Key Performance Indicators point to failure of Government policies

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(illustration: IO/Agung)

IO, Jakarta – Entering the fourth year of President Jokowi’s term of office, there are multiple reasons to raise questions about his performance across the board. The Indonesian economy is persistently weak, and debts, business as well as state, have skyrocketed. The Rupiah is on life support, and an unrealistic State Budget cannot disguise its deficits. Commencing its election campaign, the current Government set a 7% target for economic growth, while over the past 4 years, it has barely clicked past 5.0%.

The Indonesian educational network, long a national shame and scandal, continues to short-change young people. Data released in 2017 by the Indonesian Education Monitoring Network (Jaringan Pemantau Pendidikan Indonesia – “JPPI”) appraises the quality of education in Indonesia as still inferior to that of Ethiopia, a land long-wracked by war and famine. Meanwhile, many legal and criminal cases remain unresolved, among them the shocking acid attack on investigator Novel Baswedan of the Corruption Eradication Commission (Komisi Pemberantasan Korupsi – “KPK”). Food security is also weak and pitiful: after 73 years of independence, Indonesia apparently must continue to import a large volume of basic foodstuffs.

There are other indicators pointing downward, in addition to those detailed above; an overall appraisal would award a failing grade on the Jokowi-JK “Government report card”.

It is a regime compromised to domestic and foreign financial masters and has failed to deliver basic welfare to our citizens. Enough of “image-building” public relations efforts: it is clearly time for the people to speak out and say NO to leaders out of touch with their predicament.

Economic Deficit
The Indonesian economy is in a perilously fragile condition (and global economic uncertainty exacerbates weakness). Relentless budget deficits in recent years are clear evidence, as they are out of touch with a sickly GDP (Gross Domestic Product) which sat at just Rp 110.6 trillion as of Semester I of 2018.

For the past 5 years there has been a primary balance deficit: the 2014 figure was Rp 93.3 trillion, swelling in 2015 to Rp 142.5 trillion. In 2016, the deficit was suppressed to just Rp 125.6 trillion, but it popped up again in 2017, marking Rp 129.3 trillion. The primary balance, which has always been in deficit, finally managed to record a thin surplus of just Rp 10 trillion in Semester I of 2018. Nevertheless, Minister of Finance Sri Mulyani Indrawati reluctantly admitted that when tallying an overall realization of the year, the primary balance will again suffer a deficit.

The “primary balance” is defined as the difference between State income and expenditures, calculated exclusive of payment of the interests on debt. If it amounts to a deficit, the Government is still obliged to pay interest on the difference. A prognosis of the 2018 State Budget, the Government predicts a primary balance deficit at Rp 64.8 trillion. This is lower than the target in 2018 State Budget at Rp 87.3 trillion, and lower than the primary balance deficit in previous years.

Meanwhile, the January to June 2018 trade balance recorded a deficit: January was USD 756 million, February USD 52.9 million, April USD 1.63 billion and May deficit was reported at USD 1.52 billion. There were only two surplus periods: March was USD 1.12 billion and June sat at USD 1.74 billion.

The current transaction balance for Quarter I of 2018 recorded a deficit of USD 5.5 billion, or more than double the amount for the same period the previous year. If we review this over a longer timeline, current transactions in the first 3 months of the year were the poorest since Quarter I of 2013.

Petroleum and natural gas deficits are persistently evident in Indonesia’s trade balance and have been since 2013. In 2012, when global oil prices peaked at USD 100.00-120.00 per barrel, Indonesia’s petroleum and natural gas deficit reached USD 5.58 billion; it rose as we entered 2013: by the end of the year, energy was costing us USD 12.6 billion. This resulted in an overall deficit of USD 4.07 billion in Indonesia’s trade balance. As we entered 2014, deficit did not disappear. On the contrary, it jumped to USD 13.4 billion. Luckily, Indonesia’s non-petroleum and natural gas transactions were good enough to suppress trade balance deficits to just USD 2.18 billion.

