KOMPAS.com – The Jokowi-Ma’ruf administration marked its first year in office, which has been riddled with protests, an economic recession, and an ongoing first wave of coronavirus infections.
On October 20, 2019, Joko ‘Jokowi’ Widodo and Ma’ruf Amin officially took their position as Indonesian President and Indonesian Vice-President for the 2019–2024 term.
One year on, the Jokowi-Ma’ruf administration has instead been met with mass demonstrations rather than fireworks.
Thousands of people flooded streets across Indonesia in their dismay and opposition to the recently approved Jobs Law.
Weeks-long nationwide protests in the country are the demonstrators’ way of defying the government and demanding Jokowi revoke the law.
The Jokowi-Ma’ruf administration faced similar rounds of protests early into their presidency concerning the same Jobs Law and possible amendments to the law on the Corruption Eradication Commission.
The outcome of earlier protests only saw the government postpone the ratification of the Jobs Law rather than axing it altogether.
The first year of Jokowi’s second term has been shrouded by an economic recession stemming from the coronavirus pandemic that has battered the Indonesian economy.
Economic contraction hit 5 percent and many pinned the blame on the government’s failure to mitigate the virus outbreak that led to the national economy’s decline.
Furthermore, the growth of bank loans was extremely low at around 0.6 percent year on year as of August 2020 (based on Bank Indonesia data) despite the government funding that had been allocated for the banking industry.
Despite having sufficient savings, the slow disbursement of government funds affected the money supply for businesses and society thus significantly impacting the national economy.
It did not take long until many Indonesians found themselves out of work amid the continued spiral of Indonesia’s first wave of coronavirus infections.
The Indonesian Chamber of Commerce (KADIN) estimates that around 6 million Indonesians have been laid off or have their contract terminated.
With the end of the pandemic nowhere in sight, more Indonesians will be out of work.
Indonesian small and medium enterprises (SMEs) are the backbone of the country's economy and have often been the safety net during crises such as the 1998 Asian Financial Crisis and the 2007 Global Financial Crisis.
However, Indonesian SMEs were no match to the Covid-19 pandemic, and many employers forcibly slashed their employee numbers.
Down goes democracy and freedom of expression
One of the main criticisms regularly mentioned is the rise of oligarchy during the Jokowi-Ma’ruf administration particularly concerning the dwindling down of democracy and respect to freedom of expression in Indonesia.
The Freedom House noted that there has been a decline in freedom of expression in the Southeast Asian nation.
The growing restrictions on speech have picked up steam and are evident in how officials react to people who criticize or protest the Indonesian government.
Many experts find that democracy and freedom of speech have weakened during the first year of the Jokowi-Ma’ruf administration.
Moreover, individuals and groups critical of the government have been met with acts of terror, and authorities not only hack social media accounts, they openly arrest and withhold people under various charges.
The Commission for the Victims of Violence and Missing Persons reported nearly 157 incidents that violated democratic rights in the past year.
Most of the violations were on the right to gather (93 incidents), right to expression (60 incidents), and attacks on civil liberty (four incidents).
Among the modes of attack that have been implemented by authorities range from hacking, intimidation, doxing, and torture in cyberspace.
One visible example of this violation took place when protests erupted to reject changes to the Law on the Corruption Eradication Commission last year.
Several anti-corruption activists and academics who disapproved of the law’s amendments were either hacked or intimidated.
While freedom and civic space went into a downward spiral, acts of violence have instead been on the up.
The Indonesian government has made the impression of ignoring and pushing aside cases involving severe human rights violations rather than resolving it.
Cases involving the role of security and defense authorities in civil affairs and the near-zero involvement of public participation in conducting a substantial democratic process have also been largely ignored by the Jokowi-Ma’ruf administration.
Take for example the legislative process. Indonesia's Jobs Law is a clear example of how public participation was ignored and was not taken into consideration.
So how has the performance of the Jokowi-Ma’ruf administration been after one year in office? Is Indonesia truly facing a democratic deficit? Is freedom of expression really at threat?
Why does President Jokowi appear so ignorant towards critiques and protests from the public? Can Jokowi bring Indonesia out of an economic recession? All of these topics will be discussed in detail during the ‘Satu Meja The Forum’ talk show on Kompas TV.
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