Students in Jakarta accuses Jokowi of pork barrel politics, destroying democracy

CNN Indonesia – February 8, 2024
Pork Barrel Politics Ala Jokowi banner on Horse Statue in Jakarta – February 8, 2024 (CNN)

Jakarta – The All-Indonesian Student Executive Council Alliance (BEM SI) took over the Horse Statue in Central Jakarta on Thursday February 8 and put up a banner criticising President Joko "Jokowi" Widodo.

A number of BEM students arrived at the Horse Statue just before 2 pm and put up a banner with a picture of Widodo holding a barrel containing pigs with the message "Pork Barrel Politics Ala Jokowi".

BEM SI Yogyakarta and Central Java regional coordinator Bagus Hadikusuma explained that the political term pork barrel is a symbol of rulers who give away money from the budget to personify themselves.

This refers to the actions of Widodo government in distributed social aid (bansos) and claiming that it is assistance from Widodo, when in fact social aid comes from the state budget (APBN) or state coffers.

"Jokowi appearances to play pork barrel politics are to maintain constituent loyalty. To show that Jokowi is like a ratu adil [just king] who is present among the urban poor, rural poor, fishers, farmers and so on", said Hadikusuma at the Horse Statue action.

He also emphasised that the student action was not driven by anyone, adding that students are not involved in partisan politics.

Hadikusuma said that students as an intellectual group are present as independent parties. He also said that students had recently taken to the streets to express their anxiety over the government, as has previously been echoed by professors from a number of academic institutions.

"If here, students, professors, lecturers, the academic community are said to be political participants, it is the same as those who raise this narrative raping and castrating our intellectuality", said Hadikusuma.

President Widodo has recently released new social aid in the form of direct cash assistance (BLT) amounting to 200,000 rupiah per month from January to March. BLT worth a total of 600,000 rupiah was given out all at once in February to 18 million beneficiary families (KPM).

Social assistance with a budget of 11.2 trillion rupiah has been disbursed in the middle of the 2024 election campaign, or when his son Gibran Rakabuming Raka is running as a vice presidential candidate alongside Defense Minister Prabowo Subianto.

Minister of Communication and Information Budi Arie Setiadi has claimed that the social aid given out by Widodo is not related to the 2024 election campaign.

Restore democratic pride

The action at the Horse Statue was part of a free speech forum titled Restore Democratic Pride.

BEM SI media coordinator Ragner Angga MHJ said the free speech forum was attended by student representatives from a number of campuses including the Eleven March University (UNS), the Andalas University (UNAND), the Jenderal Soedirman University (UNSOED) and the University of Diponegoro (UNDIP).

Also attending were representatives from the Bogor Agricultural Institute (IPB), the Jakarta State University (UNJ), the PLN Institute of Technology (ITPLN), the Al Hikmah Jakarta Islamic College, the Jakarta Muhammadiyah University (UMJ), the Bekasi Darul Hikmah Ushuluddin Science Institute (STIU), the School of Islamic Economics and the School of Islamic Banking (STEI-SEBI) and the State University of Malang (UM).

"Students throughout Indonesia agree that we are disappointed with President Jokowi's attitude which is increasingly showing partiality in a game he himself created", said Ragner in a speech.

Ragner said this game could be seen from how Widodo intervened to make his son Gibran Rakabuming Raka eligible to become a vice president in the 2024 presidential election.

"It was proven that the Constitutional Court chief justice [Widodo's brother-in-law Anwar Usman] and the chairperson of the General Election Commission (KPU) violated ethics", he added.

The students also voiced concerns over the degradation of democracy in the Widodo era, especially the decline in democracy that has occurred ahead of the 2024 elections.

Public apology

The BEM SI also urged President Widodo to apologies to the Indonesian people for destroying the dignity of the elections.

"(We urge) the president to apologise publicly to the Indonesian people because Jokowi has damaged the spirit of democracy", said BEM SI central coordinator Hilmi Ash Shidiqi during the free speech form on Thursday.

"As well as stop carrying out arbitrary actions in the 2024 elections and focus on fulfilling his political promises", he added.

Shidiqi believes that Widodo is a president who deserves to be named the cruelest destroyer of democracy in Indonesia. According to Shidiqi, Widodo's public behavior looks like a Javanese person who is full of enthusiasm and charisma with personal skills typical of Javanese people in general.

However, he said, Widodo's true character is so evil that he no longer cared about his good name as president.

"We all still remember, Jokowi once promised to revise the ITE [Information and Electronic Transaction] Law but lied, it was his officials who used the ITE Law to sue democracy activists", said Shidiqi giving an example of Widodo's behavior.

Shidiqi also recalled that Widodo revised the Corruption Eradication Commission (KPK) Law which made the eradication of corruption even worse, and noted that even the chairperson of the KPK, Firli Bahuri, is now a corruption suspect.

"We also remember that Jokowi said he would not cawe-cawe [interfere] in the 2024 elections, but he lied again, in fact Jokowi's desire to hold on to power pushed him to cawe-cawe", continued Shidiqi.

Shidiqi said Widodo's promise to safeguard democracy was hypocritical and that democracy has now destroyed at the end of Widodo's term of office for the sake of his sheer greed for power.

Impeach Jokowi action

Today's action at the Horse Statue follows an earlier action by an alliance of students who demonstrated in the Harmoni area near the State Palace in Central Jakarta yesterday.

During the "Action to Impeach Jokowi" with hashtags #ImpeachJokowi (#MakzulkanJokowi) and #RejecttheFraudulentElections (#TolakPemiluCurang), the students took up four main demands and 10 issues:

1. Impeach President Joko Widodo;

2. Boycott the political parties that do not support President Widodo's impeachment;

3. Urging Widodo's ministers to resign from the cabinet;

4. Calling for protests throughout Indonesia until President Widodo is impeached.

In addition to this, there were 10 issues raised covering election fraud, corruption, collusion and nepotism (KKN), agrarian conflicts, the monopoly of natural resources, environmental damage, costly education and healthcare, civil freedoms, economic and gender justice, violence by the authorities and anti-people legal products.

[Abridged translation by James Balowski based on three articles by CNN Indonesia on February 9. The original title of the lead article was "Mahasiswa Bentangkan Spanduk Kecam Jokowi di Patung Kuda".]