Tag: Jokowi

From social media to parliament: Young Indonesians enter politics

 The political views of Indonesian millennials used to be limited to social media posts, but now the youth are taking charge by seeking parliament seats in their country’s upcoming election.

Univesity student Tsamara Amany Alatas is a social media star who often voices critical views on issues ranging from gender equality to religious freedom.

Now the 22-year-old has thrown her hat into the political ring, vying for a seat in the national parliament in the legislative election scheduled for April 17.

Like any media-savvy politician running for office, she has visited slums and talked with locals about their aspirations and posed for photographs with babies.

“I believe politics can be a force for good when people who are elected are good,” the 22-year-old told dpa during a recent visit to a central Jakarta slum.

Tsamara is one of the young legislative candidates fielded by the newly-established Indonesian Solidarity Party (PSI), which claims to be the bearer of progressive politics in a largely conservative nation.

The party,which backs incumbent President Joko Widodo, is led by 36-year-old former television newscaster Grace Natalie, a Christian of Chinese descent in mainly-Muslim Indonesia.

The party has an uphill battle, with polls indicating it is unlikely to win more than 1 per cent of the vote, which would be short of the 4 per cent threshold required by Indonesian electoral laws to get seats in parliament.  

Poll numbers, however, have not discouraged Tsamara, who has nearly 170,000 followers on Twitter.

“This party represents the values I’m fighting for and it’s where people with idealism are,” she said.

Lucius Karus, a researcher with the Indonesian People Forum for Parliament Monitoring, said that 21 per cent of candidates whose ages are known are categorized as millennials, meaning they were born after 1980.   

Nearly 8,000 candidates are competing for seats in the 560-member House of Representatives. 

Lucius said even though women account for 40 per cent of legislative candidates – exceeding a quota of 30 per cent set by electoral laws – it’s not likely they will be elected.

“Many young or female candidates are listed on the bottom on their parties’ lists on ballot papers, and candidates on top of the lists are usually well known and more likely to be elected,” he said.

Currently, about 20 per cent of national legislators are women.

British-educated engineer Faldo Maldini is another millennial running for a parliamentary seat.

The 28-year-old is a spokesman for opposition candidate Prabowo Subianto and is a deputy secretary general of the National Mandate Party.  

“I represent the young generation, but I talk to old and young people alike about their problems,” Faldo told dpa on the sidelines of a campaign stop in a village outside Jakarta.

“You can be famous on social media but if you don’t go to your constituents, they won’t vote for you,” said Faldo, whose Twitter account has more than 88,000 followers.

Sitting cross-legged on the front porch of a villager’s house in Bogor, a city south of Jakarta, Faldo appeared at ease talking to the elderly host, who complained about unpaved and potholed roads in front of his house.

“People here complain that despite many factories around here, jobs are going to people from outside, and prices of basic commodities are expensive,” he said.

“My focus is how I can help young people here get jobs,” he added. 

Faldo said he wants to prove that running for office does not have to be expensive.

“I’m not from a rich family and I just got married, so clearly I don’t have much money,” he said.

“I want everyone to have a level playing field so it’s not only people with money who can run for parliament,” he said.

Didi, a voter in Bogor, praised Faldo’s plan to promote entrepreneurship in his village.

“I make dolls and after he promoted my business on Instagram I received a lot of orders from different places,” he said.  

Ari Nurcahyo, executive director at local think tank Soegeng Sarjadi Syndicate, said the fact that many young people aspire to be politicians is good for Indonesia’s future.

“They are technologically literate and highly educated. We need people like them to face the digital economy era,” he said.

“But they need a new political party that isn’t beholden to oligarchic interests and care about issues such as anti-corruption,” Ari said.

Ross Tapsell, an expert on Indonesian politics at the Australian National University (ANU), said only a small number of Indonesian millennials are middle-class and politically savvy.

A survey released last year by ANU found that fewer than 10 per cent of millennials living in Jakarta and the surrounding areas had a university degree.

“The usual depiction of a millennial is someone who is inner city, on Instagram, active about politics in social media,” Tapsell said.

“In fact that’s really only a small proportion of what a lot of people aged between 17 and 35 are actually doing in this election,” he said.

