Another step towards a bright future for Indonesia

The attempts to stir up racism and categorism against Christians proved futile. Today, the citizens of Jakarta elected Jokowi and Ahok as the new Governor and Deputy Governor of the city. Ahok is Chinese and Christians, something that followers of the (now former) governor Fauzi tried to use against the pair.

In my eyes, Jokowi’s victory is a big step in the right direction. A step towards change and openness, a step away from fear and tribalism.

Next year we have the national elections. Chances are good that the alliance containing islamist parties will lose this time. Chances are also good that the new government will be much better at fighting against corruption and against violations of minority rights. However, there is a risk that the new government will take steps away from democracy. Some worry that the next president will become a new Putin. Especially since the favorite contender is an old military hotshot with a bad human rights record. We will have to watch the development closely.

Meanwhile, three lawmaking bills are very worrysome. The National Security Bill, the Mass Organizations Bill, and a bill on halal certification for food. These packages of suggested new laws aim to stop the islamist extremist organizations that threathen democracy, minority groups, and just anyone standing in their way. This is a noble goal. However, the bills may pose threats to democracy in their own right.

The national security bill has been widely criticized for, among other things, giving too much power to the military, Most likely, this bill will not pass.

The mass organizations bill risks to wing-clip the freedom of the massmedia and of all non-government organizations, putting ideological requirements on them all. Such a law would be a huge mistake, even if the ideological principles required are sound in themselves. Totalitarian tendencies are always a threat to open society, no matter how good the intentions are.

The final issue is a proposed system for certifying that food, beverages and pharmaceutics are ”halal”, approved by islamic clerics. Making such a system may be good for many consumers and business – over four fifths of the population here are muslims. The problem is that some lawmakers has the idea that ”by the way, this certification will be mandatory”. Such a step would outlaw all small businesses that can’t affoard to get a certification, trample the religious rights of non-muslims, as well as enforcing religious rules on Muslims who are getting more and more secular. Being expected to lose the next elections, the islamist parties might be quite desperate to push this through, and fast. Lets hope they’ll fail.


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