptions of Merapi and the myths of the mountain which last erupted in 2014.
Along the way she climbed a steep learning curve experiencing the emotions of recovery from overwhelming disaster; she saw how people respond in good and bad ways to great stress and grew frustrated with the politics of international aid delivery.
She has harsh words for development agencies’ bureaucratic procedures and expenditure priorities, though not for emergency services or the motives of individuals drawn to help. 
Her advice to helpers: “Don’t ask what people need – ask what they wish for … listen to those wishes and respond.
“Use local skills. Never promise more than you can deliver. Women are the key figures in the community.
“Some of the reconstruction is of intangibles – like spiritual connections and cultural practices including as music and art.  These might seem impractical when people are homeless, but they are necessary.  Recovery has to be holistic.”
 A flag showing two ducks (bebek) was designed. Gamelan instruments were obtained, dances held.
While the people of Bebekan and hundreds of other hamlets were sheltering under sheets of iron from ash and rain, agency staff were staying in the Hyatt in Yogyakarta “where one night costs more than rebuilding a house”, though to be fair few hotels were open after the quake.
Pledged Indonesian government re-building grants did not arrive.  At the time she wrote: ‘the people of Bebekan do not expect anything from this promise. They still haven't received the survival allowance due to any victim of the earthquake (Rp 90,000 (US $7) and ten kilos of rice per month, and which has already been distributed in many other districts’.
Inandiak shared some of her insights with students, staff and others at Yogyakarta’s Gadjah Mada University where she spoke last month (Oct) at a conference on responses to human crises.
Her message was ultimately positive – though not in the way aid agencies like to tell with happy snaps of jolly kids and contented Moms admiring a new well head courtesy of taxpayers in developed nations far away.
For humans everywhere are complex mixes of reason and unreason, neither flawless nor irreparably shattered.
First the language.
“They are not victims but survivors,” Inandiak said.  “They have sovereignty over their land.  They are not going to be objects of NGOs.  They need to decide themselves how and when reconstruction starts. 
“They didn’t want the army to get involved because they might lose their surviving possessions and building materials that could be re-used. Salvaging was the people’s responsibility.”
With 9,000 Euros (then about Rp 150 million) mainly donated by French artists, 85 houses were built in less than two months.  Inandiak credits this extraordinary achievement to gotong royong (community self help):  “I was amazed – these people had globalization within themselves.
“The people who once thought they had no history were restoring Bebekan to the pages of history.”
But along with a slow recovery to some sense of normality came the return of individual egos.  “Getting money is not the real difficulty,” she said. “The main problem is human conflict with maybe 70 per cent of time spent trying to resolve issues, even though people greet each other and shake hands regularly to keep the social network intact.”
Sands deposits from the eruption brought contractors from afar, but the locals wanted the deposits left alone.  More confrontations.
“To help in these extreme situations you need a serving attitude,” she said. “Be prepared to undergo a mental revolution.”
(First published in The Jakarta Post 21 November 2016)


