BATAK PEOPLE in INDONESIAN ELECTION IS USING UNEDUCATED SUPPORTER “Party supporters behave like football hooligans”

With its mockery of the democratic process, this week’s election deserves a vote of no confidence.

I, like many others no doubt, had assumed that the billionaire former dictator was bedridden. He had after all been declared unfit to stand trial on charges of corruption. Once again, it was shown that in Indonesia you can get away with practically anything. And that is where the near-futility of Indonesian elections comes in.

Democracy is a good thing. But what is the point of it when the state apparatus is so corrupt that most laws are subverted to the point of irrelevancy? Who cares whether this or that leader is elected when corruption will mean that their policy platforms are unlikely to be implemented, and certainly not in the way that they would intend?

And so Indonesia’s elections this week have not been about policies so much as parties. Party supporters behave like football hooligans, parading in the streets on the backs of trucks and buses, running red lights and generally creating a huge public nuisance.




Contrary to expectations, no party workers’ lives were lost in rioting but at least 10 were lost in traffic accidents.

Many supporters hired themselves out for the occasion. Reportedly, the going rate was 50,000 rupiah ($A7.60) per person to attend a political rally. It’s a good day out for a typical low-wage Indonesian family. They can earn some pocket money, probably pick up several free T-shirts, and receive free transport.

The T-shirts are a huge part of the process. Many were made in the clothing factories around the West Java city of Bandung, but even with this, Indonesian industry faced competition from China: to cut costs the party of President Megawati Soekarnoputri reportedly placed huge orders for its bright red T-shirts with factories based in China. I asked an Indonesian gardener who was wearing a white Democracy Party T-shirt why he supported that party. “Oh no,” he said, “I know nothing about politics. I just like the shirt.” If little else, at least this week’s election will have clothed several million Indonesians.

The elections brought out a splendid range of interests. The Christian-based Peace and Prosperous Party held rallies that were akin to revival meetings, at which party leaders announced that only God can save Indonesia, so let the Son of God lead Indonesia (this in the world’s largest Islamic country). A well-educated Indonesian told me that Akbar Tandjung, chairman of the leading Golkar party and a Muslim Batak from north Sumatra, had such good staying power in Indonesian politics despite corruption allegations because he has “powerful magic”, and for that reason he would be supporting him.



Leave a Reply

Fill in your details below or click an icon to log in: Logo

You are commenting using your account. Log Out /  Change )

Google+ photo

You are commenting using your Google+ account. Log Out /  Change )

Twitter picture

You are commenting using your Twitter account. Log Out /  Change )

Facebook photo

You are commenting using your Facebook account. Log Out /  Change )


Connecting to %s

%d bloggers like this: