Problems Of Democracy In Indonesia

Posted by Admin on Thursday, 20 November 2008 | Opini

Oleh Sayidiman Suryohadiprojo

Jakarta, November 20, 2008

Pancasila as the Basis of Democracy in Indonesia

Basically Democracy is not something strange for the people of Indonesia. Although the Dutch colonial regime did not establish a democratic system in the country, they did not prohibit the implementation of a certain kind of democracy in the villages. The people in the villages elected their village heads in all parts of the country.

But Democracy became a part of national life when Indonesia achieved its independence. It became one of the Five Basic Principles of Life or Pancasila as the basic foundation or the Weltanschauung of the independent Republic of Indonesia.[1]

At the session of the Council to Study Endevours for the Preparation of Independence (Badan Penyelidik Usaha Persiapan Kemerdekaan Indonesia, BPUPKI) on June 1,1945 Ir Soekarno or Bung Karno , the eminent leader of the national struggle for independence, proposed that an independent Indonesia should have a Weltanschauung, a Philosophy of Life. He then explained his thoughts which were later accepted by the Council and given the name Pancasila or Five Basic Principles. The final formulation of these principles which also became the Basic Foundation of the Republic of Indonesia (Dasar Negara Republik Indonesia) was :

  1. The Belief in One God Almighty
  2. Humanity within a Just Civilization
  3. Unity of Indonesia
  4. Democracy led by the Wisdom of Deliberations/Representation
  5. Social Justice for all the People of Indonesia

In the formulation of the Constitution of 1945 , Pancasila was stated in the Preamble which provided the direction for the Constitution.

Democracy as the Sovereign Power of the People was embodied in the People’s Consultative Assembly (Majelis Permusyawaratan Rakyat, MPR) as the highest body in the Nation. The MPR consisted of a Parliament (Dewan Perwakilan Rakyat, DPR) and Representatives of the several Regions and Social Groups.

A very important principle in the concept of Democracy in Indonesia stated by Soekarno and always supported by Hatta and the Founding Fathers of the Republic was, that democracy should not only have a political aspect, but political democracy should always be accompanied by economic democracy and social democracy. Soekarno and Hatta also always emphasized that democracy in Indonesia may not and could not be based by individualism and liberalism. The Founding Fathers of the Republic were convinced that liberalism and individualism only favor and strengthen the position of the wealthy people and those who already had a strong position. Therefore Democracy can only be seen in the framework of Pancasila, namely that there must always be Unity in Diversity and Diversity in Unity (Kesatuan dalam Perbedaan, Perbedaan dalam Kesatuan).

As the highest body of the nation the MPR has to formulate the Basic Framework of the State’s Direction (Garis-Garis Besar Haluan Negara, GBHN)

To implement the GBHN the MPR elects the President of Indonesia as Head of State and Government. The President is therefore responsible to the MPR, but not to the DPR. The position of the President vis-à-vis the DPR is neben geordnet or on a equal level.

To execute his tasks the President is supported by the Vice President, who is also elected by the MPR. The President appoints the Ministers to head the several ministries or departments. They together form the Executive Branch of the Government.

To provide the President with general advice a Council of Advisors (Dewan Pertimbangan Agung, DPA) is established with members appointed by the President. The DPA gives advice to the President on a regular basis or on request.

The Judiciary is led by a Supreme Court of Justice (Mahkamah Agung, MA) whose members are appointed by the President.

The regions are divided into Provinces (Provinsi) and the Provinces into Counties (Kabupaten) and Cities (Kota ). A Province is headed by a Governor (Gubernur) , the Counties by a Bupati and the Cities by a Wali Kota, Below the Counties are Sub-districts (Kecamatan) which are divided into Villages (Desa) as the lowest administrative units of the State.

This was the basic establishment of the Republic of Indonesia. Since at the beginning there was no MPR, the Committee for the Preparation of Independence (Panitia Persiapan Kemerdekaan Indonesia, PPKI) took the the MPR functions of electing the President and Vice President. It also made the decision to recognize the Constitution, which was formulated by a small committee chaired by Soekarno. All this took place on August 18, 1945, one day after the Proclamation of Independence by Soekarno and Hatta on August 17, 1945 on behalf of the Indonesian people. At the same session was decided that before the MPR come into existence after a general election, the PPKI would function as MPR under the name of Central National Committee of Indonesia (Komite Nasional Indonesia Pusat, KNIP).The PPKI had 27 members who became automatically the first members of KNIP.

