Wednesday, March 2, 2011

Is Freedom a Blessing or a Curse ?

The Constitution of 1945 stipulated that the freedom of every Indonesian citizens is protected by the laws.

However, in 53 years after its independence on 17 August 1945, Indonesia was ruled by authoritarian regimes that used their powers merely for the interests of their family, friends and groups. Freedom was very limited, oppositions was crushed, the media was heavily censored. Any violation would be severely punished either legitimately or illegitimately, among others by shutting down the publisher/broadcaster and detaining the persons in charge.

In spite of the lack of freedom, between 1968 and 1998, Indonesians enjoyed economical, social, political and security conditions which were relatively stable.. The economy grew steadily, educations were affordable, no very serious religious, racial and political conflicts among the people was reported.

But unfortunately, the economy was heavily depended on foreign debts, investments, and exports of natural oil, gas, timbers, so when the international financial crisis broke in 1997, Indonesia was hit very badly, and forced to accept the emergency program directed by the International Monetary Fund (IMF), including the liberalization of social, economic and political lives.

This fact and nationwide public protests against the 32-years authoritarian regime of President Suharto had forced him to step down from 32 years power on 21 May 1998, and asked Vice President Habibie to take over.

And liberal democracy came to Indonesia and the social, political, economical and security situation became unstable.

One year later, the first free general election was held and won by the anti-Suharto Indonesian Democratic Party in Struggle led by the daughter of former President Soekarno namely Megawati. Unfortunately, the People's Consultative Council (MPR) did not elected her as president, instead they elected the leader of the largest Islamic organization namely Abdurrahman Wahid (Gus Dur) on October 1999.

Gus Dur was a very liberal and highly respected human rights. He abolished racialist laws against minorities including Chinese citizens, recognized extreme-fanatic religious movements, etc. Muslim-Non Muslim bloody conflicts broke in the Island of Maluku and Sulawesi.

Gus Dur's policies were too controversial for other politicians, including his plan to disband the pro-Suharto Golkar Party, so on July 2001, the MPR ousted him and Megawati became President. Many violence broke, among others the suicide  bombing in Bali in 2002

 In 2004, General Susilo Bambang Yudoyono (SBY) won the first freely-held presidential election with a land slide majority of more than 60%. But his Democrat Party only minority seats in the House of Representatives so he must form coalition government with the Golkar Party several Moslem political parties. This weak political support has made SBY always hesitate in taking actions especially against violent organizations using religion as mask like the FPI that often carried out illegal sweepings and curfews on public places.

More suicide bombings exploded in Bali (2005) and Jakarta (2009), many inter-religion conflicts broke in some parts of the country.

In 2009, more than 60% of the people, including me, re-elected SBY once again, but considering that his Democrat Party on got around 25% of the seats in the House of Representatives, therefore SBY must once again rely on the support of his coalition partners i.e. the Golkar Party and Islamic based parties.

This is ironic, because our Constitution adopted the Presidential government-system, whereby the President hold supreme executive power, therefore should not be depended on the House of Representatives.

Today, almost two years I cast my votes for SBY and his Democrat Party, he is still like before. As a result, the majority of our people are still living in poverty, unemployment is growing, many injustices exist, reluctance to fight corruption, only few people can afford the very expensive higher education.
Moreover, violence organizations are seemingly becoming more stronger.

Considering the above, I felt that SBY and his Democrat party should stick to the promises that they have made during the last general election and presidential election i.e. govern the country based on the concept of pluralism, supremacy of law, equality before the law merely for the best interest of the Indonesian people and not just for certain individuals, groups and political parties. That way, people would not regret casting their votes for you in the elections. And the freedom that we have since 1998 would be a blessing, and not a curse, for us.

Well, that's my personal opinion about freedom, I shall be very glad to know about your opinion.


Wisata Murah said...

memang membingungkan kalau melihat peta politik ditanah air...semoga semua diberi kekuatan memikul beban bangsa ini

Jhess said...

Freedom opens up a lot more chances for people then not having freedom at all. But with anything in life You have to take the good with the bad.

