Thursday, July 24, 2014

New posts this week: Jokowi has won, but it's not over because Prabowo is still singing.

Please enjoy these updates on the election as well as other news:

"Indonesia gets a new president and a boost for democracy," by Ross B Taylor, July 2014.
Jokowi won. But with 47% of voters choosing an authoritarian leader, the polarisation of democratic expectations is vast. Will Prabowo make Jokowi's leadership impossibly difficult?

"We was robbed," by Liam Gammon, July 2014.
Liam's excellent analysis of the chain of events in the last two weeks is a must read. Prabowo is a master of strategic chaos and while his claims are dubious at best, his quick count claims and attack on the KPU have allowed him to create at least a semblance of legitimacy for allegations of fraud.

"Battered by election, Indonesia's new president faces party clash," by Kanupriya Kapoor and Randy Fabi, July 2014.
While Jokowi represents the new face of Indonesian democracy, he still belongs to a party chaired by elites as established and politically vested as Prabowo Subianto. Megawati Sukarno Putri is herself heir to a political dynasty and her daughter Puan is the next in line. Joko won the fight but the battle is far from over in the quest to cement and reinforce pluralism and democratisation.

Extra reading:

It didn't take long to find an entire town where the Joko-Kalla team received zero votes. In a stunning display of what patrimonialism and cronysism can do, Ketapang district managed to control all of its votes. 

But Prabowo alleges massive electoral fraud by victor Jokowi, as many as 21 million questionable votes, and is taking his hubris to the Constitutional Court.

Prabowo withdrew from the vote recapitulation, not as a presidential candidate, but that was not immediately clear during his announcement, neither did his campaign party know what the hell was going on.

Other news:

Asian au pairs could be a great solution for Australian and Indonesian families.

The Australian Consortium for in Country Indonesian Studies (ACICIS) has a position on offer for a Program Manager. Check it out at AIYA's site.

We was robbed

By Liam Gammon

Since his loss in Indonesia’s presidential election became known not long after polls closed on 9 July, Prabowo Subianto has claimed victory based on bogus quick counts, claimed victory based on his own equally incorrect ‘real counts’, and ‘withdrawn’ from the election on Tuesday in a spectacular dummy spit that would be funny were its implications not so serious for public faith in Indonesia’s electoral institutions. Finally, his team yesterday announced that he was only ‘withdrawing from the counting process’, and not as a candidate, as his campaign originally told the media on Tuesday. As Fairfax’s Jakarta correspondent put it, ‘what does Prabowo Subianto think he’s doing?’

It’s a good question. We came at least a little closer to an answer yesterday when his brother, Hashim Djojohadikusomo, joined campaign spokespeople at a media conference at a Jakarta hotel to unveil what they claimed were indications of ‘massive, structural and systematic’ fraud in the presidential elections to the international media. It’s surely not a coincidence that the only grounds on which the Constitutional Court (MK) may order a fresh election is a finding that an election result has been skewed by—you guessed it—‘structured, massive and systematic’ fraud. It was this particular choice of words, used by Prabowo in his letter to the KPU yesterday and read out by his scrutineers there before their walk out, which made some suspect that the campaign’s intention was to push for the MK to throw out the entire election.

Yesterday, however, the Prabowo representatives present stressed that they are not seeking a fresh election but a re-vote in over 50,000 booths at which they say serious irregularities occurred on 9 July, and they will now have to go to the MK to demand that this occur. Leaving aside the question of what they want, or say they want, the allegations made yesterday were certainly serious. Hashim and the lawyers went further in their statements to the press than did the written materials distributed on the day, with Hashim and campaign spokesman Tantowi Yahya declaring that ’21 million’ votes were in question due to irregularities, specifically pointing the finger at ‘the KPU’ (no names were named) as being part of a deliberate effort to conduct electoral fraud.

