I follow the Indonesian Presidential elections: Jokowi v Prabowo. I will be in Solo, Indonesia for the election July 9th.
Update July 22nd: And so Jokowi wins, comfortably. Jakarta was quiet around the streets of the Presidential palace. The return of the Old Fascist Order is now held back.
I guess Prabowo’s ‘tactic’ of resigning means he will not go to the Constitional Court to test the results – we will wait. But he will maintain his vicious opposition and destabilisation of Jokowi and keep mobilising his forces to claim the election was fraudulent. It will take years to see whether he is finished. (See my earlier FB post with Pat Walsh on the release of the Chega files that has evidence of Prabowo’s war crimes in Timor Leste.) The political elite who opposed Jokowi may well indeed move more to support him.
What policies Jokowi will adopt to impact positively on the lives of the millions in poverty are yet to be seen. Running on an Obama identity style brand is one tactic to get elected, but let us not argue for substantial reforms.
And the labour movement? Although unionisation is small starting from 1998, the last three years of mass union mobilisations of workers in the industrial assembly sectors over wages and conditions have been significant. But I had the opportunity to meet Said Iqbal the most powerful and charismatic union leader of these mobilisations from the Metal Workers and I questioned him over his strong support for Prabowo. He vigorously defended this action. He defended having Prabowo attend May Day union rallies etc etc. I declined to join his union rally for Prabowi this week. What Iqbal will now say over the next months as the Jokowi Presidency begins will be interesting. Some crisis amongst the organised unions over his stance will prevail. I will write this up.
For the young generation the Jokowi win gives some hope of Indonesia emerging from the fascist Suharto past.
Back to the earlier background.
Bob Lowry introduces Jokowi former mayor of Solo and now Governor of Jakarta – “Obama” like branding.
Edward Aspinall says Indonesia’s legislative elections offer a window into the deep forces shaping the country, and a glimpse of its political future. With Jokowi’s rise to the position of favourite in the presidential contest, the strong challenge is now being made by Prabowo Subianto. For many observers, the surprising result about the April Parliamentary election was that the ‘Jokowi effect’ did not provide as strong a boost for the PDIP as many people expected. Suddenly, the prospect of a Prabowo presidency seems more realistic than it did even a few months ago.
Update on the Prabowo surge. One of his policies is to end Presidential elections and return to the ‘strong man’ of politics!
Candidate Prabowo likely had more blood on his hands in East Timor.
“As everybody knows, one of the strongest candidates for the presidency has an image problem, related to his army days. But abducting a couple of dozen student activists in 1998 is not Prabowo’s worst human rights problem, though it’s what he’s best known for.
Fifteen years earlier he was in the middle of a counter-insurgency operation in East Timor that claimed many hundreds of lives.
It started on 16 September 1983 with the massacre of dozens of people, including women and children.
They had surrendered to Indonesian soldiers after coming down from Mount Bibileo near Viqueque. A survivor told the East Timorese truth commission CAVR:… ” Read the details by Gerry van Klinken http://www.insideindonesia.org/current-edition/prabowo-and-human-rights
Indonesia on the knife’s edge
The outside world should be worried by the possibility that Prabowo Subianto could become Indonesian president, writes Edward Aspinall, but the biggest losers will be Indonesia’s own people.
The leading candidate is Joko Widodo (usually known as Jokowi). Politically, he is purely a product of the new democratic era. A political nobody at the beginning of Indonesia’s democratic transformation, he came to prominence by being elected twice as the mayor of the Central Java city of Solo and then once as governor of Jakarta – a pathway to national power that would have been impossible under the old authoritarian system. Known for a low-key, meet-the-people style of interacting with constituents, he comes from a humble background, though he achieved success as a furniture exporter prior to entering politics. His style of governing emphasises bureaucratic reform, improved service delivery, expanded social welfare services and a consensus-based approach to resolving social conflict.
Though we don’t really know Jokowi’s views on many critical issues (such as how to resolve the conflict in Papua), he would be the first president without firsthand experience of official politics in the authoritarian period and, arguably, the most reformist president yet.
…there is much in his personal history, his rhetoric, and his political style to suggest that a Prabowo presidency would pose a significant threat of authoritarian reversal.
