Indonesian Democracy’s Last Hope

By N Mark Castro

His predecessor, Akil Mochtar, is serving life imprisonment for corruption charges. The betrayal of public trust was an assault on the country’s foremost institution, including its legal decisions.

However, the succeeding replacement, Deputy Constitutional Court Chief Hamdan Zoelva, has proven his mettle in delivering decisions — and justice — to the surprise of the nation.

One of the greatest trials in his capacity as the Chief Justice of the Constitutional Court of the Republic of Indonesia was the recent legal challenge of losing presidential candidate Prabowo Subianto on the election results. According to Prabowo’s claim, there was electoral fraud in a “structured, systematic and massive” way and most everyone thought that the legal battle would hold hostage the fledgling democratic process of the country.

The nation held its breath. The nation waited. Most everyone feared that the Constitutional Court would favor Prabowo’s claims because Chief Justice Hamdan’s former political party was allied to the Prabowo-led coalition. Further, everyone was aware of his close relations to the plaintiff. Worse, the Constitutional Court are filled with appointees associated with Prabowo and the incumbent president Susilo Bambang Yudhoyono, whose own political party was allied with the Prabowo-led coalition.

Indonesia’s greatest sinetron was at play.


To the surprise of the nation — and certainly Prabowo — the Hamdan Zoelva court decided against the plaintiff, reaffirming the presidential election results naming Jakarta Governor Jokowi Widodo as the new president.

But the Prabowo-led coalition would not go quietly into the night.

Right before the closing of Indonesia’s parliament, the Prabowo-led coalition decided to pursue the issue of the Regional Election bill, a bill that has been sitting forever in the dustbin of parliament.

And like a thief in the night, the Prabowo-led coalition passed the new Regional Elections Bill, giving the Right to Vote back to the hands of DPR, in determining local leaders.

Part of the reasons that they said was that the electoral process is too costly, with a lot of losing candidates losing their fortune and that it’s been prone to violence and corruption.

No one bothered to ask why political parties in the country demand high fees from interested politicians before they could join and run for political office under their banners.

Regardless of their reasons, public sentiment is against it.

And all eyes are once again focused on the one man who has stood up to uphold the law of the land.

Good luck, Indonesia.




About Asmartrock

N. Mark Castro is the Southeast Asia Director of JUMP DIGITAL Asia, which is an internationally-awarded and fully integrated digital marketing agency with 5 out of 10 offices in the ASEAN region. He is also the Secretary General of the Philippine Business Club Indonesia, managing and assisting the traffic of investments between the Philippines and Indonesia. He shuttles between Indonesia, Philippines, Myanmar, Singapore, Cambodia, and Australia. The views posted here are his own and do not in any way reflect the views of the companies he represents.

Posted on September 26, 2014, in General, Politics and tagged , , , , , , , , , , , . Bookmark the permalink. Leave a comment.

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