Risk state and democratic response: Nuclear politics in emerging Indonesia

Crawford School of Public Policy | Arndt-Corden Department of Economics | Indonesia Project

Event details

Indonesia Study Group

Date & time

Wednesday 10 July 2013


Seminar Room 1, JG Crawford Building 132, Lennox Crossing, ANU


Sulfikar Amir, Nanyang Technological University, Singapore


Indonesia Project
+61 2 6125 5954

Additional links

The rise of Indonesia as a new economic powerhouse in Asia has one logical consequence: the growing demands for energy. One of the solutions the Indonesian government resort to for the issue of energy undersupply is nuclear power. The effort to develop nuclear energy as part of the national energy system dates back to the 1970s but not until recently it has received serious attention and considerable support from the central government.

The Fukushima nuclear disaster in Japan apparently did not render Indonesia’s nuclear ambition to retreat. Despite a large-scale opposition against nuclear power drawn by a strong anti-nuclear movement, Jakarta remains eager to build nuclear power plants in order to turn Indonesia as the first Southeast Asian nation to have nuclear power capacity. Looking at the bewildering eagerness of the Indonesian state to build technological capacity for nuclear power production, this paper delves into the epistemological and institutional factors that underpin the state’s unfettered desire for nuclear power. The interplay between technoscience and hypergrowth impulses is critically discussed to understand how the magnitude of nuclear risk is thwarted by what this paper refers to as ‘institutionalised ignorance’.

Situating the nuclear politics in a democratic environment, the last part discusses how the newly established democratic system failed to facilitate open and fair dialogues between the state and society in assessing the potential hazards that come from the proposed construction of nuclear power plant.

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