Cancelling dialogue with students, Jokowi meets with volunteers instead

Source – September 27, 2019
Police beat student during protest in Makassar – September 24, 2019 (Antara)
Police beat student during protest in Makassar – September 24, 2019 (Antara)

Ihsanuddin, Jakarta – President Joko “Jokowi” Widodo has cancelled a meeting with student representatives who have been holding protest actions against the Draft Criminal Code (RKUHP) and the revised Corruption Eradication Commission Law (UU KPK).

After confirming the cancelation, the president instead met with volunteers at the Presidential Palace in Jakarta on the afternoon of Friday September 27.

The meeting, which was attended by scores of volunteers from several different organisations, was closed to the public.

Golkar Jokowi Chairperson Rizal Mallarangeng said that during the meeting the volunteers gave their support and conveyed their sympathy over the various problems the president is facing at the moment.

“What has been happening with your problems in Papua, what we could contribute, what has been happening with the demonstrations in Jakarta and other parts of the country against the UU KPK, the RKUHP, they were the things which were considered from various perspectives”, said Mallarangeng.

Jokowi National Secretariat (Seknas) Secretary Dedi Mawardi said that the meeting considered three options to address the revisions to the KPK law which are being widely protested by the public.

The three options were those raised earlier when Widodo met with several national figures, including legal practitioners and experts the day before.

The first option is to conduct a legislative review, namely the House of Representatives (DPR) and the government immediately review the recently enacted KPK Law revisions.

Second is to submit a judicial review with the Constitutional Court, and third, for the president to issue a Government Regulation in Lieu of Law (Perppu) to annul the KPK Law.

“Essentially we support any decision taken by the president”, said Mawardi.

Mawardi however said he is disappointed with the students who have been so quick to protest against the KPK Law but were reluctant to attend the meeting at the Palace today, despite being invited by the president.

“We also regret that our younger student sisters and brothers [adik-adik] who were invited didn’t attend. Because if they don’t attend then they won’t know what Pak [Mr] Jokowi really wants. We appeal to our younger student sisters and brothers to immediately open up a dialogue”, he said.

The All Indonesia Student Executive Council (BEM) meanwhile has stated that it is only prepared to meet with Widodo if the meeting is open and can be witnessed by the broader public by being televised nationally.

This was conveyed by All Indonesia BEM Central Alliance Coordinator Muhammad Nurdiyansyah in a written press release on Friday.

Nurdiyansyah said that the BEM Alliance was once invited to the State Palace in 2015 but the meeting was held in a closed room. As a result the student movement ended up being split and divided.

“We learnt from that experience and don’t want it to become a game playing tool by those in power who are being legitimately criticised by the public, so in the end the substance of the demands being presented at the protest actions are forgotten”, said Nurdiyansyah who is also the student president of the Bogor Institute of Agriculture (IPB).

Nurdiyansyah said that he also feels that the demands presented by the students at various actions and though media channels are already clear, namely rejecting the enactment of the RKUHP and the revisions to the KPK Law.

“So what is actually needed is not a meeting which is full of negotiations, but rather a clear stand by the president on the student’s demands. Put simply, our demands have never been directed at having a meeting, rather, our demand is that the Bapak [Mr] president fulfills our demands”, he said.

State Secretary Pratikno has confirmed that the meeting between Widodo and the students was cancelled. When asked whether this was because the students wanted the meeting to be open to the public, Pratikno denied this.

According to Pratikno the meeting was canceled because the president wanted to meet with other guests, although he refused to answer when asked who the president was meeting with.

“No, it wasn’t like that, this afternoon there are several meetings, the president has several guests so a schedule (to meet with the students) hasn’t been set yet”, said Pratikno.

[Translated by James Balowski. The original title of the article was “Batal Dialog dengan Mahasiswa, Presiden Jokowi Bertemu Relawan”.]