The drop of global oil prices to more than half, at USD 40.00-50.00 per barrel, eased the petroleum and natural gas deficit from USD 12.6 billion to USD 6 billion. Excellent transactions in other areas finally rescued Indonesia’s trade balance from deficit, and even resulted in a surplus of USD 7.6 billion. The Government could at least enjoy the fruits of a surplus trade balance until the end of last year, even though petroleum and natural gas transaction deficit slowly crawled upward again, from USD 6 billion to USD 8.58 billion. This was clearly triggered by oil prices slowly rising to USD 60.00 per barrel.

By May 2018 Indonesia’s trade balance had fallen off again, due to petroleum and natural gas imports. Continued increase of global oil prices, plus production shy of targets, pumped petroleum and natural gas transaction deficit to USD 5.03 billion. As of July 2018, no significant recovery is on the horizon. With a steep consumption of petroleum fuel during Ramadan and Eid, Indonesia’s trade balance will probably not be saved from deficits, once again.

Economist Ichsanuddin Noorsy believes that budget deficits will continue to rise. “With our exchange rate falling at 6.56%, I calculate that the deficit will increase Rp 352 trillion if the Rupiah slips to Rp 14,385.00 per dollar,” he said, when interviewed by the Independent Observer in Menteng, Central Jakarta.

Noorsy further pointed out that foreign reserves fell in five months, from USD 131.98 billion in January 2018 to USD 119.8 billion in June 2018. “There is no other cause for this than the outflow of foreign funds from our investment portfolios, from our Government Bonds and stock exchanges. Our imports expanded, so that we needed even more dollars, and like it or not, payment of foreign debts will also increase because they were initially taken out in US dollars,” he said. The fact that the trade balance is in deficit, the current account is in a deficit, and foreign reserves are draining away means that the Government is not really in control of our domestic economic structure. “Resources are controlled by foreign parties, policy is controlled by foreign parties, distribution is controlled by foreign parties. Evidence of this is in import structures, as we are importing a lot of capital goods and materials,” Noorsy said.

Is Indonesia’s economy about to collapse?
Noorsy explained that a country’s economy is said to have “collapsed” if it behaves in one of two ways: finances or trade balance spins out of control. In Indonesia’s case, our trade is weak, and so are our finances. “I said 3 years ago that Jokowi is heading towards a yellow light, but people continued to support him. The other day, when the US dollar peaked at over Rp 14,300.00, the World Bank issued a USD 300 million loan, with the excuse that the loan will be used to bolster tourism, while it is actually being used in an attempt to defend the Rupiah – which still fails to recover. The World Bank sees Indonesia as its most loyal debt customer and will do anything to keep it from emerging from its status as a “debtor country”. But are we going to collapse? If we hang onto World Bank support, rather unlikely – but that depends on Donald Trump, actually. The World Bank will help Joko Widodo keep him as its prisoner,” he said.

Meanwhile Salamudin Daeng, an Economic Observer from the Indonesian Political and Economic Association, said the main factor that triggered a “collapse” of the Indonesian economy is that the Government, which should be in full control of the economy, can no longer deliver a credible State Budget: all of its assumptions will miss the mark for the third year in a row, and this year’s is the worst yet. For example, the Dollar value prediction is off by several percent. The State Budget set it at Rp 13,400.00, but now it’s already Rp 14,400.00 or Rp 1,000.00 wide of the mark. Oil price predictions missed badly: the State Budget presumed they would rest at USD 45.00 per barrel, but now in fact it’s already up to USD 75.00. This has implications for both inflation and interest rates. In the State Budget, interest rates were set at 3.75%, but now they look to increase to 5%, quite a skewing. This further threatens a State Budget deficit. The amount would definitely rise from the 1.9% set against the gross domestic product. Exchange rate and oil price movements will continue to assure a deficit in the State Budget.

If the Government cannot manage itself, how can it manage business with other State agencies, like Bank Indonesia or the Financial Service Authority? A trade balance deficit means a balance of payments deficit; a petroleum and natural gas balance deficit means we import a great volume of oil, and then suffer from a service balance deficit and primary income deficit – the Government clearly cannot overcome this condition.

