Indonesia Backgrounder: A Guide to the 2004 Elections
Indonesia Backgrounder: A Guide to the 2004 Elections
Table of Contents
  1. Executive Summary
Indonesia's Police: The Problem of Deadly Force
Indonesia's Police: The Problem of Deadly Force
Report 71 / Asia

Indonesia Backgrounder: A Guide to the 2004 Elections

Indonesia faces at least two and probably three national elections in 2004, including a presidential vote, but they are unlikely to bring fundamental change.

Executive Summary

Indonesia faces at least two and probably three national elections in 2004, including a presidential vote, but they are unlikely to bring fundamental change. Citizens are increasingly disillusioned with the half-decade of democracy and “money politics” they have experienced since the collapse of Soeharto’s authoritarian New Order.

The first election, on 5 April 2004, will fill almost 16,000 seats in legislatures at the national, provincial and district levels. The second, on 5 July 2004, will be its first direct presidential vote ever. If, as is almost certain, no candidate meets the criteria for election in the first round, a run-off between the top two vote-getters will take place on 20 September. The process needs to be completed before President Megawati Soekarnoputri's term expires on 20 October.

Public disillusionment with the performance of democratic government since the first post-authoritarian election in 1999 has been spreading rapidly. The elected government is widely seen as having failed to cope with the massive challenges that the nation is facing. Elected politicians at all levels are commonly perceived as venal and corrupt. And the ordinary people who constitute the poor majority complain that democracy has not brought any improvement in their economic welfare. Indeed, a credible public opinion poll indicated that 58 per cent of respondents believe that conditions were better under Soeharto's New Order.[fn]Poll conducted in August 2003 by Indonesian Survey Institute (Lembaga Survei Indonesia: LSI). Saiful Mujani, Denny JA, M. Qodari, Survei Perilaku Pemilih Indonesia (Survey of Indonesian Voting Behaviour), Seri 1, August 2003 (Lembaga Survei Indonesia, Jakarta, September 2003), p. 85. LSI is supported by the Japan International Cooperation Agency (JICA).Hide Footnote

Political reformers have called for a thorough overhaul of the constitution and the electoral system to ensure that leaders are responsive and accountable to the voters. The most important reform has been the adoption of direct presidential elections in place of the indirect system that was mired in the backroom dealing of political parties and “money politics”.

Reform of elections to the legislatures has been more limited. Apart from the removal of appointed military and police representatives, those bodies will be elected through proportional representation, much the same way as before. The main difference is that the old province-based constituencies will be reduced in size in the large provinces so that representatives, theoretically at least, will be closer to their constituents. This limited reform, however, may entrench rather than overcome the political fragmentation that has bedevilled post-authoritarian democracy.

Public opinion surveys indicate that the two leading parties in 1999 – President Megawati's PDI-P and Golkar, the party of the Soeharto government – are again likely to occupy the top positions. However, the polls suggest that many who voted for the underdog PDI-P in 1999 have been alienated by its behaviour and are returning to Golkar.

Among potential presidential candidates, Megawati retains the most support, but the gap is narrowing. Golkar, however, has been unable to capitalise on its growing support because of inability to determine its presidential candidate. The party's chairman, Akbar Tanjung, is appealing against a three-year prison sentence for corruption. Meanwhile seven potential candidates (including Akbar) remain in the race for the party's nomination, which will be determined only in April 2004.

Six months ahead of the first round of the presidential election, four possible scenarios suggest themselves.

  • If the PDI-P clearly wins most votes, it is likely that Golkar will be satisfied with the vice-presidency and will join a coalition supporting the re-election of President Megawati.
  • If Golkar wins more votes than – or roughly the same number as – PDI-P, it is likely to nominate its own presidential candidate. Following Golkar's “pre-convention” in October 2003, retired General Wiranto has emerged as a leading candidate.
  • The second possibility, however, could lead to a nightmare for Golkar. If it nominates its own candidate, Megawati could respond by offering her party's vice-presidential nomination to a Golkar candidate, perhaps Akbar Tanjung or Coordinating Minister for People's Welfare Jusuf Kalla. This could not only split Golkar's votes, but lead to a major division within the party itself.
  • The PDI-P's nightmare scenario, on the other hand, follows from the first scenario above. A Megawati-Golkar team would almost certainly come out far ahead of its nearest rival in the first round of the presidential election although without sufficient support to win outright in that round. The candidate running second might take only 10 to 15 per cent of the votes but could then launch an “Anyone-But-Mega” campaign in the second round. Such a campaign could mobilise Muslim votes against the secular-nationalist Megawati. The most dangerous potential run-off rival for Megawati would be the current chairman of the People's Consultative Assembly, Amien Rais, although his prospects of reaching the second round seem bleak. Another dangerous rival would be Coordinating Minister for Political and Security Affairs General (Ret.) Susilo Bambang Yudhoyono, if his tiny Democrat Party is able to secure the backing of one of the larger parties. In December 2003 another possible challenger emerged, former President Soeharto’s eldest daughter, Siti Hardijanti Rukmana, but her chances look slim at this stage.

Whatever the result of the presidential election, the next government will be based on a coalition of rival parties. In the absence of a strong leader capable of imposing cohesion on such a government, its performance will be hamstrung by many of the problems that hampered the previous three.