Out of a fifteen-page photocopied presentation handed out to attendees, titled Ini Kecurangan (This is Fraud), only one page actually contained anything in the way of actual identification of irregularities:

The five bullet points read:
  1. Total number of those using their voting rights not the same as the number of ballots used and number of valid and invalid votes, in as many as 28,283 booths.
  2. Total ballots which were used were not the same as the total number of valid and invalid votes, in as many as 9,617 booths.
  3. Number of those using their voting rights based on the Additional Permanent Voter Roll/absentee voters greater than total number of those on said lists, in as many as 11,090 booths.
  4. Number of voters using their voting rights from the Special Additional Voter Roll/those voting with only ID cards, other ID or passports greater than those said list, in as many as 20,158 booths.
  5. Ticket number 1. [i.e. Prabowo-Hatta] did not get any votes, despite the presence of [their own] scrutineers, at as many as 282 booths.
I’ll make no claims to extensive knowledge of what happened on the ground, or of expertise in the legality or otherwise of whatever did happen. It goes without saying that Prabowo is entitled to his day in court if he wants it. If he has proof that he was wronged, he has a right to legal redress.
But until that day comes, I would treat his team’s allegations with caution. Certainly, even after a quick reflection on what was said yesterday some inconsistencies stand out.

For example, a claim repeated by Hashim and campaign spokesman Tantowi Yahya was that the Jakarta division of the KPU (the KPUD DKI) had ignored a request from their counterparts at the Bawaslu (Election Supervisory Body) to conduct a re-vote at over 5,802 booths at which indications of fraud were found on 9 July. The Prabowo camp suggests that absentee voting took place at Jakarta booths far in excess of what the law allowed, leading to what one of their representatives at the KPU yesterday described as ‘an abuse of the constitutional right [of all Indonesians to vote]’. As Hashim put it in a written statement, ‘BAWASLU made recommendations to hold a re-votes [sic] in over 5,000 polling stations in Jakarta alone, and in six heavily populated counties of East Java. These recommendations were completely ignored by the KPU, even though the law allows 30 days from Election Day to investigate’.

I happened to be at the KPU with some ANU colleagues on Tuesday in time to watch this and other issues be discussed in the recapitulation meeting, in all their tedious glory. The claims of KPU indifference to Bawaslu demands for re-votes was one reason why the KPU took over two-and-a-half hours to get through the Jakarta results. During the meeting, Jakarta’s Bawaslu chief took the opportunity to vigorously deny that the organisation she leads had ever given any recommendation to the KPUD DKI to conduct a revote at the 5,800 booths, as the Prabowo team is still claiming they did. The news site has what it says are images of the letter sent from the Bawaslu DKI to the KPUD DKI which are in line with what the former said at Tuesday’s count.

I can’t really judge the merits of the team’s claims regarding KPU-Bawaslu disagreements about re-votes at six local government areas in East Java (and neither should Prabowo’s team, really—their scrutineers walked out on the KPU process before it got to the East Java results and thus didn’t confront the representatives of those two institutions who were present at the hearing). But if they’re telling fibs about what happened in Jakarta, why should we assume they’re not doing the same about other provinces?

Another of Hashim’s claims was that votes in Papua had appeared in tabulations despite ‘no voting ever taking place’, which, as the FT’s correspondent pointed out, is common in Papua’s quasi-traditional noken voting system—and in any case benefited Prabowo in some areas. When pressed to be more specific on what he meant by votes ‘appearing’ out of nowhere, Hashim obfuscated rather unconvincingly about the migrant presence in Papua and the lack of proper polling stations. There’s little that can be said in defence of electoral administration in Papua, of course. But, being nothing more than a vague allegation without any evidence to back it up, Hashim’s statements on Papua struck me as a deliberate attempt to conflate the noken system (found to be legal by the Constitutional Court) with the (illegal) practice of ballot-stuffing.