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Jokowi Remains Favorite One Month Before Indonesian Election

Incumbent President Joko “Jokowi” Widodo is still the frontrunner one month before Indonesia’s presidential election, with the most recent surveys indicating that he is favored by more than 54 percent of voters.

Four surveys released this month put Jokowi’s electability at between 54 and 57 percent, compared to around 34 percent for the opposition candidate, former general Prabowo Subianto.

About 11 percent of voters were still undecided, according to the surveys.

A poll released on Sunday by the private pollster Saiful Mujani Research and Consulting (SMRC) predicted that Jokowi would win 57.6 percent of the votes if the election were held now.

“The gap between Jokowi and Prabowo continues to widen,” SMRC director Djayadi Hanan said.

“Is it going to change in one month? We don’t know,” he added.

Rising conservatism

Next month’s election is a rematch of the 2014 contenders. That year, Jokowi beat Prabowo narrowly.

Jokowi picked Ma’ruf Amin, the conservative 76-year-old chairman of the Indonesian Council of Muslim Scholars (MUI), for his running mate, apparently aiming to bolster his religious credentials amid accusations from hardline Islamic groups that he is hostile to them.

Islamist groups such as the Islamic Defenders’ Front (FPI) have rallied around Prabowo in their short-term goal to prevent Jokowi from being re-elected, but they are unlikely to succeed, said the Institute for Policy Analysis of Conflict (IPAC) in a report released last week.

“Their support for [Prabowo] is conditional and half-hearted, but measures taken by the Jokowi government to try to weaken, co-opt and stigmatize them as extremists have only strengthened what otherwise would be a fragile alliance,” IPAC said.

“Their fear of a Jokowi victory is much stronger than their reservations about Prabowo,” it said.

While Ma’ruf has moderated his comments to appeal to more liberal voters, the Prabowo camp has sought to portray its vice presidential pick, Sandiago Uno, a wealthy 49-year-old businessman educated in the United States, as a pious Muslim.

“The idea of Prabowo as a strongman and Sandi, the charming, pious entrepreneur as his right-hand man, embodies two trends in Indonesia: nostalgia for the Suharto-led New Order and rising conservatism of the middle class,” IPAC said.

VP candidates face off

During a televised debate between Ma’ruf and Sandiaga on Sunday, the two avoid engaging in heated arguments on key policy issues.

Ma’ruf peppered his talk with Arabic and Islamic phrases to impress conservative religious voters during the debate, which focused on education, health, employment and culture.

Sandiaga sought to appeal to younger voters by emphasizing his entrepreneurship prowess, but also tried to demonstrate his knowledge of Islamic terms while showing reverence to his rival by calling him kyai, a Javanese honorific for a Muslim cleric.

It was the third in a series of televised debates involving presidential and vice-presidential candidates ahead of the election.

“Leaders must work for the benefit of their people,” Ma’ruf said in his opening speech.

“Our vision is for Indonesia to be an advanced nation. The key to achieve this lies in its people, a population that is intelligent, productive and has good morals,” Ma’ruf said, using an Islamic term, “akhlaq.”

Ma’ruf said that if he and Jokowi were elected, the government would establish a national research council, build a Sydney-style opera house to show case Indonesia’s arts, and provide free training for job seekers.

“We will conserve our culture and we will globalize our culture so that it becomes known and developed,” he said.

Ma’ruf said wider internet coverage had allowed the country to produce more business startups and “unicorns,” a term for companies with capital valued at U.S. $1 billion or more.

Sandiaga for his part promised that a Prabowo-Sandiaga government would solve problems that have dogged the country’s national health insurance scheme; provide incentives for research; and require foreign workers to master the Indonesian language.

“Stories like that of Ms Lies who had to stop treatment because she had no coverage must not be allowed to happen, even more so when we’re going to be among the world’s five biggest economies in 2045,” Sandiaga said, referring to a cancer patient he met while campaigning.

“Health workers must be paid on time. Drugs must be paid on time. There should not be long queues for patients,” he added.

Indonesia introduced universal health coverage in January 2014, with the aim of having all Indonesians covered by 2019.

