‘Shoot first, ask later’

Yohanes Sulaiman

Lecturer in International Relations at Indonesian Defence University

Jokowi’s administration seems to be a “shoot first, ask later” government. I think the president did not spend a long time thinking about the long-term implications of his policy of executing drug convicts on death row. He seems to think everybody must hate drug traffickers, so therefore it is okay to shoot them.

Jokowi was caught off guard by the international reaction to his policy to execute foreign nationals convicted of drug trafficking. At the same time, he used this international pressure against Indonesia as an opportunity to look strong in front of the Indonesian people.

Jokowi’s reaction to calls from foreign leaders to spare the lives of the death-row convicts differs from the attitude of his predecessor, Susilo Bambang Yudhoyono (SBY). If this international backlash against Indonesia had happened in SBY’s term, the then president would have been very unhappy.

However, Jokowi just shrugged it off. He is not concerned about being seen negatively by the international community. He is more inclined to show himself as a strong father figure and leader who would defend Indonesians from the drug scourge and international pressures.

The more the international community fought the president’s decision on executions, the more Jokowi gained from it. Still, it is doubtful whether the political points scored from standing up to international pressure will have a long-term effect – or even that the gain would be that high. The reason is that, domestically, most people do not really care about the executions and most of the attention is on the undermining of the corruption eradication commission.

Australia-Indonesia relations will not be disrupted too much. For Australia, in the long run, maintaining a good relationship with Indonesia is worth more than the lives of Andrew Chan and Myuran Sukumaran. However, Jokowi could have used this opportunity to form an alliance and win Australia’s support for Indonesia in saving its citizens on death row abroad, such as in Saudi Arabia.

Human rights groups are very disappointed with Jokowi’s policy on executions as it does not uphold human rights principles. Some supporters have become disillusioned with him. However, it is not fair to blame Jokowi for their disappointment. He did not base his presidential campaign on human rights issues, even though it was included in his campaign manifesto.

Jokowi was more of a blank canvas. Supporters painted what they wanted him to be during the presidential campaign. As he was going up against ex-military general Prabowo Subianto – who had a bad human rights record – people assumed that Jokowi would be better on human rights issues.

People had expected too much of Jokowi. When it turns out that he is just another politician, naturally they will be disappointed.

This article was originally published on http://www.theconversation.com

To read it go to https://theconversation.com/bali-nine-duo-executed-the-view-from-indonesia-38392

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