Unlawful Campaign

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  • A group of people wearing shirts that are written #2019GantiPresiden are seen campaigning at the weekely Car Free Day event in Jakarta. Tempo/Muhammad Hidayat.

    A group of people wearing shirts that are written #2019GantiPresiden are seen campaigning at the weekely Car Free Day event in Jakarta. Tempo/Muhammad Hidayat.

    TEMPO.COJakarta - So long as it is conducted peacefully, with no hate speech and no propaganda promulgated to replace the official state ideology, there is nothing untoward in the #2019GantiPresiden or #ChangethePresidentin2019 movement. Since next April, we will be conducting a general election, the constitution protects the rights of citizens to voice out campaigns to change the president, or conversely, not change the president.

    The crux of the matter is that the police and BIN, the State Intelligence Agency, have been overly-reactive responding to the #2019GantiPresiden campaign. Two weeks ago, the police dispersed the campaign event in Pekanbaru (Riau) and Surabaya (East Java). In the capital of Riau Province, movement activist Neno Warisman was forcibly sent home to Jakarta. In Surabaya, the hotel where musician Ahmad Dhani was staying was surrounded by a crowd and the declaration canceled. Dhani is a Gerindra Party politician, well-known for being anti-Jokowi. Though it did not escalate, a small ruckus ensued between supporters of the campaign and those against it.

    The police should protect the rights of citizens to express their opinion. To avoid open conflict, if necessary, state apparatus can relocate the campaign event to a closed space. The presence and active role taken by BIN in dispatching Neno Warisman could easily be construed as a wish for the state intelligence to "steal the show". BIN is a decoder of cryptic signs whose role it is to feed information to security forces, but not take over the role of the police. The fact the chief of the Riau region Intelligence Agency was on the scene is regrettable. Instead of remaining neutral, the police and BIN have now thrown their weight behind a certain presidential candidate.

    President Joko Widodo should not remain quiet on the two incidents-also other prior similar incidents. As a contestant in the 2019 General Election, he stands advantaged if the change the president declaration is gagged. But, as head of state, the onus is on him to safeguard democracy and the civil rights of the citizenry. The President should ensure the police and the intelligence stay neutral. His keeping mute makes it easy to accuse Jokowi of "relishing" state apparatus siding with him.

    On the other hand, activists of the change the president movement should also do some introspection. However constitutional, on several occasions in their pickets, hate speech and propaganda to replace the state ideology have been heard. It is not difficult to presume the involvement of Hizbut Tahrir Indonesia in these actions. Hizbut Tahrir is an organization which propagated Islamic Syariah to become the state ideology, and because of it, has been banned. The police must act firmly towards hate speech and propaganda against Pancasila.

    In other words, the police need to be astute in reading a situation. They should measure shrewdly which actions are in the public right and which are not. State apparatus neutrality must also be resolute towards those campaigning for #2019 Still Jokowi movement. Hate speech in these picket lines need firm action-however much they are in support of the government. Those pro and anti-Jokowi had better realize that basic freedoms need to be protected, which includes ensuring that those very freedoms do not bowdlerize the freedom of others.

    Read the full article in this week's edition of Tempo English Magazine