In all the times I’ve come to Indonesia to study politics, I’ve never had cause to go to the House of Representatives until today. My first project was all about authoritarianism and the economy, so I never had cause to meet with anyone who would have been elected democratically to anything. Today, studying democratic things, the opinions of democratically elected people do indeed matter.
The DPR building is clearly on the old side and is not as nice as the Dewan Rakyat in Malaysia, which I visited a couple of times before. It is located right in one of the nicest areas of South Jakarta, and sits at the center of dozens of acres of open land. It is striking how much land they must have used to build this, and how valuable it would be today.
Two points of note. First, the security around the DPR in Indonesia is far less restrictive for Westerners than it is for the DR in Malaysia. I interpret this as the following: the (democratic) Indonesian government is more concerned about stopping terrorism than anything else, while the (authoritarian) Malaysian government is more concerned about stopping people from saying bad things about it than anything else. Second, I have noticed that the security working around government installations (both domestic ones and foreign embassies) is noticeably more multicultural than that around malls and the like. You are much more likely to see a guard with an identifiably Christian first name like Benjamin or a Portuguese last name like Reinaldo or a Balinese name like I Gde something-or-other. You are also more likely to see a security guard of eastern Indonesian extraction. I don’t know why this is.