Delvira Hutabarat, Jakarta – In an upload on its Instagram social media account on Monday February 14, the Indonesian Legal Aid Foundation (YLBHI) accused the administration of President Joko "Jokowi" Widodo of resembling the New Order regime under former president Suharto.
According to the YLBHI, the Widodo administration and the New Order both ignore social justice. Moreover the YLBHI put together a list of what exactly are the similarities between the Widodo administration and Suharto.
"The Jokowi administration is similar to the New Order in its developmentalism. They renege on the Constitutional mandate by ignoring social justice and a humanity which is just and civilised!", wrote the YLBHI on its official Instagram account YLBHI@yayasanlbhindonesia on Monday.
The YLBHI citied 10 pointes of similarity between the Widodo era and the Suharto regime. One of them was development which smacks of corruption and nepotism.
When sought for confirmation, YLBHI Chairperson Muhammad Isnur said that this was not just the work of the YLBHI, but also the Civil Society Coalition.
One of the cases which triggered a reaction from the Indonesian People's Fraction (FRI) was the recent unrest at Wadas Village in Purworejo, Central Java.
"It's a work by the Civil Society Coalition which is part of the Indonesian People's Faction, there are many members, we reposted it from the FRI account", confirmed Isnur.
"The Indonesian People's Faction views the various cases which have occurred of late such as in Wadas as showing the same pattern as occurred before at the Kedung Ombo [Dam] for example", he added.
In addition to this, according to Isnur, they once held a launching of a report on the indicators of the Widodo administration's authoritarianism. "We also found signs of the Jokowi administration heading towards authoritarianism", he said.
Similarities with New Order regime
The YLBHI cited at least 10 similarities between the Widodo era and the Suharto regime.
1. Prioritising physical development by taking a top-down approach to pursue political targets while neglecting democracy.
2. Development which smacks of corruption and nepotism.
3. No risk planning for people impacted upon by development which creates structural poverty (impoverishment).
4. Allowing unlicensed development projects or those with problematic permits to continue operating.
5. Issuing laws and policies without the legitimacy of people.
6. Serving the wishes of the powerful and the elite oligarchy by plundering and destroying the environment.
7. Stigmatising people who resist the deprivation of their rights as being anti-development, communists, radicals or anarchists.
8. Arresting, criminalising and even shooting and killing people who defend their rights.
9. Obstructing and even arresting those endeavoring to help others or people acting in solidarity.
10. Controlling the narrative and information, including distorting facts.
Principle Expert Presidential Staff Member Ali Mochtar Ngabalin has criticised the YLBHI for comparing the Widodo administration with the New Order.
He is asking that the YLBHI open their eyes and their hearts before judging the Widodo administration.
"Ask them, did they provide an assessment on the Suharto administration era, was it all bad? Was there not a little bit of good which Pak [Mr] [Su]Harto did? Open your eyes and hearts before making an assessment of the administration of President Jokowi", Ngabalin told journalists on Monday.
He believes that the YLBHI is being very one sided in drawing parallels between President Widodo and Suharto over what happened at Wadas Village recently. Ngabalin added that the Wadas case was being handled by the local regent, and Widodo does not need to get involved.
"How could it be that the regent can't deal with this problem? As if they really know about the Wadas case, they [YLBHI] draw a parallel between Pak Harto and Pak Jokowi. I think this is very one sided", he said.
Ngabalin said the YLBHI does not understand the conditions on the ground. Currently, he said, a Presidential Chief of Staff team is in Wadas Village to find out what actually happened there.
"They should find out exactly what happened on the ground so the foundation shouldn't become a source for the spread of slander", said Ngabalin.
"Since yesterday I have been saying, the foundation [YLBHI] has smart people, a high level of morality. If you have morals and a good education, don't insinuate, you must provide evidence, okay", he added.
He then outlined the accomplishments achieved during the Widodo era from moving the capital city (IKN) to East Kalimantan, organising the Mandalika MotoGP motorbike race in Lombok, to the mass rapid transport (MRT) system in Jakarta.
"Use your heart, use your brain. Don't become people who are immoral over a problem. Later it will be no difference from rubbish", said Ngabalin.
Greater Indonesian Movement Party (Gerindra) spokesperson Habiburokhman said that the YLBHI drawing parallels between President Widodo and Suharto is excessive.
"It's too excessive equating the Orba (New Order) regime with the Jokowi regime, saying the grade or degree of oppression are not very different from each other", he told journalists on Monday.
Habiburokhman said that the current era is different from the New Order where there was no room for criticism. Currently, he said. The public's criticisms and protests can be freely conveyed, one of example being the Wadas Village case.
"Currently space for democracy and information is open, the Wadas residents could convey their protests openly and even the [House of Representatives] Commission III was able to go their personally [to see the situation]", he said.
Habiburokhman also touched on the issue of handling corruption with is very different from the New Order era. He said that now no one can go free if they are indicted for corruption.
"Anyone can become a suspect if indeed they have committed a crime. From a village head, to the head of a government office, a regional head to a minister, all of them can be indicted by law enforcement officials. Such a thing could not have happened during the New Order era", he asserted.
"[Our] colleagues [at the YLBHI] do indeed have the right to convey criticism, but don't let those criticisms be indiscriminate. The people are smart. We need criticism to together evaluate the organisation of the country's life, not just for political attacks", he added.
[Translated by James Balowski. The original title of the article was "Tudingan Pemerintahan Jokowi Mirip Soeharto, Bentuk Kritik atau Serangan Politik?".]