Keep SARA Out of Debates: Youth Group
Markus Junianto Sihaloho & Bayu Marhaenjati
A youth organization has called on Jakarta gubernatorial candidates to avoid using ethnic and religious sentiments during their ongoing campaigns that might trigger conflicts between citizens across the country.
“Please remind Joko Widodo and Basuki Purnama that whichever camp wins the election we must remain in peace,” said Edwin Henawan Soekowati, spokesman for the Indonesian Democratic Youths 1947, an organization advocating national unity.
“And please remind Fauzi Bowo and Nachrowi Ramli that they were trained during the New Order era and they had attended P4 — the Pancasila propagation course that advocated national unity. Remind them of that because they have forgotten it. They must remember that winning this election should not be done by ruining social harmony through the use of ethnic and religious sentiments,” Edwin said.
“Whatever the outcome of this election,” Edwin remarked, “Jakarta must remain in peace and avoid blowing up ethnic and religious sentiments that could trigger horizontal conflicts in many parts of the country.”
He explained that if candidates urged Muslim voters to avoid voting for non-Muslim candidates in Jakarta, that would leave a bad precedent for the eastern part of Indonesia such as Maluku and East Nusa Tenggara (NTT), where the majority of the population is Christian.
“Indonesians are quick to imitate. They watch television to see what is happening in Jakarta and they could do likewise in their own way. That could disrupt social harmony and the nation could break apart,” Edwin warned.
Therefore, the organization called on Fauzi and Joko, better known as Jokowi, to accept the results of the gubernatorial election on Thursday with restraint and class.
In a related development on Saturday, political communication experts said that the second round of campaigning that started on Friday would not greatly affect voters’ decisions because Jakartans are mainly well-educated people who can make decisions based on logical reasons and not merely on campaign promises offered by opposing camps.
Independent political analyst Jerry Sumampouw said he did not see any major changes coming in the strategies of the two camps.
Jokowi would continue to visit kampungs and Fauzi would do the same to raise his profile, he said.
The information being offered in the media is more than enough for Jakarta voters to make their decisions, Jerry said, and one should not expect voters to suddenly change their minds merely because a gubernatorial candidate has come to them.
Fauzi and Jokowi have three days left to sway roughly six million voters who will go to the polls again on Thursday.
Debating the winner
Following the Fauzi-Jokowi open debate on Friday evening, Tjipta Lesmana, professor of political communications from Pelita Harapan University (UPH), said that Fauzi had “performed very badly” because he was too emotional in responding to Jokowi’s critical assessment on poverty and the municipal government’s lack of budget transparency.
Tjipta was also highly critical of the manner in which Fauzi had responded to one of the debate’s hosts, who had stopped the incumbent in order to allow Jokowi to answer a question.
In response to the JakTV host, Fauzi said, “Don’t interrupt. I haven’t finished talking. This is my show.”
Tjipta said he believed this attitudes had significantly reduced people’s sympathy toward Fauzi, because the incumbent’s response could be interpreted as a show of arrogance. “He was too defensive,” Tjipta said.
The senior UPH lecturer asserted that in his judgement, the televised debate clearly exhibited a stark difference between the two contenders. “But I think Jokowi undoubtedly wins this debate,” he said.
Tjipta also hailed Jokowi’s running mate, Basuki Tjahaja Purnama — also known by his Chinese name Ahok — who he said was “the star of the show,” citing smart answers that left his opponent Nachrowi Ramli in a “powerless position.”
Ahok served as head of East Belitung district in Sumatra before joining this election. His response to questions from the panelists, as well as from Ramli, proved his experience and broad vision on how to improve the system of government, including the need for total bureaucratic reform, Tjipta said.
Meanwhile, Effendy Ghozali, political communication expert from the University of Indonesia, said that Fauzi should have appeared more mature and experienced as a governor instead of being so defensive that he missed the true purpose of the televised debate.
Ghozali also criticized Fauzi’s inability to come up with comprehensive data on Jakarta’s development that would otherwise have disarmed Jokowi’s arguments.
“Both of them failed to come up with comprehensive data, but Jokowi had the upper hand in the sense that he was able to send the right message to the lower segments of society that are in need of a humble-hearted leader. He did it right,” Ghozali said.
During the debate, Fauzi insisted that throughout his five year-term the capital city had been peaceful and largely free of social conflicts, therefore he would continue to promote stability.
Immediately responding, Jokowi refuted that argument by mentioning frequent student brawls, gang fights, and various instances of crime that had claimed many lives during Fauzi’s term. Fauzi seemed to lack a defense when Jokowi insisted that such facts should not be ignored.
Tjipta also suggested that Fauzi made a blunder by denying that such crimes had ever existed. “Many parts of Jakarta are like hell. Why did he say that the city is so safe?” Tjipta said.
Ghozali explained that among the middle- and upper-class segments of Jakarta’s society, the approval rate for Jokowi is very high.
The debate likely won Jokowi further support from the lower segments of society as well, Ghozali added.
Analysts have predicted that whoever wins the election on Thursday will win it with a very narrow margin, given the intensity of the campaigns conducted by both camps.