SEAF advises film on Indonesian democracy

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Donald K. Emmerson, director of the Southeast Asian Forum, with Indonesia's President Susilo Bambang Yudhoyono and Kristiani Herawati, the President's wife.
Photo credit: 
Image courtesy Donald K. Emmerson

Following the resignation of Indonesia's authoritarian president Soeharto in 1998, the country underwent an extraordinary political transformation. Since 2006 Indonesia has been ranked by Freedom House as the only "free" country in Southeast Asia. President Susilo Bambang Yudhoyono (SBY) has proudly promoted his homeland's status as the third largest democracy, after India and the United States, and the largest Muslim-majority democracy as well.

In recognition of this achievement, the World Movement for Democracy chose to hold its Sixth Assembly in Indonesia. In April 2010, SEAF director Donald K. Emmerson traveled to Jakarta to attend the event and to arrange interviews with local political figures for a documentary film on democracy in developing countries. Also involved in the filming were Larry Diamond and Hicham Ben Abdallah, respectively the director of and a visiting scholar at Stanford's Center on Democracy, Development, and the Rule of Law.

One of the Indonesian interviewees was SBY himself, pictured above at the presidential palace with his wife Kristiani Herawati and Prof. Emmerson on the day of the filming. The president took the occasion very seriously, carefully preparing his answers and conveying them clearly in fluent English. The film will also feature Malaysia's experience with democracy, including the travails of opposition politician Anwar Ibrahim. 

The documentary's producer, Appleseed Entertainment, hopes to release it in 2011-12.