Anang Zakaria, Yogyakarta – Ten non-government organisations (NGOs) and student groups in the Central Java city of Yogyakarta are demanding the annulment of the recently enacted law on regional elections (UU Pilkada) that abolished the direct election of regional heads.
The groups have opened a coordinating post (posko) at the zero kilometer point at the southern end of Jl. Malioboro to collect photocopies of ID cards (KTP) from people as a form of support for the annulment of the law.
“This afternoon we opened the posko, which will stay open until the evening”, said action coordinator Asman Abdullah on the afternoon of Thursday October 2. “Tomorrow (Friday) we’ll open it again”.
The protesters, who are calling themselves the Direct Election Support Committee, are made up of the Social Movement Institute, the Commission for Missing Persons and Victims of Violence (Kontras) and the Association for Elections and Democracy (Perludem). In addition to this, there are also students from Yogyakarta and regional campuses such as the Sunan Kalijaga Islamic State University, the Magelang Muhammadiyah University and the Wajo Student and High School Community.
According to Abdullah, in addition to setting up the posko in the Malioboro shopping district, the committee has also setup coordinating posts on two Yogyakarta campuses, the UIN Sunan Kalijaga and the Yogyakarta Muhammadiyah University. “We’ve already collected around 100 KTPs”, he said.
Coordinating with their networks in Jakarta, he continued, the KTPs will be sent to the Constitutional Court as part of a petition calling for the annulment of the UU Pilkada. According to Abdullah, one of the key points in the UU Pilkada, namely the election of regional heads by regional representative councils (DPRD), poses a threat to the people’s sovereignty.
On Thursday September 25, the House of Representatives (DPR) voted to enact the UU Pilkada. Five political parties, the National Mandate Party (PAN), the United Development Party (PPP), the Greater Indonesia Movement Party (Gerindra) and the Golkar Party, supported the election of regional heads through the DPRD. The Red and White parliamentary coalition that backed the Prabowo Subianto-Hatta Rajasa presidential ticket in the July 9 presidential elections won by 256 votes.
Indonesian Student Union (SMI) director Eko Prasetyo said that the action is not in fact just to support the annulment of the UU Pilkada, but also to oppose the parties that make up Prabowo’s Red and White Coalition. “The Red Axe Coalition wants to rebuild a political system like the New Order [dictatorship of former President Suharto]”, he said.
The threat posed by Red and White Coalition could also be seen in pictures on the banners brought to the action. On one blue banner was written: “The Permanent Coalition of Thieves, Fight the Robbery of the People’s Vote!”.
According to Prasetyo, Prabowo’s coalition has brought democracy in Indonesia to the brink of destruction and the political struggle cannot just be restricted to the parliament. “If civil society organisations do not take to the streets (democracy) will be in very grave danger”, he said.
The action, he said, is part of garnering broader public support. Next month, a network of social organisations will gather for a conference titled the “Emergency Democratic Conference”. “There will be a launching in 2-3 months from now”, he said.
Permanent Coalition of Thieves – Koalisi Maling Permanen. A play on KMP, the acronym for Prabowo’s Red and White Coallition, Koalisi Merah Putih.
[Translated by James Balowski.]