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.
This idea, like Trump himself, seems preposterous.
Here is a man who violates all form of political correctness, a racist, a misogynist, a racist, a pussy grabber….and the lost of deplorables goes on. As a result most people around the world, let alone Americans, woke up with the shit!-was-I-so-wasted-I-went-to-bed-with-THAT! expression the morning after the November 8 elections.
We blink, and hope that it was only a bad dream after all. But no such luck. Trump is now the President elect. We got screwed by Hideous and that’s a fact of life.
No point whining about it now, or be outraged by the electoral system or the type of people who voted him in.
There is a good reason why Trump won, and the sooner we all come to grips with it, the sooner we, the rest of the world (excluding the Brexit Brits, they too had already been screwed) would be able to avoid a similar fate.
Among everything Unspun has heard and read about this election and Brexit, I’ve found two articles to be particularly enlightening.
The first is an article by former Wall Street Journal reporter and co-founder of Muslim Reform Movement Asra Q. Nomani. She’s a Muslim, a woman, an immigrant and she voted Trump. Until now, she had been one of Trump’s silent supporters, because to declare her preference would have exposed her to all sorts of bullying by the more liberal members of America’s population.
Today she wrote an article for the Washington Post here. You could disagree with a lot of the things she said but what fascinated me is that for her and people like her, the possibility of Trump being an agent for change in the US’s policy on bread-and-butter issues and on the Islamic State was so important it overwhelms all this weaknesses. She also sees Clinton as a member of the establishment that will not change anything substantially.
So pervasive has neoliberalism become that we seldom even recognise it as an ideology. We appear to accept the proposition that this utopian, millenarian faith describes a neutral force; a kind of biological law, like Darwin’s theory of evolution. But the philosophy arose as a conscious attempt to reshape human life and shift the locus of power.
The bottom line of the article is that neoliberalism (no not the pejorative term in use today but the actual economic concept) has taken over most part of the world. As a result we have become a world in which the strongest (read: the cleverest, most educated and networked) thrive while the rest are not only left to languish but scolded for being unable to climb out of their gutter.
In this world, social and welfare safety nets have been dismantled, and – to simplify matters – the poor get poorer while the privileged jet around, attend Ted talks, do yoga, fashion themselves as entrepreneurs with their startups, networking sessions and get richer.
In any society you can’t have the relatively few eating richer cakes while the poor become more disenfranchised, find themselves deeper in depth and get angrier because even if they are willing to work hard and long there is simply no way out for them.
It is this anger that has propelled the need for change at any cost, and Trump and Brexit are the results.
The pertinent questions we should ask ourselves is what can we do to meet the challenges wrought on us by Neoliberalism. Trump/Brexit is a bit like Communism facing Capitalism. There was once a time when Capitalists looked on Communism as a threat as frightening as the Mongol Hordes. There was once a time when it seemed as if Communism would swallow up Capitalism.
Staring into that abyss, Capitalism changed from the raw Dickensian form of ruthless exploitation to a gentler and more caring form, and that eventually defeated Communism.
Today history may have come around to pitting the forces that ensued the success of Trump/Brexit against Neoliberalism. Can we change so that we embrace a liberalism that is more inclusive of all the segments in our society, so that the rich may have an opportunity to become richer, but only if they also help take care of the welfare and empower the less fortunate of sectors of society to become more prosperous as well. Call it Creating Shared Value if you would.
In a rising tide all ships rise, in an ebbing tide all ships fall.
If we are able to take Trump’s victory as a wake up call for us to address the deficiencies of neoliberalism we may yet catch that tide. In this sense, Trump may be the best thing to happen to us all, lest we descend uncomprehendingly in a falling tide.
This is an interesting development if you subscribe to the theory that the November 4 demonstration has upped the ante for Jokowi versus the Dark Forces.
On short notice Jokowi meets with 2,185 soldiers to thank them for the military’s role in keeping the peace during the November elections. He then tells them that if they can work together with the police on all levels the integrity of the country, that is made up of a pluralistic society, will be intact.
“When the military and Police are solid, compact and united we will be able to unite Indonesia, the different races, tribes and religions that embodies the aspirations of our nation and become a source of unity for our plurality,” he said.
Now why would he schedule a hurried meeting with the military and say something like that if he does not sniff some clear and present danger in the air?
