The Commission for Election of Indonesia has established that the Presidential candidate Joko Widodo – Ma’ruf Amin won the 2019 Presidential Election. The other candidate, Prabowo Subianto – Sandiaga Uno had once denied this decision. The matter was escalated to a demonstration in front of the Bawaslu (Election Observer Body) Building on May 21st and 22nd, 2019. The peaceful rally turned into chaos.
Jaring.id interviewed the Executive Director of Political Research Centre of the University of Indonesia, Aditya Perdana, on the issue of security for the overall election processes. Here is the summary of the interview;
How did you see the overall security measure for the 2019 election?
The security aspect was relatively under control. What must be taken into consideration as an important note is the vote counting settlement. People had their own speculations, police and army forces were considered taking a side and failed to maintain their neutral attitude within the security measurement period.
The incident at Bawaslu was a trigger. Did the police stay neutral and professional during their duty, or did any of the political actors snatched an opportunity? About the shooting, battery, combustion, were those staged? We never know. That (demonstration) should have been carried out non-violently.
The polarization should be resolved using dialog and discussion approaches. But in the end, it couldn’t be done in such a manner and it was unfortunate.
Does the security measure need to be increased due to high political escalation?
That is the fact. The polarization of support is strong. Loyal supporters are also strong. Security concerns due to polarization are inevitable. They (the Government) must think seriously about how to tackle this.
What about children/teenagers who were dragged into this political escalation and during the May 21st and 22nd unrest?
There are several factors. First, family factors. Political socialization that happened within the family setting will affect their political choices. It is rather common for underage children to have a political stand.
Second, social media. They have huge roles in giving access to the information and the response is immense. Who will have to mentor these children? This is not a simple matter. Furthermore, they are not yet entering the voting age. They will take all the information. When they are asked to join a rally, they will go. The responsibilities lie within the family and others (Government).
I believe their presence during the rally in front of Bawaslu was their own free will. Out of curiosity, or following friends, or even tagging along with their teachers. This is what should be monitored. This is our homework.
In relation to social media use, local Government did limit the internet access on May 21st and 22nd. Was that a correct move?
Internet access limitation in the name of security has become a sensitive issue. This is the first time it happened in Indonesia. Is there no other way that can be done by the Government?
As a commoner, I was worried. On the other hand, I was curious. The TV did broadcast it live, but with limited access. This limitation became a concern. Parents whose children joined the rally, peaceful or chaos, also wanted to see the updates of what was actually going on. I reckon the Government was rather unwise in handling the security aspect during the election here. Their attitude in conducting such a manner must be criticized. I fear that the Jokowi regime does have an authoritarian side.
Do you think the unrest was preventable?
It should be. Logically, the intelligents should have the capacity. The question is, why did it happen?
What are the things that the police and the Government need to look at when securing an electoral demonstration?
They already have a set of standards, an SOP, just follow it. Don’t ever think that they must take a side when handling the situation. They should stick to the corridor of law.
Joko Widodo had a meeting with Prabowo, as well as with Megawati. Was this necessary as an effort to cool down the political situation in Indonesia?
The meeting between Jokowi and Prabowo on the MRT was the beginning. While the meeting between Mega and Prabowo was to display the closeness between dominant parties. The election is over, that was the message. Bottom line is, the election is over, there is no point in slagging off each other anymore.
In the current context, the meeting was a part of the negotiation. Let’s see where it goes, this is still very dynamic. Will the polarization stop? I don’t think it is a simple thing. Supporting two elections, emotionally lost twice.
The election is over, but many people are going through legal proceedings. What do you see in such incidents?
My guess, this is naturally happening. After their political issues are done, they will be released under certain conditions. This happened also to the elites such as Eggi Sudjana. The problem is, if it is a commoner who got detained, police can easily forget. But my feeling tells me, at some point, they will be released anyway.
Some people are circumstantial victims, and they will not be loyalists because what they fought for was different from the agreement on the other end. Secondly, they could actually become hard-core loyalists.