Alexis almost certainly has prostitution as one of its services and Jakarta Governor Anies Baswedan is right to close it down if morality is his kind of thing.
But shutting it down based on press reports rather than on hard evidence is worrying, as it sets a bad precedence of executive action based on suspicion.
What this means is that in future all the Jakarta government has to do is suspect that you are guilty of a violation to impose sanctions on you.
And the basis of their suspicion? Media reports.
While there are many responsible and professional journalists out there who would document and recheck their facts before going to print, there. are many more still who are slack, naive and easily manipulated or can be bought or intimidated.
This being the case, it is not difficult for anyone to engineer negative stories against any business or party. And given the depleted ranks of journalists because of falling ad revenues it is easy for even implausible stories to be copy pasted onto other publications, amplifying the negativity.
With Anies’ action to deny the renewal of Alexis based on mere press resports rather than, say, an investigation by City Hall officers or the Police, we have entered the dubious territory of Kangaroo Courts.
We’d better hop onto trying to right this wrong before we end up in Anies’s pocket.
These are sensitive times. Since newly installed Jakarta Governor made his Protect Pribumis speech at his inauguration the P word has gained new political impetus.
One thing about the internet is that what is old can be made new again, with a new twist.
Responding to the widespread criticism against their leader, Anies Baswedan’s supporters trotted out CNN Indonesia’s report on 22 June saying that he was not the only Pribumi champion and the cue was actually set by Jokowi.
Going beyond the headline and reading the news, however, reveals that Jokowi did not say the P word.
Let’s be honest: when the word Pribumi is used, it is code for anti-Chinese. This is the same in Malaysia where the word Bumiputra is used to mean anti-Chinese.
The parallels do not stop there. The champions of the the racial ideology – Anies Baswedan in the case of the Pribumis and Mahathir Mohamad in the case of Bumiputras – are also shapeshifters. Both are of immigrant stock fashioning themselves as the torch bearers of the indigenous people.
Mahathir who championed Bumiputraism hailed from Indian Muslims in Kerala in South India.
Anies is from Arab stock and he is now claiming to champion the rights of pribumis.
Both seek to exploit the politics of race against a community that has proven easy pickings – the ethnic Chinese in Malaysia and Indonesia.
Mahathir wrote his The Malay Dilemma in 1970, a year after racial riots tore through Malaysia. The cause of the riots was that the ruling Alliance (forerunner of the Barisan Nasional) for the first time lost its two-third majority in Parliament in the 1969 national elections. It was more a psychological defeat rather than a real one. They were still in power but they had lost the majority ended to amend the constitution. They also lost most of their seats to the DAP, a Chinese-based party.
Tensions rose after the elections and on May 13 1969 a riot broke out in Malaysia. The next year Mahathir came out with his book that essentially said that the Malays were the indigenous people of Malaysia; that they were too nice and had been taken advantage of; and that affirmative action was needed to balance out the dominance of the Chinese Malaysians in the economy and commerce.
This hate mongering was effective. It propelled young Turks like Mahathir into power and allowed them to oust the Old Guard typified by Tunku Abdul Rahman, who stood for decency and moderation.
The take out from Mahathirism is that race is an easy card to play and it can be devastatingly effective. The Barisan Nasional has been in power ever since and each time it is threatened it trots out the racial card and that is enough to get it though one election after another. Even Najib, tainted as he is by the 1MDB scandal and the murder of Mongolian model Alantuya, remains in power through the Machiavellian use of racism and money politics.
Anies is embarking on the same path. His campaign was racist and he is now fashioning himself as a champion of the Pribumi. That is, as we say in Indonesia #kodekeras for anti-Chinese.
As he and Saracen have demonstrated during the gubernatorial elections, playing the racial card is effective. Ahok is now in jail and Anies-Sandi is sitting in the governor’s chair.
Like the Barisan Natsonal who will play the race card each time there is anything to threaten their grip on power they will do the same.
What is a threat to Anies-Sandi now is accountability. They made a lot of wild promises to get elected. If they fail to deliver, even the masses that vote them in will begin to turn against them.
They need to distract the attention of the hoi polloi and redirect that energy into something else – and hating the Chinese “colonizers” of Jakarta is as convenient a target as it can get. Similarly what threatens Najib is accountability over 1MBB, so what does he do? All sorts of racial distractions such as the nonsense about Ketuanan Melayu while he quietly hocks the nation to the Chinese Chinese.
So what are the rest of us to do with such an inexorable force as racial politics?
Indonesia can be different from Malaysia where the Bumiputra is synonymous with Malay. In Malaysia the predominant non-Chinese group are the Malays (an artificial construct as most of them are keturunan Orang Jawa, Orang Minang, and even the present Prime Minister Najib is keturunan Orang Bugis – but they are all manipulated to be in one “race” the Melayu or Malay).