Changes in the implementation of Pancasila

In October 1945 a rather radical change developed when Vice President Mohammad Hatta issued a Vice Presidential Decree (Maklumat Wakil President) since President Soekarno was not in the city. In this decree the Presidential rule was changed into Prime Minister’s rule. Before that, according the Constitution the President and Vice President were heading the Government and the State. After the decree they were only heading the State, while The Prime Minister (PM), Sutan Syahrir, became the Head of Government. The decree also stated the possibility for the people to organize political parties.

It seems that the decree was issued to accommodate foreign powers, especially Britain, and to neutralize Dutch efforts to disgrace the Republic as a product of the Japanese military government. It was important that the Republic was perceived as a Democracy and the result of Indonesian national struggle.

After the Dutch recognition of Indonesian sovereignty and independence on December 27, 1949 the Republic of Indonesia was demoted into a state within the Federal Republic of Indonesia (Republik Indonesia Serikat, RIS) , based on the agreement with the Dutch. The Constitution of 1945 must also make place for the RIS Constitution. The federation adopted a parliamentary democracy. Soekarno became the President of RIS but did not rule. The ruler was the Prime Minister with Mohammad Hatta in charge.

However RIS did not last long. In the early months of 1950 many state parliaments of RIS initiated a change to join or to unify with the Republic of Indonesia. Many state leaders supported the initiative because they were convinced that RIS was only a colonial product with which the Dutch tried to prolong their influence and control of Indonesia through personalities who were in charge of some states. These leaders were mostly appointed by the Dutch colonial government during the struggle with the RI. Because all the states decided to join the RI, there were no more RIS states except the RI. Therefore RIS must go and since August 17, 1950 it was the Unitary Republic of Indonesia which was in control of Indonesia.

Parliamentary Democracy

However the return of RI was not accompanied by the Constitution of 1945 . The RIS Constitution was replaced by a Preliminary Constitution of 1950 (UUD Sementara 1950) with the purpose to prepare a new and definite Constitution. The political system in the Preliminary Constitution continued the parliamentary rule of RIS. However, Hatta returned to his position as Vice President for President Soekarno.

During RIS the legislature consisted of a Senate and a Parliament. The Senators were elected by the States while the Parliament had 150 members which included the 27 KNIP members and other members as a result of agreement among the States. When RIS changed into RI on August 17, 1950, all the members of the Senate and Parliament became members of the House of Representatives (Dewan Perwakilan Rakyat, DPR-RI).

The parliamentary democracy which took place since 1950 could not produce political stability. Because there was no single political party which had a majority, every government was a coalition among political parties. The most important parties at that time were the Partai Nasional Indonesia, (PNI), as the nationalist party, Masyumi and Nahdlatul Ulama, (NU) as the Islam parties, Partai Sosialis Indonesia PSI, Partai Komunis Indonesia PKI, Partai Indonesia Raya (PIR), Partai Katolik and Partai Kristen Indonesia (Parkindo). All these parties had members in the DPR. It often happened that suddenly a partai as a coalition member attacked the policies of the coalition government in the DPR. Consequently the coalition broke up and the President requested the main party in opposition to form a new government. These changes happened very often, there was a government which only lasted 2 months. It is clear that under such circumstances there was no political stability and no real progress for the nation could be achieved.

In 1955 general elections took place to elect the members of a Constituante which was to formulate the definite Constitution. But when the Constituante started to work, it encountered very grave and difficult problems in relation to the establishment of the basic principles of the State. The Islam parties insisted that the Republic should become an Islamic state according the Jakarta Charter (Piagam Jakarta) which was initially agreed upon in 1945 but later discarded. The regions in Indonesia with a Christian majority among its people, like the eastern regions and Tapanuli on the island of Sumatra, indicated their intention not to participate in a Republic of Indonesia based on the Jakarta Charter, because the Christian people felt discriminated and not considered equal to the Muslim population. Therefore Mohammad Hatta persuaded the Muslim leaders in 1945 not to keep the Jakarta Charter for the sake of National Unity. The dictum in the Jakarta Charter for the Constitution of 1945 was “the Belief in God with the obligation for every Muslim to implement the syariah” (Ketuhanan dengan kewajiban untuk menjalankan syariat Islam bagi para pemeluknya). That was changed into “ the Belief in in the One God Almighty” (Ketuhanan Yang Maha Esa ) . That change in formulation could satisfy the Muslim as well as the Christian leaders in 1945, but in the 1950’s the Muslims wanted to establish the Jakarta Charter.

