The worlds of private business and public office are deeply enmeshed in contemporary Indonesia.
At the national level and down into the districts, democratic institutions are brimming with opportunities to extort money. From elections, to party leadership ballots, to budget processes in the parliament, it can seem like Indonesia’s entire democratic system works on a foundation of business transactions. These same transactions lubricate the world of business, providing companies with access to government contracts, licenses and sometimes even regulatory reprieve. A patronage system of incessant backscratching between state officials and business elites appears to undergird Indonesia’s political economy.