I became a father a year ago when my son was born right before the start of a global pandemic – a situation which has never been faced by my parents’ generation. Since then, as my son grew up, a series of pivotal events have happened in this country in short period of time in the midst of arguably one of the most difficult era for Indonesia in the past 2 decades.
New laws deregulating investment and industrialization in pursue of faster economic growth was agreed. Corrupt politicians stealing money from the government’s relief package for the people affected by the pandemic has been another notable issue. Such drastic changes happen in succession when most of us were asleep and many others fought for their lives.
Among those changes, two series of events have caught everyone’s attention the most, especially us millennials and Gen-Z. Firstly, such deliberate actions to strip-off the power of the Corruption Eradication Commission (KPK) initiated by the parliament which are by far dominated by the ruling parties have left me hopeless. Since the reformation era, I have never seen a parliament such dominated by ruling parties and as a consequence losing their cojones to perform the check-balance function.
Secondly, blatant and barbaric actions to wipe-off the “strong critics” inside KPK have disgusted me and my whole value system. We have been made powerless by the powerful and we seemed to have no political strength to defend our KPK from being derailed by the so-called politicians and oligarchs.
This generation of outdated politicians were once among the biggest critics of the Soeharto regime, when many of us were still a kid or not even born yet. Back in those days, there were no KPK and corruptions were to some extent centralized among the top national administration. 20 years along the road, multiparty system and decentralization of authority have redistributed the power to a lot more stakeholders and at the same time redistributed corruption to the lower level of political hierarchy. However, one thing remains the same: people are still as powerless as before in the hands of corrupt politicians.
These politicians argue that the “noise” created by the democracy – the system we opted to operate in – have hindered this nation from rapid economic growth. That is why the UU ITE have gained its popularity in the last decade or so; to shut our mouth up. Economic growth needs peaceful political situation and people need to shut their mouth up, they argue. They might have failed to recall their own dark years when they were forced to shut up by the tyranny for nearly 30 years and by the invaders for almost 4 centuries. They certainly have failed to remember their own childhood stories.
Dark days were dark days, and many more are still yet to come. We have seen ourselves how much powerless we are when facing the political parties who we voted for. We might not like the policians we are seeing today but there is still enough time to change the direction of this ship. We need to give the chance to the “better politicians” and let meritocracy win. Oh by the way, better political parties, too. Of the hundreds of politicians in Senayan, majority of them might be as helpless as us, being under control by 8 to 10 political party leaders who shape our nation in accordance with their own interests. Taking a stance against their parties might end them up losing their seats and in the end losing their huge political money investment. Choosing the better parties does matter, too.
Nevertheless, I am still as positive as ever. This significant change in political constellation needs a generational change, too. We have seen good signs, though. Better education, more accessible political leaders at provincial and city level. Our generation will inherit a broken political system but we have all the options in our hands to turn this situation around. In short, we have to be political despite not being comfortable to be in such situation. We are the opinion leaders in our family and change makers in our villages. If we want to reshape the future, we need to believe in meritocracy and give young, bright, intelligent, trustworthy local heroes a chance. Once and for all.
Nata, this note is for you.
Pamulang, February 2022.