VIVAnews - Political events have always left various questions and interpretations for both the players and observers. The interpretations were inseparable with points of view, convictions, attitudes and particular group’s agenda with regard to data, facts, and stories. The Democratic Party’s winning at the 2009 Legislative Elections was a phenomenon which is slowly seen as hegemony.
The democrats in the republic have dubbed Susilo Bambang Yudhoyono, popularly known by the acronym SBY, as the most presidential candidate who is committed to democracy. Some of the civilians like prominent press figure Goenawan Mohammad even expressed his stand on his ‘Sidelines’ article, weekly essays on various issues, as a form of defense to SBY. This is possibly based on the running of two Generals who are known for allegedly committing human rights violation in the past. As a result, the incumbent is the one who is considered as relatively “safe” for the sustainability of democracy in Indonesia.
Analyzing democracy cannot certainly be separated from its main foundations. One of them is political society (political institutions) in which political parties are the core of democracy’s quality development. So far, there has been minimum critical analysis or even evaluation conducted by the defenders of democracy to assess how much work SBY and his Democratic Party have done for the progress of democracy in Indonesia, especially their winning at the 2009 legislative elections.
During the repressive era, that is the New Order, especially at the 1971 elections, Golkar as a winning machine only functioned symbolically and formally. Meanwhile, the operation to win the elections was carried out through territorial operations by maximizing the state’s repressive structure like the Indonesian Armed Forces (ABRI) (Babinsa, Koramil, Kodim, Kodam), Civil Bureaucracy (State’s Civilian Workers, Local Government, State-Owned Enterprises) and the intelligence bureaus.
In the operation, Soeharto used the codename “Operation Moving Out”. That was the first dirty operation (illegal operation) executed by the New Order during the elections at which Golkar won for the first time.
What does the operation have to do with the Democratic Party’s winning at the recent elections? Some assume that the winning was not much different with Soeharto’s “Operation Moving Out”. The assumption is based on the following facts.
First, the common question aroused from the legislative elections was how the Democratic Party’s winning could reach 300 percent and defeated other parties which traditionally have vast structure such as Golkar and The Indonesian Democratic Party of Struggle (PDIP). The parties had even won several Regional Head Elections in the areas.
They also have quite a large number of members- represented through numbers of official member cards. Even in the context of Barrack “the phenomenon” Obama’s winning, the high-scaled jump did not happen. In fact, Golkar and PDIP are parties that have fanatic cadres and voters, unlike the Democratic Party. What made the Democratic Party able to go beyond expectations?
Second, the recent winning of the Democratic Party was like a mystical process in a competition. When other parties were assigning their members to witness the voting process at the polling stations, the Democratic Party had trouble paying the witnesses. But it turned out that they gained high number of votes in many areas. This is certainly not normal. As if the Democratic Party is an outlet. Outlets work without the customers knowing where the factories are.
Third, the Democratic Party’s winning is often deemed as SBY’s figurative winning. Many people said it was the presence of SBY that helped the party gained a lot of votes. Without SBY, the Democratic Party would be nothing. Besides, the argument of good government’s working performance and the presidential system which allows the ruling party to get high number of votes has been conveyed by a lot of parties.
This is actually deniable. Someone’s presence can only boost the vote gain by only five percent. This can be proven scientifically. Actually, the performance of SBY’s administration is always positive. Many institutions and observers projected that number of unemployment in 2009 would again increase. The people has also disappointed in the promise of free education because apparently it was only the school’s operational fees which was exempted. They still have to pay for the books, the uniforms, and building maintenance.
The presidential system is also denied by the fact that it is the multi-party system which is embraced by the country. An incumbent party could gain significantly high number of votes only if the country followed the double-party system.
Neighborhood Watch as a Counter Operation
Every form of operation will certainly involve the people as the subject of the object of the operation. The effort to detect an operation among the society can be seen through the groups operating within. In the world of intelligence, this is usually called “the independent cell”. Even in a massive-scaled operation such as the Total War- or also known as the Universal War- the people became the main basis. The perfect example would be the experience of Ernesto Che Guevara in Cuba and Bolivia. Che was successful in Cuba due to the people’s support. But in Bolivia, Che was failing because of the locals’ suspicion toward foreigners like Che.