The fierce debates in the Constituante between the members of Islam parties and the rest of the members led to nowhere. So on July 5, 1959 President Soekarno took the initiative to break the stalemate in the deliberations. With support of other social groups, in particular the Army (Tentara Nasional Indonesia, TNI) , President Soekarno issued a decree to make Indonesia return to the Constitution of 1945. At the same time the Constituante was abolished. This change had also the silent support of many people who were already disgusted with the unproductive parliamentary democracy and its frequent cabinet changes, including the stalemate of the Constituante.

Soekarno’s Guided Democracy

President Soekarno very much disliked parliamentary democracy. That political system made him Head of State, who is not more than a bystander or observer of political developments. His ambitions as political leader could not find a proper place within that system, while Soekarno knew that the people were very strongly behind him. His ambitions could be accommodated in a political system with a presidential rule. Therefore the 1945 Constitution with the President in rule was very much in his favor.

However, after re-establishing the 1945 Constitution as the constitution of Indonesia, Soekarno took a direction in his leadership which in many ways contradicted the constitution. Instead of using his power to implement Pancasila which he personally introduced as Indonesia’s social philosophy and foundation of the State, Soekarno embarked on a political agenda which was rather a contradiction.

First of all, he declared that Indonesia should adhere to a Guided Democracy (Demokrasi Terpimpin). In that new system Soekarno was the Man in Guidance, the Leader, who decided every thing. He stated that the Indonesian Revolution which started in 1945, was far from over. As the Great Leader of the Revolution Soekarno intended to lead the nation to continue its struggle against Neo Colonialism and Neo Imperialism.

Second, the political system should stand on three pillars of NASAKOM, namely Nationalism, Religion and Communism. Soekarno soon dissolved the House of Representatives (DPR) which members were elected in the 1955 General Election and established DPR-Gotong Royong with the members and leadership all selected by Soekarno himself. Since general elections could not be held within a short time, Soekarno formed a Preliminary People’s Consultative Assembly (Majelis Permusyawaratan Rakyat Sementara, MPRS). According the rules of the 1945 Constitution, MPR consists of the DPR and Representatives of Social Groups and Regions (Utusan Golongan dan Daerah). Therefore, in addition to DPR-GR which he already formed, Soekarno also selected the Representatives of the Social Groups and Regions. According to the Constitution, MPR is the highest body of the Nation and above the President of Indonesia. However, Soekarno selected the leadership of MPR and gave them ministerial ranks. That made them subordinates of Soekarno as the Supreme Leader of the Revolution. It became immediately clear that Guided Democracy was no democracy at all, but nothing else than an authoritarian system.

Third, the negative impact of these constitutional deviations could be neutralized if Soekarno took significant steps to improve the economy and implemented the Fifth Principle of Pancasila, Social Justice for all the People. On the contrary, Soekarno insisted that the people must sacrifice for the achievement of the goals of the Revolution, which was the struggle against Neo-Colonialism and Neo-Imperialism. He seemed to forget that since the start of the Independence Struggle it had been decided that the Goals of the Revolution were the achievement of a Just and Prosperous Society based on Pancasila.

Guided Democracy could have been beneficial if implemented in the right way, because the Indonesian people needed Democracy and Leadership. That was also the motto of Taman Siswa, an organization built by the eminent national leader Ki Hadjar Dewantara in 1922 to conduct the national struggle and the achievement of Independence through culture and education. Ki Hadjar Dewantara always said that the people of Indonesia wanted to live in democracy, but at the same time they also needed effective leadership. However, the political system of Guided Democracy introduced by Soekarno had no democratic elements at all. Everything must depend on the decisions of the Supreme Leader of the Revolution. Moreover, Bung Karno neglected the economy and prosperity of the people.

Social and economic conditions in Indonesia deteriorated which benefitted the PKI (Indonesian Communist Party). Although Soekarno made NASAKOM the basis of his political concept of implementing the Indonesian Revolution, he seemed to have more confidence in the PKI to become his main political vehicle. He considered the PKI to be more dynamic in serving his purposes. That was for many people rather strange, because back in 1948 the PKI challenged Soekarno’s leadership when they revolted against him.