“I believe that we can deal with this difficult balance by creating an Amended State Budget. But will the Government dare to present an Amended State Budget? This would imply additional subsidies for PLN and Pertamina: the ones hardest hit by a weakening Rupiah exchange rate are State-owned Enterprises, particularly strategic ones that are vital to the public, like PLN and Pertamina. But the Government does not want to change, they left it drifting along until now, while they should’ve enforced amendments since June. If we don’t activate change, we’ll bleed to death for sure,” Salamudin Daeng said.

Distrust in the Government grows
Noorsy considers the Government to be taking a wrong path. We can see this in macro-economic policies: natural resources, production and distribution, including infrastructure cons­truction – there is no effort to create short-term resolutions; there are only efforts to stabilize the exchange rate. No long-term problems can be resolved with short-term solutions, other than revolution. The public’s purchasing power is degrading: as foodstuffs like eggs and meat become more expensive it is the people who suffer.

“In macro-economic terms, this is what I call “throwing a national economic surplus out of the country”. The masses are affected the most because a national economy surplus is ejected from the country: Indonesia imports oil, foodstuffs, etc. The Government will not be able to control increasing prices, which will generate social distrust, gradually exacerbating to social disorder. Then they will face social disobedience, and finally political disobedience. In other words, a revolution. The Government would not collapse, it would simply fall. Indonesia is already in a general condition of social distrust. Some are trying to establish trust, while others continue to exhibit social distrust. That’s how we stand. We are already ‘at war’ on that level. Social media shows that social trust and social distrust are fighting each other, and social distrust seems to be winning,” Noorsy said. “The Government thinks that it is doing something about the economy, but in the end they are doing nothing of value.”

Salamudin said that the State administration system is disconnected from the market. What is happening is that the Government is not relating to realities on the ground, which means that there will be economic confusion. For example, the dollar rate in the State Budget is still fixed at Rp 13,400.00. How will private parties make good decisions, while the current dollar exchange rate in the market is Rp 14,300.00? This engenders distrust. Under such circumstances, the Government cannot make any decision at all. Errors of Governmental perspective about the economic condition are tolerated.

The weakening Rupiah exchange rate has a wide-ranging impact: prices rise, inflation rises, while buying power falls. This is anomalous, because inflation should have been caused by rising buying power. However, inflation in Indonesia is caused by prices rising with buying power declining. “There is a disconnect here, because there are many fiscal and financial manipulations, involving both our trade balance and our petroleum and natural gas balance. The purchasing power of some groups rises, but overall it falls. The State no longer controls the situation. It can’t even deal with its own State Budget,” Salamudin concluded.

Massive Food Imports
When he announced as a Presidential Candidate in 2014, Joko Widodo said that he would stop food imports if he became President. Jokowi stated that Indonesia, with its abundant natural wealth and fertile soil, should actually be an exporter. The Government must stop imports to encourage farmers to increase production, and farmers would thus be ennobled. Jokowi also questioned why Indonesia must import foodstuffs. He suspects that there are meat, rice, and oil mafias that force the Government to keep allowing imports.

Unfortunately, the moment he was elected as President, he forgot everything he had promised. As proof, during his leadership, the Government has allowed massive imports of foodstuffs. In this year alone, the Government has imported 1 million ton of rice. What’s more, the Ministry of Trade issued permits for the import of 2.37 million tons of salt, on 4 January 2018. Indonesia also imports wheat flour, granulated sugar, beef, butter, frying oil, garlic, pepper, potatoes, powdered dried chilis and preserved chilis.

