Tuesday, February 10, 2009

Another Thought on The Election

Well, we're advancing fast toward the election now. Almost everybody is ready by now. All parties have geared up their campaign machinery, and now seems like have exhausted everything possible on their effort to win. But, somehow, I dont think this election will really deliver a genuine chance for Indonesian to have a real, elected representatives to fight for their interests.

First of all, there is the question of money. Indonesian politics are expensive. If you want a shoot and try to join the big league --i.e. the national parliament-- you have at least have several hundred millions rupiah at your disposal. A friend of mine said he spent almost 200 million IDR within six months of campaigning. And thats small numbers, compared with what the others has spent.

Because of that, only rich people can compete in this election. To cover their lack of power-base, they hire local people to act as their liason officer in the field. They spread money, arrange public meeting, and mobilize voters to the polling booth. They are paid with good money.

Candidates with no ties to financial sources are left with no hope to win. Another friend, a former journalist, tries his luck competing for a local parliament seat, and he said he has no chance whatsoever. "My competitor is a local bussinesman, he owns a big property company in my city, and he's willing to spend a fortune to win," he said.

I think there is something wrong with this system. Real grass root politician, with good networking, clear vision and a call to serve its community does not stand a chance. Unless, he's good at fundraising, making contacts with bussines people and offer them something in return for financial backing. But, thats not easy either. My friend has tried and failed. "In one case, the bussinesman himself is also running, so obviously he cannot support me. In another case, the bussinesman ask for a big favor in return, which I cant accept because its againsts my constituents' interest," he said.

In the end, after the election, I'm almost certain we'll see a parliament packed of rich, well-connected people, that is out of touch with the real person that live nearby. Half of them will be people who already bought by another group of rich people --who prefer to use someone else and dont want to do the dirty work themselves. Off course, there will be some exception, but they are so small in numbers to hardly trigger something meaningful.

Am I sound too sceptic? Lets see if I'm right or wrong after the election.