Vague references to ‘foreign’ malfeasance which were a part of Prabowo’s rant on Tuesday were also fleshed out a little, with Hashim dropping the bombshell that ’37 hackers in Central Java’ had been arrested and ‘as I understand it, deported’—a claim earlier made by the head of Prabowo’s ‘struggle team’ Yunus Yosfiah. It just so happens that 33 members of a ‘cybercrime network’, mostly from China and Taiwan and ‘allegedly targeting people in China’, were arrested in Semarang earlier in the week. Yunus claimed, without any evidence, that 37 hackers ‘from China and Korea’ had ‘manipulated’ the votes of four million electors who had abstained on 9 July. (The South Korean embassy went to the trouble of sending a representative to Prabowo HQ to explain that none of their citizens were involved).

Hashim did not make it clear during formal Q&A whether he was referring to the hackers who had appeared in the media. However, during a brief doorstop with local reporters after the foreign media briefing—the only time when most of the Indonesian journalists got a chance to question him—he said ‘whether they are Chinese or not Chinese, I’m not sure’, declaring when pressed by a reporter that he had ‘no proof, these are just allegations’. Indeed. I’ll leave it up to the reader to decide whether Hashim and his colleagues know something about these ‘hackers’ that the police aren’t disclosing, or whether this is an inept attempt to hint at some kind of sinister connection where none exists.

Strange as it may sound, to debate the substance of the claims made may be to miss the point. First of all, we can’t judge the truth of allegations advanced without any evidence. In any case, I think yesterday’s performance illustrates that all this is less an attempt to fight for truth and the integrity of the electoral system than a continuation of the aggressive PR strategy which the Prabowo camp has employed since losing the election two weeks ago. The two things aren’t mutually exclusive, of course, but the fact that that PR strategy rests in part on some blatant untruths (ie Bawaslu’s demand for re-votes in Jakarta) and absurd, xenophobic innuendo (the foreign ‘hackers’) suggests that, at the end of the day, these guys don’t really care whether or not all of what they are saying is true—the claims are merely a means to an end. In other words, they’re bullshitting, and have been doing so for weeks.

Interestingly, Hashim’s media conference was aimed first and foremost at the international media. The presser was held entirely in English. Indonesian-language reporters sat on the floor at the back of the room while we foreigners and the English-language press were treated to over an hour of Q&A with Hashim, Tantowi and two campaign lawyers. The former group had to make do with brief doorstops with the panel members after the event, at which few hard questions were asked.
Why would this be the case? My guess is that Hashim and Tantowi expected that foreign reporters would not ask tough questions (wrong; some of the questions made the panel members squirm with discomfort) and that reporters would have no choice but to report the team’s allegations as news despite an absence of evidence (this has been partially successful). Tantowi insisted that the team had proof of wrongdoing but was not yet disclosing it for ‘strategy’ reasons, and that it would be released in due course.

I don’t know about you, but I think it’s hard to escape the conclusion that they were trying hard to get some outrageous claims of fraud into the media without the burden of having to substantiate them first—with a view to putting a stop to the messages of congratulation to Jokowi which have been coming in thick and fast over the past 48 hours. Hashim pleaded with the foreign journalists to ‘tell your embassies’ that the election was not final, and both he and Tantowi declared in prepared statements that international leaders ought to cease and desist from congratulating Jokowi. (It hasn’t worked: no less than the leader of the free world has now picked up the phone to say ‘apa kabar?’ to Indonesia’s president-elect).

The Prabowo team only further embarrasses itself with performances like we saw yesterday. If they have evidence that there was a conspiracy to steal votes from them, then they ought to let the public see that evidence immediately, or they should shut up until they get to court. Deliberately undermining confidence in the electoral system based on unsubstantiated accusations of serious criminal behaviour by officials is pretty low—even for a campaign which has from its beginning displayed an enthusiasm for lying which went far beyond the truth-bending usually expected from political operatives.

If they take their own claims seriously, then I guess we’ll see them in court.

Liam Gammon is a PhD candidate at the Department of Political and Social Change at the Australian National University’s College of Asia & the Pacific. His article originally appeared 24 July in New Mandala.

