Optimism for the future of RI politics
Posted April 30, 2009on:
Also published by The Jakarta Post on April 28, 2009
Last April 9 was a big day for all of us Indonesians. It was the day we celebrated our democracy. Our politicians had encouraged us to vote because, as they said it, it was the moment of truth: The day we could express our freedom. That sounds so cool, but are we really politically free?
Perhaps that’s the case with educated people. They vote for someone or something they really believe in. Just like a friend of mine who voluntarily promoted a political party simply because he believed in them.
But that’s not the case with the poor in this country. Their voice can be bought cheaply. A free t-shirt and Rp 50,000 is enough to make them shout out the name of any political party.
During every election our politicians always make promises to the poor. These promises always sound so assuring and tempting. Of course, the poor will always want cheap food, enough jobs, free education and health care.
But if those promises don’t materialize, who can the poor blame? That’s a difficult question to answer.
For some reason, I used to avoid politics. But having lived in the United States for more than two years, I became much more interested in it. I became aware that good politics creates a good economy, a good society and so on.
The political conditions in advanced countries like the United States are still “dirty” and every one knows it. But just because it is dirty doesn’t mean it is a poor model to follow. Some people should have the courage to be part of the “dirty” system, and clean it up.
I’m not a political person. For me politics is simply a medium for people to create a certain path for their country. The people share their voice, ideas or anything with politicians, who later create laws and policies based on what the people want and need. When the political system is effective, the society will be happy. They get what they want – it’s as simple as that.
A very important question at the moment is how we can create an effective political system? The answer can be very simple: Having the right people in the system.
This challenge is tough because most people don’t want to get “dirty”. Many of our best people don’t want to get involved in politics. They hate the culture and they hate the corruption. And with these conditions, our political system is filled with the wrong kinds of people.
People who will do anything, good or bad, to get what they want. They use politics as a tool to make themselves rich by manipulating the poor. I think it’s time for all of us to remind others that politics is not something we should hate. By hating it we allow opportunists to enter and destroy the whole system.
I went to our proud DPR/MPR building several days ago and met some ex-campus activists who are now actively involved in our political system. Listening to their ambitious plans and idealism gave me hope that someday our political system would get better. Within the discussion, we all agreed that the future of our political system is in the hands of young Indonesians, people like you and me. Our senior politicians are getting older and one day they will have to be replaced. But there’s still a long way to go.
It was indeed sad to see so many people turn our political arena into a joke. But that doesn’t give us the right to keep complaining. Sometimes people seem to forget that democracy is something so new to our society.
They compare our democracy to other countries’ democracies. They ask why, if countries like the United States can do it, can’t we? Well, the United States has implemented democracy for so many years and we have been called a democratic country for less than 10 years.
Being the world’s third largest democracy doesn’t necessarily mean we are the third best. We have to keep trying and be patient. The key to success is to make more people politically active. It should be seen as a red alert that there was a decline in public excitement about the elections (based on my own observations). I asked people around me who didn’t vote the reasons behind their decision.
Most said they didn’t have any clue who to vote for. I guess that’s a clue for our beloved politicians to better connect themselves with the people, and in doing so I don’t think it would be a problem if the young ones were taken onboard.
The writer is a postgraduate degree holder. He is now active at the Berburu Center, an organization for positive and advanced behavioral development of Jakartans and the suburbans.