Senior Economist Rizal Ramli claims that such import policies damage the welfare of farmers. Imagine the Government importing 1.5 million tons more salt than it should, then importing 2 million tons more sugar than what it needs. He said that such import policies create a permanent dependence. For example, during garlic harvests in Brebes, the Government increased garlic imports, so Indonesian farmers endured a huge loss. “In the subsequent year, farmers cut back on their harvest. But at harvest time, imports were reduced and prices rose. It’s the cartels that stand to gain here. The next year, farmers reduced planting even further. Every time harvests decrease, dependence on imports increase. This is extremely dangerous. So, it is not that we cannot grow garlic, corn, etc. During my tenure as the Coordinating Minister of the Economy, I suggested during Cabinet Sessions that we get rid of cartel mafias. If we do that, soybean prices will drop, meat prices will decline 75%. But now? Meat prices are twice the prices in Sydney or Thailand!” he said. “Farmers in Central Java and East Java are disappointed. They said they are not going to vote for Jokowi again, not going to support him again,” Rizal reiterated when we interviewed him in Menteng, Central Jakarta.

Frans B.M Dabuke, researcher and founder of the Food and Agri-business Center, said imports would generate direct and real profit straight to the importers. Imports occur because there is a high profit margin from the country of origin to the country of destination. This induces importers to bring in goods. In the context of agricultural and food imports, the farmers who produce food commodities become the losers – and depressed – because they suffer price drops at agricultural production levels.

Frans said that talks about food commodity imports tend to be excessive, and most people cannot understand the full context. It’s tired political repetition. We must admit that food will always be a political issue, because it is a vital need of the many and it is strongly related to our nation’s security. To make it more constructive and balanced, imports of foodstuffs and agricultural commodities must be seen in a more comprehensive context, i.e. the food and agricultural trade balance.

Our aggregate agricultural commodity trade balance remains in surplus, even though it is mostly contributed by export volume and prices of palm coconut oil, rubber and coffee. Agricultural imports are still dominated by commodities such as soybeans, cassava, beef, fruit and vegetables, and a lot of other items in small amounts. However, Frans admits that in general, national food sovereignty is stable. The production of strategic food commodities such as rice, corn, meat, eggs, chili, and shallots has increased sustainably in the past few years, despite the low – and even decreasing – production of other food commodities, like soybeans and sugarcane. The sustainable production increase of some food commodities like rice and corn was able to significantly reduce imports and increase exports. Rice imports, which has always been in the public eye and became a political issue, significantly decreased. This means that rice independence was secure. Corn imports also dropped successfully. However, wheat imports as a substitute for corn, actually increased.

Primary national exports of palm coconut, rubber, and coffee also increased, even though market conditions and international prices have been relatively muted over the past few years. We still require the hard work and coordination of ministries to resolve this issue of rising prices, and not put everything in the hands of the Agricultural Department. Real income level and the welfare of farmers and their families still remains a great challenge. Poverty and welfare gaps in rural areas are still an important part of the agenda, in terms of our agricultural macro-economy. These four challenges specifically require effective coordination, synergy, and integration among ministries, under the leadership of the Coordinating Ministry of the Economy.

Frans suggests that the synchronizing, integration, and coordination of a national food and agri­cultural database be prioritized. It should be an urgent agenda item for controlling and managing food imports in the future. This database is already started, but its implementation and effectiveness must be improved. This system will serve as an effective single platform for planning, implementing, monitoring, and evaluating national food policies, strategies, and management programs. The challenge is how to eliminate sectoral ego and how to generate cross-section harmony among the ministries and agencies that manage national food issues.

Secondly, national food policies and strategies, as well as a national food development road map, have to be created. Food issues are still fragmented and not yet optimally institutionalized. The many aspects and parts of national food development must be administered, accounted for, and managed by several ministries and agencies, with a clear, measured, and well-coordinated control and implementation range. Urgently needed at the same time is institutional regulation, whether formal, structural, or regional, in implementing the above national food development policies, strategies, programs, and roadmaps. The Food Sovereignty Council should be empowered and made more effective as a further transformation of the current Food Security Council.

Agricultural Observer H.S. Dillon considers the Joko Widodo Government to have failed in generating a single integrated policy for establishing food sovereignty, even now. On one hand, Jokowi wants to increase agricultural production, but he still allows massive imports. “For example, we are the world’s biggest wheat importer. We find it hard to compete, because other countries have subsidized exports, but we don’t. American subsidized soybeans enter Indonesia, making it hard for our soybean farmers to compete. Not only that, importers also receive a portion of the subsidies from the agricultural exports of these foreign countries. Those exporters share their subsidies with our importers,” he said.