But the agency that administers the national insurance scheme, BPJS Kesehatan, has grappled with a deficit of 16.5 trillion rupiah ($1.2 billion).

Sandiaga’s promise to require foreign workers to master Indonesian appears to be intended to allay concerns among some Indonesians about the perceived influx of Chinese laborers amid Jokowi’s focus on building infrastructure.

“There was no debate where one candidate argues and the other attacks the arguments,” Idil Akbar, a political analyst at Padjadjaran University, said of the encounter.

Wasisto Raharjo, a researcher on politics at the Indonesian Institute of Sciences, said Sandiaga appeared to be reluctant to argue strongly against Ma’ruf due to the latter’s stature as an elderly cleric.

“There was no constructive debate where the candidates correct each other. Maybe Sandiaga was too reverent with Ma’ruf,” he said.

“But Sandi was good at using catchphrases that resonate with many people, such as the issue of foreign workers,” he added.

Ma’ruf was instrumental in the jailing last year of former Jakarta governor Basuki “Ahok” Tjahaja Purnama, an ethnic Chinese Christian, on charges of blasphemy.

Conservative Muslim groups held large protests against Ahok in 2016 and 2017 in the run-up to a gubernatorial election in which he was a front-runner, after an edited video made it appear like he said that the Quran deceived people.

An MUI fatwa declaring Ahok’s remarks blasphemous bolstered Muslim opposition to him and paved the way for his prosecution.

Ahok lost the Jakarta gubernatorial election to a Muslim candidate, Anies Baswedan, and was later sentenced to two years in prison for blasphemy. He was released in January.

The article was originally published on http://www.benarnews.org/english

Russia denies meddling in Indonesian election

Russia on Monday denied involvement in attempts to influence the outcome of Indonesia’s upcoming election, after incumbent President Joko Widodo accused the campaign of opposition candidate Prabowo Subianto of spreading “Russian propaganda.”

The Russian embassy in Jakarta said the accusations of Russian involvement – levelled by Jokowi during a campaign stop in Surabaya on Saturday – had “no basis in reality.” 

“We would like to underline that our principled position is that we don’t interfere in the domestic affairs and electoral processes of other countries, including Indonesia as our close friend and important partner,” the embassy said via Twitter.

During the campaign stop, Jokowi claimed that “there is a campaign team that is spreading what is called Russian propaganda, which involves incessant streams of lies and slander.” 

He was alluding to the controversy in the United States about the supposed Russian interference in the 2016 election using a propaganda model called “the firehose of falsehood.”

Jokowi faces former general Prabowo in the April 17 presidential election in a repeat of the vote five years ago, which the president won by a narrow margin. 

The opposition says the president has a dismal economic record after nearly five years in office and that he is too cozy with China.   

Jokowi has picked conservative Islamic cleric Ma’ruf Amin as his running mate in a move seen by some as an attempt to bolster his religious credentials amid accusations that he is hostile to Muslim political aspirations. 

Supporters of Indonesian cleric set up think-tank in his honour

Supporters of controversial Indonesian cleric Muhammad Rizieq Shihab have set up a think-tank named after him in a sign of his growing stature at home as he fights legal troubles from a self-imposed exile in Saudi Arabia.

The Habib Rizieq Shihab Center, which was inaugurated in Jakarta over the weekend, aims to be a scientific and strategic research hub based on Islamic values for the benefit of Muslims and the country in general, said its chairman, Abdul Choir Ramadhan. “Habib” is an honorific used to address a Muslim scholar believed to a descendant of the Prophet Mohammad.

“The center is named after him because of his stature and as a show of our admiration for his struggle to uphold Islamic values,” Ramadhan said. He said the center was self-funded but did not rule out public donations.

Rizieq, founder of the vigilante group Islamic Defenders’ Front (FPI), shot to political prominence after he led a campaign in 2016 and 2017 to oust then-Jakarta Gov. Basuki “Ahok” Tjahaja Purnama, a Christian of Chinese descent, over allegations that he had insulted the Koran in off-the-cuff remarks.

The center’s launch coincided with the 20th anniversary of the FPI’s founding. The group is notorious for past anti-vice raids targeting places accused of harboring sex workers and drug users, as well as nightspots that remained open during Ramadan.

