This is an opinion between daiquiris, a beer and a headache caused by hmmm’s generated in the cerebral cortex of the cynic in all of us. Not more, not less.
Democracy in Indonesia was hard fought in 1998. I remember, now old gray and a darn cynic, I was there. Seen it all. The Semanggi shootings, looting and the unrest. I had a beer and cold pizza watching Brimob, the Riot Police, opening salvo fire into the ranks of the demonstrators like at Waterloo. Like so many others, we been through the euphoria to have kicked the old buggers out of the office. A fresh wind hit Indonesia; everyone was elated. Success. Democracy. Or was it just an illusion? So, before we join the chorus of hurrahs, shoulder clapping and self-illusion success of Jokowi’s let’s be a bit more critical.
Adam Schwarz’ in a Nation in Waiting quoted Arif Budiman a vocal critic of Indonesian politics who said,
“The first is what I would call loan democracy. This democracy exists when the state is very strong so it can afford to be criticised. A sort of democratic space then emerges in which people can express their opinions freely. However, when the state thinks the criticism has gone too far, it will simply take back the democracy that it has only lent. The people have no power to resist. There is, second, limited democracy. This democracy exists only when there is a conflict among the state elites … People can criticise one faction of the ‘powers that be’ and be protected by the opposite faction … However, when the conflict within the elite is over, this democratic space will probably disappear also.”
Are we having a democracy on loan? Today, the stench of the ghosts from days before 1998 return. Is the democratic space disappearing? A good question to pose.
Jokowi’s victory is soiled. The vote fixing videos are disturbing and fascinating at the same time. One of Jokowi’s mandarins, the wily Erick Thohir going in crisis mode trying to mobilize the 01 supporters to defend the victory. Really? Because if you would have won honestly why bother about the nutcases?
First question to ask is, what does the president, the gray eminence and the mandarins want? Answer: to preserve power accumulated and secure more power. As we all know, total power corrupts totally.
The change in Jokowi was noted and the vote against the regime are the voices speaking out against his populist, progressive, socialist-Islamic front. The 71,176,284 Indonesians who did not vote for Jokowi and his policies are no small pocket change. Let’s pause for a moment. If Amien Rais, and a few other reformasi era democrats join Prabowo Subianto how bad must be the other guys?
Now, one must not be a fan girl of Prabowo Subianto or his hunky sidekick, Sandi Uno but democracy is not a flip flop sandal you put on when you need it. It works both way, Mr. President. So despite the euphoria by the pink glasses wearing elites, the election is a warning that 71.1 million of Indonesians do not agree with Jokowi.
Jokowi is a populist, make no mistake about it and his crowd are no chorus boys.
Indonesia had the choice between a Populist-Socialist-Islamic Front and a National-Islamic Front. Indonesians chose the populist left. Raise the ice lemon tea to that one.
But before I sink into the depth of doing the colonial thing. You know, babes, beach and booze, and entirely oblivious to the domestic issues, let us examine this Javanese version of a Greek tragedy. Here some facts:
A total of 805,075 and 620 polling stations overseas are reported. Now a quick side step. On April 18, the Jakarta Post quoted Burhanuddin Muhtadi from Indikator Politik Indonesia claimed that Prabowo’s team claims of having a ‘real count’ from 320,000 polling stations across Indonesia within a day was impossible. Fair comment.
Even more so is the amazing fact, that if Prabowo Subianto’s team is not able to complete this feat within one day, how does the Jokowi team to get a 99.95% quick count of 805,075 and 620 overseas stations sampled within 3.5 hours after the polling stations were closed? A cerebral hmmm is coming on.
According to the 2018 data a total of 185,732,093 voters in Indonesia and 2,049,791 voting abroad totaling 187,781,884 were expected to vote. CNN last year in December reported Gerindra pointed out irregularities in the voter registrations and on 15 December 2018 the KPU adjusted to 192,828,520 voters, with 2,058,181 voters spread across 130 Indonesian embassies around the world and 34 provinces in Indonesia. So, Indonesia is the size of Europe and the diaspora spread across 130 countries. OK, says the cerebral cortex.
These are the facts. I hope we can all agree on the facts.
Act two, the Actors enter the stage
The president, called a socialist by ideology, according to the Chief Editor of the Jakarta Post in an op-ed by the Jakarta Post on 10 April 2019, the Centre for Strategic and International Studies, the Cyrus Network, Luhut Panjaitan, fast becoming the most unpopular politician and the de-facto the eminence grise of Indonesian politics, a powerful behind the scene family linked to both the Jakarta Post, the CSIS, Surya Paloh, Media Indonesia and the NasDem or National Democratic party, and a few other oddities.