H.S. Dillon pointed out that the lobbying of foreign agricultural exporters is so strong, that it affects our imports. “Our officials are not on the people’s side,” he said. “They keep on saying that they want to increase our food productivity, but they keep on importing because it benefits them personally. Those importers have bought their political power, and ‘everybody’ benefits – the politicians and the exporters and the importers – ‘everybody’ except farmers. Farmers take the brunt of the loss, we take part of it, while it is farmers and the common people like ourselves who must be prioritized.  I give a “6” to Jokowi’s Government relating to food. Jokowi’s Government has consistently failed to improve farmers’ fate,” he said firmly.

Low Quality Education
JPPI studied the Right to Education Index (RTEI) to measure satisfaction of the right to education in various countries. The study was held in 14 random countries, i.e. Britain (87%), Canada (85%), Australia (83%), the Philippines (81%), Ethiopia (79%), South Korea (79%), Indonesia (77%), Nigeria (77%), Honduras (77%), Palestine (76%), Tanzania (73%), Zimbabwe, the Congo and Chile. JPPI measured 5 indicators in this study: governance, availability, accessibility, acceptability, and adaptability. Indonesia has an average of 77% across all 5 indicators and is in 7th place out of 14. This is not a proud realization, as it shows that the quality of our education is inadequate. Indonesia has the same score as Nigeria and Honduras, and we have an even lower educational quality than Ethiopia or the Philippines.

The 3 items with low scores are: availability (the existence of quality teachers), acceptability (schools are not yet child-friendly), and adaptability (the availability of education for marginal and minority groups). Teacher quality has a low score, because the availability of teachers among the central, outermost, and remote areas is unequal. This is not proportional with the budget spent for teacher wages. Meanwhile, school environs are not yet child-friendly due to the frequency of violence and sexual harassment occurring in schools. The Government must ensure that schools are monitored by the police, parents and committees, in order to prevent violence from recurring. Another problem is ‘adaptability’, or access to education for marginal groups, which is still limited.

Indra Charismiadji, Education Observer from Eduspec Indonesia, said that the main issue with education is that the Attendance True Measure (ATM) is not yet 100%. This means that many Indonesian children are still unschooled, even in Jakarta, even though basic schooling has been free since 2006. The most surprising thing is that according to the Indonesian Statistics, ATM at Elementary Schools, Junior High Schools, and Senior High Schools in 2014-2017 all stands below 1%. The ironic condition is that the dominant population of free schooling are children of middle- to upper-classes. This is because the income rate in public schools is based on students’ grades. Students from middle- to upper-economies tend to have better grades, because their parents can afford to pay for additional lessons, tutors, better nutrition, books, and internet access.

ATM affects the quality of our education, currently the lowest in the world. “Our latest ranking is 70th out of 74 countries – the bottom 5. This is according to data from the Program for International Student Assessment (PISA). The quality of our education is among the lowest in the world and our students are not as smart as those from other countries,” Indra said. Why does Indonesia have very low-quality education? Indra said that this is because the parents of poor children can only send them to low-paid, low-quality schools, the ones with poor facilities and teachers willing to accept a pittance, because that’s the only kind of school that they can afford. Public schools are filled with smart, middle-class and upper-class children who are spoiled and bored because the competition level is not like it was before.

Public school teachers nowadays are very prosperous. A World Bank study shows that there are so many teachers in Indonesia, resulting in a cruel gap between the wages of public teachers with private teachers, and even temporary or freelance teachers. 64% of the Rp 440 trillion budgeted for education in the State Budget is allocated to teacher welfare. This excess budget is also caused by a surplus of teachers.

There are 2 curricula that apply in Indonesia: the Education Unit Level Curriculum (Kurikulum Tingkat Satuan Pendidikan – “KTSP”) or the “2006 Curriculum”, and the “2013 Curriculum” (K-13). Indonesia is the only country in the world with 2 curricula. Since its independence, this is the first time the Republic has kept the previous curriculum instead of replacing it. This is different from the previous pattern, when the curriculum changed even if only the Minister of Education was changed.