Soekarno seemed not to be aware aware, that the PKI demonstrated their closeness to him for their own purposes, namely to use Soekarno’s strong influence to build for themselves a political base which they had lost because of their unsuccessful revolt in 1948 . For this purpose they needed Soekarno as the leader with the strongest influence and who was the main political factor in Indonesia. Soekarno thought that he would be able to reform the PKI to become his political vehicle. It was a game of Who is using Whom. For every body else except Soekarno it was clear, that the PKI would drop him as soon as they could achieve their objectives, because Soekarno basically did not belong to them and was in their eyes just a part of the bourgeosie which must be annihilated entirely. Based on Soekarno’s support the PKI grew to become the largest communist party in the world outside the communist camp.

It was a pity for Soekarno, but also for Indonesia, that he made this crucial mistake. Although there were Muslims and nationalists who seemed to back Soekarno in his political mistake, most of them did that because they were afraid to be called counter-revolutionnaries. Most of them were in their heart critical of Soekarno’s domestic politics, because they suspected the PKI for planning a revanche for its failure in the 1948 Madiun revolt.

The Muslim Party Masyumi and Sutan Syahrir’s Partai Sosialis Indonesia (PSI) were already dissolved by Soekarno and prohibited to exist, because of their open resistance to Soekarno. The Partai Nasionalis Indonesia (PNI) did not want to show its disloyalty to Soekarno, although many of its leaders also did not trust the PKI. While the Nahdlatul Ulama (NU) was strongly against communism but was very careful not to antagonize Soekarno, to follow Masyumi to be dissolved.

As stated earlier, had Bung Karno used his political power to steer Indonesia to become more prosperous and stronger economically, all these fatal mistakes need not to become the cause of his downfall. He could also maintain good and productive relations with the outside world. The western camp as well as Moscow would certainly be interested to have a strong and stable Indonesia on their side. Soekarno could use their competition for Indonesia’s favor to get economic assistance from the West, while at the same time maintaining close relations with Moscow as well as Beijing which were competing for the leadership of world communism. But Soekarno preferred to demonstrate his closeness only toward Beijing, thereby making Moscow annoyed and the western camp antagonistic to him.

The end of the Soekarno regime started when the PKI became too sure of themselves (or perhaps they were too much worried that Soekarno will pass away because of his physical weaknesses, before they have gained the domination of Indonesia ). For the third time in its history[2] the PKI started to revolt by murdering the TNI or Army leadership on September 30, 1965. But for the third time the PKI failed and was totally defeated by the TNI and all the people who were against communist rule. The PKI leadership thought that its revolt would be supported by the majority of the people who were living in poverty. However, it was a very wrong calculation, because the people did not want the PKI to rule them in a communist regime.

The Soeharto and New Order Period

The failure of the PKI’s coup in 1965 was the end of the Soekarno’s political role in Indonesia, including his Guided Democracy. It brought instead the entrance of the TNI in the political forum and General Soeharto as the next president of Indonesia. He called his government the New Order (Orde Baru).

Actually Soeharto made a good start when the New Order defined itself as an order to implement Pancasila and the 1945 Constitution in a genuine and consequent way (tatanan untuk melaksanakan Pancasila dan UUD 1945 secara murni dan konsekuen). It therefore gained very soon the strong support of the majority of the people who were very happy to get rid of the arrogant dominating role of the PKI since the early 1960s. Although the PNI was basically Soekarno’s political party, it decided to back Soeharto, after solving a split within the party. The Islam parties were all backing Soeharto and even a left-oriented party, the Partai Murba, which was always opposing the PKI , was behind Soeharto.

Soeharto realized that his success as the new leader of Indonesia depended on his capability to improve the economy. Therefore he embarked on a program called National Development (Pembangunan Nasional) with the emphasis on the economy. He could acquire the support of the western nations led by the US, because of his achievement to annihilate the strongest communist party in the world outside the communist camp. National Development was directed according the Broad Outline of the State Direction (Garis-Garis Besar Haluan Negara, GBHN). According GBHN National Development was implemented in stages of five years each.

