IBRAHIM ISA – FOCUS ON INDONESIA
Friday, 01 August 2014
A NEW STEP FORWARD ALONG INDONESIA'S ROAD TO DEMOCRACY
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--- A Farewell to the New Order With Jokowi?
--- The Coalition Partners: Indonesia’s Next Administration
--- Pressing Forward in Tolerance and Unity
--- True Leadership Defends Minorities
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A Farewell to the New Order With Jokowi?
By Erwida Maulia on 11:30 pm Jul 23, 2014
President-Elect Joko Widodo, center, prepares to address supporters at a rally to celebrate his victory in the general election at a Proclamation Park in Jakarta on July 23, 2014. (AFP Photo/Romeo Gacad)
For many observers, Jokowi, as the country’s soon-to-be seventh president is popularly known, represents the best break from Indonesia’s dark past because he was never a part of the New Order.
Jokowi, 53, was born into a low-income family and raised in the sleepy Central Java town of Solo, before getting into business making and selling wood furniture.He only entered politics in 2005 — seven years after the fall of the strongman Suharto, the architect of the New Order — when he ran for mayor of Solo and won, with the support of the Indonesian Democratic Party of Struggle, or PDI-P, which was long the thorn in the New Order’s side.
He was re-elected in 2010 with more than 90 percent of the vote, before leaving mid-office to run for governor of Jakarta in 2012. Two short years and a media frenzy later, Jokowi has been named the winner of the 2014 presidential election.
That history, observers say, is tellingly clear of any ties with the New Order — unlike the track record of his opponent, Prabowo Subianto, who was a military general under Suharto and was even married to the dictator’s daughter until 1998.
During his time in the military, Prabowo commanded the Army Special Forces, or Kopassus, a feared killing squad, and later the Army Strategic Reserves, or Kostrad, before being discharged for his involvement in the abduction of pro-democracy activists who had been agitating for Suharto’s resignation.
But his checkered human rights record began much earlier, with allegations of involvement in the killings of civilians in the then-occupied territory of East Timor.“Jokowi doesn’t have past burdens, like Prabowo; he’s not among alleged perpetrators of human rights abuses,” Asvi Marwan Adam, a historian at the Indonesian Institute of Sciences, or LIPI, tells the Jakarta Globe.
“He also doesn’t give promises [of political posts] to members of his coalition — unlike the case with Prabowo and SBY [President Susilo Bambang Yudhoyono],” he adds.
“With Jokowi as president, there’s a bigger possibility that we can finally resolve the human rights abuses of the past, and I certainly hope he will be able to settle them.”
Asvi says it helps that Jokowi’s PDI-P, whose chairwoman, Megawati Soekarnoputri, Sukarno’s daughter, was in the opposition during the New Order’s 32-year rule.
The same cannot be said of Prabowo, whose biggest coalition partner is the Golkar Party — Suharto’s very own political vehicle, whose ranks are still studded with holdovers from the dictator’s era.But many of the key people Jokowi has surrounded himself with do have links to the New Order, says Bonnie Triyana, the founder of Historia magazine.
Most notable among them is Jokowi’s running mate, Jusuf Kalla, who chaired Golkar from 2004 to 2009. There is also Wiranto, the chairman of the People’s Conscience Party, or Hanura, a coalition partner, who served as the last military chief of staff under Suharto.
Other Suharto-era generals, long since retired, have flocked around Jokowi, including A.M. Hendropriyono, a former head of the State Intelligence Agency, or BIN, who has been accused of, but never charged over, a deadly military crackdown on civilian protesters in Talangsari, Lampung, in 1989.
Also in Jokowi’s inner circle are the Wanandi brothers, Jusuf and Sofjan, prominent businessmen who owed their fortunes to their close ties with the Suharto regime.
“As an individual, Jokowi is relatively clean compared with other leaders,” Bonnie says. “He’s also spoken about how he wants to solve the case of the disappearance of Wiji Tukul, who was also from Solo.”
Wiji, a poet, was among 13 pro-democracy activists kidnapped in the unrest that led to Suharto’s resignation in 1998. He has never been seen since.
“But looking at the people behind Jokowi,” Bonnie goes on, “and given that political horse-trading is inevitable in a democracy like ours, it will be difficult” to cut all ties with the New Order.
Arguably the most serious of the past abuses that Jokowi will be expected to address is the purge from 1965-66 of suspected members and sympathizers of the Indonesian Communist Party, or PKI, in which up to a million people were estimated to have been killed.
