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KontraS: Authoritarianism Marks an Eroding Democracy Amid 25th 'Reformasi' Tribute

22 May 2023 10:58 WIB

TEMPO.CO, Jakarta - The democracy and human rights aspects in the country has allegedly worsened as Indonesia celebrates 25 years after the fall of a dictatorship and started the reformed democratic era known as the ‘reformasi,’ the Commission for Missing Persons and Victims of Violence (Kontras) reported. 

The human rights watchdog argues that corroding democracy is indicated by a return of a regime that tends to be authoritarian, similar to the traits shown by the New Order government prior to democracy. 

"The ideals and reform mandate for Indonesia to get out of an authoritarian era, indications [shows otherwise as such trait] has recently re-emerged and strengthened," said KontraS Coordinator, Fatia Maulidiyanti in a statement on May 21. 

She argues that agendas towards a reformed era such as constitutional amendment have been enacted but still lack legal supremacy, and the eradication of acts of corruption, and the accountability of New Order criminals have yet to come to fruition. 

Democracy suffered a serious setback, Fatia argues, which is marked by the curbing of the freedom of expression by the rule of law, weak oversight of power, and elections that are prone to fraud.

The KontraS coordinator said that a number of legal regulations were made precisely to restrain public freedom, which can be observed in the newly-passed Criminal Code. According to her, the regulation still contains a number of articles that can potentially threaten democracy, such as the ban against acts that slander state authorities.

Fatia argues a bad pattern of legislation has formed evidenced by the lack of meaningful participation from the public. An example is the speedy introduction of certain regulations, such as the Minerba (minerals and coal) Law, the Constitutional Court Law, and the Job Creation Law. 

"Existing regulations are no less problematic, as is the case with the ITE Law (electronic information and transactions law) which has claimed many victims," she said.

President Joko “Jokowi” Widodo’s political party consolidation attempts ahead of the 2024 general elections are also seen as an attempt by those in power to determine the results of the election. Fatia argues that a president should maintain neutrality instead of shredding democracy by actively participating in electoral negotiations. 

The plan to revise the Armed Forces Law or Undang-Undang TNI is also being criticized as she argues it blatantly goes against the military reform mandated by the public during the reformasi transition. 

KontraS asserted that an in-depth evaluation and self-reflection must be done during the 25th anniversary of the reformed era of democracy. She also said the struggle and bloodshed towards a more democratic nation will be of no use if actors responsible for past crimes are currently spreading their influences within the government. 

M ROSSENO AJI

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