Interpreting the Indonesian Election Results
Interpreting the Indonesian Election Results
Indonesia's Police: The Problem of Deadly Force
Indonesia's Police: The Problem of Deadly Force
Op-Ed / Asia

Interpreting the Indonesian Election Results

There are three wrong ways to read the July 5 presidential elections in Indonesia: As a guide to who will win in the September 20 run-off, as a clue to what the next president's policies will be and as definitive proof that democracy in Indonesia is secure.

One of the most refreshing aspects of this election, the country's first direct presidential vote ever, has been the unpredictability of results. In December, most people thought incumbent President Megawati Sukarnoputri could still win. By May, it wasn't even clear if she would make it through to the second round of voting. Now, she has a slight lead over the Golkar candidate, Gen. Wiranto, for second place (but the vote-counting isn't over yet). Golkar, the former ruling party during the Suharto days, defied predictions by not being the well-oiled, disciplined machine of the past. Susilo Bambang Yudhoyono, the retired general who is set to come in first, isn't expected to rack up the 40% of the total vote that he had hoped for. But nine months ago, Mr. Yudhoyono was barely on the radar screen.

For a novice candidate in a novice party to lead the pack is a remarkable feat, but Mr. Yudhoyono is not a shoo-in for president. Everything is going to depend on the alliances built between now and September.

Who gets the conservative Muslim vote? Probably not Ms. Megawati. But will Mr. Yudhoyono have to promise anything to secure it? Who gets the anti-military vote? Probably not Mr. Yudhoyono. But is it an issue that will affect the outcome?

Both Mr. Yudhoyono and his opponent will want to tap into the Golkar vote, particularly since Golkar will control the largest block of seats in the new parliament come October. Like flies to honey, some Golkar officials already are beating a path to the frontrunner's door. But if Ms. Megawati does indeed become the second candidate, she could offer an alliance to Golkar that would potentially put the presidency and parliament in the same hands. If they can figure out how to do it, it would be a great deal.

But here is the main reason for the unpredictability this year. Everything is up to the voters, not the party hacks. Backroom deals worked out by the candidates have not swayed voters. They surprised the pundits during the April parliamentary elections and they surprised us again recently. They will almost certainly surprise us again in September.

Next, does the presidential election offer any clue as to the policies of the next national leader? If the answer is no, the pertinent question then may be less who will win than will it make a difference? Mr. Yudhoyono has an image, carefully cultivated, as the fresh face, the thoughtful reformer, the person who will choose his ministers based on merit. But if a victory in September depends on promises of spoils, the new faces could look a lot like the old ones. The reverse could be true as well. If Ms. Megawati pulls through as a candidate, she might find it necessary to articulate a new commitment to merit as a way of challenging the opposition.

Both candidates are going to have to tackle hard questions: improving the country's economic performance, cleaning up the courts, reducing corruption, moving forward with security-sector reform, attracting foreign investment, easing communal tensions, reducing support for separatist struggles, addressing demands for justice. Ms. Megawati's record as president on all these issues is decidedly mixed. While Mr. Yudhoyono the candidate has a good mission statement, it is unclear whether Mr. Yudhoyono the president would have the political capital, skills or will to achieve his own aims.

Finally, what does the July 5 election have to say about Indonesian democracy? The signs are all good: an 80% turnout, generally high enthusiasm and a generally fair vote. The way that the electoral process has strengthened political institutions is also heartening: not only has it helped guarantee the legitimacy of the new president and parliament, but it has given new weight to political parties and other institutions, including the new Constitutional Court, tasked with adjudicating any claim of electoral fraud.

But too often, we equate free-and-fair elections with democracy triumphant. Indonesia deserves all the accolades heaped upon it for conducting such a complex series of elections so well and so peacefully. Indonesian voters in particular deserve applause for always being one step ahead of the pundits. But an international seal of approval for the election process has sometimes meant turning a blind eye to everything else that follows. The president who comes to power after the September run-off has to deliver meaningful results to the electorate in five years. That's when the true test of the strength of Indonesian democracy will take place.

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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