In contrast to Jokowi, Prabowo is one of the purest imaginable products of the authoritarian New Order regime (1966–98) of President Suharto. One of a handful of leading military generals by the time of Suharto’s fall from office, he was the son of an important early New Order economics minister and was married to Suharto’s daughter, Titiek. Prabowo’s younger brother, Hashim Djojohadikusumo, like many of the children of former New Order officials, went into business, while Prabowo was groomed for a career in the army. Hashim is now one of Indonesia’s richest men, as well the chief bankroller of Prabowo’s presidential ambitions.
Prabowo himself is also extremely wealthy, living on a luxurious private ranch where, among other things, he keeps a stable of expensive horses. The brothers, it should be noted, have primarily become rich in rent-seeking parts of the economy, such as timber and other natural resources.
…Prabowo promotes an amalgam of nationalist and populist themes reminiscent of demagogic politicians the world over. In all his campaign speeches he stresses, first and foremost, nationalism, saying that Indonesia is a country of great natural riches that has for too long been exploited – even enslaved – by foreigners. Indonesia’s riches are being sucked out to benefit outsiders and it is time, he says, for the country to stand on its own feet and reclaim its dignity and self-respect. He also talks at length about the plight of the poor, and how they suffer as a result of corruption, neoliberalism, neocapitalism, foreign interference and various other ills. Indonesia’s riches are stolen from the Indonesian people; it is time for them to be reclaimed and enjoyed by all Indonesian. …
…What is even more unusual is that he presents these critiques along with fiery condemnation of Indonesia’s entire political class, which he depicts as irredeemably corrupt and self-serving. As he told a crowd of workers at a rally last May Day: “The Indonesian elite has lied for too long… lied to the people, lied to the nation, lied to itself!” Later in the same speech, he added, “All are corrupted! All are bribed! All our leaders are willing to be bought and willing to be bribed!” Depicting himself as the anti-political politician See more at:
Indonesia’s 2014 Legislative Elections: The Dilemmas of “Elektabilitas” Politics by Max Lane
Posted on April 23, 2014 EXECUTIVE SUMMARY
• The continuing trend of low turnout of voters alongside the abysmally low votes for even the leading parties reveal again that alienation of the mass of the voting public from the political parties is growing steadily.
• The focus in the lead-up to the elections has been on the electability of candidates, rather than policy issues or questions of direction for the country. This reflects the reality that none of the parties is proposing any dramatic shift away from current socio-economic policy parameters, such that there are no serious policy differences to debate.
• The three main contenders for the presidency — Joko Widodo, Prabowo Subianto and Aburizal Bakrie — have packaged their campaigns around styles of communication and governance. However, it is also notable that Prabowo’s militarist style may have more serious implications for the sub- stance of governance.
• The results for the PDIP were much lower than expected, generating discussion on the absence of a “Jokowi effect”. This can be best under- stood in the light of the shallowness of Widodo’s “populism” and the ambivalence of the hope that it has inspired. The resulting absence of political leadership also meant that the PDIP had no central campaigning thrust.
• Widodo will need to use his personal popularity, which is higher than the PDIP’s, to help him win big in the July presidential election. This may compensate for the PDIP’s small parliamentary base and improve the party’s and Widodo’s bargaining position. Given the alienation between the electorate and political parties, this will require a campaign that offers more than an emphasis on style of communication. …
The party GERINDRA built itself around former Lieutenant-General Prabowo Subianto, whom it has packaged as a military leader. Prabowo appeared at many rallies wearing a keris (Javanese and Malay symbol of the ksatria or warrior) in his belt. At the rally launching his campaign, he rode in on a horse, keris in waist, and surrounded by men dressed in traditional dress, lined up in a very martial manner. Since the last elections in 2009, his supporters have played up his image as “tegas” (firm) in contrast to current President Yudhoyono’s image as vacillating, hesitant and slow to act. However, packaging him this way did, at the same time, remind another constituency that Prabowo was dismissed from the Army after 1998 for actions such as the kid- napping of democratic activists and instigating violence.13 In some ways, GERINDRA offers the only difference which goes beyond style — a shift to militarist governance….
The parties’ emphasis on style is underpinned by a shared outlook on the basic issues of Indonesian socio-economic development.
No party profiled during the campaign any proposals to seriously move away from the basic parameters of current policies. This shared outlook also underpins the ease with which all of the parties have been able to announce after the elections that they are willing and able to coalesce with any other party. …This is an insufficient basis for overcoming the public’s alienation and inspiring participation…. Read the whole article here
News: “Do I have the guts,” Prabowo asked, “am I ready to be called a Fascist dictator?”