Jakarta – Presiden Jokowi mendadak mengumpulkan 2.185 prajurit TNI dan memberikan arahan. Pengarahan ini tidak terdaftar di jadwal resmi Presiden Jokowi.
Pengarahan dilakukan di lapangan Markas Besar TNI AD, Jalan Veteran, Jakarta Pusat, Senin (7/11/2016). Apel dipimpin oleh Panglima TNI Jenderal Gatot Nurmantyo.
Presiden Jokowi (Foto: Bagus Prihantoro Nugroho/detikcom)
Jokowi tiba di lokasi sekitar pukul 12.30 WIB. Hadir pula Pangdam Jaya Mayjen Teddy Lhaksmana dan Kapolda Metro Jaya Irjen Iriawan.
“Pertama, saya ingin sampaikan terima kasih yang sebesar-besarnya atas kerja keras perwira dan jajaran prajurit TNI dalam amankan aksi unjuk rasa Jumat kemarin,” kata Jokowi dalam arahannya.
Presiden Jokowi (Foto: Bagus Prihantoro Nugroho/detikcom)
Menurut dia seluruh rakyat mengapresiasi soliditas TNI dalam mengawal penyampaian aspirasi tersebut. TNI dinilai kompak dalam melakukan langkah persuasif.
“Kedua, saya minta kekompakan TNI dan Polri yang ditunjukkan di ke lapangan terus dilanjutkan di semua tingkatan, kekompakan harus digalang dari atas sampai prajurit, ini penting, lakukan sinergi dalam jalankan tugas negara,” kata Jokowi.
Presiden Jokowi (Foto: Bagus Prihantoro Nugroho/detikcom)
Jokowi menyatakan, jika TNI dan Polri kompak maka keutuhan negara bisa dijaga. Terlebih Indonesia terdiri dari masyarakat yang majemuk.
“Ketika TNI dan Polri solid, kompak dan bersatu maka kita akan bisa mempersatukan Indonesia, ras yang beda, suku, agama yang beda, dalam wujudkan cita-cita bangsa kita, jadilah perekat kemajemukan,” pungkas Jokowi.
Setelah memberikan arahan, Jokowi kemudian menyalami barisan terdepan para prajurit TNI dari tiga matra tersebut. Jokowi mengucapkan terima kasih secara personal kepada mereka.
All of a sudden, politics has once again got more interesting in Indonesia.
To understand why this is so we need a little context and a term, let’s call it the Dark Forces.
Jokowi came into office with great expectations from Indonesians. They saw him as a reformer and expected sweeping changes. When these changes did not materialize as fast as thought, disillusion began to set in. This was not helped by seemingly obvious fumbles in the part of Jokowi in several matters, not least in the appointment of Arcandra, an Indonesian that had taken up US citizenship as Minister of Energy and Mineral Resources; and then fell further by appointing the disgraced Transport Minister Jonan to take over. All this contributed to the impression that Jokowi was now making so many political compromises that his Reformist agenda had been railroaded.
The Dark Forces
Suppose, just suppose that Jokowi is a reformer, but not just any reformer. He is a Javanese reformer. If this supposition is true then he would bide his time as he moves all the chess pieces into place to finally reveal his hand and bring about reform. The people who stand to lose if Jokowi succeeds are many — among them the corrupt politicians, their cohorts in the business world, powerful civil servants, the quasi-religious militias — these are the very people who want to protect the status quo because they can milk the country for their own benefit. They know the Javanese way of thinking and see the noose tightening, they realize they have to mobilize before too late. These are the people who would not hesitate to employ Order Baru tactics such as rent-a-crowd demonstrations, getting thugs to cause mayhem and to sow fear, even exploiting ethnic and religious divides. Let’s call them the Dark Forces.
What follows is pure supposition from the imagination of Unspun and has nothing to do with reality.
Contrary to popular opinion everything is going according to plan for Jokowi. Politically, he now controls Parliament. In security matters his elevation of Tito Karnavian, his closeness to Luhut Pandjaitan, and his appointment of Wiranto as Coordinating Indonesia’s chief security minister has ensured that the Police and Military are behind him. Economically, he’s brought back Sri Mulyani to ensure that the Tax Amnesty works.