Rizieq has been in a self-imposed exile in Saudi Arabia following attempts by Indonesian police to question him last year over allegations he had engaged in a lewd online chat with a female supporter and a separate charge of insulting the Indonesian state ideology of Pancasila.

Investigations into the cases were stopped this year with police citing a lack of evidence.

The cleric’s supporters said the cases against him were fabricated by the government of President Joko “Jokowi” Widodo because of Rizieq’s role in inflaming Muslim sentiment against Ahok, an ally of the president.

Ramadhan said Rizieq had doubts about returning home any time soon, saying the political climate is unfavorable.

“The investigations may have been dropped, but they can always reinstate them any time,” Ramadhan said.

On Saturday, Rizieq delivered a speech through a telephone link during the ceremonial launch of the center.

“I hope that the HRS Center will become a place for the advancement of knowledge for the benefit of the Muslim ummah (society) and the country,” he said in the message posted on YouTube.

“This is in line with the principles of my struggle that I have always adhered to: That the Scripture must be above the Constitution, and that the Constitution should not deviate from the Scripture,” he said.

“The institutionalization of Sharia is inevitable for Islamic values are an inseparable part of our nation building,” he added.

Emrus Sihombing, a political analyst at Pelita Harapan University, described the center as a positive move.

“If the center is indeed engaged in scientific and strategic studies for the benefit of the ummah, it’s very good for public discourse because there will be debates on the merits of their ideas,” he said.

“It will be a lot more productive,” he said.  “He is a leader who commands the strong loyalty of people who subscribe to his views.”

Rizieq played a key role in last year’s conviction and imprisonment of Ahok on blasphemy charges.

Conservative Muslim groups held protests against Ahok in 2016 and 2017 in the run-up to a gubernatorial election in which he was a front-runner after an edited video made it appear that he had said the Quran deceived people.

Ahok lost the Jakarta gubernatorial election to former Education Minister Anies Baswedan, who courted support of FPI and other conservative Muslim groups despite his liberal credentials. Ahok later was sentenced to two years in prison for blasphemy.

Ramadhan said the HRS Center would conduct studies, hold seminars, provide training as well as publish books to influence public discourse on Islam, including in the aspects of law, governance and public policy.

“We want to promote ideas of a system of governance based on Islamic values,” he said.

“There’s no contradiction between Pancasila (the state ideology) and Islamic teachings.”

Copyright ©2018, BenarNews. Used with the permission of BenarNews.

Politician calls Jokowi’s bike ride “political gimmick”

An Indonesian opposition politician and citizens criticized President Joko Widodo after he rode a highly-modified motorcycle through the town of Sukabumi alongside several cabinet ministers.

Sporting a denim jacket, a half face helmet and a pair of Vans x Metallica sneakers, Joko led the  convoy on his golden chopper on Sunday in what critics referred to as an attempt to appeal to younger voters. The 56-year-old is seeking re-election in 2019.

Opposition politician and deputy parliament speaker Fadli Zon referred to the move as nothing more than “a political gimmick, not genuine,” saying that  “the whole thing was forced.”

“What for? I think we need to know what is needed to be done: Jobs and a better future, not visible symbols like motorbikes,” he said.

Critics pointed out on social media that the president’s customized Royal Enfield Bullet 350 and his protective gear were not up to the country’s own road safety regulations.

“Luckily he’s president. If I did that I would be given a ticket because the mirrors are too small and the headlight isn’t on,” a Twitter user wrote.

Indonesia’s anti-drug chief wants ghosts as prison guards

Frustrated by rampant drug trade in prisons, Indonesia’s anti-drugs chief has suggested that jails be guarded by ghosts because they cannot be bribed, reports said Wednesday.  Continue reading “Indonesia’s anti-drug chief wants ghosts as prison guards”

Religion may sway Jakarta’s second round election

Millions of Jakarta residents are set to cast their votes in a heated second-round gubernatorial election on April 19 that is both a test of secular democracy in Indonesia and of President Joko Widodo’s political clout in delivering back to office one of his chief lieutenants, the incumbent, an ethnic Chinese-Christian, Basuki “Ahok” Tjahaja Purnama.

