19 October 2008

A Sad State of Affairs

This is one of those issues where some will agree and some will disagree and some will just want to ask what the alternatives are. The reality is that this is a sad state of affairs. I am still planning on writing a series on all of the potential presidential candidates listed here. I have started with Megawati and been a little slack on following this up. I still have time on my side though.

A recent survey of 1,239 people (I have always wondered why survey organizations could not make it a round number, like 1,250 for example) by the Indonesian Survey Institute (Lembaga Survei Indonesia / LSI) has found that the current president, Susilo Bambang Yudhoyono (SBY) has re-emerged as the most likely to be elected president in the upcoming presidential election. SBY has managed to turn around his previous poor showing that saw him slip behind a former president in Megawati.

The race is shaping into a two-horse race between SBY and Megawati. SBY is currently seein his support running at 32% and Megawati trailing with 24%. The rest of the potential presidential candidates seem to be in the "no-hope(r)" category. Following Megawati in the distance is Wiranto with 6% and Prabowo with 5%.

Wiranto and Prabowo both have skeletons in the closet that should preclude them from serious consideration. These skeltons exist as part of their respective army careers and relate to what they knew and when with respect to Timor Leste in Wiranto's case and the disappearance of activists in Prabowo's case. If these issues were satisfactorily resolved then so be it.

I am sure that some might argue this is irrelevant as they have never been charged so this is therefore a non-issue. To each their own. If I could vote, I would not be voting for either. I also would not be voting for SBY or Megawati.

Following Prabowo is the Sri Sultan Hamengkubuwono X on 3%. The rest of the potential candidates are running at less than 3% so their chances at this stage would seem to be somewhere between zero and none.

Why is this a sad state of affairs? This is a sad state of affairs because the two most likely candidates for president at this time are a currently failing president and the immediate past president who also failed.

I am sure that with the quaity on offer there is likely to be a big push for and from the "Golput" supporters. Golput is the abbreviation of Golongan Putih or White Group who advocate that where all of the choices are poor quality then voters should exercise their right not to vote.

A sad state of affairs.


Brett said...

"a currently failing President"? Now THAT's inflamatory. On what basis?

Rob Baiton said...


It is supposed to be inflammatory. It is also designed to spur serious debate among those that agree and those that disagree.

I wonder why you did not defend SBY straight off the bat, but rather sort to get me to fess up to why I think he is failing :D

He came to the presidency with a very clear mandate and on promises to achieve certain things. I will list them as the debate develops.

Perhaps failure is going to be relative and depend on how much credit you give SBY and the government for five years worth of opportunity.

Let's start with corruption. Some advances (and some good catches) but what's the overall score?

Judicial reform, once again, some advances but what about an overall score?

Economic fundamentals?

Oh, but I forgot, I am just a white boy from Australia (aka "bule") and as such I cannot have opinions on things Indonesian because I cannot possibly understand what Indonesia is like of what it is like to be Indonesian, can I?


John said...

Actually, Wiranto has been indicted by the UN-backed Serious Crimes process in East Timor. The governments of Timor-Leste and Indonesia at this point in time do not intend to follow up on the indictment. This justn't change the fact that the indictment, which is quite detailed is out there. Links to the text of the indictment and other evidence against Wiranto can be found at http://www.etan.org/news/2004/04wiranto.htm.

Prabowo has yet to be indicted, but his alleged crimes go well beyond the kidnappings, including crimes against humanity in East Timor.

Jakartass said...

I posted on golput some time ago, as you will recall. My argument was based on the political parties which are the 'middlemen' when it comes to electing the House of Representatives.

As the President is directly elected by the people, I think there'll be a big turnout, and SBY will get back in. It's not as if he is the leader of a major party, such as Megawati's PDI-P which regularly gets in the mire for corrupt practices and false promises.

schmerly said...

I see Fauzi Bowdo (no not a typo) is thinking of running for president, if he thinks he can run the country the way he runs Jakarta, then god help Indonesia if he ever gets the job.

Rob Baiton said...


My apologies on not being comprehensive on the Wiranto angle. The indictment, if I am not mistaken, has led to a request being made to Interpol and I believe Wiranto's reluctance to leave Indonesian shores is related to this.

I was pointing out the skeletons in the closet and had not intended to produce a detailed or comprehensive post on these skeletons. I figured anyone who commented might point these out :D


I recall and I should have linked but I am getting lazy in my old age.

I appreciate that the President is a direct election. I also appreciate your point about the party-based horse trading that goes on.

However, generally parties are required to list their candidates and the order that they are to be appointed based on the number of seats the party secures base on the votes received.

So, in that sense people could find out who the likely candidate will be if their party secures X amount of the vote.

Direct or not, Golput could still be an option in the Presidential election, don't you think? I was only taking the point of view that if you are a voter and none of the candidates appeal to you, then you could exercise your right not to vote.

The survey after all surveys likely voters and not guaranteed to turn out at the ballot box voters.


I need to listen more. I had not heard that FB was thinking of tossing his hat in the ring.

invisible said...

I'd take the lesser of two evils by voting for SBY again.
Why? I personally feel he is doing his best, and we are getting a decent 6% growth in GDP yearly, which is considered on track.
Tourism in Bali is up, terrorist attacks are way down, overall security has improved.

