25 Years of Reform, Not All Demands Have Been Fulfilled

The journey of reform in the country has gone through a period of 25 years since it was initiated in 1998, after President Suharto’s regime foundered. However, student 98 activist from Surabaya, Ermawan Wibisono, said that reform in Indonesia has yet to show signs of success or meet the initial demands of reform, because there is no clear concept. This is evidenced by the widespread practices of corruption, collusion and nepotism in state institutions, weak law enforcement, and the emergence of governmental oligarchs in the regions after the birth of the regional elections.

On the other hand, Ermawan also said that the positive impact of reform has also been felt by the community, namely freedom of opinion, association and assembly, and the birth of state institutions or agencies that strengthen the legal system and democracy in Indonesia.

“If it fails, it’s not one hundred percent, but there are still positive sides that we can take so that this community can use it to supervise and control the running of the government. No matter how small, be it the village head, mayor, regent, we can take advantage of those channels,” he said.

98 activists held a discussion entitled Quo Vadis Reform?  Commemorating 25 Years of Reformation in Indonesia.  (Photo: VOA/Petrus Riski)

98 activists held a discussion entitled Quo Vadis Reform? Commemorating 25 Years of Reformation in Indonesia. (Photo: VOA/Petrus Riski)

Student 98 activist from Bandung, Yodhisman Surata, said that there have been many achievements for the Indonesian nation after 25 years of reform, which have enabled the people to become leaders and realize the expected prosperity. However, Yodhisman also highlighted that there were many demands for reform that were not carried out, especially with regard to the commitment of leaders and elements of society who should oversee and carry out the reform agenda for the good of all people.

“In my opinion, the most deviated is commitment. Perhaps it’s not only those above their commitment that have gone astray, we (activists) too. Yes, let’s go back again, what was our intention, what is our spirit?,” he said.

“This is the final phase, if we pass this, we will wait for another 25 year cycle, maybe we will already be underground. That’s why my friends and I are pushing, let’s keep reminding the community. Even if we don’t enjoy it, surely the generation below us. And we don’t expect that the generation below us won’t have as difficult a life as ours,” continued Yodhisman.

A protester sits next to a banner that says "Kidnapping of activists 1997-1998.  (Photo: AFP/Adek Berry)

A protester sits next to a banner reading “Kidnapping of activists 1997-1998. (Photo: AFP/Adek Berry)

“Our elections must be changed. One of them, the big problem is that political recruitment costs a lot. Because, one of them is that we are still using a manual system, not electronic. Should be an electronic system. And what is often said, those who disagree with electronic systems are because they are easy to jam, easy to break into. In my opinion, it is much easier to break into a manual system than an electronic one,” he explained.

Approaching the 2024 Election, Henky reminded that all the reform agendas that have not been achieved so far, must be ensured that whoever the nation’s leaders will be elected will be implemented. The public is invited to participate in supervising the 2024 Election, so that the interests of a few elites are not put forward, including the interests of foreign powers who can control and influence the election results.

“Currently, if we see that the 2024 election has gone down, foreign powers have started to control it. And if we are not aware of that, then this is our danger. So, when we reflect on reform, don’t just be satisfied with the fall of the past, Suharto. But it must be escorted to the end, “concluded Henky. [pr/ah]

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