The 2013 Curriculum was created during the SBY era, but even nearing the end of the Jokowi era, it has not yet been fully implemented. This is because education is currently managed entirely by Regional Governments. “To resolve this, Indonesia really should have an educational blueprint. We don’t. Without such clear, centralized guidelines, each region will simply go its own way,” Indra said. “Such blueprints would contain outlines and guidance for curricula, teachers, structures and facilities, regulations, and grading standards. Having a blueprint would streamline and simplify things greatly, making it easier for everyone to control all aspects.” The blueprint, once completed, must be implemented and controlled.

The existence of a Statement of Poverty (Surat Keterangan Tidak Mampu – “SKTM”) in the New Educational Participant Entry (Pemasukan Peserta Didik Baru – “PGDP”) process arouses a host of new issues. This is because before, the entry of children into public schools was based on a grading system, but now it uses a zoning system. When the Government changed the regulation to reflect the logical fact that only poor children should get free education, the wealthy upper classes actually objected to it and falsified SKTMs in order to get free schooling in public schools.

The zoning system has many advantages for the poor, because now they have the opportunity to go to school in (public schools?  In this country?) without having to pay anything. Arief Rachman, Educational Observer, agrees with the zoning system. “We should implement a zoning system, that’s inevitable. However, this requires a process. Without the zoning system, all the smart kids in Bekasi would drain out to Jakarta. Without zoning, everyone will gather in a specific area,” he said. Therefore, the zoning system must be accompanied by a program to gradually equalize educational quality. The Government has the obligation to improve the quality of public school in stages. It is impossible to do it quickly and all at once.

Arief believes that progress in education does not depend on who the president is, because everything is regulated by law. What we need to watch is how to modify existing structures to match current conditions and challenges. The world of education currently faces 4 challenges: first, this is a digital era. Children must be familiarized with positive usage of digital communications. Second, this is also the social media era. Children should be trained on how to filter the information presented in social media. Third, communication between children and their parents in big cities is becoming more limited. Therefore, effective relations must be established between parents and their children in a very short time. Fourth, children’s physical growth is different from that in earlier generation, so we must make sure that they can cope with this.

The success of an educational process is measured in five ways: first, the success of spiritual education (tolerance, faith, honor, kindness); second, the success of emotional education, obtained by learning things like music, dance, and literature (appreciation of refinement and beauty); third, the success of intellectual education, obtained by studying subjects like chemistry, physics, and mathematics (logical thinking, appreciation of facts, ability to connect cause and effect); fourth, the success of physical education (health, agility, ability to move, stamina); and fifth, the success of social education (manners, courtesy, good communications).

Teachers are a main force in education. “Sometimes children do not have books, but they remain well-educated anyway because they have great teachers. We must understand a teacher’s power, treat them respectfully, because they are not related to machines or things. They deal with humans,” Arief said.

Stagnant Law Enforcement
The law treats those at the bottom harshly but treats those at the top gently. This adage is justified when we review law enforcement under Jokowi’s Government. The various legal cases in the public eye remain vague and unresolved. The public still remembers clearly when a senior investigator of the Corruption Eradication Commission (KPK), Novel Baswedan, was suddenly sprayed with acid by two unknown men on a motorcycle. Novel was walking home on 11 April 2017 after dawn prayers at the Masjid Jami Al Ihsan, Pegangsaan Dua District, Kelapa Gading, North Jakarta. It happened so fast that he did not have the chance to avoid getting splashed. Nobody was around when the attack took place, and he was splashed right in the face so he couldn’t see who attacked him. It has been over a year, but the police still have not arrested the attackers.

Novel’s case was far from being the only one. The death of 4 youths, along with many people being wounded in the town of Enarotali, Paniai, Papua, in December 2015, occurred when security officers – both from the Police and the Army – shot a number of demonstrators who were angry over the beating of a Papuan child by an army officer the day before. This shooting was the first serious human rights violation that occurred during the Jokowi Government era. Until now, not even a single suspect has been named and brought to justice.

