Editorial: The Unwise

Editorial Omong-Omong

2 min read

A good leader doesn’t need to be genius. He or she only needs a little bit of wisdom and sincerity. Unfortunately, President Joko Widodo seems to possess less and less of it by the day, or possibly, he has just never had it in the first place.

Jokowi’s insistence that the contents of the highly controversial Omnibus Law or UU Cipta Kerja and all practical regulations that come with it are not affected, and that the government stands by them and will continue to apply them after the Constitutional Court rules all of them unconstitutional not only show that he has little to no wisdom but also demonstrate that he has been a mere tool for the country’s ruling elites.

Read more Editorial: Fight Another Day

While it’s true that the court issues a confusing ruling and does not touch the contents of the law in its ruling, it is crystal clear that it has decided that the law is unconstitutional based on its examination on the way the bill was passed into law.

The court finds that the fact that the government and the House of Representatives did not provide time and space for the public to participate in the creation of the law, with majority of people and experts previously pointing out that the draft of the bill was kept away from the public, and was secretly changed a number of times, and then was rushed for the passage into law without anybody could anything about it.

This procedural betrayal has actually been enough to hand down a verdict that the law is unlawful or illegitimate. There are two ways of describing it. The first analogy is that the the passage of the law is like having a car by stealing. While the car could be fine, it can’t be used because it is acquired through unlawful way. The second analogy is that it’s like making a cake using non-halal or harmful ingredients. Either way, people can’t eat it.

In democracy, process is as important as goals or results. Ends can’t justify means. If so, then we will all be a Machiavellian and Indonesia will be trending toward absolutism.

Read more Editorial: Hijacking Indonesia

The court, while a legal body, is also a political institution. The justices are elected by political bodies, and rule on political products. Considering how powerful people behind the passage of the law, the justices are forced to make political compromises. By declaring the law conditionally unconstitutional without ruling it entirely unconstitutional the justices, or to be exact, five of the nine justices are actually handing Jokowi and lawmakers a golden opportunity to amend their beloved law in accordance with the voice of majority of Indonesian people.

The court ruling should be seen as a form of check and balances and a rejection to the law as it is, and it should be welcomed that we still have people with conscience just when we need them most.

Now, the ball is in Jokowi’s hands. He could listen to people of Indonesia, or take side with a group of elites whose interests are only accumulating more wealth and enriching their own family and friends.

His insistence that the law is good for Indonesian people is mind-boggling because millions of people – from students, workers, activists and legal experts — have said otherwise. These are the same people that voted him to the presidency, and their voices should have been enough to convince Jokowi that the law is bad for Indonesia.

We have been watching with pessimism about the ability of Jokowi to govern, worrying that all convictions that he merely a pawn of powerful elites are justified. Rather than stay close the people, he has been fighting all the way against the same people who have supported him all along.

Jokowi is supposed to be Indonesia’s most powerful person, and have the backing of people to govern properly. Now, he only need a little bit of courage and wisdom to serve those that matter most: Indonesian people. Scrapping the Omnibus Law is a sign of wisdom — one way of a wise leader in serving the interests of the people.

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