Jakarta – The University of Gajah Mada (UGM) Student Executive Council (BEM) has dubbed President Joko "Jokowi" Widodo as the "(Most) New Order" president, alluding to the New Order regime of former president Suharto. This was conveyed by the UGM BEM to coincide with Widodo's 60th birthday which fell on June 21.
The latest criticism of Widodo by the UGM BEM was made prior to a Twitter posting on June 27 by the University of Indonesia (UI) BEM which dubbed Widodo "The King of Lip Service" or "King of Bragging".
"Sugeng Ambal Warsa (happy birthday) Bapak [Mr] (Most) New Order president", read a poster which was uploaded on the UGM BEM Instagram account @bemkm_ugm on Monday June 28.
The BEM UGM also posted several prayers which were an allusion to different issues and polemics during Widodo's leadership.
Not only that, the UGM BEM also prayed that having reached his 60s, Widodo would still remember his 2019 campaign pledges on resolving past cases of gross human rights violations.
The BEM UGM also said that it hoped that Widodo would become more mature in responding to criticisms and input from the public. This represented an allusion to the recent debate over revisions to the Information and Electronic Transaction (ITE) Law and the Draft Criminal Code (RKUHP).
UGM BEM President Muhammad Farhan has confirmed that the posting was made by his organisation saying that they were inspired by birthday greetings for Widodo by public officials.
"Many officials did this (expressed birthday wishes) to the president, so we wanted to counter this on the same day", said Farhan.
Farhan said that there has been no intervention or response from campus authorities over the posting and emphasised that freedom of opinion at UGM is still guaranteed.
Because of this, Farhan and the UGM BEM has slammed the attitude of the University of Indonesia (UI) rectorate which recently summoned representative of the UI BEM over their "King of Lip Service" posting.
According to Farhan, campuses should be a place which is safe for students. "There is an impression that there is repression on campus which should be a place for us to be free to criticise the government", he said.
UGM students from the UGM Student Alliance have responded to the UI BEM's criticism of Widodo with a posting they uploaded on the Twitter account @UGMBergerak in which they counterposed two posters of Widodo alongside each other.
In their own poster, which displays a photograph of Widodo, they crowned him the "Champion in the Race for Inconsistency of Words and Facts". The other poster meanwhile was the UI BEM poster dubbing Widodo "The King of Lip Service".
"Congratulations to the president of the Republic of Indonesia @jokowi for his achievements and accomplishments enabling him to win the two best titles awarded by us students. Indonesia Advance! [Brave, Critical, Active]", read the @UGMBergerak tweet.
The Palace has yet to comment at length about the student's criticism of Widodo. Principle Expert Presidential Staff Member Ali Mochtar Ngabalin has also declined to comment on the polemic saying that the issue should be resolved internally by the campus. (dmi/fra)
[Translated by James Balowski. The original title of the article was "Kritik Mahasiswa ke Jokowi: Orde (Paling) Baru, Raja Membual".]