Just days after a poultry farmer in Blitar, East Java, was arrested for carrying a banner on which he asked President Joko Widodo to help the farmers buy corn to feed their poultry, during his visit Monday to his hometown, Solo, Central Java, at least 10 students of University of Sebelas Maret (UNS) were detained for holding banners asking him to fix the Corruption Eradication Commission (KPK), which has been seen as deliberately debilitated.
The series of arrests of people merely holding banners to express their aspiration when Jokowi was passing by on top of the recent crackdown of murals in the streets in a number of cities across the country have further proved that he was really “the king of lip service” as first stated by students of the University of Indonesia in Jakarta.
Jokowi has stated in several occasions that he welcomed critics from the people. In fact, he said back in February that “I invite people to give their critics,”.
But his statements have been proven to be a mere lip service.
In July, University of Indonesia’s student body (BEM) crowned Jokowi in the social media as “the king of lip service” pointing to the fact that he made a lot of promises to Indonesian people, but rarely, if any, were translated into reality.
The BEM, for instance, underlined his promise to never touch the Corruption Eradication Commission (KPK), and even making sure his intention to strengthen the anti-graft body. But just months after his public promises, he supported the law stripping many of KPK’s authorities, making it much less independent with the formation of a supervisory body which limit its movement. To add salt to the wound, tens of KPK’s employees whom public recognize as loyal and having high integrity were fired after they were deliberately made to fail in a test as all the antigraft body’s employees were to become a civil servant.
The students also questioned his support for the controversial Omnibus Law, which they said have been in contrary to his promises during his campaign.
Subsequently, Jokowi stated that he didn’t mind the students or anybody criticizing him.
But then these students were promptly summoned by the university’s rector, asking them to take down the statement. The students, however, rejected it. It is not clear what steps the rector will take as the incident has become public and many have expressed their support to the students.
And now, the anger against Jokowi is reaching places where he is really considered a king – his hometown Solo and his alma mater, Gadjah Mada University.
If students in his hometown and Gadjah Mada university, where Jokowi is as seen as “can do no wrong”, finally dared to express their feeling against him then dissatisfaction against him, especially among young people and students, have been widespread.
Even his own supporter, politician Budiman Sudjatmiko accidentally acknowledged that Jokowi’s administration was repressive.
Worse, such a harsh repression against not just critics but a mere expression from people also strengthens allegations that he is becoming an authoritarian leader.
In its August 21 edition, The Economist, for instance, criticized Jokowi for assaulting democracy, stating that his assaults on democracy is manifold. Be helping paralyze the KPK, Jokowi stepped up efforts to suppress views it dislikes, the magazins’ report said. In 2017 the government gave itself the power to disband civil-society organizations on national-security grounds. The state deals harshly with protesters. Ordinary citizens who criticize the government online are threatened with criminal charges or imprisoned. The information ministry regularly blocks websites it finds objectionable, among them gay-dating services.
“Jokowi has also eroded checks on executive privilege” as he has appointed toadies to run the police, armed forces and the attorney-general’s office. The magazine also accused that Jokwi has tried to do away with political opposition by manipulating the boards of two rival parties to ensure loyalist factions are in control and by coercing opposition politicians, via threats of prosecution, into supporting his re-election. His enormous coalition encompasses three-quarters of parliamentarians.
At the same time, the magazine claimed, Jokowi has surrounded himself with generals and relies ever more on the armed forces to help execute domestic policy, such as in increasing rice production. “He is fond of centralizing authority, reclaiming some powers that were devolved to regional governments after the fall of Suharto”.
When he was first elected in 2014, he was hailed as a reformer who would protect civil liberties and promote better governance. “Yet he has empowered a cabal of politicians, party bosses, bureaucrats and tycoons who have conspired to erode the democracy’s checks and balances”. A year after he took office, Indonesia slipped from “free” to “partly free”, on a ranking compiled by Freedom House, a think-tank.
By the start of his second term, in 2019, the magazine quoted Thomas Power and Eve Warburton, editors of “Democracy in Indonesia: From Stagnation to Regression” that Indonesia’s democracy had sunk to its lowest point since the end of the New Order.