Arrayed against Ahok is Anies Baswedan, a former education minister supported by conservative Muslims. He is backed by the powerful political machine of Prabowo Subianto, the president’s chief rival in the 2014 election, as well as several Islamic organizations that have capitalized on the discontent and said they will create equality for the city’s poor.

The race is considered too close to call according to recent opinion polls. A survey conducted on April 12-14 by polling firm Indikator showed Anies with 48.2 percent support versus 47.4 percent for Ahok, with 4.4 percent undecided. The Jakarta-based Charta Politika survey showed that 47.3 percent of nearly 800 respondents favored Ahok and deputy governor Djarot Saiful Hidayat while 44.8 percent supported Anies and running mate Sandiaga Uno, a businessman.

The race has been complicated by a blasphemy case filed against Ahok over comments he made last September on the Quran that were deemed insulting to Islam in what is regularly described as the world’s most populous predominantly Muslim country. The Jakarta governor, in a public speech, said there are people who deceive Muslims into believing the Quran commands them not to vote for Jews and Christians.

That resulted to massive street protests by conservatives in November and December, with continuing rallies and protest as the runoff has neared, an indication of the growing conservatism among Indonesia’s Muslims.

Although he has apologized for the remarks and at one point broke into tears publicly, Ahok was charged with blasphemy, which many regard as a political use of the courts, and faces a maximum five-year jail term if found guilty. He remains free and a verdict is expected after the election, after the police asked the court to postpone the reading of charges.

Jokowi, as the president is known, has thrown his political resources into the race to aid Ahok, who was his deputy governor when he rose to the presidency in October of 2014 and subsequently took over the job.

Ahok won a three-way first-round vote on Feb. 15, securing 43 percent of the votes, while Anies Baswedan came second with 39 per cent. However, after the first-round election, congregants in some areas in Jakarta installed banners calling for Muslims not to vote for an “infidel.” The banners also warned that those who did so would not receive Islamic rites when they died.

“Honestly, I am confused of whom to vote for, unlike the presidential election in 2012 when I was confident of voting for Jokowi,” Indriaty Octarina, a housewife in South Jakarta told The Parrot. “What I want from a governor is someone who can deliver good results, anti-corruption, firms with all regulations so that we can have a better Jakarta,” she said.

“I think Ahok is doing a good job as a governor, but obviously he has a problem of controlling what’s coming out of his mouth; he is too arrogant” Octarina said, adding that although Anies Baswedan is not her favorite either, when it comes to religion, she wants to “be a good Muslim and follow Islamic teaching,” a belief that the Quran commands her not to vote for Jews and Christians as leaders. “Most of my family members feel the same about this election,” she said.

Octarina’s story is shared by millions of Muslim voters in Jakarta, who despite agreeing that Ahok is doing a good job as governor, won’t vote for him in the coming election. A research by Pollmark Indonesia recently shows that as many as 21.6 percent of voters say that their vote will be based on their religion.

As many as 7.9 percent of respondents remained undecided according to face-to-face interviews conducted between April 7 and 12 by pollster Charta Politika.

Ahok, the first Christian to lead Jakarta in 50 years, has been perceived as an effective administrator in a bureaucracy long plagued by corruption and incompetence. He has implemented a raft of infrastructure projects including parks and transport, with efficient services becoming commonplace after decades in which political hacks ruled the sprawling city. He has won praise for cleaning up rivers clogged with rubbish, thereby reducing annual flooding in the capital city of 10 million people.

His administration has also built more parks and children’s playgrounds.
However, he has caused resentment with his decision to evict poor residents from their riverbank homes and relocate some of them to low-cost apartments, where they have to find rent money despite having been separated from their source of income. He has also drawn criticism for going ahead with a plan for the reclamation of Jakarta Bay to create 17 artificial islands, which has been criticized as benefitting the Chinese conglomerates and adding to the economic inequality in the country.

Meanwhile, the Jakarta Police released announcement on Monday prohibiting mass mobilization that could result in physical or psychological intimidation of voters on April 19. KPU Jakarta commissioner Dahliah Umar said too much security might make citizens feel uneasy when they come to polling stations to cast their votes.