The above two cases are a small sample of various legal cases. State Administration Law Expert Margarito Kamis said that the Jokowi Government has exhibited poor performance in law. He even gave a score of “5” for law enforcement in the Jokowi era. He believes that “justice” is a simple concept: if you do something wrong, you will be prosecuted according to the Law; if you did nothing wrong, you will be acquitted and released. Margarito thinks that the Government pays too much attention to infrastructure construction. It is important, but the President should not have forgotten to put the Law as the highest priority. The President’s job is to uphold the law. “The President cannot argue with this, cannot hand this over to another institution. This is incorrect. The President is institutionally appointed precisely because his job is to make sure that the law is implemented,” he said.

Margarito also touched briefly on the Novel Baswedan case. He believed an attempted murder has taken place and a victim was injured. However, the perpetrators have still not been found until now. “Is it so difficult for the President to instruct people clearly, that they must catch the perpetrators within X months?” he said.

As for the human rights case in Papua, Margarito stated that the State must protect all of its citizens. “We establish this country to make sure that nobody – whether black, white, Muslim or Christian – is harmed. When somebody hurts them, the State must be there to protect them. We do not tolerate this kind of thing,” he said firmly.

Margarito states that so far, Indonesian law is still harsh on the lower classes and gentle towards the higher classes. “How hard it is to uphold the law! Upholding the law is not the same as imprisoning someone. If our investigation and check does not find sufficient evidence, we must release the person. But that means that our law is effective. We can’t uphold the law out of hatred towards a person or ignore it because we love another person. I agree that our law is great only for the lower classes, but it is paralyzed for higher classes,” he said. Margarito further requests that during the remainder of the Government’s tenure, it must get tough on the Law, not thinking of friends or foes. Uphold the law, whoever is guilty. Imprison them if we have enough evidence or release them if we do not.

Meanwhile, Agustinus Pohan, a Legal Observer from Parahyangan University, said that the law has not changed much during the Jokowi era. There is still a lot of injustice, the law still protects those with power. “Jokowi might be successful in other fields like infrastructure, but he did not make much of an impact in law. The only positive aspect I found from Jokowi’s Government is his strong support of KPK in the eradication of corruption,” he said.

However, there has not been much change in terms of trials, whether court judges or prosecutors. It is a pity that most of the leaders of justice derive from political parties. No matter what, district attorney policies from political parties will create distortions. “Legal cases in the Jokowi era actually leave a lot to be desired. For example, there are many human right violations that remain unresolved until now. The Munir case remains unsolved, and that is a debt from the Jokowi Government. Other past cases that the SBY Government failed to resolve remain unsolved during Jokowi’s Government, including major cases like the Bank Indonesia Liquidity Assistance (Bantuan Likuiditas Bank Indonesia – “BLBI”) scandal. There are new suspects, but no major specific suspects. This shows that there is no significant change in legal dynamics during the Jokowi era,” he said.

We currently appreciate the eradication of corruption, but the arrests have not caused any deterrent effects. In the war against drugs, the Government has also successfully captured a number of drug dealers. However, it still has not been able to reduce the flow of narcotics. Ditto for terrorism cases: so many terrorists are captured, but the Government is still unable to significantly repress their influence. In this case, it is not an issue of deterrent effect. Furthermore, in the case of sexual violence against children, Jokowi rushed to take a reactive step by issuing the Government Regulation in Lieu of Law (Perppu) against Sexual Violence against Children. However, not much came of it. None of its articles are implemented, even now.

Agustinus believes that the legal steps that the Government must take would allot more attention to law enforcement. Not legal regulation, but law enforcement. Naturally it would take more money to enforce the law, and Jokowi must cooperate with the DPR to increase the law enforcement budget. The people must also have more access to the courts. The Jokowi Government is the same as the previous Government. We were hoping for improvement, but there is not much to be had. Therefore, he gave a score of “6” for law enforcement during the Jokowi era. (Dessy Aipipidely/Ekawati)