Leo Suryadinata

Senior Visiting Fellow, ISEAS - Yusof Ishak Institute

Dr Leo Suryadinata is Senior Visiting Fellow at ISEAS - Yusof Ishak Institute, and Professor (Adj.) at S. Rajaratnam School of International Studies at NTU. He was formerly Director at the Chinese Heritage Centre, NTU.

US President Joe Biden and Indonesian President Joko Widodo hold a meeting on the sidelines of the G20 Summit in Bali, Indonesia, on 14 November 2022. (Saul Loeb/AFP)

Indonesia’s leadership in G20 shines amid contention between West and Russia

With all eyes on Indonesia as the G20 chair, the summit concluded successfully as Indonesian President Joko Widodo deftly balanced the demands of the G20 members amid the Russia-Ukraine war, along with a painstakingly crafted joint declaration that addresses the war. ISEAS academic Leo Suryadinata gives us a look at how Indonesia managed to handle the situation while making it clear that the economic summit is not a platform to discuss security.
President Xi Jinping of China (left) is greeted by the President of the Indonesian Republic Joko Widodo during the formal welcome ceremony to mark the beginning of the G20 Summit on 15 November 2022 in Nusa Dua, Indonesia. (Leon Neal/Pool via Reuters)

Indonesian elites and the general public have different views of China

Presidents Xi Jinping and Joko Widodo witnessed the test "ride" of the Jakarta-Bandung High-Speed Rail (HSR) via livestream during Chinese President Xi's visit to Indonesia for the G20 Summit in Bali. Economic cooperation remain high on the cards of bilateral relations, but while China’s trade and investment in Indonesia have grown substantially since the early 2000s, the Indonesian public does not share Jakarta’s desire to wholeheartedly embrace Beijing.
Indonesian President Joko Widodo, wearing traditional Bangka Belitung outfit, greets parliament members after delivering his annual State of the Nation Address ahead of the country's Independence Day, at the parliament building in Jakarta, Indonesia, 16 August 2022. (Tatan Syuflana/Reuters)

Will Indonesia establish a University of Confucianism?

The Joko Widodo administration recently announced plans to establish the International State University of Confucianism in Bangka Belitung province. This plan has however been strongly opposed by the local Aliansi Ulama Islam (Islamic Ulama Alliance, or AUI). The success of the plan to establish the university is probably contingent on whether Joko Widodo remains in power. Should a conservative Muslim politician be elected as the next president, it is unlikely that this university will be built.
Ganjar during a site visit to Central Java where an embankment was damaged by high waves. (Ganjar Pranowo/Facebook)

Ganjar Pranowo: Indonesia’s potential presidential candidate stuck between a rock and a hard place

Among the candidates running for Indonesia’s next president, Ganjar Pranowo has emerged as a strong contender. ISEAS academic Leo Suryadinata gives a profile of Ganjar, and examines the factors that would make or break his campaign, including his previous political affiliations and current political efforts.
Indonesia's Defence Minister Prabowo Subianto gestures while attending the Gerindra Party leaders national meeting, in Bogor, Indonesia, 12 August 2022. (Willy Kurniawan/Reuters)

Prabowo Subianto: Indonesia’s controversial presidential candidate

Prabowo has been in Indonesia’s political scene for decades and his chequered past has not deterred him from multiple runs for vice-president and president. Given his support from the conservative and radical Muslims, with a potential running mate that can boost his standing, will Prabowo finally make his mark as Indonesia’s president in the 2024 elections? ISEAS academic Leo Suryadinata gives a profile of this controversial figure.
Taiwanese soldiers take part in a military drill at an undisclosed location in Taiwan, on 8 August 2022 in this handout picture released on 10 August 2022. (Taiwan Military News Agency/Handout via Reuters)

Indonesia’s elites respond to Pelosi’s Taiwan visit

Indonesia has long pursued a free and independent foreign policy that does not take sides, says ISEAS academic Leo Suryadinata. However, with increased tensions in the Taiwan Strait, the diplomatic elites and experts in Indonesia have strongly objected to US House Speaker Nancy Pelosi’s visit to Taiwan and criticised the US’s “double standards” in its foreign policy. Indonesia will therefore need to weigh its interests and consider its gains and losses in the competition between the two superpowers.
Anies Baswedan at an event in Jakarta, 22 July 2022. (Facebook/Anies Baswedan)

Anies Baswedan: Indonesia’s potential president adept at identity politics

ISEAS academic Leo Suryadinata gives a profile of Anies Baswedan, former education and culture minister of Indonesia, current Jakarta governor, and potential presidential candidate. Will he run, and if he does, what is his platform likely to be?
This file handout picture taken and released on 17 December 2019 by the Indonesian Presidential Palace shows Indonesia's President Joko Widodo (left) during his visit to North Penajam Paser district near Sepaku in East Kalimantan, where the government plans to build its new capital city replacing Jakarta. (Handout/Indonesian Presidential Palace/AFP)

Jokowi's plan for Indonesia's new capital: Who benefits?

A law recently passed by the Jokowi government regarding the relocation of the nation's capital to East Kalimantan has generated much controversy. ISEAS academic Leo Suryadinata notes that while there are objections relating to the conservation and ecology in Kalimantan, greater protests are coming from the anti-Jokowi camp that believe only a handful of wealthy people will benefit, and fear that the new capital will be controlled by foreign countries, especially China. Jokowi is in a race against time to move the capital before the next election.
Students gather as schools transition to in-classroom teaching amid the Covid-19 coronavirus pandemic in Jakarta on 3 January 2022. (Adek Berry/AFP)

China’s Islamic diplomacy in Indonesia is seeing results

China’s efforts at Islamic diplomacy — including providing scholarships for Indonesian students and inviting leaders of Islamic organisations to visit China — seem to be paying off, at least in producing young academics like Novi Basuki, who has been defending China’s actions in Xinjiang. NTU academic Leo Suryadinata tells us more.