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Jokowi’s intelligence insights into political parties raise alarm in Indonesian civil society

President Jokowi’s revelation of extensive intelligence on political parties ahead of the 2024 elections spurs Indonesian civil society to issue a statement and a debate over the role of intelligence agencies in politics.



INDONESIA: In a recent statement, President Joko Widodo, popularly known as Jokowi, disclosed that he is privy to the activities of all political parties in the lead-up to the 2024 elections.

He asserted that he possesses comprehensive intelligence information regarding these parties, including their directions and strategies.

The President made these remarks during the national working meeting (rakernas) of volunteers from the Jokowi National Secretariat (Seknas Jokowi) at the Salak Hotel in Bogor, West Java, on Saturday (16 Sep).

He initially emphasized his desire for Indonesia to prosper and highlighted the crucial role that national leadership plays in achieving this goal.

“It’s true that leadership is highly decisive,” President Jokowi stated, underlining the significance of the upcoming General Elections, which will determine the future President and Vice President.

These elections, scheduled for 2024, 2029, and 2034, will play a pivotal role in shaping Indonesia’s destiny.

President Jokowi further disclosed that the intelligence information he receives on political parties is exceptionally comprehensive.

He draws data from various intelligence sources, including the National Intelligence Agency (BIN), the police’s intelligence unit, and the Indonesian National Army’s Strategic Intelligence Agency (BAIS).

Additionally, he mentioned the availability of data, surveys, and other pertinent information.

President Joko Widodo at the national working meeting (rakernas) of volunteers from the Jokowi National Secretariat (Seknas Jokowi) at the Salak Hotel in Bogor, West Java, on Saturday (16 Sep). (Photo: ANTARA)

Minister for Political, Legal, and Security Affairs Mahfud MD weighed in on the issue, asserting that it is customary for the President to be informed about the political landscape in Indonesia.

He highlighted that this responsibility is enshrined in the law, with the President regularly receiving intelligence reports on sensitive matters.

“The name of the president means he can know anything, including political parties. It’s the President’s duty, security, and legal issues. Every sensitive matter in society, the President receives daily reports from intelligence,” Mahfud said at the Ministry of Youth and Sport (Kemenpora) Square, Senayan, Central Jakarta, on Sunday (17 Sep).

Furthermore, Mahfud explained that even ministers have access to intelligence data, albeit on a monthly basis, while the President receives daily updates.

He emphasized that this is a normal practice and underscored the President’s role in determining policies and safeguarding national security.

Leaders of various political parties have responded to President Jokowi’s statements. Airlangga Hartarto, Chairman of the Golkar Party, acknowledged that they are well-informed based on data and stressed the importance of understanding the future.

He explained that “understanding the future” implies making informed decisions for the nation’s benefit.

Dave Laksono, Chairman of the Central Executive Board of the Golkar Party, supported the notion that it is reasonable for the President to be aware of political party directions.

He pointed out that many Western leaders are knowledgeable about foreign political parties’ movements, let alone their own country’s political landscape.

He expressed no concerns about President Jokowi holding information about the Golkar Party and reiterated Jokowi’s neutrality.

Similarly, Zulkifli Hasan, Chairman of the National Mandate Party (PAN), concurred with Airlangga, highlighting the collective future of the nation as a shared understanding.

Masinton Pasaribu, a politician from the Indonesian Democratic Party of Struggle (PDIP), deemed it a logical situation, emphasizing the President’s access to various instruments of the state to gather information.

Ahmad Sahroni, the Treasurer General of the National Democratic Party (Nasdem), agreed that the President possesses accurate intelligence data. He noted that this move demonstrates President Jokowi’s commitment to a peaceful and smooth electoral process in 2024, with his reminders to the public not to make the wrong choice in the upcoming elections.

However, the revelations have sparked controversy, with the Civil Society Coalition for Security Sector Reform expressing concern that President Jokowi may be misusing intelligence resources for political purposes.

The coalition, comprising organizations such as Imparsial, the Association for Legal Aid and Human Rights of Indonesia (PBHI), Amnesty International, the Indonesian Legal Aid Foundation (YLBHI), Kontras, Centra Initiative, Elsam, Walhi, Indonesia Corruption Watch (ICW), Human Rights Working Group (HRWG), the Legal Aid Society of the People, and the Setara Institute., issued a joint statement condemning this as a serious issue in Indonesia’s democracy.

Julius Ibrani, through a written statement on Saturday (16 Sep), Chairman of the Indonesian Legal Aid and Human Rights Association (PBHI), emphasized that intelligence resources should focus on national security threats rather than monitoring political parties and civil society.

“However, intelligence information should be related to national security threats and not related to political entities (political parties, etc.) and civil society, as stipulated in Article 1, paragraphs 1 and 2 of Law No. 17 of 2011 concerning State Intelligence,” he stated.

Article 1, paragraphs 1 and 2 of the Intelligence Law read as follows:

Article 1

  1. Intelligence is knowledge, organizations, and activities related to the formulation of policies, national strategies, and decision-making based on the analysis of information and facts gathered through working methods for early detection and warning in the prevention, interception, and handling of any threats to national security.
  2. State Intelligence is the intelligence organization that is an integral part of the national security system and has the authority to carry out the functions and activities of State Intelligence.

The Civil Society Coalition also emphasizes that this is a form of political scandal and a serious issue in democracy.

“Therefore, it must be thoroughly investigated. Hence, it is only right for the People’s Consultative Assembly to summon the President along with relevant intelligence agencies to explain this matter to the public clearly and openly,” they urged.

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