This is a translation of an article (in bhs. Indonesia) published in the daily newspaper Kompas last Saturday
At a Cultural Dialogue held in Taman Ismail Marzuki in Jakarta last Saturday, presidential candidate Prabowo said that the Indonesian nation is a product of the West and difficult to fix because it (the political system?) has already been applied to the system in Indonesia.
According to Prabowo, it is necessary to form a new consensus.
“Consciously or unconsciously we are disciplined by the western elite, including Bung Karno, Bung Hatta, Bung Sjahrir, and including myself. We are products of the West.”
He added that information that comes from the West is considered to be superior. It’s in the nature of the Indonesian culture of respect for the teacher. When there is a teacher makes a suggestion, we accept it as something that must be obeyed.
The former commander of Kopassus added that Indonesia has implemented a Western political culture which overlays the culture of Indonesia. “Though not suitable, it is what we’ve got. including direct elections,” said Prabowo.
He likens them to an opium addiction, something pleasantly addictive, which should be stopped..
Prabowo added that much of the Indonesian economic political system is opposed to the philosophical foundation, laws, and traditions of Indonesia. To that end, according to Prabowo, there needs to be a mutual agreement to fix the system in Indonesia where it is already oriented to the West.
“We need a new consensus. Political leaders, intellectuals, religious, cultural, and even labor. I do not want to lose the cultural values of our ancestors,” he explained.
He wants to hold a large gathering on a national scale to discuss how to form a new consensus. Because, at this time, in the name of democracy, then all policies are established through voting, especially direct elections.
“Much of the Indonesian economic political system” was put in place by Suharto’s group of technocrats including Prabowo’s father. He, his brother and many of his cronies, including Aburizal Bakrie, have become obscenely wealthy through manipulating that system.
What are the “philosophical foundation, laws, and traditions of Indonesia”?
Presumably he is referring to those of his former father-in-law, President Suharto, who used the military to quash dissent, and rigged elections so that parliament was completely under his thumb, reaching all decisions by consensus. Dissent was rarely tolerated.
I am a little surprised by Prabowo’s list of who he’d invite to his “large gathering”. “Even labor”?
Would that be the group of workers at PT Kiani Kertas, a pulp and paper company in Berau East Kalimantan, formerly owned by Prabowo?
In August 2006, the company began a campaign of intimidation (.pdf) against the trade union federation of Forestry and Agriculture workers (HUKATAN-KSBSI). and at least 167 of the total of 370 members of KSBSI in the company were dismissed.
In 2007, this letter (pdf) was sent to Merrill Lynch, Australia and New Zealand Banking Group (ANZ), Cornell Capital, Development Bank of Singapore (DBS), and Cellmark from 93 NGOs in 27 Countries regarding Environmental, Social and Financial risks related to the United Fiber Systems pulp and chip mills and [its purchase of] the Kiani Kertas pulp mill in Kalimantan, Indonesia.
The letter alleges money laundering, significant environmental damage, including the illegal destruction of coral reefs, and that Kiana Kertas, and politically wired and corrupt Suharto cronies hiding behind a web of shell companies.
It is ‘democracy’ which enables those of us who are not part of the self-declared élite to discover the truth – and no, I’m not going to cover my back by using the word ‘alleged’ – about those who wish to continue grabbing what they can of Indonesia’s resources and to exploit the long-sought and fought for rights of the population in the name of the “philosophical foundation, laws, and traditions of Indonesia”.
What we are seeing in Prabowo’s speech is a barely disguised lust for power, one which Edward Aspinall and Marcus Mietzner describe as “vote for me, but just the once“.
This is perhaps the most explicit statement so far of Prabowo’s attitude to electoral democracy. He has stated in the past that democracy ‘exhausts us’, that he wishes to create a ‘productive’ rather than ‘destructive’ democracy, and has indirectly signaled an intent to dismantle much of the infrastructure of post-Suharto democracy by returning to the original version of the 1945 Constitution. Only now do we see that Prabowo very likely also wants to dismantle the very mechanism that will bring him to power: direct presidential elections.
Can this country really stomach another dictator?
Afterword (fr. the Jakarta Post, but not yet online)
Rather than accepting Prabowo’s condescension towards the “labor”, the Indonesian Prosperity Trade Union (SBSI) and the Indonesian Workers Union (KSPI) have declared their support for Jokowi.
“Jokowi encourages people to be more civilzed, not only people who are close to him, but regular folks like parking attendants* and becak drivers.”
*Presumably those who are not members of extortionist gangs.
In the same article, the Indonesian Employer’s Association (Apindo) chairman Sofjan Wanadi said that that the public’s support for Jokowi could be considered the people’s power, which could translate into change.
He said, “I’ve felt that we have been searching for this kind of leader.”