Complaints mount over Prabowo camp’s misuse of quotes in electoral challenge

CNN Indonesia – June 15, 2019
Prabowo-Sandiaga legal team at first Constitutional Court hearing – June 14, 2019 (CNN)
Prabowo-Sandiaga legal team at first Constitutional Court hearing – June 14, 2019 (CNN)

Jakarta – A number of parties have protested over statements quoted by the loosing Prabowo Subianto-Sandiaga Uno presidential ticket in a legal challenge against the presidential election (pilpres) result with the Constitutional Court (MK).

They include the Democratic Party, Melbourne University law professor Tim Lindsey, Australian National University doctorate graduate Tom Power and the head of the Joko Widodo-Ma’ruf Amin legal team Yusril Ihza Mahendra.

They are protesting over the Prabowo-Sandiaga legal team’s use of their statements which are taken out of context or their original meaning.

Democrat Party Legal and Advocacy Division Chairperson Ferdinand Hutahaean for example said that the use of a statement by Democratic Party chairperson former president Susilo Bambang Yudhoyono (SBY), who said that the State Intelligence Agency (BIN), the national police (Polri) and the Indonesian military (TNI) are not neutral, was taken out of context because Yudhoyono made the statement in 2018.

The statement cited by the Prabowo-Sandiaga legal team read, “... there are stories about the lack of neutrality of elements or individuals, from BIN, Polri and the TNI, they clearly exits, there have been incidents, and it’s not a hoax. Once again these are rogue individuals... I convey this so that BIN, Polri and the TNI will be neutral. Because there are grounds, there have been incidents”, said Yudhoyono as quoted by Prabowo-Sandiaga legal team member Denny Indrayana.

Indrayana does not deny that Yudhoyono’s statement was not made in the context of the presidential elections but rather it was about the simultaneous election of regional heads (pilkada). But he is convinced that the statements was a warning and at the same time an initial indication that a similar bias could possibly occur in the 2019 presidential elections.

“[I don’t deny] that SBY’s statement was about the simultaneous pilkada in 2018, but it was close to the 2019 pilpres, so it doesn’t automatically mean that it is certain that BIN was neutral in the 2019 pilpres, because the facts show otherwise”, he said.

According to Ferdinand Hutahaean, Yudhoyono made the statement in the context of the simultaneous election of regional heads in 2018.

“This [Constitutional Court] hearing is demanding evidence related to the pilpres. So if statements during the pilkada are used, there is of course no connection”, said Hutahaean on Friday June 14.

Tim Lindsey has also objected to his views being cited in a documents submitted in the electoral dispute by the Prabowo-Sandiaga legal team.

Lindsey’s objections, which were published by the Australian newspaper The Weekend Australian, said that his article which was cited by Prabowo’s legal team had no relationship to the 2019 presidential election because it was written 18 months beforehand.

Lindsay insists that the article, titled Is Indonesia sliding towards a ‘Neo-New Order’?, was more concerned with the emergence of conservative politics in Indonesia.

“These [conservative politics] created questions which were then asked by activists in Indonesia about whether there were elements of or Suharto era political actors which were reemerging in Indonesia today”, said Lindsey, adding that his article never concluded that the administration of President Joko “Jokowi” Widodo was authoritarian.

“Prabowo’s legal team included a quote from the article in the appeal which was very clearly out of context, as well as being given an emphasis which was not found in the original article and it does not support the arguments they are presenting”, reiterated Linsday. “In the article I only talked about political problems”.

Responding to Lindsey’s protests, Prabowo-Sandiaga election campaign team (BPN) Deputy Chairperson Priyo Budi Santoso said they intentionally did not request prior permission to quote from the University of Melbourne law professor.

Santoso said that Lindsey’s views were not an important part of the electoral challenge submitted to the Constitutional Court.

“His was not the only view that we used as evidence. Because the [views] of the Australian legal observer were not too important, just a little seasoning which wasn’t important”, said Santoso at a discussion titled Polemic at the Consulate in Jakarta.

Santoso also questioned Lindsey’s denial that he said that Widodo was authoritarian, claiming that the legal team quoted from Lindsey’s views as they were written.

The secretary general of Tommy Suharto’s Working Party also claims that quotes from Lindsey’s article have already been widely read so Prabowo’s legal team did not need to seek prior permission.

Tom Power meanwhile has protested the Prabowo-Sandiaga legal team’s use of his article in a context that was incomplete.

The legal team took quotes from Power’s article titled Jokowi’s Authoritarian Turn and Indonesia’s Democratic Decline, which were used to support the assumption that the character of the Widodo administration was the same as Suharto’s authoritarian New Order regime.

Power says that the article he wrote was did not in any way refer to or point to indications of fraud in the 2019 elections because it was written six months beforehand.

According to Power, it is extremely difficult to conclude that the actions of the Widodo administration as cited in his article can be interpreted as evidence of massive or structured electoral fraud.

“But they used this article in a context that was incomplete”, said Power as quoted by CBNC Indonesia on Thursday June 13.

Power also said that while his research does indeed point to indications that the Widodo administration has shown anti-democratic tendencies, he claims he absolutely did not say that the Widodo administration is authoritarian.

“I did not in any way say that the quality of democracy in Indonesia would be better if Prabowo becomes president”, said Power.

Another figure who has spoken out is Yusril Ihza Mahendra. In the appeal read out by Prabowo’s legal team, they quoted a 2014 statement by Mahendra related to the Constitutional Court’s authority in trying structured, systematic and massive (TSM) fraud in elections.

“In essence Prof. Dr. Yusril Ihza Mahendra conveyed the view that the MK itself in undertaking its authority has taken steps in a direction which are more substantial in examining, trying and handing down verdicts in election disputes, particularly in cases of presidential and vice presidential election disputes”, said Prabowo-Sandiaga legal team member Nasrullah during a preliminary hearing at the Constitutional Court building in Jakarta on Friday June 14.

Mahendra says that this quote is irrelevant to the current situation because it was taken from a statement he made in 2014, before Law Number 7/2017 on Elections came into force.

“So at that time we (before it was clear) [were questioning] who is authorised to try cases related to TSM (fraud)”, said Mahendra speaking at the Constitutional Court building. (mts/osc)

[Translated by James Balowski. The original title of the article was “Ramai-ramai Protes Dikutip Tim Prabowo dalam Sengketa Pilpres”.]