Jakarta – The Commission for Missing Persons and Victims of Violence (Kontras) believes that President Joko "Jokowi" Widodo has played a significant role in the state of democracy in Indonesia which is collapsing.
The Kontras made this assessment in commemorating three years under the leadership of Widodo and Vice President Ma'ruf Ami, which falls on October 20.
"President Jokowi has played a significant role in causing democracy to collapse by allowing the development of the discourse on three presidential terms and extending his term in office by hiding behind the pretext of democracy", said Kontras Coordinator Fatia Maulidiyanti in a press release on Thursday October 20.
According to Maulidiyanti, the ambition to secure a third trim and the discourse on extending the president's term in office indirectly indicates that Indonesia is experiencing a trend towards autocratic legalism.
Maulidiyanti explained that although the president is elected through democratic mechanisms such as elections (pemilu), over the period of his leadership Widodo has attempted various strategies to destroy constitutional democracy.
"Some public opinions suspect that the discourse on extending the presidential term would be consolidated in order to make, namely constitutional amendments to allow the president to serve more than two terms", she said.
"If this was indeed what was to happen, Indonesia could be considered to no longer adhere to a system of rule of law (rechtsstaat) but instead practice a system of state power (machtstaat)", she added.
Maulidiyanti said that a state power must be founded upon the wishes of the majority of people. The people, she continued, have the authority to limit, change and revoke the mandate of the power holders.
"The discourse on postponing the pemilu not only breaches the constitution, but it also clearly violates constitutional rights", she said.
Furthermore, Maulidiyanti said that over these three years there has been a narrowing of civil freedoms. This has been shown by the use of the Information and Electronic Transaction (ITE) Law to silence citizens.
"The president is kind of blessing a situation that continues to deteriorate. Ongoing repression is continued against those who are critical both in the public or digital domain, moreover the actors do not just come from the authorities", said Maulidiyanti.
"Likewise also with the attacks and criminalisation of human rights defenders which is making them increasingly vulnerable", she added.
Maulidiyanti along with human rights activist Haris Azhar and have been declared suspects based on a police report submitted by Coordinating Minister for Maritime Affairs and Investment Luhut Binsar Pandjaitan for alleged defamation.
The pair were reported over the content of a video titled, There is Lord Luhut behind the Economic Relations-Military Operations in Intan Jaya!! There are also State Intelligence Agency Generals!!. Azhar uploaded the video on his YouTube account.
On August 23 President Widodo said that the democratic climate in Indonesia at the moment is actually very free. According to Widodo, this is apparent from people's freedom to express a view.
"What freedoms are still lacking? People berate the president, insult the president, mock the president, ridicule the president also, every day we hear this", said Widodo in a video of an interview with TV One media personality Karni Ilyas which was uploaded on his Twitter account @Jokowi.
He even asked what other freedoms of expression the public wants saying that democracy in Indonesia is already very liberal.
"[Indonesia's] democracy is very very liberal I think, even though we're an eastern people who are very well mannered, ethical and have refined ways, but now we, I think, it's already very very liberal", he said.
In addition to this, on the discourse about a third presidential term, Widodo asserted that he will obey the constitution and said that the constitution clearly limits the number of presidential terms to two.
"Once again, I will always obey the constitution and wishes of the people. I repeat, I will obey the constitution and the wishes of the people", said Widodo when opening the Indonesian People's Consultation (Musra) in Bandung, West Java, on August 28. (ryn/tsa)
[Translated by James Balowski. The original title of the article was "KontraS Kritik 3 Tahun Jokowi-Ma'ruf: Demokrasi Ambruk".]