Anonymous said...

Presiden berikutnya seperti apa ya? :)

Maaf baru nongol lagi sobat
Baru update dan BW lagi nih daku
Salam persohiblogan :)

Multibrand said...

@Wisata Murah,
Semoga pemilu 2014 akan melahirkan pemimpin yang sejati.

As long as the good things are far more dominant it would be okay.

Mudah2 presiden berikutnya dapat memenuhi keinginan seluruh rakyat.

colson said...

Democracy is not simple and quick solution to social and economical problems. It's a way of life, a system of laws, attitudes and customs which essentially protects individual citizens against arbitrary decisions by authorities and the high and mighty. It ideally provides people with the freedom to make their crucial in their lives themselves. And ultimately, in the long run a more prosperous society because it can benefit better from the intellectual and creative potentials of the population.

If people after a dictatorship have high hopes freedom will bring prosperity and happiness immediately, they will be disappointed. It takes time ( because the system provides the tools, not the attitude, not the solutions), it takes a clear insight ( democracy works, neo-liberal economics don't - in my opinion) and it takes hard work to make the system work.

And of course bread and butter prevail. If one has to choose between living in convenient material conditions or a political system of liberty, equality and solidarity reasonable material, I guess the overwhelming majority has an easy choice: good material conditions, no hunger, no unemployment.

The historical examples are many. The most dramatic one in Germany before 'the war'. The Germans choose Hitler over the democratic Weimar-republic. It promised ( and provided) bread an butter in times of poverty- and abolished freedom. Most Germans were happy - only they very much regretted their choice a decade ( and the horrible crimes of the Holocaust) later.

You can't eat freedom. But it is indispensable food for a decent life. Ask Havel ( ex political prisoner, poet, playwright and first president of the democratic Czech republic). Ask Mandela.

Multibrand said...

Hi Colson,

Basically I agree that :
"You can't eat freedom. But it is indispensable food for a decent life"

For the majority people who are poor the most important is freedom from Hunger, from Poverty, from Unemployment, from lack of Education, from Unequal Treatment.
While for most of us is Freedom from Injustice, from Corruption.

Look at China, the state can provide what I mentioned above and they became one of the most powerful countries in the world.
Not many people seemed to give a damn whether or not there is Freedom of Expression there.

The point is, there should be a balance between Freedom of Expression and Freedom from lack of living necessities and improper government.

Anonymous said...

Hi Harry

In a perfect world, there would be
freedom of expression which coincides with prosperity and
good governance.

In a perfect world.....
Unfortunately, you and I know that
things don't always work out that

Who says democracy (freedom) cannot be abused ? Just take a look around ASEAN and you'll notice rampant corruption, vote
buying, parliaments that sought
to limit the freedom of speech,
intolerance of other faiths (freedom of religion in disguise ? )etc, etc.

Ergo for countries
that practice communism and
dictatorship. The same scenario
shows up, albeit in a more outright / extreme manner.

I think the crux of the issue lies
with the people. You can give one group of men stones, and they will
build monuments in your honour. On
the other hand, you can give another group of men stones and they will use it to stone you.

Whatever governance once chooses,
whether democracy (freedom) , dictatorship and communism (restriction @ lack of freedom), it is up to the people to make it
work. The system is just a medium.
The people are its movers

Multibrand said...

Hi Bear Wife,

For a country whose majority of people are poor, low educated, the best freedom would be freedom from hunger, freedom from poverty, freedom from lack of jobs, freedom from expensive educations, freedom from injustice and all the bad things that have been happening to them.

After all those needs have been fulfilled than majority of people would ask for freedom of expression.

I always admire your writing skill.

Kiwi Riverman's Blogesphere said...

Even here in NZ we have to watch the politicians very clearly. Sure we are democratic and free - but how many rights have been whittled away in the last 25 years? The computer age has made this so much easier. Big Brother is getting bigger here. I wonder if the SIS has ever looked at me because of my former prolific letters to the editor over a number of years - before I got a computer and discovered blogging.

Multibrand said...

Thank you for sharing with us about the condition in New Zealand.