“If we desire a society of peace, then we cannot achieve such a society through violence. If we desire a society without discrimination, then we must not discriminate against anyone in the process of building this society. If we desire a society that is democratic, then democracy must become a means as well as an end.” -Bayard Rustin-
Politics has always been a great source of debates, discussions, and controversies. It could lead to either tears and blood or peace and liberation. It’s a make or break factor of a nation. Such nation as Indonesia.
Some very interesting events have recently surfaced in the political sphere of Indonesia. The statement of an inactive governor and governor candidate has spurred a nation wide controversy. Some immediately responds to harsh criticism and even death threats, some have come to aid by supporting and defending the inactive governor. They are all voicing their political opinions and enforcing their political rights. The moment has also been politicized by free-riders with political interests using religious explanations. It has also given the momentum for some parties to echo their intended campaign throughout their own sides, whether religious devout, liberals, or neutrals alike. The social media and real live discussions (and sometimes heated debates) in the lives of Indonesian people are lit with this issue. It’s all fair and square. It’s democracy anyway.
Democracy in Indonesia, or its politics in general seems to be garnering a lot of attention. As the 5th most populated country, the biggest Muslim populated country and the 4th biggest democratic country in the world, Indonesia has all the ingredients for clashes of interests and lively political dynamic. The push and pull of our nation’s political powers have intrigued many parties. whether the interested ones or the mere passer by onlookers.
On the day of 4th November 2016, a huge mass of religious devout throughout the nation came to Jakarta to exert one of the many democratic instruments, the demonstration. Thousands and thousands of people poured in to the main areas in Jakarta to voice out their beliefs and political opinions. What’s right sometimes depends on how you see things. It was no less than intense. In this case, the political will is strong and the divide is apparent. Many were afraid it might ignite a bad history of Indonesia that none would want to relive.
Demonstration it self is one of the instrument of democracy. It voices out the will of the people. Through the voice of the mass, it maintains the right, fixes the wrong, reminds the errors in the government. Given the right motivation and the correct idealism, it can kick start the establishment of a nation.
The demonstration it self ended up in to a quite show of how Indonesia’s democracy is indeed maturing. The state apparatus have learned how to serve and protect the people during the demonstration. The security is considerably well maintained although some heated moments have arose. The situation was mostly under control. Our people know their rights and know how to protect other people’s rights.
President Jokowi him self have issued a statement regarding the 4th November demonstration. He himself has faced harsh criticism throughout this event.
“Demonstration is a democratic rights of a citizen but it is not the right to force one’s will moreover to vandalize,” said Jokowi after he attended the celebration of World Savings Day of 2016 in Jakarta Convention Center, Monday morning of 31 October.
Fortunately, it is exactly what happened. The characteristics of a maturing democracy have started to spurt in the political environment of Indonesia. The freedom of speech is appreciated, the participation of the people are high, the state entities accommodate it and the law is running well. Ali Syarief has described in his writing:
The November 4 (411) protest was one remarkable history of Indonesian democracy. It taught Indonesians many lessons, but the highlight is how the government has been maturing itself in responding a protest.
It was a surprise, and definitely a smart move, of the Police to use much more cooperative and humanist approach to deal with the protesters by beginning their security routines with praying and dhikr.
The way the security officials handle the protesters must be highly appreciated. Their effort to resist repressive actions, during the day, especially was a breakthrough. It was something new in our democracy. This was the key of the success of the government in 411 rally.
Despite some clashes between the protesters and the police, the overall protest has been very peaceful. What happened on November 4 was maybe beyond what the government may expect.
The violence level was relatively low with small number of casualties. One of the protesters dead because his previous asthma history, and not related to any attack or accidental shooting.
What happened in Penjaringan area was a criminal activity done by rascals, not protesters, but again the government has shown its readiness to handle such unexpected situation not to spread in other areas. In fact, it was actually not related to the protests. It was done by some irresponsible people who take advantage of the protest. Yet, the government could promptly took needed action to bring back situation to normal in relatively short time.
All in all, the government has done a marvellous job in dealing with this protest. What was feared was not occurring and all situation could be handled very well and wisely. We hope that this will be a new era of Indonesian democracy, which is more mature and humanist. Bravo!
Democracy it self literally means “the power of the people” where the government is under the rule of law. Meaning the citizens have the right to enact the law and be protected under the law. It ensures freedom of speech and freedom of the press, to un-disclose corruption and injustice. We, as a nation have come so far from a young nation, then decades of dictatorship, on to newly celebrated democracy, and now, the people who know their rights and using democracy to ensure it.
In the end we must all remember that democracy, like any other principals and systems, are made to serve the purpose of the people. While in democracy majority rules, but human rights and basic decency must be uphold. In the future, Indonesia is likely to learn and grow in to a true democratic country where the rights of its people are protected.