Another operation expert is Mao Tse Tung. During the revolutionary war in China, Mao embraced the fish and water principal. The principal was used to expand his influence among the people of China. In order to oppress Chiang Kai Sek’s group, the party’s cadres, who were led by Mao, moved like fish in the water. The wider the water, the wider the cadres could move to fight against the enemies. What Mao Tse Tung meant by water was the people. That means the party had to blend in with the locals.
Later, Mao Tse Tung’s operation doctrine was adopted by many political parties, intelligence operations, and counter insurgencies in various places of the world to win the people’s trust. In establishing a special unit, parties have to see themselves as fish in the water. The fish are the cadres’ cells while the water is the people in a nation. In order to allow the fish to swim freely, the pool must be spacious.
In the context of fighting against the intelligence operation which could happen in the coming elections, the application of Mao’s doctrine has to be reversed. The doctrine must be applied by narrowing the pool and draining the water so that the fish can be easily caught. To do such thing, the characteristics of the fish and the water should be figured out. This is one of the important aspects in battling the intelligent operations comprehensively.
In narrowing the pool and draining the water, one of the important factors is the government’s officials and the voters. The involvement of the officials, especially among the less unfortunate voters, is very crucial. This is because the intelligent operations could manipulate the awareness of the voters without any reactions from the supporting political parties.
The experience of some supporters, who traditionally supported particular political party, is broken and denied in a flash. The example would be what happened in Ponjong, Gunung Kidul, Central Java, whose people since the era of the Old Order until the 2004 elections, had supported PDIP (including PNI and PDI). At the 2009 legislative elections, the Democratic Party surprisingly topped the poll recap in the area.
In facing the strategy of the intelligence operations, the crucial thing is to raise awareness of the people in the low level. The responsibility does not only lie in the hands of the political party figures and the candidate’s campaign team members, but also in the local officials and the voters. The party cadres’ duty is to coordinate and consolidate with them especially a few days before the Election Day.
The local officials are they who serve in the regencies, cities, sub districts, and villages which have a clear political affiliation. The affiliation is very determining because the head of the administration is a political position that is based on support from the political parties. By implementing the war of position, the well-planned, structured and centralized intelligent counter operation can be dispelled.
Meanwhile, the voters are they who voluntarily form a team of volunteers to work at the polling stations. They also establish a neighborhood watch in their area. The most common security system in Indonesia is the building of stations and the arrangement of patrolling schedule a few days before the D-Day as a form of coordination and early prevention against the threats of democracy.
Their involvement aims to detect the presence of people who are allegedly involved in an illegal operation to help one of the candidates win the elections. If this is the case, the next step is to report to the Election Supervisory Board, the General Elections Commission, the National Campaign Team, and the police.
Another thing to do is using the administrative authority. The volunteers should be able to work together in providing the permanent voters list and the residency data. In this discussion, the administrative authority means the ones possessed by the local officials.
Maximizing the war of position of the government’s officials in the low level and the volunteers will be more effective in finding information than using the structure of the national campaign team of the political parties. Therefore, the campaign team and the supporting political parties in the central, provincial, regency level should support the local officials and the volunteers in fighting against the intelligent operations.
The roles of the local officials and the volunteers in the intelligence operations are crucial. Without their participation, the effort to crush the deception potential at the presidential elections will fail. If any fraudulence occurs on July 8, Indonesian politics and democracy will certainly be harmed.
A transparent post-reform elections system has been implemented by the Elections Commission as an independent institution. This is different from the situation during the era of the New Order. Blatantly, even the Indonesian Army (TNI), the Police, and the civil servants (PNS) were not allowed to support any political party. However, it does not mean the illegal operation cannot be executed by the ruling party!
The writer is a ITB’s Defense and Security Studies graduate- Cranfield University UK
Translated by: Nataya Ermanti
VIVAnews, SELASA, 7 JULI 2009
VIVAnews, SELASA, 7 JULI 2009