Monday, 7 July 2014

Indonesian presidential election: the candidates in a nutshell

The first method for estimating the intelligence of a ruler is to look at the men he has around him - Niccolo Machiavelli -

Remember that by voting for 👆Prabowo or ✌️Jokowi, we're not only voting for the presidential candidate but also their coalition. Here's 10 pointers to consider for tomorrow:

1. Among those behind Prabowo there's the likes of Hatta Rajasa, Aburizal Bakrie and PKS. So for example if you want Ical to be the main minister (as per their coalition arrangement) and PKS' Tifatul Sembiring to potentially remains as Menkominfo, vote for Prabowo.

2. Among those behind Jokowi there's the likes of JK, Anies Baswedan and Alwi Shihab. So for example if you want Anies Baswedan to potentially becomes education minister and Alwi Shihab potentially back as a minister, vote for Jokowi.

3. Despite their carefully-crafted populist image, both candidates still have an unavoidable list of "rent-seeking" businessmen's interests behind them. It's how democracy really works in the past 30 years, from Koch brothers in the US to Roman Abramovich in Russia, where they "purchase" national regulations that benefit their businesses and tend to win projects without tenders. Just look at the current richest person in Indonesia right now, and you'll see why he jumped the wealth ladder during SBY's presidency and was chosen to fill a strategic ministerial position.

4. Although both coalitions have Islamic party backing, their interpretation of Islam are slightly different. In Jokowi's side there's the slightly more liberal PKB with their Nahdlatul Ulama base. While in Prabowo's side there's PAN which inclined to a more conservative Muhammadiyah and PKS with its more hardline Wahhabi ideology, with PPP as the complicated exception.

5. Jokowi may be a proxy, or even a puppet, for Megawati. But the worse political godfather is arguably in Prabowo's camp, in the name of Amien "poros tengah" Rais. Conversely, Prabowo is accused of being a human rights violator based on what happened in 1998, but if the accusation ever to be proven then his superior Wiranto (in Jokowi's camp) should be prosecuted too due to his position during the "operasi mawar" and his role in Timor 1999. On that last note, if Jokowi wins, the riot 1998 case (on Wiranto) would likely to remain silenced. If Prabowo wins, the following cases would likely to remain untouched: riot 1998 (on Prabowo), Hajj fund corruption (Suryadharma Ali), beef import scandal (PKS), Lapindo brantas (Aburizal Bakrie), Oil Mafia (Hatta Rajasa), Bank Century (Demokrat).

6. When reading any news about the election, just remember that despite the claim of free press since 1998 Indonesia is ranked 132 out of 180 countries in World Press Freedom Index 2014, with limited news selections from either biased tycoon-owned media, or conspiracy theorists on their social media accounts / Kompasiana. Remember that opinions are not facts. An interpretation of facts is also an opinion, not a fact. And remember that even facts can be manipulated, e.g. All of these polling numbers that rarely disclose the data number of respondents and their demographic compositions that could reveal their bias.

7. Prabowo declares his commitment to continuing the programs of SBY's government, which prompted the late official support from the Demokrat. This coincidentally includes how the ministerial positions are distributed among the coalition partners, while conversely Jokowi declares that he will appoint professionals in each posts. Hence, in short, if you like the way things are under SBY's presidency, vote for Prabowo. If you want change, whether for the better or worse, vote for Jokowi.

8. As they say in Uganda, the flies may change but the shit remains the same. Remember that both coalitions still have some New Order regime people in it, a hint that Indonesia might not have a regime chance after all, only a "change of clothing." This may explains why Suharto was never really prosecuted and why the truth about the dark history of our nation during the New Order (1965 coup, 1998 riot, etc) never truly revealed. For a comparison, there's no Saddam's people in the current Iraqi government and we wouldn't dream of having Gaddafi's people in the new Libyan government, both of whom were ousted and didn't step down like Suharto or Mubarak.

9. Whoever you vote for, and whoever wins, the new president will inherit a tough budget and would likely to have a hard time in fully implementing his plans due to no majority seats in the parliament (353 seats for Prabowo camp, 207 seats for Jokowi camp), which would ensure another DPR freak shows. So this election outcome would probably not be the "quick fix our country urgently need", but instead it's another one step forward on a long and complicated journey.

10. But most importantly for me, for die hard supporters out there please win with humility and lose with dignity. And keep calm. There's nothing more effective for a ruthless/incompetent leader, and nothing more disastrous for the majority of the people, than fiery blind followers. Be it Al Qaeda militants, Nazi soldiers, North Korean citizens or presidential supporters who worship their candidate as some kind of god who can do no wrong. Switch-on your bullshit alarm, always be critical to every candidate and for the love of our nation please don't get easily provoked. With election outcome likely to be won in the tiniest of margins, high tension and clashes amid election result are highly possible.