Date of Award


Degree Type


Degree Name

Master of Philosophy (MPHIL)


Political Sciences

First Advisor

Prof. Brian J.E. Bridges

Second Advisor

Prof. Peter W. Baehr


Indonesia is the fourth most heavily populated nation in the world with over 210 million inhabitants. Almost half of all Southeast Asians live in Indonesia, and it is also the world’s most populated Muslim nation. These features make it a crucial country in the Southeast Asian Region, as well as in the world. Therefore, the national security of this country is very important to the region and the world.

Security or national security covers dealing with the threat(s) to the state, so, in order to study this issue, we need to identify what kind of threat is behind the scenario.

Indonesia’s post-independence political history has been dominated by two long serving presidents. During Sukarno’s period (1949-1965), external or conventional military threats ranked the highest priority in the agenda of national security; but after the fall of Sukarno in 1965, under Suharto’s New Order (1966-1998), the focus was changed to internal threats, such as secessionist movements, religious conflicts, radicalism and so on. The security goals of the New Order government were to maintain sovereignty, unity, integrity and stability though economic development and military suppression. However, in May 1998, anti-government demonstrations (Reformasi Movement) make Suharto step down. Within 2 years, the presidency of Indonesia changed 3 times, from Suharto to Habibie; from Habibie to Wahid; and from Wahid to Megawati. In addition, after the September 11th incident, the whole international environment has changed as well. Therefore, is there any change to the national security parameters of Indonesia in such a new era?

The purpose to this research project is to find out what has happened to Indonesian national security priorities in the post-Suharto period. To a certain extent, the security goals of those post-Suharto governments are almost the same as during the Suharto period---maintaining national unity and integrity plus restoring Indonesia’s international creditability, in order to achieve a stable country. However, after the September 11th incident, the world has been pushed on to a “war on terror” led by United States, and the explosion on the island of Bali in October 2002 have suddenly put Southeast Asia on the frontline of the “war on terror” and heightened concerns about the threat of terrorism to Indonesia’s national security and its national credibility. Therefore, will terrorism become a new threat to Indonesia? How deep is the impact that terrorist activities can make on Indonesia?

In order to answer the above questions, this thesis will be focusing on three aspects; firstly, how terrorism intensifies the pre-existing internal security threats of Indonesia. Secondly, the emergence of ‘new terrorism’ in the contemporary Indonesian political economy. Thirdly, the limitations on or difficulties for the Indonesian government in tackling terrorism.

Recommended Citation

Lau, W. Y. W. (2004). Terrorism: A new threat for Indonesia?: An analysis on the national security of Indonesia in the post-Suharto period (Master's thesis, Lingnan University, Hong Kong). Retrieved from