Interfaith figures call in Jokowi to remain neutral in 2024 elections

Source – January 17, 2024
National Movement of Conscience figures hold dialogue with media edtors – January 17, 2024 (Kompas)

Zulkarnaini, Jakarta – A grouping of national figures have expressed concerns about the ongoing election process and say they have observed attempts to use excessive power to achieve further power.

They are therefore asking President Joko "Jokowi" Widodo to take a neutral position in the elections, are encouraging election organisers to obey the rules and are inviting the public to commit to the elections running democratically.

These issues were raised during a national dialogue initiated by the National Movement of Conscience (GNB) with media editors in Jakarta on Wednesday January 17.

Present at the dialogue were Sinta Nuriyah Abdurrahman Wahid, Franz Magnis-Suseno, Pastor Gomar Gultom, Omi Komariah Madjid, Karlina Rohima Supelli, Makarim Wibisono, Lukman Hakim Saifuddin, Komaruddin Hidayat, Erry Riyana Hardjapamekas and Alissa Wahid.

Gomar Gultom said he has caught wind of the practice of the use of power by the current ruling government in the ongoing election process. He said that the use of such power will give rise to chaos.

"There is a kind of mobilisation of the civil apparatus to support one of the candidates because power is being used to achieve power", said Goltom.

He said that national figures in the GNB have come forward to remind all parties to obey the rules and ethics so that the elections proceed honestly, fairly and with dignity. "Don't let the elections sacrifice the nation's integrity", said Goltom.

Conflict of interest

The GNB also warned all presidential candidate tickets to contest the elections fairly so that they can produce leaders who have strong legitimacy from the people. Whoever wins the election, they will be the leaders who will continue building the nation.

During the forum however, it emerged that this use of power is considered to have occurred since the birth of the Constitutional Court ruling on allowing presidential and vice presidential candidates under 40 years of age to run in elections as long as they had served as regional heads through regional elections.

The Constitutional Courts ruling which was presided over by Anwar Usman, President Widodo's brother-in-law, paved the way for the president's eldest son Gibran Rakabuming Raka to run as Defense Minister Prabowo Subianto's vice presidential running mate.

Because there is a conflict of interest between the head of state and one of the contestants, the GNB warned against meddling (cawe-cawe) in the election process.

Former Jakarta Syarif Hidayatullah State Islamic University rector Komaruddin Hidayat said that the elections are a process of national leadership transition. According to Hidayat, whoever is elected they are obliged to continue developing the nation in a better direction.

"The vision and mission of change or continuation is just rhetoric, whoever the president is they must continue development, said Hidayat.

Hidayat said however that the elections must be fair, honest and without fraud in order to give birth to leaders who have strong legitimacy that are not only loved by the people, but also respected by the world.

Sinta Nuriyah, widow of the late former president Abdurrahman “Gus Dur” Wahid, said that elections are actually a bridge to continue the nation's development in a better direction. She reminded all parties to put the interests of the nation above the interests of groups.

"We don't want Indonesia to be divided and messy. The National Movement of Conscience was born out of anxiety about the situation", said Nuriyah.

Nuriyah added that the nation's elderly figures are concerned about and really love the integrity of the Unitary State of the Republic of Indonesia (NKRI). Therefore, they have come down from the mountains to guide the public so they become involved in maintaining national integrity.

Spirit of the Indonesian nation

Lukman Hakim Saifuddin meanwhile said that democracy is the spirit of the Indonesian nation, so do not allow the elections take place outside the corridors of democracy. If the sails of democracy are torn, it will be too expensive and take too much energy to knit them together again.

Therefore, the former Minister of Religion is encouraging all elements of the nation to celebrate democracy with happiness and without pressure and threats. "In democracy there is pluralism and a variety of aspirations, but now it feels distorted and there is anxiety because there is an inappropriate process", he said.

The Constitutional Court's ruling to allow people under 40 years of age to become presidential and vice presidential candidates as long as they have served as regional heads through regional elections is considered to be the beginning of the threat to democracy.

Lukman Hakim said that recently the public had begun to feel symptoms of anxiety because they were worried that the election will not be fair, honest and dignified. "In elections there is often polarisation, but don't let it go too far", he said.

Indonesia succeeded in going through difficult times during the reformasi era beginning in 1998 in replacing the New Order regime of former president Suharto with democracy. Don’t let this bloody struggle be fractured because of the elections. On the contrary, elections must be a bridge for the nation to prosper towards the golden age of 2045.

Karlina Rohima Supelli from the Driyarkara School of Philosophy said that national figures in the GNB will meet with electoral organising institutions, the national police, the TNI (Indonesian military) and other parties to remind everyone to obey the regulations and carry out their duties according to their function so that the elections proceed democratically.

"The GNB wants to show everyone that we are monitoring and inviting the public to participate in monitoring the elections", said Supelli.

[Translated by James Balowski. The original title of the article was "Ada Upaya Penggunaan Kekuasaan, Tokoh Bangsa Minta Presiden Jokowi Netral".]