Thursday, September 04, 2014

The New Indonesia and Its Challenges

The victory of Joko Widodo or Jokowi, as many Indonesian affectionately call him, in Indonesia's 2014 presidential election truly is the watershed moment for this great archipelagic nation. Now, many people expect that the next five years will be a period where genuine democracy will be practiced and safeguarded, past human rights violation will be brought to court --at least push toward the court-- and discrimination based on religion and ethnicity will soon be punishable, especially in the case of Syiah and Ahmadiyyah followers. In the economy front, people now is hoping for a more bold move to end the fuel subsidy, narrowing the inequality level between the wealthy and the poor and more emphasize on creative industries, steping away from our dependency toward oil and gas industries.

Can all be realized by Jokowi's administration?

Few have doubts or question the intention of the new president. Almost everyone agree that Jokowi has his policies' priorities in the right place, but many agree that the task will be daunting, even near impossible. When so many things have gone right in the election, at the same time, many things can still go wrong. More so, since the foundation that create Indonesia in the last couple of decades remain unchanged.

We can take a few sector as case studies. First the police and the judiciary system in general. The police, attorney general office and the court have not undergo the necessary reform they truly need. The structure of power remain intact, where police officers climbs their way up not through a full meritocracy system but via a patchwork of promotion system that relies heavily on connections and cliques. The prosecutors and the judges are not better off, which is why it is very hard to find a figure from within the law enforcement institution that can lead the reform from within.

Another sector is the political arena. We may complement the General Election Committee for its applaudable works in organizing the presidential election, but do not forget that just a couple of months ago, we criticize the same institution heavily for the lack of order in their vote counting mechanism in the legislative election, last April. A number of complaints were lodged in, without apparent result. It is clear that KPU has not develop a robust-anti fraud mechanism in the legislative election.

And we havent discuss the media sector yet. The election showed us how divisive the media were and how vulnerable our newsroom to pressure and intervention from its owner. We witnessed in embarrasment how formerly respected TV stations with its highly regarded journalists and news anchor turned out to be just a mouth-piece for the politician who happened to own their media. We also watched in disbelieve how institution that were tasked with the responsibility to make sure all of this never happened, stood helpless, unable to enact a single punishment for the repeated offender.

All of this has to change. Without changing this very foundation, the fundamental sectors which supported the old-corrupt-bloated Indonesia, we will never be able to realize the change people were hoping when they elect a modest man from Solo to be our next president. (*)