Election boycott activists disappointed, but not surprised by new cabinet

CNN Indonesia – October 25, 2019
Placard reads ‘Jokowi and Prabowo are Just the Same’ (Kumparan)
Placard reads ‘Jokowi and Prabowo are Just the Same’ (Kumparan)

Jakarta – The announcement and inauguration of the new Advance Indonesia Cabinet members by President Joko “Jokowi” Widodo and Vice President Ma’ruf Amin has attracted a variety of responses. There are some who are happy because they have long awaited such a lineup. There are others however who are disappointed and dissatisfied.

Those who decided not to vote or golput during the 2019 presidential elections have also responded. In general, they have responded to the new cabinet with disappointment, but not surprise.

The following are responses from golput campaigners on the composition of the Advance Indonesia Cabinet.

Dandhy Laksono

Watchdoc production house founder Dandhy Laksono says that Indonesia has entered the era of the Oligarchy Order (Orde Oligarki).

The 1959-1966 period under Indonesia’s founding President Sukarno was known as the Old Order (Orde Lama). Then the 1966-1998 period under former president Suharto as known as the New Order (Orde Baru). It is fitting, said the social and human rights activists, to call the current period the Oligarchy Order.

“This cabinet confirms that Indonesia has entered the Oligarchy Order. Not just the cabinet, but the DPR [House of Representatives] also reflects this. Hundreds of business people and relatives of state officials, they’re all gathered together”, said Laksono in an SMS message sent on Thursday October 24.

Laksono said that the Reform Order (Orde Reformasi) only lasted for three years when Megawati Sukarnoputri was the president. According to Laksono, the Reform Order ended when martial law was declared in Aceh in 2003.

Laksono says that former president Susilo Bambang Yudhoyono (SBY) also did not pursue the agenda of reformasi – the political reform movement that began in 1998 – during his two terms in office.

“Then there was the era of President Jokowi, which moved even further away from the spirit of reformasi, and I think can be categorised as a new period, namely the Oligarchy Order”, he said.

Laksono said he was not surprised by the make up the new DPR coming out of the 2019 elections (pemilu) nor the composition of the Advance Indonesia Cabinet. According to Laksono, what is actually surprising is that the public’s awareness has grown so quickly.

“From initially not being too familiar with the phenomena of an oligarchy, now through the movement #ReformasiDikorupsi [Reform Corrupted], an awareness of the threat of the oligarchy is increasingly understood”, he said.

Dhyta Caturani

Social and human rights activist Dhyta Caturani is not surprised or shocked by the composition of the new cabinet. She also does not regret her decision not to vote or golput in the April 17 presidential election.

According to Caturani, this oligarchy can clearly be seen in the new cabinet. While they competed against each other in the legislative and presidential elections, in the end they are in all part of the same group and all want to gain benefits.

“They will organise themselves to unite based on the same interests, which of course will not side with the ordinary people”, she said.

According to Caturani, this is a certainty under Indonesian’s rotten politics, so there will be no space given to good people to be involved in managing the state.

Caturani also touched on the disappointment of Widodo’s militant supporters over Prabowo Subianto’s selection as defense minister. According to Caturani, this disappointment is naive.

She asserted that Widodo, during his first five years in office, had already betrayed the mandate of reformasi and failed to fulfill his 2014 election campaign promises. Former senior military officers alleged to have committed past human rights violations were included in Widodo’s first cabinet.

“Prabowo is just the icing on the cake”, said Caturani. “My question is will these disappointed Jokowi supporters now return to the path of criticising Jokowi as has been done by golput-ers? I hope so”, she continued.

Alghiffari Aqsa

The director of the AMAR Law Firm and Public Interest Law Office Alghiffari Aqsa says that the composition of ministers in the cabinet is evidence that the presidential election was indeed simply a celebration owned by the political elite. Not something owned by the people as voters.

Aqsa, who has been active in articulating #SayaGolput (I am Golput) on Twitter also highlighted the appointment of Prabowo as defense minister. According to Aqsa, no matter who won the April presidential election, it was the public that would be the losers. Particularly the victims of human rights (HAM) violations.

“Whoever was going to won, the losers would be the victims of HAM violations, the perpetrators of HAM violations have become ministers”, said Aqsa. “Many were angry with the golput groups but what the golput groups predicted has now been proven to be true”, he continued.

Aqsa admitted to not being surprised that Prabowo was appointed as a cabinet minister by Widodo. The reason, according to Aqsa, is that Widodo and Prabowo have both neglected human rights. Prabowo is alleged to have committed past human rights violations while Widodo has failed to resolve past gross human rights violation cases.