The KPK is also doing a reasonably good job in bringing down corruption. Please do remember that the corrupt are the most powerful people in Indonesia, and the fact they have created a dent, however superficial, is commendable. Again, its on track.

Is it all smelling like roses? no way. There is too much to do to rise above this quagmire called Indonesia. It starts with the collective conciousness, that has to be raised in order to see real change.

It doesnt matter who you have at the top, if everyone else is rotten, nothing changes. We should all just do our part in raising the collective conciousness of the people of Indonesia, so they can pull themselves up.

How to do this? It's very difficult, but we can try to be better people so that we influence the people around us.
If you get correctly pulled over by a policeman for a traffic offense, force them to issue you a ticket. Yes its more of a hassle for everyone involved and more costly, but it makes a point.

There is a lot we can do, but it is an uphill battle. Whoever becomes the next president, I don't think it will change Indonesia much, so its really a non-issue.

Rob Baiton said...


I guess my point was why should Indonesians be forced into accepting the lesser of two evils?

In my response to Brett I note that failure is a relative term and subjective in how I use it. Was I being unfair, again subjective.

I do not say that SBY has not seen positive developments under his administration. Economic growth, reduction in corruption, and others are important. What I am questioning is that with an overwhelming mandate for change (he came to power with 60%+ of the vote) he has not delivered change on the expected scale.

Perhaps the scale is unrealistic, even unfair, but public opinion is sometimes harsh and can change quickly.

The post is really designed to spur some debate on the pros and cons of those in power and those seeking to be in power.

Thanks for your comments.

jaka said...

I think the survey can be applied to most Indonesian. Wiranto and Prabowo should prepare for their clear defeat. Indonesians are not, however, too stupid by overseeing their track records. If they win, I am pretty sure there were some misconducts to happen.

The problem lays deeply in the parties performance. They do not provide enough stages for the fresh candidates to be observed by public/press. By public I mean laypersons, not just intellectuals in Jakarta like what happens now.

Actually, there are some hopes by gaining votes from Megawati's side, since everybody talks about how a "bad-performer" she is: embarrased herself in every speech she has made.

I think you know better than me, somehow.

Rob Baiton said...


I don't know that I know better than you. I am just a fella trying to work it all out in a way that I can understand it ;)

Here's hoping that Wiranto and Prabowo cannot pull it off and that their respective parties fail miserably.

Mega is an interesting case and perhaps would make a good PhD thesis in the study of the cult of personality.

A person might still make a good president if they surround themselves with capable people. I think this is what Mega should have done last time she had a crack at the top job.

The parties get young people involved but they do not generally give them lots of opportunities. Nevertheless, there are parties that have recruited high profile younger people like the PDI-P and PBR for example.

It will be an interesting run into the election.

rani said...

jaka said:
"Wiranto and Prabowo should prepare for their clear defeat. Indonesians are not, however, too stupid by overseeing their track records."

In 2004, PKS held their support for Amien Rais until the last minute because they were considering Wiranto. I couldn't understand on what basis an Islamic party should consider a former military with doubtful (Islamic) track record instead of the obvious former Muhammadiyah leader, but that was what happened. And despite their political view, PKS runs by educated people, more educated than most Indonesian, yet in my opinion, Wiranto was almost outsmart them. So I doubt that Indonesians are not too stupid. We were stupid enough to vote for SBY because he's keren, right? :D

Rob Baiton said...


I don't think Indonesians are stupid. And hopefully my post is not interpreted that way. I am merely making a comment on what I see as a true lack of transformative candidates in this presidential election cycle.

Further, I think we can separate the political horse trading that goes on in terms of parties supporting particular candidates and the motivations behind the way people vote.

The idea that PKS was thinking of supporting Wiranto begs the question, for the reasons you mention, why?

As an aside, I was not saying anything about SBY other than, with such a clear mandate after the 2004 shindig (AKA election) he has not achieved what many would have expected.

The pre-2004 election keren-ness has not morphed into a keren presidency.

Thanks for dropping by and leaving a comment. I appreciate it.

rani said...

Ouch, I was being too harsh, wasn't I? I just don't understand why even the smartest people can do stupid things when it comes to politics. That's why the campaigns only touch the surface--dangdut and free t-shirts are more important. And I agree that there's no qualified candidate and it is truly sad.

Do you agree with Golput, Rob? I'm seriously considering this option

rani said...

Ouch again, my mind jumps to quickly. I mean, even the so-called educated people can make an "irrational" choice, let alone the rest (majority) of Indonesia people. That's why the parties/candidates (at least on the last election) didn't seem to bother socialize their platform, because it seems less matter to most people.

Rob Baiton said...


I was not actually saying that you were saying Indonesians were stupid. What I was saying was that I do not generally think Indonesians are stupid.

I do not agree with golput. I do appreciate that people have the right to choose not to vote if they so desire.

I sometimes feel that elections are very much about going through the motions, hence the lack of socialization of policy platforms beyond dangdut and t-shirts.

I am not sure this is what you meant in your last comment but this is how I see it.