Monday, November 14, 2016


A ballad of free trade                                                            
During his visit last year to the United States President Joko ‘Jokowi’ Widodo suddenly started singing enthusiasm for multinational Free Trade Agreements.
He told American businesses that Indonesia had an ‘open economy’ with a large and hungry population so intended to join the Trans-Pacific Partnership.  He’d been persuaded that this would also seduce foreign investors.
The TPP had taken years to orchestrate.  Twelve nations representing around 40 per cent of the world’s GDP had agreed to join. Jokowi thought a place in the choir alongside Malaysia, Singapore and other neighbors was a smart idea, although the Archipelago has long chanted protectionism.
In the following months nervous political and economic advisers composed a revised songsheet.  By February this year the President was humming a different tune in a lower key.
During another US trip he released his new TPP album – Fading Love. The lyrics included ‘caution is of the utmost importance … everything must be calculated for the sake of national interests. It’s all still in process.'
In a backing track the then Trade Minister Thomas Lembong chorused that his leader’s original enthusiasm was ‘to improve our economy and create jobs’.
FTA opponents disagree; they claim agreements favor efficient producers like Australian wheatgrowers and Chinese steelmakers, but can damage importing nations.  They get lower prices but at the cost of local jobs.  Slack businesses demand compensation or fail. 
Indonesia’s State Owned Enterprises, known for poor management, lack of competitiveness and allegedly as ‘wet areas’ (where corrupt politicians and bureaucrats can prosper) feel threatened by FTAs
Some of this is now academic as US President-elect Donald Trump says he’ll rip up all TPP negotiations authorized by President Barack Obama.
This gets Jokowi off the hook on which he’d hung himself last year.  But then came another twist.
Before abruptly changing his mind about visiting Canberra this month, allegedly because of violent demonstrations in Jakarta, the President told journalists of plans for his official three-day agenda Down Under.
Top was trade and sealing the Indonesia Australia - Comprehensive Economic Partnership Agreement by the end of 2017.  Another surprise – discussions on this deal only restarted in March after stalling for three years because political tensions were high.
Harvard-educated Lembong, a former investment banker who now chairs the Investment Coordinating Board (BPKM), has the task of meeting the deadline. He’ll get no opposition from Australia.
Trade Minister Steve Ciobo says signing the agreement will be his ‘most significant priority’ while the Indonesia-Australia Business Partnership Group has pledged enthusiastic support
Small wonder; Indonesia’s expanding middle class market is tipped to reach 140 million consumers with tastes for beef and bread by the end of this decade provided trade barriers don’t rise.
In its paper Two Neighbors: Partners in Prosperity the Group said trade and investment is underperforming. ‘Given the proximity and size of the Indonesian and Australian economies … there are vast untapped areas of complementarity (sic) and potential.’
According to Australia’s Department of Foreign Affairs and Trade, the Republic is the island continent’s 12th largest trade partner, mainly importing wheat, beef and sugar.
Indonesia sells oil and some manufactured goods.  Total two-way trade is worth about AUD $15 billion (US $11.4 billion). One trade agreement is already in place embracing Australia, New Zealand and ASEAN nations, including Indonesia.
 Why the Jokonomics flip-flop?  Eve Warburton of the Australian National University has written in the latest Bulletin of Indonesian Economic Studies:

‘The president’s leadership style and decision-making process are unpredictable. Jokowi surrounds himself with very different kinds of economic thinkers. At times he embraces the ideas of pro-market advisors, but then pursues statist-nationalist policies endorsed by his personal partisans.’

Free trade sounds like a fine idea – nations sell to and buy from each other in an open market without tariffs, taxes and other impediments. There are compounding factors in play, like subsidies and dumping of surplus goods, but goo deals can satisfy customers wanting low prices.
Those consumers are also workers.  If their employers turn off lathes because they can’t compete against Chinese low-cost sweatshops they get grumpy.  In democracies that anger can threaten politicians, as Hillary Clinton knows well.
FTAs are particularly sensitive in agriculture. Food security is a political issue in Indonesia where a proverb says ‘a meal without rice is not a meal’. Annual personal consumption of around 114 kilograms can no longer be met by local farmers. 
So stocks of the nation’s staple carbohydrate held by state agency Bulog (the Bureau of Logistics) are being topped up with imports from Thailand.  
Production in the Kingdom is largely mechanised with combines and bulk-load trucks moving the crop from paddy to mill.  In Indonesia the rural scene is more Middle Ages with workers cutting and threshing by hand, then carting by bike.
If these laborers lost their jobs through a FTA they’d face limited alternative employment. According to the World Bank 70 per cent of Indonesia’s poor (earning less that US $2 a day), live in the countryside.
FTA at the vegie roots level
Ibu Wasita has little interest in international agreements but her suppliers, who are mainly her friends, could be victims.  She currently sells two types of carrots from her vegetable stall in Malang’s Oro-Oro Dowo traditional market.
The cheaper, uneven ones cost Rp 8,000 (US $0.60) a kilogram. They were grown in Batu on the cooler flanks of Mount Welirang.
The other carrots are evenly graded, clean and trimmed of leaves. They are packed in plastic and cost almost twice as much.  They come from China and appeal to choosy buyers.
Also from Batu are apples.  Just one variety, Manalagi for Rp 20,000 (US $1.50) a kilo.  They are blemished and to modern palates more billiard balls than Eve’s offering.  But in the supermarkets there’s a wide choice of plump, quality fruit – from China, the US and New Zealand.
The prices are higher but the polished apples roll off the shelves into high-end shoppers’ trolleys.  Should FTAs get signed with Australia and other countries prices will tumble – but Indonesian farmers’ incomes will shrink if they don’t change their production and marketing practices.
Batu is Central East Java’s vegetable garden.  It’s also a weekend escape for the well-off, so a hotel and entertainment park construction boom is underway.  For every 10,000 square meters flooded with concrete there’s one hectare less to grow food. 
It’s a pattern across Java as the national population is tipped to rise from the present 260 million to more than 320 million by 2050.
Australian pens are poised to sign an agreement.  However Lembong – dubbed by the Australian media as an ‘apostle of liberalisation’ - will find it near impossible to persuade Indonesian politicians to ink any document seen as threatening jobs.