Jakarta/Brussels, 18 December 2003

Op-Ed / Asia

Indonesia's Police: The Problem of Deadly Force

My four year-old daughter recently came home from her Jakarta kindergarten with a story about a visit to the school from the head of our local police station. 'If there is a robber and he's running away, the policeman will pull out his gun, fire in the air, and if he doesn't stop then he will shoot him in the leg', she recounted breathlessly.

I have spent 25 years working in and around conflict zones, including more than a decade in Indonesia. My reaction might not have been that of the average parent. 'That', I replied, 'is a violation of Perkap Number 8.' Needless to say, my reference to Police Regulation Number 8 of 2009 regarding Implementation of Human Rights Principles and Standards in the Discharge of Duties of the Indonesian National Police was lost on her. She thought the visit was great.

I had recalled Perkap 8 when re-reading the Hansard of the recent sparring between Australian Foreign Minister Senator Bob Carr and Victoria Greens Senator Richard Di Natale over the police shooting of protesters in Papua. But it is not just in Papua where questionable use of deadly force by the Indonesian National Police (INP) takes place. It happens across the country. And this was what Perkap 8 was put in place to prevent.

Article 47 of Perkap 8 says that 'the use of firearms shall be allowed only if strictly necessary to preserve human life' and 'firearms may only be used by officers: a. when facing extraordinary circumstances; b. for self defense against threat of death and/or serious injury; c. for the defense of others against threat of death and/or serious injury.' This is Indonesian law, taken from the UN Code of Conduct for Law Enforcement Officials, and this is what should be used to assess police actions, wherever in the country they occur.

The fatal shooting on 14 June 2012 of Mako Tabuni, deputy head of the National Committee of West Papua (KNPB), in Jayapura, capital of Papua province, made Senate Estimates in 2012. The shooting of three protesters in Sorong on 30 April 2013, West Papua province, was mentioned in the testy 5 June 2013 exchanges between Senators Carr and Di Natale. You can watch it above.

In the first incident, detectives shot a suspect in the leg as he was running away and then left him to die in a hospital allegedly without making any effort to treat his wounds. In the second, police claim they were threatened by armed KNPB activists. Without more information it is difficult to judge if their response was disproportionate. Police always say they are shooting in self-defense, but it has become such a common excuse that it has started to lose its plausibility.

Cases outside Papua do not garner much attention in Australia, but lethal shootings happen all the time. On 1 September 2011 seven villagers were killed during a rowdy protest against police brutality in the Central Sulawesi district of Buol, a place so obscure even most Indonesians cannot find it on a map.

On 7 March 2013, soldiers burned down a police station in Baturaja, South Sumatra, after their off-duty comrade, First Private Heru Oktavianus, was shot dead by a police officer while speeding away from a traffic violation.

On 8 May 2013 police in Java killed six suspected terrorists in a series of raids. The police usually claim the suspects were armed and resisted arrest. But it is not always true, and many could have almost certainly been captured alive.

Ordinary criminals are shot with distressing frequency, as my daughter's visitor suggests, without any outcry at home or abroad.

Perkap 8 was signed by the then police chief Sutanto, a real reformer. It has not gotten very far. One foreign police officer working on a bilateral community policing program in a large metropolitan command told me he had once seen a copy of the Perkap on the chief's desk but suspected it had been disseminated no further.

Even when progressive regulations or orders are issued and disseminated, they are not always followed. In October 2012, the police chief of Papua, Tito Karnavian, former head of the anti-terrorism unit Detachment 88 (Densus 88), announced that he had banned police from using live ammunition when handling demonstrations in the region. This was progress and it was implemented for some demos, but the deaths in the Sorong case suggest live ammunition was used.

As Article 46 of Perkap 8 says, 'all officers must be trained in the use of power, equipment and firearms that can be used in applying force' and 'must be trained in non-violent techniques and methods.' Training almost 400,000 officers across 33 provinces is a logistical challenge, though it might be a good idea to start with elite units such as Densus 88 or personnel in the Papua provinces.

The new national head of the INP, about to be appointed, might breathe new life into two reforms already in place: implementation of Perkap 8 and Chief Sutanto's other landmark regulation on community policing, Perkap 7. The INP is a very hierarchical organisation that does follow firm orders from above. While its size makes complex reform difficult, its hierarchical nature makes implementing existing regulations with firm orders easier.

The first duty of the incoming INP chief, who reports directly to the president, will be to secure the 2014 elections. Making sure those deployed to safeguard this 'festival of democracy' are properly trained and equipped to use non-lethal force will be an important first step. After a new head of state is elected, he or she should consider issuing a directive that would see Perkap 8 properly implemented. The use of less deadly force could even be politically popular in some parts.

Outside help may also be needed, and this is where Australia comes in. A few decades back, the Victorian state police had a problem of using too much deadly force and created Project Beacon to try to rectify it. They changed the way they thought about the problem, overhauled training, and gave officers on the beat new tools, like pepper spray. Foreign assistance along these lines could help the INP improve performance and increase accountability. Crisis Group has long argued that the INP needs better orders, training, and equipment for the use of non-deadly force.

If the INP is to be more the service it aspires to be rather than the force it is, it needs to shed its military mindset, hold serious post-operation reviews after each fatal incident, and decrease reliance on shooting first and asking questions later, regardless of whether officers are following locally accepted standard procedure. When the time comes and the INP is ready to carry forward the reform of Perkap 8, Australia should be there to help.

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