The Tax Amnesty is ostensibly a way for the Jokowi government to fund its infrastructure projects that would underling Indonesia’s economic growth over the next few years. That may be so but there is also a political dimension to the Tax Amnesty: it would shine a light into the dark recesses of corruption in Indonesia and effectively put a stop the illicit way of bleeding the country dry.
Like stirring a beehive, the Tax Amnesty has driven the Dark Forces crazy. They must attack the source of the Tax Amnesty, otherwise their incomes and source of power would be saved in a wave of reforms that would surely follow.
How to attack? Jokowi has been very careful, opaque and growing more politically powerful by the day. The obvious point of vulnerability to the Dark Forces would be Ahok, who is contesting the upcoming gubernatorial elections. Ahok is brash, a Christian and a Chinese. Many of the hardline Muslims have already seen this as a threat and attacked Ahok along these lines. Ahok’s brashness also doesn’t sit well with many of the hardline Muslims.
So when controversy erupted over Ahok’s alleged blasphemy ,it provided them with the opportunity, they thought, to put Jokowi in a bind. They felt that by demanding that Ahok be prosecuted Jokowi would be forced to do one of two things, both of which would be a setback for him. The first is to intervene and say that Ahok has no case to answer for. This would open Jokowi to accusations that he’s meddling with the law to save his cohort. The second is for him to ask Ahok to resign, at which case he would be weakened as former President SBY’s son, Agus, would then be likely to win the election.
It is in this context that SBY’s Lebaran Kuda press conference last Wednesday – two days before the November seems to make sense. His message was deeply unsettling, coming two days before the November 4 demonstration. He said that Ahok must be brought to justice for what he said or the people will be justified in continuing their protests (He used the term Lebaran Kuda, a non-existent idiom in Indonesia. There is Lebaran Monyet that translates to “till the cows come home”. A more comprehensive explanation here).
Why did he say that? There are many theories. One says that he wanted his son to win the elections so anything that can get rid of the frontrunner Ahok is fair game. Another theory, and one that is particularly appealing if you believe in Dark Forces, is that Jokowi has been gathering evidence and building a case against him and his son over Hambalang. He knows this and backing the November 4 demonstration would help preempt further moves from Jokowi.
How much SBY was involved in the November 4 demonstration and the disturbances after remains to be seen but in the meantime the Dark Forces must have made a pact with the Muslim hardliners. They both had lots of common ground, getting rid of Jokowi. Anything that can weaken Jokowi would benefit the Islamic hardliners and their vision of establishing an islamic state. This would also benefit the powerful political/business forces so they can carry on with business as usual.
So November 4 happened and when it did Jokowi had all the pieces in the right place. The police was clearly behind him, the military was this looming presence in the background. On the frontline the police acted with admirable professionalism and restraint so that they would not inflame the situation and provide the hardliners with an excuse of rough handling.
They were also prepared to defend the Parliament against the mob if necessary. Disturbances in Penjaringan were quickly contained and brought to order. A group trying to attack Ahok’s house was also met with restraint and professionalism and dispersed.
And when some of the demonstrators had no means to go back to their villages, the Government provided busses to take them back.
This was a calculated action to neutralize the appeal of the Islamic hardliners.
Shortly after midnight on November 5, Jokowi made a statement thanking the hardliners for their discipline and support. He also said that there were political actors that rode on the November 4 demonstrations for their own ends by using the occasion as a platform to launch disturbances.
Trivia: Typical of the salah focus tendency for many Netizens in Jakarta, many people were more concerned about Jokowi’s bamber jacket that they felt was cool. The result: The jacket that is retailed in Zara was compeltely sold out over the next day or two.
Then, characteristic of the Javanese Opaqueness that he is known for, Jokowi kept silent. This force his detractors to demand that he pony up on who these “political actors” were to substantiate his claims.
He has continued to be strategically silent, although the head of the military has said that the government has intelligence and evidence of who the political actors are.
Over the next few weeks we may see Jokowi tightening the noose around these political actors and the Dark Forces. They have given him the excuse and justification to do so via the November 4 demonstration and subsequent disturbances.
What’s quite sure is that if this happens the Dark Forces are unlikely to take it lying down so there might be some action in store as Jokowi tightens the trap he’s set for the Dark Forces.
Makes for politics being a great spectator sport. Let’s sit back and enjoy the show.
