ABSTRACT

INTRODUCTION The populist critique of New Order economic policy discussed in Chapter 5 has persisted into the 1980s and 1990s. In fact, we suggest that since the late 1980s there has been a strengthening of this challenge, especially amongst non-state critics, as a response to what is seen by some to be the negative consequences of the gradual economic liberalisation initiated by the government earlier in the decade. Statistnationalism has been attacked because of the opportunities for corruption and the abuse of state power which it presents. Populist critics of New Order economic policy also continue to emphasise the undesirable consequences of an unconstrained market – fearing that economic liberalisation would merely expose the poorer sections of society to greater exploitation. As we have seen in Chapter 6, the fall of international oil prices – which forced the state to retreat from many economic activities it previously dominated – resulted in the strengthening of the position of liberal advocates of the free market. Echoing the populist critique of the 1970s, they emphasise the state’s responsibility to protect the weak and to ensure that development results in the improvement of their welfare. Not surprisingly, a constant target of their attack is the gap between rich and poor in contemporary Indonesian society.