Arief's solution is a transitional government led by a presidium including
the following elements :
1 . Military, for the sake of guarding political stability, with figures who
were not close to Soeharto and who are well respected.
2 . Economist technocrats, who are respected by businessman inside the
country and foreign investors for restoring confidence.
3 . Civilians, who during the struggle for reform showed skill in leading
and gaining the confidence from the mass for restoring democracy.
In general, the solution offered by Arief is very elitist.
First, the choice to establish a presidium --and not a council-- as a beholder of transitional government. We know that a presidium works in a top-down way. It's different from a 'council' which works based on the aspiration from below. Presidium appears to be a mere representation of the existing groups and not a representation of the people who are the real force that has all along pushed for reform. Moreover, there are only three (3) groups represented within the presidium. Second, considering the elements proposed by Arief, we became more convinced that his transitional government has a very elitist character, especially because Arief did not explain in detail how those elements are supposed to be chosen. It appears that these elements will be appointed or chosen by popular assent. Yet, who has the authority to appoint them or assent to their selection ?
To legalize a transitional government is it allowed to be undemocratic because of its temporary nature ? Isn't it supposed to be the reverse ? Considering that this period is a very critical stage toward a more permanent democratic government, precisely because it is transitional, the government has to be as democratic as possible. A transitional government which is elitist in character obviously will not guarantee that the permanent government will be democratic even though the figures who are involved in the government are known as democrats. Remember that the issue of democracy depends on the system, not on the individuals, nor does it depend on the personnel who will lead the government. A democratic system can lead an authoritarian person to bow before democratic norms. While an authoritarian system can allow opportunities for a democratic leader to deviate and become an autocrat. Remember, Brother (Bung), "power tends to corrupt !"
THE MILITARY ISSUE
The pouring of mass out on to the street for the past few months forced Soeharto to give up his post. He did not give it up because of pressure from the military. It did not happen like in the Philippines in 1986 where officers courageously deserted and supported the opposition, then the troops protected and opened the way for the demonstrators. Without the support of the Indonesian Armed Forces (ABRI) millions of people were mobilized. What could the ABRI do when millions of people were streaming out onto the streets ?
Right now we have to take a resolute position that a modern democracy does not allow for the military to engage in politics. The military has to bow before the civilian force !
Arguments that the military element --which Arief must consider very important since he puts it as the first point-- is necessary for the guarding of political stability shows that we are still influenced by the hegemony of the New Order logic. It is true that the function of the military is to safeguard stability, but it cannot get involved in politics.
It has been proven that instability occurs --in the forms of riots-- because of mass discontent and this happens when the military fully dominates the political system. The military can not overcome the instability of
Indonesia's politics. The only way to overcome it is to allow an outlet for people's aspirations with a democracy as free as possible.
Many riots have happened because of provocations by the military. The July 27, 1996 riot happened after the military and the hired thugs attacked PDI headquarters. The May 14 riot was provoked by the military brutally shooting six (6) Trisakti University students. Various clashes between the military and the students were caused more by the military's initial offensive attack on the students. The actions in Semarang and Surabaya on May 14 (simultaneous to the action in Jakarta) went on peacefully because the military did not act brutally against the students and the people who did the long march. They even occupied the State Radio Station (RRI) for several hours. When there was no military provocation, there was no riot. When there was a military provocation, a riot happened.
One dangerous thing from Brother (Bung) Arief's logic is on the following point. First, he gives legitimacy to militarism for the sake of stability. Second, he gives legitimacy to postpone election with a reason that there is no stability yet. This is confirmed in his fourth point : "After everything is in order, then an election to choose the president and vice president can be held ...." The question then "Till when is 'everything in order' ?"
THE ISSUE OF CIVILIAN FIGURES
The last element mentioned in the presidium of Arief's version is civilians, i.e., civilian leaders who in the reform movement shows capability to lead and to gain trust from the mass.
It appears that Bung Arief confused between figures "who can lead the masses" with figures who were widely exposed in the mass media when the crowds were pouring in the streets. Who were the leaders of the crowds ? Who mobilized them ? Amien Rais, Megawati, or Gus Dur ? Or was it the the activists who had been struggling to start various actions by dozens of people, that then became actions of hundreds, then thousands, then tens of thousands, etc. ? There were many of them and they were not given wide exposure in the mass media.
Whose crowds were pouring into the streets ? Were they members of certain organizations or groups ? Were not most of them a "floating mass" who did not belong to any particular group ? Those people, especially in Jakarta, were without leaders. That was why they lost direction and could easily be provoked into rioting. Did Amien Rais direct them to launch a peaceful action, marching toward the Parliament building, or the Merdeka Palace, or the state radio station ? Or, did Megawati, Gus Dur, or other figures do any of these tasks ?
Then, who should represent these people in this transitional government ?
For me, the people have to choose the leaders themselves. The only way to do it is by establishing people's councils from the lowest level (maybe the kampung, campus, factory, offices, etc.). After electing the leaders at this lowest level, they can move to higher level, etc. up to the national level. This way a genuine leader will come out, i.e., a leader who is indeed a representation from below.
A transitional government established with an elitist character, especially if it involves the military, will endanger democracy. It only gives way to the emergence of new authoritarian government.
Jakarta, May 27, 1998
Chief Editor of PEMBEBASAN *)
*) PEMBEBASAN is the paper published by Indonesian People's Democratic Party (PRD)
PARTAI RAKYAT DEMOKRATIK ( P R D )
PEOPLE'S DEMOCRATIC PARTY, INDONESIA
E-mail : firstname.lastname@example.org
Date: Thu, 28 May 1998 12:13:08 +0200
|Back to PRD|