Here’s an attempt to make sense of last night’s demonstration and disturbances
First the facts as I understand them:
Tens of thousands of people, ostensibly from Muslim groups throughout the country, converged on the area around the Presidential Palace and Monas yesterday to demand that Jakarta Governor Basuki “Ahok” Purnama be prosecuted by the police for allegedly insulting Islam
There was some inflammatory rhetoric but on the whole the protesters were well-organized and disciplined. They had volunteers to pick up rubbish, others to provide food and drinks and medical aid.
The protest officially ended at 6pm, according to their police permit, and many of the protesters headed home or away from the venue
As the crowed dispersed, a group that some believed represented members of the HMI, clashed with the Police. FPI members were seen forming a line between them and the Police, trying to prevent the former from attacking the latter. At least two police vehicles were torched. Tear gas was fired and the crowd, many of whom brought toothpaste because they believed smearing it near their eyes would mitigate the effects of tear gas. The situation was brought to order within an hour.
The renegade groups
Around 9pm reports emerged of a group of people wearing white Islamic shirts and skullcaps was causing mayhem at a convenience store in Penjaringan, north Jakarta
Rumors, through social media began spreading about how one group was heading toward the DPR. Others reported that cars were being damaged in anti-Chinese cordons near Baywalk, Pluit. There were reports of violence elsewhere, and in other towns, but they were unverified.
The disturbance at Penjaringan was quelled and some arrests were made. Police announced that order had been restored.
President Jokowi appeared nonchalant about the protest, spending his day inspecting facilities at the airport and elsewhere. Supporters praised him for studied and strategic nonchalance. Detractors said he was oblivious, didn’t care or was afraid
Vice President Yusuf Kalla was not seen much although he headed the government team to speak with the protesters and agreed to process Ahok’s case with firmness and speed.
Coordinating Minister for Political, Legal and Security Affairs Wiranto, showed he was very much a frontline person and still a military man when he took to the field. There was even some blood on his shirt from an injured policeman. There is debate on how visible he should have been.
Shortly after midnight Jokowi delivered a statement that thanked the protest organizers for being disciplined but blamed their disturbance on political actors who were riding on the event. As usual, it’s in Javanese Vague terminology so lots of guessing on what he meant.
They acted with exemplary restraint and discipline.
They also psyched the protesters with their display of manpower (backed by the military) as well equipment. Speeches given by the Police Chief in the run up also left no doubt that they would keep the peace neutrally and strictly.
As usual lots of noise between supporters and detractors of one side against another.
There were some positive developments though. Lots of Netizens urging calm, checking and rechecking social media posts before believing in them and some even started #safetycheckjkt to report where there was any disturbance, where was peaceful and normal.
The Teman Ahok Twitter account made a blunder when a timed-tweet appeared on the timeline, just as when things were getting heated up, to sell merchandise. They quickly apologized when netizens scolded them.
Coach, motivator and now one of the campaign advisors/influencers for the Anies-Sandiaga team Rene Suhardono dissed off many Netizens when he tweeted that though he respected Ahok, the Governor was really asking for whatever come his way. He hasn’t been as contrite as the Teman Ahok twitter administrators when criticised and the anger is still being vented against him today.
A bit better from their coverage of previous incidents when they were given to sensationalism, hyperbole and continuous reruns of violent scenes without pointing out that they were shots of incidents some time ago. TVRI was singled out by some observers as good news anchoring when it pointed out that some the clips had been taken before but the situation had changed.
On Saturday, the morning after the demonstrations, order seems to have restored, although some protestors had spent the night at the Parliament and was still there.
So what takeouts are there?
Unlike 1998 Jokowi seems to have the full backing of the Military and Police.So a repeat of the 1998 riots scenario seems unlikely.
It seems quite evident that there are political forces trying to bring down Jokowi and Ahok is seen as the chink in Jokowi’s armor (pun realized but unintended)
Jokowi’s maneuverings of Police appointments, Wiranto’s entry into the Cabinet and Luhut’s continued influence in the Cabinet seems to make more sense now
The battle between Jokowi, whom many now see as an honest man trying to slowly clean up the system, and the political forces that stand to lose if he is successful (tax dodgers, corrupt politicians, officials etc) continues and is likely to escalate after this.