Jakarta – A survey by Saiful Mujani Research and Consulting (SMRC) has found that people are becoming increasingly afraid of speaking about politics and of arbitrary arrest by police.
The survey, involving 1,064 respondents conducted through face-to-face interviews, was conducted between February 28 and March 8, 2021, with a margin of error of 3.07 percent and a level of confidence of 95 percent.
"The assessment on the existence of public fears about speaking about politics, arrest has experienced a rise compared with before", said SMRC researcher Saidiman Ahmad in a direct broadcast on the SMRC TV YouTube channel on Tuesday April 6.
Ahmad said that this was found in the question segments "Is the public afraid of speaking about political issues?" and "Is the public afraid of arbitrary arrest by law enforcement officials?".
From the results of the survey it was found at 32.1 percent of respondents admitted to often being afraid to speak about political issues, 7.1 percent admitting to always being afraid to talk politics, 33.3 percent saying they are rarely afraid, 20.2 percent stating that are never afraid and 7.2 percent not answering.
Looking at the trend over the last 17 years, said Ahmad, the fear of speaking about polices has tended to increase.
Twenty-four percent of people were always or often afraid to speak about politics in April 2004, 25 percent in September 2007, 20 percent in April 2009 and 14 percent in July 2009.
The trend in people who were always or often afraid to speak about politics rose again to 22 percent in April 2014 and to 25 percent in July 2014.
This figure rose drastically to 43 percent in May 2019 and now stands at 39 percent in March 2021.
In the question segment "Is the public afraid of arbitrary arrest by law enforcement officials?", Ahmad revealed that 26.5 percent of respondents admitted to often being afraid, 5.4 percent to always being afraid, 30.4 percent to rarely feeling afraid, 29.4 percent admitting to never being afraid and 8.4 percent who did not answer.
In terms of the trend, people's fear of arbitrary arrest by law enforcement officials has also experienced a rise if looked at since 2009.
Twenty-three percent of respondents admitted to always or often feeling afraid of arbitrary arrest in July 2009, 32 percent in April 2014 and 24 percent in July 2014. This fear jumped to 38 percent in May 2019 and 32 percent in March 2021.
There have been a number of cases of freedom of expression being "muzzled", particularly on social media, by illegal cyber activities in the form of hoaxes, cyber bullying, the release of private data or doxing and criminalisation by the police.
The principle victims were government critics. Some people also say the perpetrators of this "muzzling" are buzzers linked to the Palace although this has been denied by the presidential office. (fey/arh)
[Translated by James Balowski. The original title of the article was "Survei SMRC: Masyarakat Makin Takut Bicara Politik".]