Riveting discussions at Election 2019 workshop organised by President University, Indonesia

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The 2019 General Election must be considered as an important milestone in the democratic process in Indonesia. Since in this General Election, the election of the president and vice president was carried out simultaneously with the election of the members of the Regional Representatives Council, the House of Representatives, and Regional Representative Council at the provincial, district and city levels. The General Election  2019 runs well and safe, but political complexity continues afterward. This was mentioned by the Dean of the Faculty of Humanities President University Dr. Endi Haryono, M. Si., in the Election 2019 Workshop at the Conference Room President University, Cikarang (Thursday, July 25, 2019).

“This is interesting to be discussed and important to be documented,” Endi continued. Inviting 13 writers consists of academics, intellectuals, politicians, and social activists, this workshop made notes and conducted discussions that included analysis, reflections, and several recommendations regarding the journey of Indonesian democracy.

On the same occasion, senior journalist Satrio Arismunandar underlined changes and political disputes in 2019. Satrio gave an example that after the announcement of the Presidential Election, incumbent Joko Widodo met his challenger Prabowo Subianto at an MRT station in Lebak Bulus, South Jakarta. Although it was considered to be able to ease tensions between the two camps, some of the supporters of both reacted counter to the meeting.

According to Satrio, political polarization like this is not productive considering that Indonesia faces many tough challenges. “With the enormous challenges Indonesia faces, it is very risky if we keep dragging on this political dispute. It is such a waste to spend our energy to reduce all these political conflicts. Especially if the conflicts exploit or manipulate elements of SARA (ethnicity, religion, race, and intergroup) through various hoaxes, which have the potential to divide the nation,” he explained.

Satrio added the global scale of the Trade War between the US and China will have an impact on national politics and economics. Therefore, it demands the government’s focus and attention.

In addition, Indonesia has problems in human resources (HR) field. If foreign investment continues to enter while Indonesian human resources are not ready yet, then Indonesia must accept the entry of foreign experts to replace them.

In line with Satrio, political observer Mohammad Syafi’i Anwar revealed that the 2019 Presidential Election was still dominated by political identity which resulted in political divisions and segregation in Indonesia.

“Politics and religion that are politicized to run for power is wrong,” he said in a separate interview with President University.

He said that although it is difficult, all groups must take part in the effort to make the 2024 Election ‘political identity-free’.

Meanwhile, senior journalist Lukas Luwarso explained that Indonesian politics is still very informal and personal. “People choose based on the figure they glorify or idolize. Choose based on the person, based on his tribe, based on his religion, not his work performance. People tend to be loyal to certain figures, not to the constitution,” he stated.

Media Analysis of the 2019 Elections

In this workshop, lecturer of Communication Studies President University Mohammad Raudy Gathmyr S. Sos., M. Si revealed his research on several media that were unprofessional in carrying out journalistic activities during the 2019 Election. Whereas, ideally, media must be able to provide accurate, correct and open information from various perspectives of an event.

Using the theory of Critical Discourse Analysis (CDA), Critical Theory of Orientalism, and Viewpoint Diversity Theory, Raudy analyzed the news on the 2019 Election in several Indonesian media. In his writing, he revealed that unprofessionalism can be seen through the use of languages that are not neutral, insinuative, and tendentious. Through his research, he found that some of the media carried out Islamophobic news, more precisely domestic Islamophobia. Meaning, if all this time Islamophobia perpetrators have almost always been regarded as news reporting from foreign media, such as Western media on Islam, the ‘accused’ here is domestic/local media.

It is true for the 2019 Election to receive special attention because it determines the life of the nation. Due to this reason, all the writings in this workshop will be outlined in a book edited and compiled by teams from President University and Krisnadwipayana University, Endi Haryono, Guswandi, and Abdullah Sumrahadi.