By Allan Nairn SUNDAY, JUNE 22, 2014, www.allannairn.org
and June 26. A Response and Several Challenges to General Prabowo. General Prabowo’s campaign said today that the Indonesian Armed Forces (TNI) are ready to capture me, and claimed that I am part of a US government/business conspiracy against Prabowow.
Campaign spokesman Budi Purnomo is reported as saying that “Allan Nairn is a journalist who is known to not have a good relationship with the TNI [Indonesian Armed Forces]. He said that Allan has even been listed as having entered Indonesia illegally seven times. ‘TNI has even said that they are going to capture Allan if they learn he has returned to Indonesia,’ he stated.”
I am currently in Indonesia so if the TNI would like to capture me, they can.
(For background on Suharto/TNI banning me from Indonesia as “a threat to national security” see the previous postings about my discussions with General Prabowo).
If General Prabowo wants me to be captured because of what I’ve written about him, then I request that he say so himself.
As to the amusing charge that I am working with the US, anyone familiar with my work knows that I am an adversary of the US state and of US corporate interests.
One of my main criticisms of the US for the past 40 years has been of their practice of exploiting and killing poor people around the world, including in Indonesia.
I have publicly called for every living US president to be tried and jailed for sponsoring forces that kill civilians.
One of the many US-backed forces that kills civilians is the TNI, and General Prabowo was the US’s closest protege in the TNI (Prabowo described himself to me as “the Americans’ fair-haired boy”). In my view, the two most important facts about Prabowo are, first, that he killed civilians, and second, that he killed them while being sponsored by the United States.
I have some challenges for the general: General Prabowo, will you join me in calling for the US Presidents to be put on trial?
And regarding US exploitation of Indonesia and the issue of mining contracts, General Prabowo, will you join me in calling for the expulsion of Freeport McMoRan from Indonesia? As to my writing about Prabowo, it is accurate. If the General wants to deny this, I invite him to face me in the Indonesian courts by filing criminal libel charges against me.’ by Allan Nairn.
Update: Max Lane on Prabowo.
“Be prepared for active solidarity with the Indonesian people”
Prabowo attacks politicians in general for being corrupt and deceitful, calls for the end of the direct election of mayors and district heads and says that Indonesia’s democracy is destructive. He is preparing the ground to try to return to the dictatorship state of General Suharto if he becomes president. Read here
And in Crikey, Guy Rundle’s stop-over
Update: Jokowi campaign. Jokowi’s campaign is seemingly based around the idea that all he needs to do is press the flesh with the people. It completely revolves around the individual, rather than the party machine. This might work if you’re running for mayor of a country town, but it’s not going to cut it in a race for the presidency. The fundamentals of a successful campaign are showing up where you say you will, saying something newsworthy, and making sure that it makes the news. On this most basic principle, the Jokowi campaign is falling short rather spectacularly.
It goes without saying that his opponent has out-campaigned him. Prabowo’s campaign of course, is media rich, clear and sustained messages, and plays to its strengths.
There are still six days left before the election, and it’s entirely possible that Jokowi could still win, with Indonesians choosing the soft-spoken ‘man of the people’ over the aristocratic rabble-rouser he is running against. But if Indonesians place their trust in Jokowi on Wednesday, it will be in spite of the campaign he has run rather than because of it.
Pat Walsh in Eureka Street
And now on unions and politics.
Earlier when I was in Jakarta and discussing with Metal Workers shop-stewards what were the union developments, they said they the workers needed to have political representation. How did we start the Labor Party in Australia? They were looking at running candidates.
Here is an example of one union development in 2014: The workers of Bekasi get a political education as union activists make history in a coordinated campaign to get elected into Parliament….
“This flurry of political activity is something new for the factory workers of Bekasi. They finally have someone to vote for, because leaders of Federasi Serikat Pekerja Metal Indonesia (FSPMI, Federation of Metal Workers’ Union) are standing as candidates at the district, provincial and national level. FSPMI is a union of workers in the manufacturing sector including the electronics and automotive industries as well as many other types of manufacturing such as plastics, paper and pharmaceuticals. In Bekasi, nine union candidates are standing, with five different parties but under the common slogan ‘buruh go politik’ or ‘workers go politics’. Workers who had previously abstained from any engagement with politics are now fully immersed in the process as volunteers and supporters of their union candidates.
