After 27 months dissatisfaction with government growing again

Kompas – October 20, 2003
President Megawati Sukarnoputri (titiknol)
President Megawati Sukarnoputri (titiknol)

Compared to three months ago, the public’s assessment of the performance of President Megawati Sukarnoputri’s government in the ninth quarter of the government’s term is showing signs of a decline.

This conclusion was revealed in the results of a Kompas survey conducted in 13 major cities across Indonesia. The quarterly survey which specifically evaluated the performance of the government represents the ninth period in the 27 months of the term of the government of President Megawati Sukarnoputri.

In the survey, the decline in public appreciation is apparent from their assessment of the government’s performance in overcoming a number of problems, from problems with the economy, politics, security and law enforcement to social prosperity. Related to these problems, the publics faith in the government’s ability to overcome the nation’s problems has again dropped. As a result, compared with a similar assessment in the previous period, at present the overall performance of the government of Megawati has not shown any significant progress.

In the area of politics and security for example, on the whole the government’s performance has not been able to allay the public’s feelings of pessimism. This can be seen from the low level of satisfaction in society with regard to the efforts of the government. With regard to the government’s efforts in the area of politics and security, three months ago 35 per cent of respondents felt satisfied, this has now dropped to 28 per cent.

One of the issues which appears to contribute to the oblique assessment of the political performance of the government is related to the governments efforts to guarantee the freedom of the press. Three months ago those who were dissatisfied with the government’s efforts to guarantee the freedom of the press was as high as 35 per cent. This percentage has experienced a slight increase to 39 per cent this time round.

The other issue which still continues to shadow the government is related to the susceptible condition of national integration at the moment. People’s assessment has tended to drop with regard to the government’s efforts in handling problems of the national disintegration. Previously, satisfaction was expressed by 34 per cent of respondents, this has now dropped to only 28 per cent. This may be because of the protracted nature of the separatist movement in Aceh which had previously resulted an improvement in the public’s assessment which has now been reversed.

In the area of the law, the assessment of the government’s performance is still unsatisfactory. The assessment in the area of the law is related to the government’s effort to eliminate cases of corruption, collusion and nepotism (KKN) which is not considered to be satisfactory. This fact was revealed in the expression of dissatisfaction which was shown by the majority (91 per cent) of respondents. A similar level of dissatisfaction was revealed by three quarters of respondents (76 per cent) with regard to the government’s efforts to cleanup legal institutions. On the whole, the government’s efforts to enforce the law were only assessed positively by 18 per cent of respondents.

In the area of politics, security and law enforcement, it appears that the majority of respondents feel pessimistic in viewing the government’s performance. Only 33 per cent of respondents were optimistic that the government’s performance in the area of politics and security will be able to improve. Meanwhile, only 28 per cent were convinced that by the end of the government’s term law enforcement will be functioning better.

On economic issues, in general the level of public dissatisfaction has also increased. Three months ago, as many as 72 per cent of respondents said they were dissatisfied. This dissatisfaction has now increased to 77 per cent. The various economic problems which continue to plague ordinary people have yet to be solved. Seventy nine per cent of responders who were contacted in the survey this time round stated they were still disappointed with the government efforts to control the price of goods and services.

President Megawati’s recent policy of delaying the increase in electricity charges appears not to have been able to generate a meaningful positive assessment on the part of the public. I appears that they understand that it is a delay only and sooner or later it will definitely increase.

Because of this, in the eyes of the respondents, the priority tasks which must immediately be carried out by the government cannot be separated from the issue of the price of goods and the providing opportunities for employment. They hope that as quickly as possible, the government will control the prices of essential goods and broaden opportunities for employment. These two issues are the priority, bearing in mind that both are directly linked with the public’s economic well being.

In the area of people’s prosperity, the government’s performance also attracted sharp attention. On the whole, the government’s efforts are still assessed as not being satisfactory enough by 78 per cent of respondents. In their view, the anticipation and steps by the government in dealing with a number of social problems which seem to have suddenly appeared are felt to be clumsy, while these should have been able to be anticipated.

This negative assessment was not only indicated by the 88 per cent of respondents with regard to the government’s effort to deal with the increasing levels of unemployment, but also with regard to the speed at which the government has moved to anticipate and overcome problems which have emerged as a result of natural disasters.

In the area of the environment, three months ago dissatisfaction with the government’s performance was shown by 66 per cent of respondents, in the survey this time around, this percentage has increase to no less than 77 per cent of respondents.

The drop in the public’s assessment of government efforts in the area of social welfare was also indicated by the weakness of public satisfaction with the government’s performance in fulfilling household needs. This time round, a feeling of satisfaction was only expressed by only 19 per cent of respondents, while three months ago it was still around 29 per cent. The large number of forced evictions by local governments has influenced the public’s view of government’s good intentions in providing protection for the places where people are living.

The assessment of respondents tends to indicate a retreat in the government’s performance at this time and shows that the present government is still been able to effectively resolve a number of national problems.

At the very least, over the last three months there has not been any meaningful improvement. This contrasts significantly with three months ago. At that time, the government’s performance tended to be assessed as improving and people’s feelings of certainty was also tending to improve. (BE Satrio/Litbang Kompas)

[Translated by James Balowski.]