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Front Stage with the Prosperous Justice Party: Making Sense of the PKS' June National Conference

Crawford School of Public Policy | Arndt-Corden Department of Economics | Indonesia Project

Event details

Indonesia Study Group

Date & time

Wednesday 21 July 2010
12.30pm–2.00pm

Venue

Coombs Seminar Room B, Coombs Building, Fellows Road, ANU

Speaker

Greg Fealy (Dept of Political and Social Change/School of Culture, History and Language)

Contacts

Indonesia Project
+61 2 6125 3794
The Prosperous Justice Party (PKS) held its five-yearly national conference (munas) in mid-June 2010. Numerous aspects of the munas attracted controversy. The venue was Jakarta’s most expensive hotel, the Ritz Carlton at Pacific Place, and the cost of the conference reportedly exceeded one million dollars. The US and Australian ambassadors were invited to address the 4000 delegates, as also were a number of non-Muslim Indonesian and foreign intellectuals. The main theme of the conference was PKS’ political openness. The party’s new slogan ‘PKS for All’ (seemingly lifted from the Malaysian Islamist party, PAS) was announced with great fanfare at a Hollywood-style closing ceremony.

Despite its slickly stage-managed format, the PKS munas abounded with contradictions. While the party expounded its openness, it also went to great lengths to maintain the secrecy of its internal dynamics and discussions. Indeed, of all the major party conferences held since last year’s elections, this was the most ‘closed’. The five-star setting of the munas and prominence of foriegn speakers sat oddly with the party’s professed ‘concern’ for ordinary Indonesians. In this seminar, I will explore some of these contradictions and analyse the reasons for the disjunction between ‘front stage’ and ‘back stage’ PKS.

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