“Especially since there is a close history between Jokowi, Prabowo and Megawati”, said Aqsa. “The current elite cabinet has even sidelined women with minimal women’s representation”, he continued.

Aqsa hopes that the public will be more critical in looking at the political dynamics by not fanatically supporting [Widodo or Prabowo]. Aqsa believes that the public needs to develop a more open political attitude.

For example by being involved in protest actions or demonstrations as well as advocating for legislative reform, laws for example, government regulations, presidential decrees and so on, which are categorised as wrong.

“Or even though legal channels”, said the former director of the Jakarta Legal Aid Foundation (LBH).

A consolidation of business, military and police

The groups which have up until now elected to golput tend to hold the same views and in general were not surprise or shocked by the new cabinet makeup.

Haris Azhar

Lokataru Law and Human Rights Office Director Haris Azhar, who has been vocal and not reluctant to proclaim himself as golput, also highlighted the appointment of Greater Indonesia Movement Party (Gerindra) Chairperson Prabowo as defense minister. As is well known, Prabowo was Widodo’s arch rival in the both the 2014 and 2019 presidential elections, but was appointed as a minister and his party is no longer in opposition.

According to Azhar, it is not difficult to accept the reality that Widodo and Prabowo want to work together in the government even though they fought it out as rivals in the 2019 presidential election. He speaks this way because he believes that Widodo and Prabowo are from the same mold.

“Because they are indeed the same type, neither have a character which respects constitutional rights. And, they both lied to the people and their respective supporters during the pemilu”, he said.

Azhar also touched on the statement by Catholic priest and philosopher Franz Magnis Suseno who called people supporting golput “psycho-freaks”. Suseno made this judgment in an article carried by the national daily Kompas during the 2019 presidential election campaign.

Azhar believes that Suseno spoke like this at the time so that golput groups would vote for the Widodo-Amin ticket in the elections. Now however, after Widodo has appointed Prabowo as defense minister, Azhar asks:

Golput-ers were said to be psycho-freaks if they didn’t vote, in other words, promoting a vote for Jokowi. What is the correct thing to call a person who appoints Prabowo as a minister? Romo Magnis, I await your response”, said the former coordinator of the Commission for Missing Persons and Victims of Violence (Kontras).

Lini Zurlia

Women’s rights activist Lini Zurlia, who was often criticised on Twitter for calling for golput, sees the new cabinet lineup as a consolidation of forces which has been well planned. She is convinced that Widodo [did not] just consider the appointments over the last one or two days.

“This cabinet is truly a cabinet representing a consolidation of forces between the forces of business, the police who are currently a super power and also the military, the forces of the oligarchy”, she said.

Zurlia is also not surprised with the ministers selected by Widodo, including Prabowo, even though he contested the 2019 presidential elections against Widodo. She considers this to be a normal occurrence because they both come from the same group.

“Under an oligarchy there are no eternal enemies, because what is eternal is power and interests”, she said.

Bilven Sandalista

Literacy activist Bilven Sandalista, who is also an active political commentator on Twitter, believes that the composition of the new cabinet has disappointed Widodo as well as Prabowo’s fanatic supporters. According to Sandalista, the supporters of the two candidates in the 2019 presidential elections would certainly have been shocked.

But this is not so among the groups that decided not to vote or golput. “Because this proves the thesis why [we] elected to golput: there wasn’t actually any significant difference between 01 and 02”, she said referring to the numbers assigned to the Widodo and Prabowo campaign tickets.

Sandalista also touched on Prabowo’s party Gerindra which has joined President Widodo’s coalition. She then relates this back to the fact that the 2019 legislative and presidential elections cost trillions of rupiah and the lives of hundreds of Polling Station Organising Committee (KPPS) officials that died on the job.

“All of this has become meaningless with the two camps now embracing each other and dividing up power”, said Sandalista. (bmw)


Golongan Putih or White Group. The term first emerged as a campaign by students in the 1971 elections and derives its name from marking the white section of the ballot paper rather than a party symbol or candidate’s picture thereby making the vote invalid. In recent years the term has broadened to include not just intentionally casting an invalid vote but also vote abstention. Despite not being illegal under election laws introduced in 2003, people campaigning for golput during the 2019 elections were vilified – particularly by diehard Widodo supporters – and even threatened with criminal action by government officials.

[Translated by James Balowski. The original title of the article was “Suara Para ‘Dedengkot’ Golput Melihat Kabinet Baru Jokowi”.]

Source: https://www.cnnindonesia.com/nasional/20191025064036-20-442703/suara-para-dedengkot-golput-melihat-kabinet-baru-jokowi