The Yudhoyono has categorically refused to open an inquiry into the matter (the president’s late father-in-law, Sarwo Edhie Wibowo, was one of the military generals who led the pogrom), and school textbooks continue to propagate the lie that the communists had to be exterminated because they had attempted a coup to unseat then-president Sukarno.
Independent historians agree that the PKI was simply a scapegoat for the military as it sought to wrest power from Sukarno.
“The new government and the state must be able to guarantee justice [...] including the resolution of past human rights abuses,” Bonnie says. “What important is the political will. It is important for the state to admit that there were past violations and to apologize for them.”
Both Bonnie and Asvi see Kalla as helping rather than hindering on this front, despite his association with Golkar.
“Although he was part of the New Order, he has been a proven peacemaker for Indonesia, mediating in conflicts in Aceh and Poso,” Asvi says.
Kalla is also expected to rally support from Golkar legislators, who will comprise the second-biggest bloc when the new House of Representatives goes into session in September, to help push through government programs and policies.Bonnie notes that the New Order has left behind more than just unanswered rights abuse cases.
“Our perspective, the way we look at things, is still very much influenced by the New Order,” he says.
He cites the popular notion that Yudhoyono is a dithering and indecisive leader, pointing out that the corollary is that people feel nostalgic about what they perceive as Suharto’s strong leadership.
Prabowo has preyed on this sentiment, exploiting it to garner nearly half of all votes in the July 9 election.“Since the fall of Suharto, our enemy is the New Order’s legacy,” Bonnie says. “Jokowi’s win, we hope, will change all that.”
Indonesia’s Next Administration
By Johannes Nugroho on 12:05 am Aug 01, 2014
(JG Graphic/Josep Tri Ronggo Laksono)Rumors abound amid lobbying by political parties to form parliamentary coalitions in the lead-up to the next administration under President-Elect Joko Widodo and Vice President-Elect Jusuf Kalla.
The amended Constitution grants the House of Representatives a crucial role in the legislative process. That necessitates strong parliamentary support for the country’s chief executive, especially for one who has promised such great changes.
The question is which partners will best complement the new leadership, and who will ensure that crucial programs aren’t derailed in the legislative process.The coalition that supported Joko’s candidacy comprises the Indonesian Democratic Party of Struggle (PDI-P), the National Democrat Party (NasDem) the National Awakening Party (PKB) and the People’s Conscience Party (Hanura).
Based on the results of the legislative elections, these parties will secure 207 of 560 seats in the House, which is roughly 37 percent — a figure far from a majority.
After the Constitutional Court affirms Joko’s electoral victory later this month, more parties will have joined the government’s parliamentary coalition. In order to realize the best possible government, Joko would need to nail down a majority in the House to back his administration.The challenge for Joko will be amassing support from the appropriate parties while ultimately maintaining his own political standing. The achievement of that balance will determine the political clout and future of the new administration.
Parliamentary coalitions in Indonesia, however, have a history of advancing their own party objectives over working together for an integrated government.
This outcome is the inevitable result of Indonesia’s governmental structure. Under the amended Constitution, the House’s power rivals that of the executive, but at the same time — unlike countries with parliamentary systems like Britain or Australia — the chief executive and his cabinet are independent of parliament. Hence the influence wielded by the executive in the legislative chamber must be routed through the parties, in turn elevating their position.
The current system has also produced a surplus of parties — none with an overwhelming majority — further discomposing the political arena.
To achieve a majority in the House, Joko will need around 100 more members to join his current coalition. The political grapevine has it that the Golkar Party, the United Development Party (PPP) and the Democratic Party are in secret talks with Joko and his team about possible partnerships in the House.
If those parties do indeed become his coalition partners, Joko will have the support of 70 percent of the House. While that number suggests strength, big coalitions have often shown themselves to be unwieldy in practice.
President Susilo Bambang Yudhoyono’s parliamentary coalition is a perfect example: it encompassed all the political parties in the House save the PDI-P, Hanura and Prabowo’s Great Indonesia Movement Party (Gerindra) — to poor results.
With no formidable opposition in the House, a hefty coalition train can only produce complacency. The absence of a credible challenging force is by no means a guarantee for progress.An engorged coalition makes for an uncoordinated, unfocused and unproductive administration — that is, the hallmark of the outgoing administration.
A slim majority margin of 5 to 10 percent would perhaps be more effective in keeping everyone focused on the same goals while minimizing opportunities for mercenary and disloyal behavior to develop among coalition partners.
With all this in mind, Joko may wish to extend his hand to Golkar alone and end up with 53 percent of House seats, or to partner with both Golkar and the PPP, bringing him to 60 percent. Alternatively, he could overlook Golkar and take on both the PPP and the Democrats, which would give him 54 percent.