Non-Chinese Indonesians are so diverse in ethnicity and religions that nobody can claim to speak for them. And this is where Indonesia’s strength lies – in its diversity. #Notmypribumi seems an appropriate hashtag for anything racial Anies utters from now on.
Indonesians should also b aware of the devastating effects of racial politics. Go to Malaysia and see the harm that Mahathir has done there. People there are so polarized that they eat in different restaurants, make friends mainly only with the same “racial” groups. Each year that passes there is less tolerance and more absurdity – like the Muslim launderette owner in Johor that would accept only Muslim clients to prevent pollution from other races (race and religion are synonymous in Malaysia, thanks again to Mahathir).
The situation is so bad that parents (even Bumiputra ones) tell their children not to stay in Malaysia and to work and live overseas if they can help it.
Indonesia can do better than Malaysia and the time to act is now by refusing to fill into Anies’ scheming. Avoid giving his racial politics much credence by discussing it at length but keep focusing on what he actually does as a Governor against his election promises. At best it would force him carry these promises out – which would be the benefit of everyone. At worst, it would starve his intent to use racial politics of the reaction it needs to create a Malaysianization of Indonesian racial relations.
If the survey is accurate it suggests that after decades of living cheek by jowl with the pribumis, they still harbor stereotyped perceptions about the Indonesian Chinese.
Among the most glaring stereotyped are that the Chinese Indonesians tend to be more wealthy than the pribumis. Over 60 percent of respondents in the survey felt this.
Astoundingly almost half of the respondents, 47.6 percent, believe that the Indonesian Chinese harbor divided loyalties between Indonesia and China.
The survey, which was conducted in May 2016 after the anti-Ahok protests, did not say whether these sentiments were as intense before the demonstrations.
Several questions come to mind from the survey results:
Does this mean that no Chinese Indonesian can ever stand for high office and win, because all the opposition has to do is to fan the racial flames?
Can pribumis be so oblivious of the many, many walthy-off Pribumi officials and businesspersons that are so visible in everyday Indonesia?
Does it mean that Indonesian Chinese should prepare for a difficult year ahead and until the 2019 presidential elections are over before letting out their breath? Will Indonesia be a racial powder keg all primed?
Should Indonesian Chinese try harder to disabuse their pribumi counterparts of their prejudices? Or are they better off letting things lie than run the risk of stirring things up?
The would the results of a similar survey, if conducted in neighboring Malaysia, show a lower, similar or higher level of prejudice?
Unspun watched with incredulity and horror a segment from the documentary The Act of Killing in which Yusuf calla addressed a group of Pancasila Youth, who were known to be the secular equivalent of a FPI in their heyday.
He told the group that this country needed preman (thugs) because they got things done. Unlike the apparat (bureaucrats) who would debate a thing to death. he then explained the romantic origin of the word preman which apparently is derived from freeman.
How is it that such a man who has been documented on film as having said such preposterous words could become the Vice President of a country not once but twice boggles the imagination. He hasn’t improved since and like Trump is a serial offender against tolerant and non-sectarian views. His latest, of course, is taking a swipe at the stereotype of the Chinese Christians and Taoists being the richest people in Indonesia while the Muslim non-Chinese lag behind.
You wonder what checks and balances as well as screening processes this country’s political is bereft of. But that is Indonesia, where democracy is still a shiny new toy whose ways need to be mastered.
But Oxford University? The cradle of some of the best minds to walk the earth? The seat of intellectual prowess? Surely they can do better?
One assumes that the people running the university would have access to the internet and they would do some desktop research, at the very least, before they extended an invitation to Kalla to speak.
Many Indonesians and friends of Indonesia are understandably angry at the sentencing of Ahok to two years jail for blasphemy.
But to where or whom should this anger be directed at?
At Bu Yani whose mistranslation started the whole blasphemy charges? He was only an inconsequential pawn in the game.
At the Islamic radicals who have bayed for Ahok’s blood? They were only being themselves, just as it is in the nature of a scorpion to sting.
At the prosecutors who indicted Ahok when there should be no grounds to do so? They were minnows who caved under pressure.
At the judge who delivered the verdict? Again a minnow who could not stand up to the enormous forces at play.
At the Police who cannot seemingly enforce the law and arrest protesters even for small crimes? They take their cue from higher powers.
At the mysterious forces arrayed against Jokowi? They are formidable but not invulnerable, certainly not if they faced the wrath of a president.
At the Military that is purported conspiring with the mysterious forces? They are pledged to remain loyal to the Commander-in-Chief, aka The president.
Yep, no matter how you look at it, all signs point to The President if you ask what and to whom should the anger be directed at.
