Corrupt Democracy or “Clean” Tyranny?

People in developing countries are facing many challenges the most basic of which are corruption, injustices and poverty; widening gap between the rich and the poor; the deficit of trust between the ruler and the subject. In Indonesia, with life is getting harder on grass root level, many start murmurming about and romanticizing the “good old days” when Suharto’s tyrannical rule was prevalent.

In other words, for those downtrodden people who are facing difficulties to get their daily basic need, a meal a day for them and their kids, tyrannical system is relatively better as far as it can fulfill their basic needs than the so-called democratic system with its full-fledged idealistic yet unapplicative values. Former autocratic ruler of Indonesia, President Suharto, once said, “What the people need is good economy. As far they can afford to buy their daily needs, they will keep quiet.”This may explain a bit why military Coup d’état in Thailand went so smooth and peaceful and to some extend it even enjoyed a sort of support from Thai people. The new Thai military ruler knows exactly the psyche of the people as it did Suharto in his heyday. And that’s precisely the rationale of Thai government to international community. In his letter to Indian media, Thailand Ambassador to India explains thus:

“The political change was undertaken by the `Council for Democratic Reform under Constitution Monarchy’ without any violence or resistance. The Council was compelled to undertake the mission for various reasons incurred by the previous government, namely, the lack of political confidence in Thailand and impasse of political differences; drastic increase in disunity among Thai people; signs of rampant corruption, malfeasance and widespread nepotism, inability to proceed with the reform process as intended by the Constitution; interference in national independent agencies, crippling their ability to function properly and to effectively solve the nation’s problems; deterioration of social justice. For these reasons, the political change turned out to be a peaceful and bloodless one, resulting in our daily lives returning to normalcy the very next day […]

Do we like to see the same solution take place in Indonesia? Do we want a strong government with strong commitment to better our economy yet with limited freedom of movement like it had been during Suharto’s era? Or do we still want the current democratic system with relative freedom we enjoy?

For me the choice is crystal clear: democracy is thus far the best choice; corrupt and mismanaged governance notwithstanding. No intention to belittle the current government effort to eradicate corruption and other malpractices. I heard from “my eyes” in many parts of the country that some progress on anti-corruption efforts have been taken very seriously. Nothing is perfect, though. Blockhole is still everywhere. But we have to appreciate it. Do remember that we move into full-fledged democracy only a couple of years after many decades of tyrannical rule.

Having said that if the effort are not beefed up and poverty and unemployment is growing quickly, the provocateur forces will emerge from many corners, left or right, to divide this country for their own ends. And when this happen, the military has no choice but to take the action similar to its compatriot in Thailand. Bloodlessly or bloodily will not make any difference for a force that has been trained to see blood without blinking.

PS: Comments are welcome in any of the following languages: English, Arabic, Bahasa Indonesia, Jawa & Madura.

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