Battered by Election, Indonesia’s New President Faces Party Clash

By Kanupriya Kapoor and Randy Fabi

After winning Indonesia’s closest ever presidential election, Joko “Jokowi” Widodo now faces what could be his toughest battle yet — winning over his own party.

To do that, he must deal with Puan Maharani, the politically ambitious daughter of former president Megawati Sukarnoputri and a powerful figure in the Indonesian Democratic Party of Struggle (PDI-P) that her mother heads and which propelled Jokowi into the presidential palace.

For some, there is a risk of a power struggle among the rank-and-file of Indonesia’s most popular party that could muddle Jokowi’s agenda in parliament, where Puan is party leader.

“The leadership of PDI-P is still not united in their support,” one party insider, who like most party officials, declined to be identified because of the sensitivity of the matter, said of Jokowi’s backing.

“Puan does have followers … of course, they are threatened by somebody like Jokowi.”

Puan is heir to a political dynasty that goes back to her grandfather and founding president, Sukarno.
Jokowi is the new face of national politics, seen by some as an upstart who threatens the grip of the established political elite.

While the party puts on a united front in public, behind the scenes suspicion simmers, party insiders say.
Many of the party’s old guard reluctantly backed Jokowi as their presidential candidate only after Megawati, well aware her chances of running successfully for the presidency this time were next to zero, put her own ambitions aside and offered the nomination to the hugely popular Jakarta governor.

But the can-do governor who has become Indonesia’s most popular politician nearly did not make it.
After leading by as much as 30 percentage points in opinion polls a few months before the presidential election, infighting and indecisiveness within his party saw the lead shrink to just five points.

The party was also seen as having squandered chances of pulling in more votes in April’s parliamentary election, though it still came out on top.

After the April vote, Jokowi went public with his disappointment with the results and how the campaign was run. Media saw that as an unmistakable sign of tension between the presidential candidate and Puan, who ran the campaign.

But Jokowi, in an interview with Reuters, denied there was any conflict with Puan: “In our party there are a lot of political dynamics. I think that’s normal.”

Other top PDI-P officials did not respond to requests for comment.

Despite his denial of a rift, Jokowi is likely to be looking over his shoulder at his own ranks as he prepares to start his five-year term in October, almost as much as he looks to square off with the opposition.

“Jokowi needs to make sure he won’t be challenged by his own party in the parliament to pursue his budget and his policy proposals,” said Phillips Vermonte, political analyst at Jakarta-based think-tank CSIS.

“He needs to make sure the party is in his full control.”

Loyal followers

Like Rahul Gandhi of India’s Congress Party, Puan is seen by many as PDI-P’s heir apparent.
“She believes that the party belongs to the family and she is the heir. There is a sense of entitlement,” the PDI-P insider said.

Puan, 40, was elected to parliament in 2009 and was heavily involved in her mother’s failed presidential campaign that year. She is the PDI-P’s deputy of politics and was in charge of this year’s legislative campaign.

The Puan faction believe Jokowi, 53, has climbed up the political ladder too quickly, butting in front of long-time party loyalists in an unprecedented rise from small-town mayor to Jakarta governor to the leader of the world’s third largest democracy in less than a decade.

They fear Jokowi’s team and all of his supporters will push them out, overhaul the entire party, and leave Sukarno’s direct descendants out in the cold.

“They … feel that their positions can be protected by Puan because they feel that Megawati is too aloof,” the PDI-P insider said. “That’s where [Puan] gets her power and confidence.”

When Megawati turned to Jokowi as the party’s presidential candidate, Puan supporters pressed for the daughter to be his running mate. But the role went to a former vice president, Jusuf Kalla.

In an interview with Reuters, Kalla said Puan needs to build up her political experience over the next five years as a minister or as the speaker of parliament. Then she could be in a good position to replace him as Jokowi’s running mate in 2019.

