Weathering the storm

Kompas – October 23, 2019

Lightning reads: Oligarchy

Man: I hope you’ll weather the storm.

Indonesians have expressed disappointment after President Joko Widodo (left) and Vice President Ma’ruf Amin (right) announced their new so-called “Working Cabinet 2” (Kabinet Kerja 2) lineup which included Widodo’s presidential election rival Prabowo Subianto (climbing rope ladder) – an ex-army general accused of human rights abuses – as defense minister.

Widodo announced his cabinet line-up on Wednesday having beaten Prabowo in April’s presidential and legislative elections. At least nine people died and more than 200 were injured during riots in Jakarta following the bitterly fought campaign, during which Prabowo accused Widodo’s government of orchestrating a “massive, systematic and fraudulent” election.

Prabowo, a former son-in-law of the late dictator Suharto, stands accused of ordering the abductin and torture of activists ahead of anti-government demonstrations in 1998 when he was an army commander and human rights abuses during his tours of duty in East Timor and West Papua. He has never been charged in relation to the alleged incidents.

Ahead of Prabowo’s appointment, Amnesty International Indonesia executive director Usman Hamid said “it would be a dark day for human rights in this country” if he got the defence job.

The selection, also reinforced concerns that post-Suharto Indonesia has come under the control of a pro-business, anti-liberal and authoritarian oligarchy bent on plundering the country’s resources at the expense of the ordinary people.

Given the widespread public anger and sense of betrayal which underscored the massive student-led protests in September, Widodo and his new cabinet may well be heading into a storm of protest.