Now about the President: Jokowi has been enjoying a honeymoon all this while, especially among the self-perceived progressive Indonesians, precisely the type of people who have been supporting Ahok. Jokowi enjoys their support, or failing that, their looking the other way when he fails to live up to his obligations as a president. And why not? After all he’s one of the very few honest men in government, he’s humble and likable.
This disarms the progressives and blinds them to the inadequacies of the man who, frankly, has been disastrous as a president where the upholding of liberties, human rights and the law is concerned. Jokowi is the only man in a position to set the tenor of law enforcement, yet he does nothing, so the Police do not know how much to exercise their power.
The result: wishy washy handling of protesters and FPI typed who flagrantly break the law and do not go punished. This builds in them a sense of impunity.Out of small crimes they graduate to bigger ones because they know they can get away with it. This emboldens them.
And even when the Police act, as in those treason cases, they take forever to process the cases. Justice delayed, as they say, is justice denied. Again it reinforces the sense of impunity.
This has allowed the hardline Muslims to take ever bolder steps to press for what they want, to flout the law and eventually to start dictating to the government.
It is time that the progressive Indonesians wake up to the fact that their skinny President has no clothes and rightly direct their anger and pressure at him. On his scrawny shoulders lies the fate of Indonesia. No one else has the power and the influence that he can yield. The least he can do is to set the tone and manner of how the law should be enforced in such a way that all and sundry understand that enough is enough. It is time to toe the line or face the consequences.
if he can do this he can still bring Indonesia from the precipice that it is slouching toward. If he can’t then we’ll be watching Indonesia descend into chaos, bigotry, intolerance, violence and a tyranny of the boorish.
Today most Indonesians who pride themselves as progressive would have felt let down by the news that Ahok has been sentenced to 2 years jail for blasphemy. They view Ahok as innocent and a victim of bigots, Muslim hardliners and vested interests in politics.
On the other side are those who feel a sense of justice because they feel that Ahok had been contemptuous of them. Them loosely defined as those mostly Muslims that see his speech at 1,000 Islands as blasphemous or at least insulting, and those who feel that Ahok had gone too far in his outbursts against those who disagree with him.
The important question to ask is firstly whether Ahok’s punishment fit the crime? Ahok has certainly been brash and maybe even abuse in his outbursts against those who are sometimes clueless of how government should work and try to appeal to him directly, he has also been contemptuous, this time perhaps rights, against those who want to take advantage of the system, be they politicians or civil servants.
So if anything Ahok can be said to be guilty of being insensitive, callous and sarcastic, “crimes” that may earn him a reprimand but certainly not two years in jail.
But jail he must go, says the judge, and while Ahok’s lawyers are sure to appeal the decision, the question to raise now is what does his conviction portend.
Today’s decision is sure to embolden further to an already emboldened religious Muslim Right who will now not stop until they become the political ruling class. And why not. They smell blood in the air. Against legal norms they have managed to wrap the blasphemy charge against Ahok, seemingly against the implicit wishes of the President himself and the more liberal and dominant Muslim sector represented by the NU. They can virtually see the light at the end of the tunnel with Ahok’s conviction.
Today was also a good day for Prabowo who has his eyes on the next round of the presidential elections in 2019. At the present there is only Jokowi who is the only viable opponent for 2019. With Jokowi dithering and meditating on his own non-action in a very Javanese way, Prabowo is starting to look even better as presidential prospect in two years, what more with him cozying up to the leaders of the Islamic hard liners. Whether he can, like Lee Kuan Yew who rode the communists like a tiger to power and afterward subdued them, ride the Islamists to power and then subdue them remains to be seen.
The only thing that can forestall all of this coming to pass is Jokowi himself who apparently is locked in inaction because he does not want to be accused of being authoritarian and brutal as Suharto and who feels that he does not have enough control of the political parties and factions and the military to crack down on the Islamic hardliners.
Hence legal violations like inciting racial hatred, acts of vandalism during demonstrations and the FPI taking the law into their own hands goes unpunished, adding to the sense of impunity these thugs already feel.
Jokowi takes no hard decisions and instead he seems to be looking elsewhere but the right place for a solution. While Ahok’s verdict was being read, for instance, the President’s advisory council was meeting influential people to discuss how best to “socialize” Pancasila. Another meeting is being held tomorrow with another group of social leaders on the same subject.
This is all nonsense. The Pancasila may espouse the best values that a nation could want but unless the government is ready and willing to show that it is ready to stand up and defend these values, no amount of spin and socialization would have real lasting effect.
In this dark hour, the people of Indonesia want a decisive leader, a firm leader and a resolute one to lead them out of the present path leading to division, sectarianism and confusion. It is time that Jokowi discard that Javanese facade and act as a national leader, lest Prabowo be tempted to shoo him away like ants trying to get at his cakes.
Jokowi, do not forsake your people. They need you to be strong for them.