Despite the tensions within the party, PDI-P officials say that once a decision is made by Megawati the discussion ends — reflecting the power of the party boss.

“Don’t paint it as though there’s friction within the party,” PDI-P lawmaker Rieke Diah Pitaloka told Reuters.

“Arguments are not unusual, especially within the PDI-P. We can have heated arguments, but when an instruction comes out, we follow.”

The PDI-P is expected to hold its next national convention in May 2015 and Puan is expected to try for party boss if her mother steps down.

Jokowi told Reuters in an interview last week that he would not go for the top PDI-P job.

“This is good for my country because I’m not head of the party … government is government, party is party,” he said.

This article originally appeared on Insight - Yahoo 7, 23 July.

Wednesday, July 23, 2014

Everything looks calm for now. Can frustrated Prabowo supporters really incite unrest during Idul Fitri?

Photo by Phil Deschamp

Indonesia gets a new president and boost for democracy

By Ross B. Taylor AM

The Indonesian Electoral Commission has now confirmed that the Jakarta Governor and former small-scale businessman, Joko Widodo will be Indonesia’s next president. He will be sworn in on 20th October.

The announcement came as the only other candidate, former Suharto army general, Prabowo Subianto, dramatically quit from the electoral process only hours before the formal result was announced.

Despite the withdrawal of Prabowo, in choosing Joko Widodo (or ‘Jokowi’ as he is known), with the final vote at 53%-47%, Indonesians have chosen a continuance of true democracy for their country of 240 million people and resisted the temptation to revert to a more authoritarian rule.

Whilst the result is a good outcome for Indonesia and the region including Australia, it must be remembered that 47% of Indonesian voters actually voted for Prabowo to lead their country. This is of some concern and will place enormous pressure on the new president with nearly half the nation wanting a more authoritarian leadership - along with what Melbourne University’s Professor Tim Lindsey calls 'patrimonialism and cronyism' - and the other half (who voted for Jokowi) with very high and immediate expectations of the new president, including stamping out corruption and improved living standards.

Jokowi’s running mate and incoming vice-president, Jusuf Kalla will be critical in developing a successful Jokowi presidency. Kalla has held the national vice-presidency before, and has wide experience in international affairs and business, so they should complement each other well as our northern neighbour seeks to address a number of major social and economic issues including education, communication, health, food, energy and importantly, infrastructure.

With 100 million people still living in poverty and some 20 million Indonesians classified as malnourished, the challenges are large. Australia can help, whilst opening opportunities for our own country through the development of partnerships with Indonesian companies, agencies and NGO’s.

The appointment of Indonesia’s new foreign minister will be watched by the Abbott government closely. Jokowi may be tempted to keep the incumbent, Dr. Marty Natalegawa, in the job, although this is not a sure bet. The new president may prefer to cut all links with the outgoing president, Susilo Bambang Yudhoyono, in which case we will find ourselves dealing with a new foreign minister on issues such as boat turn-backs, renewed terrorism threats and the rise of China in the region.

Meanwhile, the defeated candidate, Prabowo Subianto threatens to create a period of instability as he moves to appeal the formal count. His ‘friends’ will also be less than happy with this result and with considerable leverage within the national parliament, they appear set to continue the 'black' campaign to destabilize the new leader. If this does happen it will be, to say the least, regretable.

The presidential election should however, be seen as a major win for democracy. Creating a democracy is one thing; keeping it alive and vibrant is quite another. Whilst Indonesians look at the disintegration of the democratic dream in the ‘Arab Spring’ countries, they can take considerable pride in pointing out that this sprawling archipelago, with so many ethnic and religious groups, has quietly held onto its democratic principles and structure.

And that's good for Indonesia, Australia and what is at present, a very fragile world.
Ross is the President of the Indonesia Institute (Inc) and a regular commentator on Australia- Indonesia relations.
This article appeared in The West Australian Newspaper on Thursday 24th July 2014