Too Many Islamic Parties in Indonesia?


Partyforumseasia: 169 out of 560 seats in the outgoing Indonesian Parliament or 30.1% for four of the five Islamic parties  are not a bad result at first glance. Under a different angle, in relation to more than 200 million Muslims among the 237 million Indonesians, they might have done better. PKSFor the upcoming elections, though, the polls predict not more than 22 %. Why are they so (relatively) weak?
The biggest factor may be that they are competing against each other and don’t get direct support from the two huge religious mass organizations Muhammdiyah (founded in 1912) and Nahdlatul Ulama (founded in 1926). Together these Muslim movements have 70 million members but decided to stay out of party politics this time.
Other factors are corruptPANion scandals which demolished the pretended moral superiority. Politicians with religious credentials turned out to be as vulnerable to money politics as all the others and didn’t perform better when they held public office. And last but not least, the mainstream parties are promising enough bread and butter improvements which the splintered Islamic parties can’t guarantee even if some of them should make it into a government coalition as junior partners.
But religion is still playing a rather important role in the public sphere of the Republic of Indonesia. Hope bearer Joko Widodo is carefully integrating it into his campaign.
For more details see Straits Times, Singapore, 28 March 2014 (boxes)
PPP                         PKBPBB

Indonesia: The 12 Competing Parties


Partyforumseasia:        For a good overview of the twelve parties competing in the upcoming parliamentary and presidential elections we strongly recommend the following paper by Ulla Fionna and Alex Arifianto in ISEAS Perspectives, #14, 2014, 10 March 2014.

The link:
http://www.iseas.edu.sg/documents/publication/ISEAS_Perspective_2014_14-Contestants_2014_Indonesian_Parliamentary_Elections.pdf

Indo perspective

Indonesia’s Next President: Pole Position for the Hope Bearer?


Partyforumseasia: Punctually for the official campaign start for the parliamentary elections  the PDI-P has at last nominated its presidential candidate. In the polls of the last few months, Joko Widodo (“Jokowi”) is  the most successful of the possible candidates by quite a wide margin. Indo JokowiWith his successful performance as mayor of Jakarta and his clean image his popularity may not only support his presidential campaign in June, but also help PDI-P to a decisive pole position in the parliamentary elections on 9 April.

Looking into the nomination process inside the PDI-P, Partyforumseasia can confirm the strategy of the party. Keeping the public guessing whether long term party chairperson  Megawati Sukarnoputri would run herself and risk another defeat has successfully kept the media and polit-gurus busy and active. Affordable party PR can be so easy!!
And presenting the most popular candidate just at the official start into the campaign season for the parliamentary elections will certainly be good for the party as well.
Nevertheless, the nomination procedure looks a bit too leader-centric than many may see as fully democratic. But the aura of Ms Megawati as the daughter of the meanwhile legendary founder father of Indonesia, Sukarno, president 1945 – 1967, makes the nomination acceptable and valid beyond simple procedural questions:

The candidate himself is being quoted as follows: “I’ve been given the mandate by PDI-P chairwoman Megawati Soekarnoputri to become the presidential candidate representing the PDI-P,” Jokowi said during a blusukan (impromptu visit) to Rumah Pitung in Marunda, North Jakarta, on Friday. “By saying Bismillah [in the name of God], I’m ready to carry out the instruction,” Jokowi said at 2:49 p.m. as quoted by kompas.com. (Jakarta Post, 14 March 2014)
And in a letter to the editor at the end of the article we read: “
Jokowi would be the catalyst for all the honest members in the party since he gets blessing from madam chairman.”

More background information on the strategies of the competing parties can be found here on Partyforumseasia.org: LINK

Malaysia: A Lady’s Gambit against Desperate Ruling Coalition


Partyforumseasia: In 2012, opposition leader Anwar Ibrahim had been acquitted of a rather dubious sodomy indictment. Just two weeks before probably winning a Azizahby-election (scheduled for March 23) enabling him to eventually become chief minister of Selangor, last Friday, March 8, a court of appeal reverses the acquittal and sentences him to five years in jail. A more desperate move of preventing Anwar from being elected is difficult to imagine, since the shooting of political rivals, fortunately, is out of fashion in this part of Asia. Unless the court can prove that the coincidence of by-election and new conviction is based on correct legal procedures and internal court timing , the public can only see it as a desperate move of the BN-Government to politically kill Anwar off with the help of a judiciary widely seen as pliant.
The opposition coalition PKR’s strategic director Rafizi Ramli is said to be the mastermind of fielding Anwar Ibrahim in the Kajang by-election and create an even stronger power base in Selangor.  The government’s reaction is proving this by-election strategy right and dangerous for them. Obviously they are so frightened that they use the old sodomy weapon again, and against growing public disgust.
The opposition’s reaction to the appeal court intervention comes swift and smart. Instead of Anwar they will nominate tomorrow, 11 March, his wife Dr. Wan Azizah who is also president of the People’s Justice Party, PKR.
Partyforumseasia has argued already in 2013 that the ruling Barisan Nasional coalition cannot afford to lose because of the tens of thousands of party cronies and the billions at stake. Hard ball and money politics once again show their resilience in Southeast Asia.

One of Southeast Asia’s Most “Successful” Political Godfathers?!


Partyforumseasia: Transition of power is not a particularly characteristic political feature in Southeast Asia, and even less so for Malaysia. TaibThe continuing influence of former long-term Prime Minister Mahathir Mohamad, the “culling” (by a another dubious sodomy conviction) of opposition leader Anwar Ibrahim before he threatened to win the governorship of the country’s most important federal state in March are two examples. The third scandalous case in point is located in Sarawak, the huge East Malaysian federal state on the island of Kalimantan (Borneo).
After thirty-three (33!) years as Chief Minister in this resource rich state with a poor population, Tan Sri (a Malaysian title) Taib Mahmud steps down at the age of 77 on Friday 28 February, only to be sworn in as governor of the same federal state a day later, on 1 March. The succession is “very orderly” and also safe for the retiree, the new Chief Minister being a loyalist of the old one and a former brother in law. And it is nearly close to bringing in new blood, the successor is 70 years young…

It looks more than probable that Taib Mahmood had a lot of good reasons to protect his “retirement” so carefully. He has been attacked as one of the most corrupt politicians in the region, his personal assets being openly estimated at 15 billion $, that of his extended family at over 21! After his three decades at the helm and being responsible for all logging and land related issues, only 5% of Sarawak’s original rain forests are still untouched, but threatened by Taib’s blueprint for the next level of “development”.
See more details in Luke Hunt’s analysis in the (link here) The Diplomat
Godfather Taib’s role on the federal level was also important and has contributed to his long-term hold on power: He practically guaranteed Sarawak’s usefulness as a fixed deposit vote bank for the ruling Barisan Nasional (BN). Without his contribution of 25 federal parliamentary seats in 2013 the BN had lost an election which it won with a minority of the popular vote, heavy gerrymandering and … Sarawak. But increasing accusations for corruption have made Taib a growing liability as well, so an “orderly transition of power” had become necessary.