The problem with choosing to partner with the Democrats is the overwhelming influence exerted by Yudhoyono, theparty chairman, and his family. As far as political credibility goes, it may be a wiser decision for the new administration to distance itself from its predecessor, which has been branded as indecisive.
Additionally, there is sufficient evidence that the Democrat elite hopes to preserve the survival of Yudhoyono’s dynasty in Indonesian politics. The careful grooming of Yudhoyono’s eldest son, Agus Harimurti Yudhoyono, in the military and his subtle yet consistent growth in media visibility may see Agus seek a future nomination for the presidency.Furthermore, early on in the build-up to the presidential race, the Democrats wanted to form their own coalition to nominate a candidate. They seemed eager to put forth the name of Pramono Edhie Wibowo — Yudhoyono’s brother-in-law and uncle to Agus — even though it was Dahlan Iskan who won the Democrats’ own presidential convention.
A coalition with the Democrats could therefore prove strategically unwise for Joko. It may even see the repetition of the 2004 scenario in which Yudhoyono, then a cabinet minister, resigned to challenge then-President Megawati Soekarnoputri in the election that year and won.
If the Democrats do indeed have a long-term plan to nominate their own candidate, they would provide the incoming administration with only a half-hearted partner and supporter for Joko.
Johannes Nugroho is a writer and businessman from Surabaya. He can be reached at firstname.lastname@example.org.
Editorial: Pressing Forward in Tolerance and Unity
By Jakarta Globe on 10:45 pm Jul 31, 2014
With most, if not all, of the country’s hard-line Islamic organizations supporting Prabowo Subianto and expressing deep suspicion against President-Elect Joko Widodo, the latter will face the daunting task of protecting religious minority groups across the archipelago.While the nation’s multi-ethnic founding fathers and religious groups unanimously agreed on the creation of a pluralistic state on Aug. 17, 1945 — albeit after a series of heated debates prior to Indonesia’s declaration of independence — clashes between groups of different spiritual beliefs continue to run rampant across the archipelago. A pluralistic nation seems a distant possibility, at least for some Indonesians.
In recent years, especially in the post-Suharto reformation era, Indonesia has seen an increasing number of religion-fueled violence between Muslims and Christians or among sects within Islam that have claimed the lives of thousands of people nationwide. Church closures and attacks on Ahmadis and Shiites have become a depressing staple of the regular news cycle.
Intolerance poses a grave threat to the entire nation, and if the issue is not handled carefully, we may face another equally dangerous possibility: disunity. Indonesians must not take religious tolerance for granted; we must work hard for it.
To preserve unity, it is crucial for Jokowi and his vice president-elect, Jusuf Kalla, to make the protection of minority groups a non-negotiable cornerstone of their government. They must enforce the law impartially, regardless of who perpetrates the crime and who falls victim. Finally, they must lead the country as it is celebrated in the national anthem — which was composed by Wage Rudolf Soepratman, a devoted Ahmadi.
Editorial: True Leadership Defends Minorities
By Jakarta Globe on 10:26 pm Apr 20, 2014Indonesia’s Constitution clearly sets out “Unity in Diversity,” as the nation’s foundation. Religious pluralism and freedom should be an unshakeable value for all Indonesians. We live and die to defend this foundation, because we know that once we sacrifice it for short-term political gain, we will cease to exist as a nation.
It is with this understanding that we reject any plan or movement to eliminate minorities from the country just because they are different, as radical Sunni organizations are planning against minority Shiites.
As power struggles between Shiite and Sunni in the Middle East intensify, we in Indonesia must prevent it from spreading worldwide by showing that both major sects of Islam can coexist peacefully, as has been the case here since the religion reached Indonesian shores centuries ago.
We are much too smart to allow ourselves to fall prey to hatred-sowing foreign powers wishing to use us their proxies in a war to eliminate each other. Our founding fathers, who created a masterpiece in the form of our Constitution, could and did resolve such differences, thus setting us an example of how to live in peace.
We call on Indonesians, Sunni and Shiite alike, to follow in the steps of our founding fathers, and stop invoking hatred, let alone taking part in attacks that could cost our nation as a whole. Once again we urge President Susilo Bambang Yudhoyono to step in and show no tolerance for those who are trying to divide the nation on behalf of certain religious teachings. Don’t for a moment imagine you can take advantage of the situation by taking no action.We are telling you, Mr. President, that bold, impartial action to maintain peace and defend the rights of minorities will ensure you go down in the country’s annals as a true statesman.
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