Wait a minute wasn’t Surya Paloh one of the guys detained by Kopassus in 1998? And wait one, isn’t on the Board of supervisors of CSIS Lukito Wanadi, and on the Board of Trustees we got Jusuf Wanadi and Sofjan Wanadi. Jusuf is also the President Director of the Jakarta Post which runs the presidential quick count scoreboard? Nah, way too much Javanese coincidences, let’s not get paranoid, we leave mental illness (that is the classification of paranoia by medical professionals) to the lefties. But another hmmmmmm just lurks in the back of my head. Cassandra does her eye rolling thing which Indonesian beautiful females do if they get annoyed.
“Jokowi, a socialist by ideology, squares off with Prabowo Subianto, a former army general, who counts mostly on conservative voters to get him into office.”
Jakarta Post (10/4/2019)
What do they all have in common with Prabowo Subianto? The answer: an intensive hate of the up-starter ex-husband of the daughter of Suharto. Their hate for his brashness, the elite’s absoluteness to deny a Prabowo to find his place in the pantheon of Indonesian history. The interpersonal deep-almost-pathological grimness ingrained in the fabric of the individuals. And, they all work one way or the other for team Joko with vested financial interests in his succeeding to remain in power.
The Greenpeace smear, which popped up just before polling day called the “Sexy Killers“, because that what it is, however pointed out an interesting fact. The interconnection of vested business interests between Jokowi and Luhut, forming an uncomfortable “negative” impression, a dark overlord pulling the strings of the president? Hmmmm, says the cerebral cortex. I need another Martini.
Energy and Mineral Resources Minister (ESDM) Ignasius Jonan said he has not watched the recent viral documentary “Sexy Killers” produced by WatchDoc on the negative effects of Indonesia’s coal mining industry.
If democracy is loaned to us, the mere mortals, are we now losing this illusion of democracy?
In late 2018 I had a discussion with a famed American academic in Jakarta in a 20-minute rushed conversation over a tea and a sugar free coke and I offered to a bet with the esteemed academic that the Indonesian elite today will do anything, and I mean anything to make sure Prabowo Subianto will not get elected to the highest office in the country. Bragging rights and a bottle of red wine which I will collect, aside, it is a sad fact, if we can predict the outcome of the elections with this level of accuracy a year ahead of events. I could play the lottery. Is Prabowo Subianto becoming another sad addition of a managed Indonesian history by denying him the victory he fought for? Most likely. Another Daiquiri darling? (the spell devil was just expelled, damn booze).
The most troubling aspect of this election is the question about vote rigging. Ballot box stuffing in Malaysia, manufacturing speed punching of 01 on the ballots are impressive, in particularly if you watch it on YouTube or Facebook. In the old days we all speculated how the Suharto clan and Golkar rigged the election, but today, this is live on social media. Talk about efficiency. Talk about how deep is that rabbit hole?
So, what is different to the old New Order regime? Why bother running an election if it is rigged from the outset? But than if nobody cares why bother?I had a LOL coming out about some of the reasons given. Indonesian ingenuity is actually funny. The Indonesian version of “hanging chads” are the “holes in the ballot box are too small”. Really? Cassandra almost chokes on the olive of her re-filled martini. Darling, better stick with ice lemon tea.
However, an official of the Elections Supervisory Committee (Panwaslu) at the polling station said the ballots were not intentionally marked, but only damaged because the hole in the ballot box was too small.
Jakarta Post, (18/4)
It is seriously is mind blowing if we run some numbers of how problematic the ballot manipulation could be. It questions the credibility of Indonesian elections, and its institutions who failed to protect or prevent ballot rigging. It suddenly paints the oh-so clean president in a not so bright light.
It questions the legitimacy of the process. It poses the question has anything changed in Indonesia? Taken the disturbing evidence into account, unless proven otherwise, the answer is No.
One more prediction. The white-wash language to watch will be the KPU or even the Supreme Court issuing a statement along the lines, of “minor incidents”, “insignificant numbers”, “statistically acceptable” or “no evidence”. Anyone care to bet a bottle of red wine?
Now, Le General, made some significant blunders and with his usual personality pissed off most of his coalition partners. Thank god he didn’t ride his damn horse. I am still head shaking about that one. Quirky personalities aside, his trusted sidekick, Sandi made an excellent point. All previous governments had a chance to prosecute him for human rights allegations, none did. Case closed. Prabowo Subianto is the sad antagonist in this drama. He wears his personality on his sleeve, he is after all human. And in the years to come, it is to be seen if Le General will be viewed more favorable by history.
