Indonesia and the Abundance ( or lack thereof ) of Democracy

Artwork by Alessandro Mulya

It’s not always has been democracy in this country. One time, communism— both in party and leader affiliation — has left a mark in this country’s history and still be remembered today. Another time, Indonesia was suffering from colonization. So how has it shaped our country, and why I personally think it’s the best system for us now?

Indonesia proclaimed independence at 1945. Since then, there were no longer colonization — no slaves and no social caste system. The system of colony is perhaps, one of the worst system there is. The massive amount of slavery and forced labor alone should be more than enough to make this type of system perish completely. And that’s not even all. The Dutch and the Japanese back in the day has been treating the native Indonesians like complete rubbish, lobbying their way with the aristocrats and leaders, carrying back natural resources into their country, and leaving everything but bad memories and body bags. Even my grandmother remember some of the memories very vividly. It is undoubtedly — not something that a country should go through with. ( P.S. Some would say that their coming bring industrialization and increase overall labor, both in skill and technicalities — but I beg to differ, it shouldn’t come with a price of thousands being dead. )

And then, there was communism. During the height of Cold War, both U.S.A and Russia flocked their wings and looking for countries to spread their influence and proxy wars. Indonesia was a member of GNB ( Gerakan Non-Blok, or Non-Block Movement ), and never choose any of the side. Although it was quite apparent that the country during this era was leaning towards communism a little bit. Communism has never been tested and tried in this country, and the said even has a Party here, named PKI ( Partai Komunis Indonesia ), and it didn’t end up that well. Long story short, a lot of people got murdered here and there, and PKI was disbanded and branded illegal. All of the members were captured or murdered too — which is also unfair, if I might add — and that marks the end of a short stint of Communism in Indonesia. Ever since then, Indonesia has been using Capitalism as a basis of economy system, with the exception of feudalism during the colony years, but yeah, we can all agree that that system is a major down.

Indonesia never has seen another type of system of a national scale — not Oligarchy, not Autocracy — not even one that matches the importance and longevity of Democracy ( albeit a flawed one, at that ). Will there comes a time when this country adopts another system for it’s governance management? Perhaps, but that’s unlikely. I’m still crossing my fingers, though, because that could be an amazing premise for a non-fiction book.

For me personally, there has been times in this country where corrupt politicians and dirty oligarchs has “paved” their way unto stardom of wealth, but we’re on the right track. It is through the mistakes that people began to see, to think, and to act accordingly. There has been some politicians that get swept out by demonstrations and anti-corruption governing body, so that is good. But here, often times we never see politicians or ministries that performed badly gets impeached and/or being forced out of office from their poor review and performance. So that’s one homework, I guess.

All the dominating parties and influential people in parliament and politics has been always the same, at least for the last 10 years or so. A man was once had been Minister for Maritime Affairs and Investment, Minister for Political, Legal and Security Affairs, Minister of Trade and Industry, Ambassador of Indonesia to Singapore, and Commander of the Army’s Special Forces. It has been widely known that such positions in government has always landed on a special spot to special person. Although, the recent uprising of ministers appointed from nonpartisan background has been a breath of fresh air — although their work is far from wonderful, but hey, it’s their first time in politics after all. Nobody would’ve performed extraordinarily in a national-scale management on such a little time.

I have been comparing Indonesia to other countries a lot, perhaps way too much on how different governments take different steps. For example, when the vaccine for COVID-19 started manufacturing, the capitalist states made it free so that the economy can start working again. And the socialist states made it free so that the people can be safe. But there has been talk that Indonesia will sell it to the people at a certain price — knowing fully the repercussions of such acts. For me, it doesn’t look like democracy at it’s best. It wasn’t a wise decision, no matter how you look at it, honestly. Are we still a long way to go?

Yep, we are still eons away from it.



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