Friday, August 21, 2015

Selamat Hari Ulang Tahun Indonesia! Social Media Explodes on Indonesia's 70th Anniversary of Independence

Photo Source: Australian Embassy Jakarta Facebook Page

Flicking through my social media feed on the 17th of August, being the 70th Anniversary of Indonesian Independence, I felt a sense of joy seeing the outpouring of celebration on social media.  It brought a Cheshire Cat grin to my face as I sipped my green tea, smartphone in hand and scrolled.   Hashtags trending on Monday included #RI70, #70TahunBanggaIndonesiaku, #ID70, HUT RI and Dirgahayu RI.  Red and white filled my page, millions of people all over the world acknowledging Indonesia’s milestone anniversary, including many of my Australian friends, associates and affiliations.

I saw photos of a flag raising ceremony in Federation Square in Melbourne, many videos from Indonesian Consulates around the world “Dirgahayu Kementerian Luar Negeri RI”, enchanting images of Indonesia including Borobudur, beach sunsets, cities, islands, volcanoes, festivals, Indonesian people with big smiles, often with flags in hand.  One thing was clear, Indonesians are proud, and I was proud to be Australian witnessing all of the good wishes by Australians to Indonesia on this special day.  There was a random tweet, which I just have to mention that made me LOL in amongst the celebration - ‘OMG THERE IS A DURIAN EMOJI!’ And so there was.

Social media in Indonesia has come into focus in recent times with revelations that Indonesians are some of the largest users of social networks and mobile devices in the world.  It’s a fast, cheap and easy way to communicate with the general populous - a fact that hasn’t been lost on some diplomats and politicians.

The use of Facebook and Twitter as part of Joko Widodo’s presidential campaign proved to be popular among Indonesians.  As the business of running the country came to the forefront in Jokowi’s first few months in office we saw the number of posts taper off along with his popularity.   Now of course, the decline in Jokowi’s popularity was more likely to do with unfulfilled expectations in terms of the slow development of infrastructure projects, rising fuel costs and political tensions among other things and not due to the lack of social media postings, but one couldn’t help but notice the return of regular nationalistic, campaign-like postings to social media that began again in June and then shortly there after an apparent increase in popularity. 

Former Indonesian president Susilo Bambang Yudhoyono recently took to Twitter to communicate his concern about the draft bill being introduced to the House of Representatives by the government about libel and defamation towards the presidency, and urged Jokowi not to over react.

UK Prime Minister David Cameron painted himself as a friendly, fun-loving guy on his recent visit to Jakarta venturing out into the street market, eating pisang goreng made by stall owner Ibu Djuna and then posing for a quick selfie with Ibu Djuna and Indonesian actress and singer Maudy Ayunda.  This selfie was then uploaded to Instagram, Twitter, shared, liked and commented on, picked up by media and ran in many commentary articles globally.  When you consider the old saying ‘a picture is worth a thousand words’ then what is the value of that thousand words shared millions of times around the world and in a national population who uses this medium as their regular source of information?

Has Australia cottoned-on yet?  The Australian Embassy in Jakarta has an active and positive social media presence; Facebook, Instagram (great pics!), and the ambassador Paul Grigson is often tweeting about his activities in Indonesia and retweeting cooperative and collaborative events between our countries.  Our foreign minister Julie Bishop, also a great user of social media using it to celebrate her team’s recent win at the local Australian Football League derby (we let you have that one Jules! Go Dockers!) and highlighted her recent talks with Indonesia’s foreign minister Retno Marsudi with photographs. 

On Monday 17th of August, 2015 both the embassy, ambassador and our foreign minister posted congratulatory and celebratory notes and images to acknowledge the 70th anniversary of Indonesia’s Independence.  

Whilst I am not proposing that social media is the answer to recovering our dwindling relations, as a tool in ‘people-to-people’ relations, changing perceptions (in both countries), and connecting with the greater populous a quick snap of both Indonesians and Australians immersed in each other’s cultures can go a long way, especially if they are our leaders!

Worth thinking about.

#digitaldiplomacy #foodforthought #pisanggorengenaksekali

In the collection of articles below you’ll find the lecture recording from our recent collaborated event here in Perth, a couple of short videos, and a collection of news articles from recent happenings in the Indo-Aus arena.  

We'd also like to send a big congratulations to the recently announced  thirty delegates for the The Conference of the Australian and Indonesian Youth (CAUSINDY) to be held in Darwin later this year.  You can meet them here.

Sampai kali depan, 



ASEAN Economic Community 2015 and The Potential of Indonesia - Ambassador's Dialogue with H.E. I Gede Ngurah Swajaya, Chairman of the Indonesian Economic Diplomacy Task Force and Indonesia's Ambassador to ASEAN.  Many thanks to the Perth USAsia for making available the lecture recording for the collaborated event with AIBC and Indonesia Institute.


ACICIS Great little video documenting the experience of students and teachers of Scotch College, Western Australia in their school tour with the Australian Consortium for 'In-Country' Indonesian Studies (ACICIS).

The Baduy Tribe in West Java trying to protect their culture and traditions from outside influence.

News Articles

Lest We Forget Australia's Role In Indonesian Independence, by Johannes Nugroho (August 2015).

Indonesian Cabinet Reschuffle: Experts Respond, by Philips Vermonte, Agustinus Prasetyantoko and Yohanes Sulaiman (August 2015).

Indonesia-Australia Relationship will Flourish with Long-Term Vision, Nadjib Riphat Kesoema, Indonesia Ambassador to Australia (August 2015).

Getting Up Close and Personal with Indonesia, by Duncan Graham (August 2015) in New Mandela.

Australia Needs to Figure Out It's Own Place in Asia, by Endy Bayuni and Sabam Siagian (August 2015).

Australia-Indonesia: A Marriage of Inconvenience, by Ristian Suprianto (August 2015).

Indonesia's Economy Has Stopped Emerging, by William Pesek (August 2015).

Andrew Robb Plans Indonesian Trade Mission to Rebuild Bilateral Ties, by Greg Earl (August 2015).

Canadian in Indonesia Child Abuse Case Freed, by Dessy Sagita (August 2015).

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