Prabowo Subianto could have won the elections if he would have listened to some of his elders. Including his frenemy, the ex-president Susilo Bambang Yudhoyono. Regardless how you feel about Yudhyono, he knew how to beat the mighty PDIP, hands down. Indonesian wanted change and looked to Prabowo to be change agent. He is not. Prabowo missed that boat, narrowly. Not entirely his fault but he must carry the blame bucket. He just made it too easy for the other guys to beat him.
Act three, enter the data
The difference is about 2.64 % between the KPU numbers of registered voters is seemingly an insignificant difference. A blurb on the spectrum of pundits and pollsters but that’s about 5,090,672 voters. So are the magic quick count figures so eagerly circulated are possibly tainted by 5 million voters out of the starting block. That’s 2 points off the gap between the two boys. In political terms that makes the difference between winning and loosing.
The Litbang Kompas figure first. 54.43% for the incumbent and his new sidekick and 45.57% to the again defeated, at no surprise to any professional cynic, 45.57% for the General and his fabulous but not happy looking Sandiago Uno. Shame he would make an excellent vice president. The difference is an 8.86 %. The Jokowinistas are already screaming they won. Regardless of the inaccuracies.
And, in figures number two the CSIS-Cyrus Network, el presidente and sidekick, now vice president cum elect, secure 55.62% and the defeated, unhappy couple 44.38%. Again, the difference between the Socialist-Islamist and the National-Islamic Front are 11.24% or 2.38% between option one and option two.
Oh yes, time to introduce the murky hand in the dark. The Cyrus Network, which in its rapid succession of publishing numbers is just amazingly efficient but is however not able to manage its own website. Its website has a long story about how to win elections, run social media campaigns, and beat whoever you like to beat.
Artificial number manipulations and other claims the recent history of distorted truths are long. Oxford Analytica, Bots factories and the Russkis. It worked in the US and Europe, why shouldn’t it work in Indonesia. Damn the Russians. Where is my virgin Pina Colada?
In 2016 Sindonews wrote that Hasan Nasbi who manages the Cyrus Network was according to Gerindra’s chief ideologue Fadli Zon introduced to Jokowi. Although not entirely clear, but if the Jokowi team pays for services of the Cyrus Network the results are without doubt stacked against the contender. Never mind the conflict of interest, integrity of data, credibility of the count, etc. In the post-mortem we now see a flurry of comments trying to explain the quick data count. Not entirely convincing, but E for Effort.
It is interesting to point out that the Cyrus Network was reported to the KPK, and oddly enough, no action was taken. But of course, we overlook the fact Gerindra officials reported the matter. And, nobody really is looking at the Cyrus network and the muddled waters. Not much transparency here. Lot more questions.
Act four, the elections
Drumroll please. The polling started on 0800 hours local time (or so) and finished at 1100 hrs. Wide spread protest about the closure and people are unable to vote because the polling booth and embassies are out of (ballot) “paper” was the first sign something is amiss. By lunch time videos of overseas irregularities including Ahok popping up in Japan seemingly point out a problematic overseas ballot.
According to Tempo by 1500 hrs the first “quick count” by CSIS-Cyrus was announced. Jokowi in the lead. We have a winner! Hurrah long live the Republic. Jokowi is the winner.
But it felt like just another day in Jokowistan. The ‘toldya so’ was coming on. Honey get me a beer. I feel nauseating.
Now, let us revisit some of the figures. Let’s presume 74% of 192 million registered voters ticked the ballots. By now the reelected el presidente claims 81 % voted and the Indonesian election commission said 77.5 %. That’s an astonishing 149,442,103 or 156,191,101 citizens voting. This also means about 19 % or 36.6 million Indonesians did not vote. With the polling closed at 1130 hrs and the quick count announced at 1500 hours the manual vote counting from 33 provinces and all 130 overseas missions was completed by within 210 minutes.
Let’s to the math. This means 679,491 votes were counted, tabulated, reported and calculated every minute for 3.5 hours straight resulting in an on-time announcement. Now taking the latest statements made in the Straits Times by el presidente and the KPU chief as a new measure, so Jokowi and the president is telling us actually 743,767.15 votes were counted every minute for 210 minutes to define the outcome of the elections. Amazing. And all of that before Games of Throne started.
Here a more logical response. The KPU chief said,
Indonesia’s General Elections Commission (KPU) chief Arief Budiman told reporters on Thursday that the “real counts” are ongoing and being conducted in stages – first at the polling stations and then consolidated at a national level.
Straits Times (19/4)
Alright a bit more logical. Recounts, Papua, and counting in stages is the operational keywords.
