Indonesians Speak: The Top 5 Most Important Issues Facing Indonesia in 2023

What do Indonesians think about the current state of Indonesia? What are the most critical issues facing the country? Across the board and by a relatively significant margin, the ranking of Stage 2 of The Citizens’ Agenda Indonesia signalled one important issue: Poverty and Precarity. Despite Indonesia’s rapid economic development, many people are still concerned about access to clean water and food, social security, and job security.

Responses were quite diverse, but our ranking shows that Indonesians are also very concerned about Digital Rights and Freedom of Expression, Healthcare, Corruption, and Public Infrastructure and Urban Rights.

Issues of the rights of minority groups such as Disability Rights, Gender Justice, and Indigenous Customary Land Rights also ranked quite highly, as did Labour Welfare, Climate Change, and Education.

The ranking was done with a scoring system, with the first ranking scoring 22 points and the last scoring one point. With this system, an issue can rank quite highly if enough people vote on it constantly despite the issue not being their topmost priority. These results were compiled from 1,467 responses from across Indonesia. As in Stage 1, we collected the responses from New Naratif’s survey portal and Vase.ai.


Results

  1. 🏘 POVERTY AND PRECARITY – How can we ensure access to clean water and food for all? How can we improve social security and pensions? How can we improve job security when hiring criteria have become inaccessible for the underprivileged?
  2. 📱 DIGITAL RIGHTS & FREEDOM OF EXPRESSION – How can we ensure that our privacy is protected? How do we protect our freedom of expression in the age of increasing online brigading and censorship? How do we handle the misuse of artificial intelligence in producing fake news and images? How do we navigate around the UU ITE?
  3. 🏥 HEALTHCARE – How do we ensure everyone across Indonesia has equal access to quality healthcare? How can life expectancies be improved? How can we improve access to nutrition and healthcare facilities to prevent stunting? How can we demand a more responsive government when it comes to issues of public health?
  4. 💸 CORRUPTION – How can we eradicate corruption and practices such as nepotism? What is a suitable punishment for corruption? What does corruption look like, and who is involved in perpetuating it?
  5. 🏙 PUBLIC INFRASTRUCTURE & URBAN RIGHTS – How can we demand a better public transport infrastructure and more affordable housing? How can we demand more walkable and green spaces in our cities? How do we improve air quality in our cities? What role does artificial intelligence play in improving our existing and upcoming infrastructure projects? What is the best way to handle forced evictions of vulnerable urban populations?

Click here for an interactive data studio presentation, including a breakdown of demographic data. If you would like to learn more about our methodology, please visit the Agenda Warga landing page.


Analysis and Observations

Poverty remains the most pressing issue on people’s minds

There were many economic issues brought up in the survey, including economic growth, equitable development, and labour welfare, but poverty outranked all of these by far. Unlike Malaysia and Singapore, living costs did not become an explicit issue in Stage 1. Instead, poverty and precarity are mostly framed as access to clean water and food, the accessibility of the job market, and social security and pensions. This suggests that the economic inequality between the rich and poor in Indonesia is much more pronounced and palpable to the everyday people compared to Malaysia and Singapore.

Indonesians are very concerned about their digital rights

Apart from the concerns of equality to fundamental necessities, our reports also show that Indonesians are very much concerned about their digital rights.

From the numerous instances of data leaks and willful abuse of the UU ITE against citizens, Indonesians do not feel safe in the digital sphere. This anxiety, we would extrapolate, also has to do with the shrinking digital civic spaces that have become a primary channel for Indonesians to voice their concerns regarding the said issue of access and poverty, as well as other issues in the country.

Indonesians strongly push for inclusiveness for the disabled population

Although none of the minority rights issues made it into the Top 5, they still ranked relatively highly. The issue of disability rights, however, ranked most highly compared to all other issues of minority rights. For a country where decent sidewalks for able-bodied pedestrians are still quite rare, it’s astonishing–in a very good way–that inclusive access to public facilities is always on people’s minds. This issue also encompasses access to education and work for the disabled, as well as eradication of ability-based violence and discrimination in those spaces. Once again, this indicates a very good progress towards diversity, equality, and inclusion.

Gender justice is not only a concern for women or young people

Despite rarely being ranked as the most crucial issue, gender justice is a consistent concern across the board. This concern encompasses gender equality, as well as the eradication of gender-based violence in the workplace, schools, and the domestic environment. What was a little surprising to learn was that this remains roughly the same across all demographics–respondents across all genders and all age groups seem to agree that gender justice is a crucial issue. This indicates the awareness regarding gender justice has become quite well-socialised and that the issue impacts society as a whole, despite harming marginalised genders more than others.

Climate change becomes a concern when it directly affects the quality of life

Climate change as a whole was not ranked as a Top 5 issue for Indonesia, in spite of its urgency. However, once its effects become palpable on the quality of life of Indonesians, this becomes more significant. The issue becomes a lot more pressing when combined with related issues such as air pollution in cities or indigenous rights in the more remote areas.

Indonesians do not care about virtue-oriented politics

Indonesian politicians tend to push for their electability by platforming certain values: patriotism and nationalism for the more conservative, or tolerance and diversity for the more progressive. None of these ranked in any significant way in our survey, indicating that these kinds of virtue-signalling are rather outdated for Indonesia. Jokowi’s promises of bureaucratic reform and historical transparency–although we firmly believe they should still be pursued–are also ranked among the lowest of issues that concern Indonesians.

Indonesians want a more robust and healthy democracy

On the other hand, issues relating to the way politics is conducted–namely political fairness (keeping promises, avoiding slander, etc.), political awareness, and civic participation–ranks relatively highly amongst our participants. Coupled with the point above, we can conclude that Indonesians are pushing for less virtue-oriented politics and a more robust and healthy democracy.

Conclusion & Next Steps

The people have spoken! Indonesians are primarily concerned with structural poverty and socio-economic precarity. Extensively, they express nearly as much concern about the shrinking civic spaces for healthy dialogues on social media, given the ongoing encroachment of authoritarian censorship and surveillance on civic rights. Corruption remains a challenge, and along with it, so does the quality of public infrastructure and access to healthcare, education, and job security.

Do you agree with these sentiments? What would you put as your Top 5 Issues? Become a member and join our Democracy Classrooms for Agenda Warga, where you can take part in further discussions on these issues and what must be done. The earliest is coming up in December, with more to come as we prepare for our 2024 General Elections.

Look forward to more explainers and analyses of these results in the coming months!

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Did you know we also surveyed Singaporeans and Malaysians? Here are the Top 5 Issues for 2022 in Singapore and Malaysia. Both were just as concerned about the economy as Indonesians, although both Singaporeans and Malaysians tend to frame it as the rising cost of living instead of issues of extreme poverty and inequality.

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