To get a stable political support for National Development Soeharto decided to limit the number of political groupings. The political group to support his policies was Golongan Karya (Golkar) or the Functional Group. In addition he decided to merge all the Islam parties into the Party for the Unity of Development (Partai Persatuan Pembangunan, PPP). The nationalist-oriented parties and Partai Murba were merged into the Indonesian Democratic Party (Partai Demokrasi Indonesia, PDI). But Soeharto took care that Golkar could always dominate politics in Indonesia, by winning general elections which took place every five years. To secure this condition the Indonesian Armed Forces consisting of the Army, Navy, Air Force and Police were made to play a political role through a system called Dual Function of the Armed Forces (Dwi Fungsi ABRI). Soeharto stated that since the ABRI members did not vote in the general elections, this must be compensated by allotting to them a certain amount of seats in MPR and DPR. The AF presence in MPR and DPR guaranteed a Golkar domination of the legislature. Moreover, many Head of Provinces and Counties (governors and bupatis) were AF officers and this could provide a substantial support for Golkar during the general elections.

This arrangement did in the beginning not provoke resistance from the other parties and social groups, since they felt relieved that the TNI was able to liberate society from the PKI or communist domination. In addition to that, Soeharto’s efforts to improve the economic and social conditions were successful to make it easier for the people to buy food and clothes, two basic commodities which were during the Soekarno regime very hard to acquire. There was also a distinct improvement of transportation down to the village level, where many roads were repaired. The improvement of the economy brought an increase in the purchasing power of the people. In political matters changes were also remarkable, like the holding of general elections every five years, the implementation of the arrangements dictated by the 1945 Constitution by establishing MPR and DPR based on general elections, and many other different things. All of these were different from the difficult conditions during the Soekarno regime, the non-existence of general elections since 1955, MPRS and DPR-GR with members selected by Soekarno himself, and many other limitations.

However, when time goes by a change came in the attitude of the middle class, essentially represented by the university students. They became more critical of the limited liberties in society which they saw in the domination of the legislature by Golkar and the AF. They also wanted more freedom in expressing their opinion, which they formulated as more academic freedom. In this matter they were supported by media which wanted a free press. All of these were actually deficient since the 1960’s when Soekarno implemented his version of Guided Democracy. In fact, Soeharto decreased the number and sort of limitations enforced by the Soekarno government. But the people, especially the middle class, who were now living in much better conditions compared to the early 1960’s were still far from satisfied. So one could notice a strengthening of resistance against the Soeharto leadership starting 1975. A decade of political calmness had changed into a situation of more tensions in society.

That erupted in the Malari Affair on January 15, 1975. A visit of the Japanese Prime Minister, Kakuei Tanaka, to Jakarta was used by the students to demonstrate their opposition against government’s policies. The students accused the government, and Soeharto personally, of favoring the Chinese role in the economic development. At the same time neighboring Southeast nations like Thailand and Malaysia were also demonstrating against Tanaka when he visited these countries before coming to Indonesia. At these places the people demonstrated their disagreement with the rising Japanese influence in their countries. In Jakarta the demonstrations were against Japan as well as against the Soeharto government.

Tensions between the Soeharto government and the middle class represented by the students of Jakarta became stronger after the Malari incident. However, Soeharto and his followers represented in the Golkar were still strong enough to face the increasing opposition. There were two main factors which supported them, first was the fact that the people at large were living happily because of the improved economic conditions since Soeharto took over from Soekarno. Second, the international situation was still very much dominated by the Cold War between the US and the western powers against the communist bloc led by the Soviet Union. The Soeharto government could even demonstrate its effective leadership in the Non-Aligned Movement (NAM).

But this situation changed when the Cold War was over and the US became the sole dominating power in the international world. When during the Cold War the US needed the support of the NAM countries, including Indonesia, after winning its competition with the Soviet Union the US demonstrated an attitude which not longer tolerated differences from other nations, in particular the NAM nations including Indonesia. US foreign policy after the end of the Cold War became strongly oriented by dominating the world. It propagated the US versions of Democracy and Human Rights accompanied by the need of Free Trade among nations. This policy was not longer in favor of a nonaligned Indonesia led by Soeharto with a high degree of authoritarianism and centralism. The more so when Soeharto started to become close to Islam by endorsing a movement of Muslim intellectuals (Ikatan Cendekiawan Muslim se-Indonesia, ICMI).

In 1997 Southeast Asia, including Indonesia, had to face an Economic Crisis. Although there is no clear proof, there was the possibility that the crisis was also a part of US activities to gain world hegemony. A domestically strong Indonesia would be able to weather the changes in the changed American attitude. However, Soeharto made a mistake by weakening himself with policies which were antagonistic to the interests of the people at large, in particular the middle class. His policies of favoritism to members of his family, especially his own children, and certain people of Chinese origin were manipulated by his opponents, which finally brought Soeharto’s downfall in 1998. Of course, it was again the students who were the vanguard of the opposition and who were able to force Soeharto to resign. That ended Soeharto’s long rule of more than 30 years.