We must bear in mind this is a manual count. No fancy digital kit that the Russians can crack. This is good old paper and muscle covering 805,075 domestic and 620 overseas polling booths to have a quick count figure which, by all accounts of the CSIS is not expected to change.
In other words, the manual count of 805,695 polling stations, both domestic and overseas, counted every minute 0.92 polling cards, tabulated and reported back to vote to the central dark overlord headquartered in the Cyrus network within 210 minutes to have a complete voting picture. Again, we must be amazed about this feat.
By the way, minor point. Cyrus has a few meanings. In the biblical context it means miserable or heir. in Greek it means enthroned (!), in Latin it means, Sun. A bit presumptuous but fitting. Hmmm, says the cortex and orders another long island tea.
This makes Indonesia the most efficient, accurate and on time presidential election in the history of the world. Raise the glasses. Bring the cigars. An amazing feat of human endeavor to defeat the digital age. Counting, delivering and declaring the next president of Indonesia by counting 679,481 or 743,767.25 ballots every minute for 3.5 hours must be considered a world record. Trump eat this. Google throw away the iphone. Indonesians have beaten deep blue.
Now let get serious. We must agree with Burhanuddin Muhtadi from Indikator Politik Indonesia that if we assume Prabowo is unable to count 320,000 polling stations in one day, representing only 38.72% of the total voting stations, it is equally impossible for the CSIS-Cyrus and Kompas to have accounted 149 million (or 156.1 million depend which data we use) votes with a high level of accuracy completed in 210 minutes. In particularly the KPU counts in stages!A major hmmmmm comes now from my cerebral cortex.
The final act. The tragedy is unfolding. Unless a dramatic change by the public triggers massive unrest, demanding for a recount nothing will change. Jokowi will be confirmed for another term, and public resentment will continue but ebb out like a bad weather front. Prabowo victory is denied. He, after a short fit of anger will concede. Deals will be made and life goes on.
All the pundits are now unemployed since the predictions of collapse of law and order did not transpire. The process was so smooth, better than any western democracy could ever manage. But now the cynic kicks in and would argue well of course because the papers were sorted out by a rapid firing machine gun chopping Kampung army punching the ballots. Nic Cheeseman and Brian Klaas wrote in How to Rig an Election,
“….Ballot-box stuffing is one of the most effective strategies available to counterfeit democrats but also one of the most risky….”Cheeseman & Klaas
But and here is a warning to all. If God forbid, Jokowi is unable to execute his office, the Islamic hardliner, his sidekick with the young wife, will take over the presidency. This will shift the country firmly into an uncomfortable territory of hard-line Islamist.
Even if Jokowi serves out his term (all the blessing from us) Indonesia is becoming the populist carbon copy of Chavezstan, (Venezuela) with basket-weaving, coconut planting, weirdness. Democracy, is like a super-hot Indonesian model. You need to pamper her, spoil her and protect her. If not Lady democracy will leave and you are stuck with the damn old hag we had in the New Order.
The Indonesian attraction was multiculturalism, pluralism and diversity. Now we got a populist mixed ultra-conservative Islamist hoovering in the wings and courtiers which remind me on the old kitchen table talks in Cendana. Intolerance is on the rise since Jokowi is in the office and the country has become a house divided.
The Jokowi regime is becoming a cheaper carbon copy of yesteryear. Jokowi is no Obama. He is just another Indonesian politician who is surrounded by a group of power mandarins very much like the old days.
But we end on a positive note. Indonesia since 1998 for the first time had an engaged debate. Heated, hated, passionate regardless of what side you support. Marriages broke up, families argued but aside all of it, Indonesian went in troves to the ballots. Never before was the public as engaged as today. However Jokowi continues failing to shine. Way too much leftist agendas. And that is the reason why Indonesians voiced their rejection of Jokowism.
The elites, not the public, has rejected Prabowo Subianto and his persona. He made it too easy for Jokowi to beat him. Because Indonesian were ready to change the president, but it wasn’t for Prabowo to be this Agent of Change. He blew his chance.
So with Jokowistan returning to business as usual and the cushions on the left throwing a party we only can wait to see how the mudslinging continues.
And one more thing. Sandi, cheer up. In defeat you shall rise from the ashes. We are raising our long island teas to the defeated. Good show.
In the meantime, Harry and Cassandra put back the pink glasses and suck on another Daiquiri and enjoy the beach in Bali.
Author’s note. None of the 2 Daiquiri’s, 4 Long Island Tea’s, 2 Martini’s, 1 Red wine bottles, Pina Colada’s, beers, cigars, beach babes, the environment or Bali was harmed in the making of this article. Maybe some ego’s on the left were offended. So what. Grow up. Merdeka!