Reorganising Power in Indonesia: The Politics of Oligarchy in an Age of Markets

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Reorganising Power in Indonesia: The Politics of Oligarchy in an Age of Markets

By Richard Robison and Vedi Hadiz
Routledge Curzon, 2004
328 pp. $129.95
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In this information-packed and theoretically sophisticated analysis, Robison and Hadiz brilliantly argue that, in spite of Indonesia's economic successes and the collapse of Suharto's regime, power arrangements in the country still operate to keep an oligarchy in command. They succeed admirably in explaining how the oligarchy was formed under Suharto's New Order, from 1965 to 1982, and how it remained in place, and indeed became stronger, from 1982 until the financial crisis of 1997, which shook the structure and set the stage for change. In their view, however, the changes in presidents and the appearances of more open politics have not, and probably will not, open the way to democratic politics. This view of Indonesia's prospects for democracy might be a bit too pessimistic, but the book nonetheless has great value, if only for tracing out in detail the logic of oligarchy and the difficulties of political and economic change. Where the access to power opens the door to wealth, corruption seems inevitable.