First published in Strategic Review 14 November 2016.  See/

Tuesday, November 08, 2016


Seeking excuses?                                          
Indonesian President Joko ‘Jokowi’ Widodo has cited security concerns in Jakarta to cancel this week’s visit to Australia.  Duncan Graham has doubts.
As political sport the Friday 4 November Jakarta demo was generally a crowd pleaser, though the off-field ending was bad. Hours after the 6 pm whistle and with most supporters in their divine white heading home, the hoon minority torched police cars before being teargassed.  One man died apparently from an asthma attack, a dozen hospitalised.
Tut-tutting Australians should remember the 2004 Redfern and 2005 Cronulla race riots.
With estimates of 150,000 (1.5 per cent of Jakarta’s population) on the streets stoked by firebrands claiming the Deity needs protection from real or imagined insults, the protest against Christian Governor Basuki ‘Ahok’ Purnama could have been far worse.
No gunfire, no bombs and only one shop looted.  If correct all credit to the religious and civil authorities – particularly the police who used sex to cool conflict.
Prominently placed officers in jilbab (headscarves) showed the cops weren’t faithless.  The tactic was less spiritual than carnal.  Indonesian policewomen get picked more for beauty than brawn.
The distraction worked with ogling lads taking breaks from fist-thrusting for selfies with the girls in green.  During the first round New York Times correspondent Joe Cochrane tweeted:
‘I think ‘political stunt’ is more accurate. Vast majority of protestors paid teenagers, and not even from Jakarta. No voters.More. Impact on Ahok close to zero. A mere sideshow’.
Jokowi was inspecting an airport project while the march was underway. So why use it as an excuse to duck his trip Down Under?  His minders may have feared exposure to West Papua independence protestors – but that was always possible.
More likely is that he just changed his mind –he’s well known for no-shows.  For all the warm words about relationships in the interviews before departure he’s no internationalist. The timing was ridiculous coinciding with the US election pushing positive publicity off page and screen.
Friday’s demo was billed as the Islam Defenders’ Front (FPI) grand final spectacular.  They promised mayhem but couldn’t deliver. 
Their antics are becoming tiresome.  Disruptions beyond traffic snarls and flooding are no longer tolerable.  They claim holiness but are just pseudo-religious thugs.
Apart from Ahok few have dared challenge the FPI’s legitimacy, which explains their hate.  Unfortunately Jokowi’s cancellation gives them status that on current information they don’t deserve.