The union is using facebook as a campaign tool because it is free, because it is an effective way to gather and gauge support and because virtually every factory worker has a smart phone in their pocket. Moreover, because the union candidates are standing with so many parties, there is a lot of explaining to do. Each facebook post will typically depict candidates from the district, provincial and national level from three different parties….”
Read the whole account by Kirsty Hoban http://www.insideindonesia.org/current-edition/workers-go-politics
Max Lane’s lengthy article on politics, the working classes and unions.
Indonesia’s instability today comes from decades of deadly Western interference
Peter Murray June 2014
The working class in motion. From 1998 to the present, Indonesia’s ruling class has presided over an unstable regime. Breathing space has opened up for the 50 million urban workers to organise. There are many independent unions, not afraid of strikes. There is a national LGBT movement and working class feminists are an integral part of the political scene. Several socialist groups exist, mainly based in the capital, Jakarta.
While recent parliamentary elections changed very little in the People’s Representative Council, for the first time two union candidates were elected in working class districts.
The presidential election in July is shaping up as a contest between the populist mayor of Jakarta and a former general whose reputation has been dirtied by revelations of his role in several massacres in the 1980s. But bourgeois democratic elections are not likely to resolve the country’s fundamental instability.
One thing is clear, and that is that the Indonesian population, particularly those who suffered most under Suharto, is suspicious of their government and even more skeptical about Western politicians’ protestations of friendship. They have not forgotten or forgiven imperialist-driven misery.
Max Lane argues : “The immediate political atmosphere in Indonesia has been framed by the constant reportage of the endemic corruption and the vulgar opportunism of the whole elite.
What more deeply underpins the immediate conditions is the continuing mass poverty and underdevelopment.
GDP growth, as before 1997, primarily reflects commodity production (minerals etc, also palm oil). Less than 10% of the population work in medium and large scale assembly ‘manufacturing’.
The rest work in extremely low productivity sectors. Indonesia’s per capita income is still only around US$4000, and actual real incomes are still very low. At the bottom end of the scale where most Indonesians survive, inflation has eaten away much of the people’s purchasing power.
As population increases, heading towards 400-450 million by 2050 and perhaps even double that by 2080-90, there is no wonder that people can be haunted by the spectre of no future, with the only escape being getting into the tiny percentage that make up the middle class and above.
Neither of the solutions being offered: kabupaten (decentralistic) capitalism and continuing empty procedural democracy (Widodo-PDIP-NASDEM-PKB,-Wiranto et al) or centralistic crony capitalism (Prabowo – he will ditch all his partners quickly) , inevitably backed by militaristic repression – offer any solution.
Going back to the militaristic crony capitalism of the New Order will be a horrific backward step as it will hamper and slow the development of new forces that can offer another alternative to what is available now.
Leaving out the question of the underpinning economic conditions (deep, dependent underdevelopment) and the consequent poverty from political analysis will always lead to defective analysis, often sewing illusions in the prospects of social progress without radical change.”
ARTICLE: INDONESIA – THE POLITICS OF MAY DAY, 2014.
Posted on May 5, 2014
Around 250,000 workers, members of various trade unions, mobilised in Jakarta for May Day, 2014. From all accounts, the mobilisations were similar to those of 2012 and 2013.
The demands carried on workers banners and posters were for rises in minimum wages and the banning of the widespread labor hire practices.
From the hundreds of photos on facebook, posted by workers from their Chinese made handphones, it appears that the mobilisations in Jakarta as well as other cities, were dynamic, colourful and had a strong activist atmosphere about them. It is a sign that the trade union movement which has developed during the last 15 years remains strongly organised and that worker consciousness remains form on issues relating to immediate conditions.
2014: A Turning Point?
EurekaStreet: ‘Nailing Indonesia’s Next President’ by Pat Walsh
Not long ago, Soeharto murders communists
– this documentary on The Act of Killing http://chriswhiteonline.org/2013/09/indonesia-the-act-of-killing/
Max Lane http://maxlaneonline.com/2014/02/20/article-after-the-act-of-the-killing-indonesia-1965-rehabilitating-victims-rehabilitating-revolution-by-max-lane-2/
“Indonesia, Australia and the Edward Snowden Legacy: Shifting asymmetries of power”
by Richard Tanter posted from Japan Focus The Asia Pacific Journal, Vol. 12, Issue 10, No. 3, March 10, 2014.