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INDONESIAN POLITICS

INDONESIAN POLITICS

SUROWIDJOJO UPDATES

The end of May saw the Indonesian General Elections Commission (Komite PemilihanUmum,‘KPU’)declare the results ofApril’selections. KPU had since then finished the realcount of the presidential (and vice-presidential) votes, and incumbent Joko Widodo was ahead of challenger Prabowo Subianto, by a margin of almost 12%, which was in line with the exit polls conducted by most renowned polling companies. KPU also announced the victory of Jokowi-Ma’ruf for the period of 2019-2024 one day early from the projected date of 22 May, announcing on the early hours of 21 May instead. The Prabowo-Sandi side (its National Victory Agency, ‘BPN’) repudiated KPU’s results, alleging massive, planned, and systematic cheating, and on the evening of Friday, 24 May formally registered its suit with the Constitutional Court. BPN has appointed its legal team for this suit, led by former Corruption Eradication Commission (‘KPK’) Commissioner Bambang Widjojanto. Widjojanto is notably known figure, mainly due to his support of Anies Baswedan and Sandiaga Uno for the latest Jakarta gubernatorial elections, and subsequently the support of the Prabowo-Sandi 2019 ticket on BPN’s legal team.

On the afternoon of Thursday, 21 May, supporters of Prabowo-Sandi staged a peaceful protest at the Thamrin area, which is the location of the office of KPU and Bawaslu. This peaceful protest lasted until the very late evening, at some time during which the tone of the protest shifted for the worse, with observers alleging that the peaceful protesters were then being replaced by individuals intending to riot. Violent outbreaks of rioting eventually happened thereafter, with rocks being thrown at police, and vehicles being burned, and eventually Molotov explosives thrown. During the short unfortunate events of two days, 9 persons were pronounced dead. In the wake of these events, several human rights issues did arise: firstly, despite police claims that officers only carried batons and shields, and used only rubber bullets, the police did admit that one fatality died from a bullet wound, and there were also reports that some officers exacted disproportionate retribution on certain rioters and their supporters, with one event caught on camera outside a mosque. Secondly, the Government instituted a social media ban intended to limit the ability of rioters to organize, as well as to minimize the spread of fake news, but which was eventually effective to repress rumors. The remaining issues are questions on the motive of riots, alleged assassination plots of senior security officers, and people behind the scene.

Tempo journalists published a series of reports and interviews trying to explain the sequence of events. The reports could not easily be accessed by the public, as print versions of Tempo Magazine and Tempo Newspaper have been strangely sold out promptly after reaching the market, possibly due to efforts commonly practiced by certain people and organizations since the days of the New Order, in tended to limit public dissemination of controversial news. Police is now rushing the investigation, and the results are indeed needed, to prevent people from making unproductive or potentially disruptive political speculations when the Constitutional Court issues its final and binding decision on who will be the next Indonesia President and Vice President on June 28th.

In a marked contrast from the presidential elections, the legislative elections have been largely uncontroversial (though not uncontested, as already there are suits filed to the Constitutional Court). For the legislative elections, the 5 biggest winners are: the Indonesian Democratic Party of Struggle (‘PDIP’), winning 19.30% of votes, followed by Gerindra (Prabowo’s party) with 12.57% of votes, Golkar with 12.31% of votes, PKB with 9.69% of votes, and Nasdem with 9,05% of votes. The other half-dozen or so major parties in the meantime are hovering between 4.5% to 8.21% of votes. The rising Indonesian Solidarity Party (‘PSI’), popular among young voters, failed to gain the minimum of 4% of votes to meet the parliamentary threshold. PSI ran on a progressive platform of youth and women’s empowerment, diversity and the protection of minorities, transparency and integrity, and meritocracy and anti-corruption. PSI’s election failure reflects two important points: one, that the chronic reputation for corruption of other parties does not create a significant demand for a new, cleaner party; and secondly, that perhaps there is instead a more robust demand for parties with political experience.

During the hectic news cycle of the election results, another major anti-corruption news is also pertinent: Joko Widodo had determined nine members of the KPK Commissioner Candidates Selection Committee (‘Pansel KPK’) – the current KPK Commissioners will end their tenure in December of this year, and a selection process will be initiated by the Pansel KPK, filtering candidates for the President to present to the DPR, where a final selection process will take place. Historically, the role of Pansel KPK cannot be trivialized, as it is viewed in itself as part of the national anti-corruption system to filter candidates to ensure that KPK will have good leadership. Traditionally, the Pansel KPK will have well-known anti-corruption and good governance figures of good reputation.

This time, there have been media outcry that the Pansel KPK has been stocked with several people not expected to be able to deliver the new KPK dream team to effectively reduce corruption in the country. The fight against anti-corruption should be on the forefront of President Jokowi’s mind: having won his re-election, he should be more at ease and have more room to concentrate on anti-corruption efforts. If anything, history should teach us all that even the most robust infrastructure revolution will buckle under a system rotted through by corruption.

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