Editorial: Is Indonesia Running in Circle?

Editorial Omong-Omong

3 min read

Prabowo Subianto and Gibran Rakabuming Raka have been declared the winner of the 2024 presidential elections. But it is within the constitutional right of the other two pairs of candidates – Anies Baswedan & Muhaimin Iskandar, and Ganjar Pranowo-Mahfud MD – to launch a legal attempt to challenge the election results formally announced by the Election Commission on Wednesday.

Nobody should mock or ridicule these losing candidates for resorting to the path guaranteed by the Constitution. Nobody should have the right to brand them denialist just because they have reasons and facts to believe that the election has been rigged and they have been robbed.

In fact, for the sake of Indonesia’s democracy, it is the right thing to do. They just must do it. In fact, for the sake of our own livelihood, all of us who still have a common sense and decency must join forces to protest against one of the biggest cheats and robberies in the history of the nation – on the street if we must.

Like what Anies Baswedan said in a video responding to KPU’s announcement, such attempts are necessary to at least prevent such irregularities and cheating become a normalcy, being repeated as a habit in the future, adding that he owes it to around 40 million Indonesians who have voted him.

But almost two years of fight against a powerful regime have taken its tolls. Most people are already fatigue and being fed up with politics of lies now. And whether it’s by design or not, just luck on the part of Prabowo the timing of the announcement is not helping either. The energy and attention to fight what is seen as injustice have been dampened by the fasting month of Ramadhan.

For better or worse we should accept the bitter reality that Indonesia has new sheriffs in town different from what we want. Prabowo and Gibran is the president-elect and vice president-elect respectively until it is proven otherwise, and come October, barring an unprecedented turn-around, they will be the president and vice president of Indonesia respectively.

What seems to be an if condition not too far away in the past has become a reality now. And this is what Indonesians – whether they are supporters of the winning pairs or opposing them, and whether they understand the consequence of their choice or they just don’t know it yet – should be bracing.

We can’t pretend, however, that everything is fine with Prabowo and Gibran at the helm, especially if they continue what outgoing President Joko “Jokowi” Widodo has done to the nation during the 10 years of his reign when he cunningly bribed Indonesian people with money from foreign debts and commodities at the expense of massive destruction of local livelihoods and environments.

Despite his failure to increase the nation’s income through tax and national production, Jokowi can stay afloat because he has an additional 6,000 or 7,000 trillion rupiah in cash from foreign borrowing and another some thousands of trillion from selling commodities from extractive industries during his 10 years in office. He has bought his support from the capitalist and his popularity from the people without thinking for a second who would pay all of these debts plus their mounting interest, and the environmental destruction he has left for the next generations.

But if you think we have seen the worst, just watch until Prabowo consolidates his power, or wait until Jokowi and Gibran can find their way of succeeding the latter.

It’s not an exaggeration that Prabowo-Gibran could be worse than Jokowi himself now that their way of winning has left the legacy and precedents that it’s fine to break the laws, and it’s normal to cheat as long as we win, and that nepotism and abuse of power have never been this good.

We live in the era of Machiavellian way now when the end always justifies the means.

Prabowo himself has shown during his time as the defense minister that he was not afraid of going on borrowing spree to finance whatever spending he has in mind. And if he wants to continue the Jokowi’s way as he promised during his campaign, he will need to continue to borrow, and selling whatever commodities the nation has. And, how else can you get fast cash other than let those with money destroy the country’s forests, seas and lands even more?

For these likelihoods, we can’t afford to give them the benefit of the doubt.

Alas, we may live to taste what happen if Soeharto’s method and Jokowi’s way are combined in one regime.

Of course, these are all still possibilities although it feels like a déjà vu. It’s all too familiar.

Imagine, we have spent more than a quarter of a century travelling only to arrive at the same place we started. We are chasing our tails, running in circular every time, even spiraling down if we take into account that we have less resources and more debts now.

People here in this part of the world have been ruled, oppressed and tortured by succession of colonial powers for hundreds of years, but could survive and become stronger and united to establish what we call Indonesia now. Then, they lived successively under two authoritarian rules for around five decade, and again comeback stronger to topple both of them. But then, more than two decades living complacently in what we call democracy under Susilo Bambang Yudhoyono and Jokowi have only produced nothing more than mediocrity.

In the post 1998 era, we are blinded by our own success, believing that somehow democracy will work its own way toward maturity and prosperity. It’s just delusional.

If so, is oppression what we need to comeback thriving? Is suppression what we need to unite? Of course, for Indonesia growing along a linear line is just a myth. We have our ups and downs. Every nation does. But it’s seems like we particularly love to destroy what we have achieved. Then when can we really build our own nation for the prosperity of the people if we keep running in circle?

If this is a curse then we must find a way to break it. And for this, we must wait another five year, hoping by then that the nation will not collapse altogether. Until then, we must survive to see another day, and fight to find leaders that will help break the circle.

Editorial Omong-Omong

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