Indonesia goes for digital people power
By Sunanda Creagh
Just over a decade ago, Indonesians took to the streets to protest. Now they can make themselves heard without even leaving home.
A Facebook group supporting two senior officials from the anti-corruption agency, who many people think have been framed, has attracted almost half a million members in just four days.
This digital people power may well be one reason why on Monday, President Susilo Bambang Yudhoyono launched a probe into the case.
It’s the second time Facebook has played such an important role in a public debate in Indonesia. Earlier this year, thousands “rallied” online in support of a woman who had been charged with defamation for complaining about her treatment in hospital.
Indonesia is the world’s seventh-biggest user of the social networking site, according to Inside Facebook, and 8.23 million of its 8.52 million Facebook addicts joined up in the last year. The new information minister, Tifatul Sembiring, is a daily user of microblogging site Twitter, and says he wants to use it to seek policy ideas.
After decades of authoritarian rule, Indonesia is now a flourishing democracy yet many individuals still feel frustration that their voices and opinions are seldom heeded by politicians. So will online social networking sites contribute to Indonesia’s political future or is this just a passing fad?