The Reform Movement

The Reform Movement after Soeharto’s resignation in 1998 could have benefitted Indonesia if the direction of Reform was the long awaited realization of Pancasila. However, the lack of effective leadership among the Reformists was the main reason why later Reform could be manipulated by foreign interests. Instead of making Pancasila a reality of Life, Indonesia became more and more dominated by liberalism and individualism, entirely contradicting the views of the Founding Fathers of the Republic, in particular Soekarno and Hatta.

Prof J.E. Habibie who as Vice President replaced Soeharto as President of Indonesia, wanted to demonstrate to the public that he was not just a continuation of his predecessor Soeharto. He did that by immediately liberating society of all kinds of limitations, in particular his efforts to introduce freedom of opinion and freedom of the press. The purpose was to improve the quality of democracy and the end of authoritarianism. That was certainly good for the nation and the people if it could be managed positively. However, the new condition was a source for extravagance in the implementation of freedom. And that became ironically a weakness of society. Discipline which had never been strong in Indonesia became much weaker, and consequently there was a deterioration of public life.

Habibie also started Regional Autonomy to put an end to Centralism which was the attitude of the central government since Soekarno and further implemented by Soeharto. However, autonomous power was given to the Counties (kabupaten) , not to the Provinces. The negative outcome was that the County Heads, who were subordinates of the Provincial Heads, were reluctant to follow the Provincial Heads’s leadership. This was also a negative product of the new freedoms. Although the Governors as Provincial Heads were officially and legally the arms of the Central Government to direct administration in the regions, it took some time and strong efforts to make the County Heads willing to be coordinated by the Governors. As a result, even leaders and people who are known for their dedication to Democracy, suggested to abort the Regional Autonomy.

Another policy by Habibie to implement democratic principles was his decision to separate the State Police from the Armed Forces or ABRI. Since the early 1960’s President Soekarno unified the State Police with the TNI or the military services. The name Angkatan Bersenjata RI, ABRI was adopted for this unification. Now Habibie separated them again to make the State Police a full civilian organization, responsible for the domestic security of the nation. The military services became TNI or Tentara Nasional Indonesia again like before the merge with the Police in the 1960’s. It was further decided that the TNI should reform itself to become a professional military force responsible for the national defense of the nation, without acting as a political force in the politics of the nation. The weakness of this decision was that there could never be a clear and distinct separation of domestic security and military security or defense. With the separation TNI forces could not be used to confront domestic security problems, like insurgencies, without an approval of Parliament or DPR. This was a limitation to government’s efforts to face internal disturbances which broke out frequently after Reform.

It was strange that Soekarno’s daughter, Megawati, who was one of the leaders of the Reform Movement, and later became President, never spoke strongly about the need for guiding Reform to the implementation of Pancasila. Even when she became President of Indonesia, she never took an attitude in that direction. On the contrary, during her presidency the 1945 Constitution was amended four times, with the result that the new constitution was a radical deviation of the original 1945 Constitution and the principles of Pancasila. Although the Preambule of the Constitution was still the same, but the amendments in the main body of the constitution changed it into a set of laws very much based on liberalism and individualism. People now say that the constitution should be renamed the 2002 Constitution, because the amendments were finished in the year 2002.

It was a fact and public knowledge that the formulation of the amendments were strongly influenced, perhaps even directed through the actions of an NGO, which got directions from a foreign power interested in a change of the situation in Indonesia.

The changes among others resulted in the heavy increase of power of the DPR, which made it far from easy for the President as Chief Executive to govern the nation effectively. Other changes are the direct election by the people of the President and the Vice President, replacing the rule of electing the President and Vice President by MPR. Also direct elections for all the Heads of Provinces and Counties. The consequence of this rule is that democracy becomes very expensive. According the General Election Commission (Komisi Pemilihan Umum, KPU) the general election of 2004 costed the nation about Rp 7 trillion (about USD 780 million), while the coming 2009 general elections will cost about Rp 20 trillion or three times more expensive. That still does not include the elections Heads of Provinces and Counties. It is clear enough that these expenditures are a heavy burden for a poor developing nation like Indonesia.