Columnist Julia Suryakusuma has likened FPI followers to plane passengers preferring an incompetent Muslim pilot than a qualified Christian even as disaster looms. 
Posters at the demo demanding Ahok’s death were exceptional.  Most wanted him charged with blasphemy which may well happen. There was nothing against Jokowi who retains widespread support.
Gubernatorial elections will be held in February. A need to stay at home then might make sense – but not now.
Ahok is smart, tough, loose-tongued, an effective reformer - but hobbled by his Protestant faith and Chinese ethnicity. His main threat is former Education Minister Anies Baswedan, an Islamic intellectual supported by retired General Prabowo Subianto’s Gerindra (Greater Indonesia) Party. 
The President and Ahok are PDI-P (Indonesian Democratic Party of Struggle) mates from when Jokowi was governor and Ahok his sidekick.
Jokowi’s predecessor Susilo Bambang Yudhoyono (SBY) has his son Agus Harimurti, 38, in the three-way contest to run the capital. Commentators give the colourless US educated Army major no chance. 
Jakarta shenanigans aren’t yet in the Trump-Clinton septic swamp but they are getting smelly. Religion was a cert to smear – the only question was how.
Ahok helped by commenting on a Koranic verse said to prohibit Muslims being led by a kafir (unbeliever).  He allegedly used the word dibohongi (lied) giving the FPI a hook to hang an insulter of the Holy Book.
If jailed for blasphemy he’ll be out of the race, so all may not be as it seems on the surface.
In his post match analysis Jokowi praised daytime discipline but condemned faceless ‘political actors’ manipulating the after-hours brawl.  This is a timeworn standard like ‘Canberra mandarins’ in Australian politics.
During the demo in 30 degree heat FPI organisers who’d bussed in outsiders handed out thousands of drinks and snacks – but wouldn’t name the donors. SBY reacted furiously to suggestions his Democratic Party was the bankroller.
Three days before kick-off Jokowi went to see Prabowo at his ‘residential retreat’ aka ‘spacious ranch’ in Bogor south of Jakarta.
For those unfamiliar with Indonesian culture the president knocking on his former rival’s gate was bewildering, but to Javanese it made sense.  Maintaining harmony and staying polite are essential virtues; Jokowi sought support to hose down possible violence at the demo and lost no votes by taking the initiative.
When Prabowo’s father-in-law Soeharto ran the nation for 32 years, SARA (suku, agama, ras, antar golongan) rules gagged comment on ethnicity, religion and race. 
Democratic reforms uncorked the bottle letting the FPI harass liberals, homosexual law reformers, feminists and anyone who thinks outside their narrow focus.
Prabowo supported calls for calm:  “We are a plural country with many tribes, religions and races,” he said. “If we have problems, let’s solve them peacefully”.
Jokowi also got backing from the Indonesia Scholars’ Council (MUI) and the two main Islamic organisations, Nahdlatul Ulama and Muhammadiyah “to maintain unity and guard against those who want to divide the country”.
These meetings helped frame the demo not as a xenophobic rant (though much was) but as democratic expression.
The media tag of Indonesia as the world’s most populous Islamic nation suggests faith rules. However the Republic is not an Islamic state. Secular parties like the PDIP regularly trounce faith-based contestants.
The biggest flag at the demo was a sportsfield-sized red and white. The country is stable, the leader loved. Cabinet is under control, Parliament passive and the police more professional.  So what’s to fear with a quick call on the neighbours?  Doesn’t he like us?
Or maybe he reckons we're just not important enough
 First published in New Mandala 8 November 2016

