Jakarta – The Draft Law on Regional Elections (RUU Pilkada), which abolishes the direct election of regional heads and was successfully enacted into law (UU Pilkada) by the parties backing Prabowo Subianto’s Red and White Coalition (KMP) is a threat to democracy.
The People’s Sovereignty Movement (Gerakan Rakyat Berdaulat, GRB) has declared a state of emergency for democracy, which was with great effort struggled for during the New Order dictatorship of former president Suharto and has advanced over the last 16 years of reformasi (the post-1998 period of political reform).
The GRB is an alliance of 130 civil society organisations including, among others, the University of Indonesia Alliance for Democracy, the People’s Liberation Party (PPR), the Student Struggle Center for National Liberation (Pembebasan), IndoProgress, Indonesian Human Rights Watch (Imparsial), the Jakarta Legal Aid Foundation (LBH Jakarta), the Indonesian Institute of Science Center for Political Studies (P2P LIPI), the Indonesian People’s Struggle Union (SPRI) and a number of trade unions such as the National Trade Union (SPN), the Indonesian Transportation Trade Union of Struggle (SBTPI) and the Cross-Factory Labour Forum (FBLP).
On Wednesday October 8 on the grounds of the LBH Jakarta, the GRB held a free speech forum as warm up to an action planned for October 14. GRB activist Surya Anta from the PPR explained their opposition to the UU Pilkada and other anti-democratic regulations.
“We oppose the UU Pilkada and reject all legislation that is anti-democratic. We see that the democracy that we have struggled for and defended over the last 16 years, is now seen as something valuable, to be used as an opportunity by corruptors to get money and for transactional politics. The deficiencies in the current democracy should not be used [by the KMP] as grounds to return to the New Order, rather they should be answered by finding solutions and broadening this democracy”, said Anta.
Anta also said that Prabowo and the KMP are taking advantage of democracy to return Indonesia to the New Order. “Prabowo was able to establish the Gerindra Party because of the existence of democracy in the era of reformasi. But after Gerindra succeeded in getting into parliament and becoming the third largest [party], now Gerindra wants to return to the very New Order that restricted the people’s political rights”, he said.
The political forces that want a return to the New Order, namely Prabowo and the KMP are consolidating. A number of pieces of legislation that limit the right to organise and the political rights of the people, such as the law on mass organisations, the social conflict management law, the UU Pilkada and the national security law, will become a packet of regulations that are ready to return Indonesia to the era of the New Order.
“So the democratic situation is in a state of emergency and requires a mass people’s movement to fight it”, he asserted.
[Translated by James Balowski.]