The amendments also gave political parties a very strong position. There can be no candidates for any election without political parties’s proposal. All the candidates for President and Vice President, Heads of Provinces and Counties, members of Central Parliament or DPR and Provincial and County Parliaments or DPRD must be proposed by a political party. It becomes almost impossible to have independent candidates. The only exception are the election of the members of a new body introduced by the amendments with some similarity with a Senate in the US system, called the Dewan Perwakilan Daerah, DPD. Members of the DPD are not proposed by political parties, but elected by the people in every Province. DPD is only at the central or national level, on the side of DPR, together forming the MPR.

The exclusive and strong role of political parties is especially demonstrated in DPR, whose members are all representing political parties. Because of the new powers of DPR, its members indulge in many unethical behavior, mostly related to money. This situation is a source of a lot of annoyance of the public who generally must live in difficult material and financial conditions. People say that DPR members, who actually should represent the interest of the people who elected them, are in fact just representing their party’s or their own interests. A ridiculous power given to DPR is for instance that a foreign ambassador should have DPR clearance before the Department of Foreign Affairs can issue an agreement to the ambassador’s country.

There are many shortcomings and weaknesses in the development of Democracy initiated by the Reform Movement. However, the Movement leaders always pride themselves of the fact that Indonesia with its population of about 250 million people has become the Third Largest Democracy in the World after the US and India. Indeed, looking at the procedures in government, Indonesia has indeed become a full blown Democracy. However, using the yardsticks of Democracy expressed by the Founding Fathers, Indonesia today has only a Political Democracy, and still very much lacking an Economic and Social Democracy.

How can we speak about a real democratic Indonesia when in March 2007 about 16.58 % of the population or about 37.17 million people are living below the poverty line. Where at the same time social groupings are fighting with each other because of ethnic, religious and other differences. Indonesia is still quite far away from its objective of being a prosperous and advanced nation, living with social justice based on Pancasila. Since this is a situation 9 years after the start of the Reform Movement, it is fair to say that this movement has not made Indonesia a better place to live.

Back to Pancasila for a Better Life

With the less than positive achievements of the Reform it would be much better to re-direct the course of Reform, namely making Reform to make Pancasila a living reality. As a matter of fact, the majority of the people still prefer to maintain Pancasila as the Foundation of the Nation and the Ideology of the State. But people want Pancasila to be implemented consequently and not just remain just a slogan. MPR has formally made this People’s Will one of its Decisions (Ketetapan MPR No 18/ 1998 ). Being an MPR’s Decision it becomes binding for every President and Government of Indonesia.

Democracy will become a reality if Pancasila is implemented consequently. Then it is not only Political Democracy, but also Economic and Social Democracy. The question is then what course of action must be followed to make Pancasila a living reality.

There are 7 basic steps what must be made :

  1. The Constitution should be re-amended to rectify the points in the constitutional body which contradict the Pancasila principles in the Preambule of the Constitution. This will restore the 1945 Constitution.
  2. Leadership of the Nation, from National Leadership downward , should be imbued by the script and meaning of Pancasila, motivating the Nation to live according Pancasila and restoring Gotong Royong or Social Solidarity and Togetherness as a way of life.
  3. Strong efforts must be made to develop Prosperity of the People by implementing economic development which directly affect the life of the majority of the people.
  4. Political efforts and development should be directed to support the realization of prosperity of the people.
  5. Education must be given to all parts of the Nation to improve national character and strengthen capabilities to master science and technology, and other aspects of life.
  6. The Rule of Law should prevail over the Nation as a whole.
  7. Regional Autonomy must be implemented to guarantee the progress of every part of the Nation without sacrificing the Unitary Republic of Indonesia.

We see that the crucial point is the election of the right persons to establish the leadership with appropriate mental and intellectual capabilities, in particular at the national level, to achieve the objective of making Pancasila a reality of life in Indonesia.

But with a strong commitment and full dedication of the Nation at large, the objective will be achieved. Perhaps for some people it seems to look as a mission impossible, But nothing is impossible in this world and let us pray for God’s support and guidance to make it a possibility and reality.

[1] The fourth principle in Pancasila is in the Indonesian language : Kerakyatan yang dipimpin oleh hikmat kebijaksanaan dalam Permusyawaratan / Perwakilan.

[2] The first PKI revolt was in 1927 during Dutcg colonialism, the second in September 1948 when the Republic of Indonesia was in a fierce struggle against Dutch colonialism

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