2019 Bali Democracy Media and Civil Society Forum on Rising Exclusivity and Declining Democracy

The Friedrich-Ebert-Stiftung Indonesia office was invited for the second time by the Indonesian Ministry of Foreign Affairs to be a co-host of the Bali Civil Society and Media Forum (BCSMF) at the 12th Bali Democracy Forum (BDF), in December 2019 in Nusa Dua, Bali.

Under the overarching topic of "Democracy and Inclusivity" the 12th BDF addressed the question, what level of inclusivity is needed to guarantee a stable democracy. This reflects the consensus that a democracy cannot be sustainable, if its only confined to the electoral process, by having parliamentary debates or enacting laws. Success of democracy is instead judged by the extent to which all people have the opportunity to contribute to democratic process; and the extent of their equal access in benefiting from the fruits of democracy. The welfare and care of every single member of the society, especially underprivileged, marginalized and the excluded, needs to be taken into consideration. Inclusive democracy must necessarily evolve into inclusive development; development not taken narrowly as only economic progress but also ensuring economic and social justice to every section of population.

In her BDF opening speech Indonesian foreign Minister Retno Marsudi correspondingly emphasized the strong correlation of freedom, inclusivity and democracy. Based on this, she diagnosed a higher level of fragility and unrest across the region as well as worldwide. As one recipe she suggested to empower the millennial generation and to involve more women in decision-making and in preserving peace and inclusion.

Accordingly another focus area of the 2019 BDF debates was women leadership; which was prominently highlighted in Retno Marsudi´s panel discussion with Marise Payne, Australian Minister for Foreign Affairs and for Women; Monica Juma, Cabinet Secretary for Foreign Affairs of the Republic of Kenya as well as Nandi Ndaitwah, Minister for International Relations and Cooperation of Namibia.

At the Bali Democracy Media and Civil society Forum (BCSMF) experts from civil society and media discussed under the topic "Rising exclusivity and declining democracy" the current challenges for democracies worldwide as well as possible remedies. In this spirit, the BCSMF experts also debated the exclusion in digital space, the challenge of fragmented opinion making through information filter bubbles as well as hate speech and hoaxes.

According to Anita Wahid, representative of the Indonesian Anti-hoax association and daughter of former Indonesian president Abdurrahman Wahid, we are challenged by a post-truth era, in which its more important, if a certain message is in favor of my group and not, if its true and fact-based.

Syahredzan Johan, human rights lawyer from Malaysia, explained in his presentation Malaysia's experience with the introduction and abolishment of the Malaysian fake news law. Introduced under the former authoritarian government in Malaysia, it was removed by the current democratically legitimized government in Malaysia. However, also the current democratic government is still looking for the right formula to guarantee freedom of speech on the one hand, while preventing hate speech and hoax, Syahredzan explained.

Dr. Hasan Wirajuda former Indonesian Minister of Foreign Affairs and founder of the Bali Democracy Forum pointed out in his presentation that the US is not anymore the beacon of democracy, Europe is struggling mostly with its one problems, while economically successful countries like China are challenging weakened liberal democracies. Against this background Hasan Wirajuda emphasized the need for liberal democracies to guarantee a high level of inclusion and respectively social justice.

"Social Justice is nothing else but economic democracy"
Hasan Wirajuda

Prof. Mohammad Nuh, chairman of the Indonesian press council, reflected in his presentation about the conditions to guarantee quality press freedom under the current challenges.

"Media sustainability in the digital era becomes crucial"
Prof. Mohammad Nuh

The 2019 BCSMF build on the 2018 BCSMF, which was dedicated to the topic of "Populism, Identity Politics and the Erosion of democracy". As a testimony of the 2018 BCSMF the FES Indonesia office, together with the Indonesian Ministry of Foreign Affairs and with support of Kemenko PMK, produced a book with related papers of distinguished 2018 BCSMF experts. The book was launched officially at the 2019 BCSMF through a handover ceremony.

The book is available for download under the following link:

[EN] Populism, Identity Politics and the Erosion of Democracies in the 21st Century : A Reflection from Bali Civil Society and Media Forum 2018

[ID] Populisme, Politik Identitas dan Erosi Demokrasi di Abad ke 21 : Refleksi dari Forum Masyarakat Sipil dan Media Bali 2018

ISBN: 978-602-8866-25-5

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