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Indonesia’s fading democracy dream

19 3 0
When Indonesian President Joko ‘Jokowi’ Widodo triggered mass protests in September over his support for regressive amendments to the Criminal Code and the founding statute of Indonesia’s Corruption Eradication Commission (KPK), he beat a hasty retreat.

Seeking to avoid an ignominious second term inauguration marred by protest, Jokowi instructed the parliament to defer deliberation of the Criminal Code and announced that he would consider issuing emergency legislation to repeal the KPK Law amendments, widely considered to have undermined the commission’s independence and distinctiveness.

Soon after his 20 October swearing in, Jokowi again reversed course. His administration indicated it favours only minor further revisions to the contentious criminal code. Jokowi too has ruled out further changes to the KPK Law.

Jokowi is again showing he is willing to subjugate individual rights and the fight against corruption to other considerations. Although opinion polls are yet to reveal an appreciable dip in Jokowi’s approval ratings in the wake of the September protests, his actions raise the question of whether there is a breaking point for his support.

The political crisis over the Criminal Code and the KPK Law arose during the lame duck period for the Indonesian parliament. The new parliament elected in April was not inaugurated until October, spurring a rush to usher through contentious bills in the closing days of the previous parliamentary term.

Among the contentious bills tabled, the amendment to weaken the KPK was the greatest surprise. One of Indonesia’s most trusted and popular institutions, the KPK has been perpetually in the crosshairs of lawmakers since........

© Asian Correspondent