Saturday, November 05, 2016


Stepping carefully Down Under

After two years in office Indonesian President Joko ‘Jokowi’ Widodo has an Australian visit scheduled for November. Outcomes and hopes may not sync.  Duncan Graham reports:
Jokowi’s door knock comes a year after new Prime Minister Malcolm Turnbull’s invite when the men spent a half day together in Jakarta.  That speed date was billed as a relationships ‘reset’ after drug smugglers Andrew Chan and Myuran Sukumaran were executed in April, 2015. Australia was outraged and ambassadors recalled.
Jokowi was urged to rapidly ride the goodwill wave that followed Turnbull’s unseating of Tony Abbott.  The former PM had been on the nose in Indonesia for coupling Australia’s 2004 Indian Ocean tsunami aid with appeals to end the death penalty.
The President ignored the advice.  Turnbull’s popularity rapidly waned.  In July he called an election but plans went awry.
His conservative government now holds office by a whisker. A rise in right-wing bigotry has let the Islamophobic One Nation Party into the Senate, and the mining-dependent economy has slumped.
Then Indonesians learned they’re unloved.  An Australia-Indonesia Centre survey showed 47 percent of Australians view their northern neighbor unfavourably – preferring folk from almost anywhere else in Asia - even repressive China.
On the ledger’s other side 87 per cent of Indonesians had positive views of Australia, mostly gleaned from the media for few visit; here’s another matter to address as visa rules and costs are travel deterrents.
When announcing Jokowi’s first State visit Down Under, Foreign Minister Retno Marsudi promoted the nebulous STD formula - Security, Trade, and Defence – as reason enough for chats.
Free trade is top of the menu, but unlikely to yield as Indonesia is deeply protectionist. More Australian investment depends on Indonesia establishing the rule of law and crushing corruption.
Marsudi said the President’s trip would ‘enhance economic cooperation’.  Also in bold type: Counter-terrorism, cyber crime and people smuggling plus fish and beef issues.  All necessary – and insufficient. 
‘Bi-lateral ties’ feature so commonly in these pronouncements that every male delegate should wear one; female negotiators could model ‘close-knit relationships’ which are forever ‘warm’.
Jokowi’s attendance at the 2014 G20 Brisbane summit was not a State visit.  This time he may include Sydney where his eldest son, businessman Gibran Rakabuming Raka, 28, had some tertiary education.
The President is expected to address the Federal Parliament in Canberra but he’s neither an orator in his own tongue nor a competent English speaker.  He won’t eclipse his predecessor Susilo Bambang Yudhoyono’s stirring speech in 2012 labelled ‘transformative’ by hardnose political commentators.
The euphoria didn’t last. A year later international media revealed that Australian spies had been bugging the phones of SBY and his wife Ani.  Abbott refused to apologise.
There’ll be more official announcements as Jokowi’s schedules are sharpened, maybe a few cultural exchanges and some flavoursome clichés.  Turnbull has already matched Marsudi’s rhetoric with statements about ‘deep and broad-ranging’ partnerships.
So far nothing to indicate any lasting intellectual engagement to dilute the distrust exposed by the AIC poll.  Indonesian language and culture studies, which should be the foundation for better understanding, are dropping off the curriculum despite academic protests.
Earlier this year Australian National University Professor Frank Bongiorno wrote of Australian leaders’ ideas about Asia.  He said many have ‘a narrower vision of relations with Asia … As in the past, the temptation is to try to bend Asia to the economic and political purposes of the present’.
Some issues won’t bend to fit the Australian agenda.   Seaweed farmers in the eastern islands want Jokowi to scrap the 1997 treaty between Indonesia and Australia on the Timor Sea Exclusive Economic Zone.
The farmers are suing for damages allegedly caused by the Montara 30,000 barrel oil spill which polluted the Timor Sea after a 2009 drill rig blowout.

The treaty, signed when dictator General Soeharto held power, is also under attack by Timor Leste.  The former Indonesian province wants the document reworked to give a greater share of undersea resources. The parties have been before the UN Conciliation Commission.

Should the mild-mannered Javanese leader speak up Australia is likely to use the ‘legal processes underway’ excuse to dodge debate.
Less easy to avoid is Indonesia’s treatment of Papuan dissidents which concerns human rights advocates.  It’s also rattling Pacific nations which see a Melanesian bond with indigenous Papuans.  
Vanuatu and Solomon Islands raised their worries at a UN Human Rights Council session in June.  They were slapped down by Indonesian delegates using their standard ‘sovereign rights’ argument against outside involvement in domestic issues.
Australia’s official position has long been non-interference and recognition of Indonesia’s ‘Unitary State’, but NGOs don’t do the diplomatic waltz.  
Allegations of civilians abused by heavy-handed military don’t get much airplay in Indonesia; but they do in Australia where church groups and activists back self-determination for what they call West Papua.
The issue of almost 14,000 asylum seekers stranded in the archipelago en-route to Australia when the smugglers’ boats were stopped may also get an airing. Australia wants a ‘regional solution’ but Indonesians say that’s NATO – No Action, Talk Only.
Indonesia’s harsh treatment of gays is another issue which might rile protestors.
Although no Australians are currently on death row, abhorrence of capital punishment is widespread and likely to be raised in demonstrations. Security will minimise direct Presidential embarrassment, but accompanying journalists will not ignore placard wavers.
The shriller the statements, the more Indonesians will be inflamed as nationalism sweeps the nation. After the executions of Chan and Sukumaran The Courier Mail ran a front page mock up of a smiling Jokowi showing a bloody hand. 
Anything similar this time could result in the President cancelling his walkabout and staying home where the electorate still loves its leader.
But all this could be drowned by an event far from Australian-Indonesian relations.  Although official dates for Jokowi’s visit have yet to be announced insiders say it’s currently scheduled to start around 10 November. The Canberra Parliament then rises for an 11-day break.
By then the media typhoon will be swirling around results of the US Presidential election leaving space for little else.
(First filed on 18 October.  An edited version was published in Strategic Review on 4 November when more details of the President's trip were known.)