The Jakarta Post has made its leadership preference explicit. While it is read by mainly upper middle class, educated Indonesians and expatriates, Joko Widodo does claim this niche among his supporters. Here's what the Post had to say about the dire moral choice facing Indonesians this Wednesday.
There is no such thing as being neutral when the stakes are so high.
While endeavoring as best we can to remain objective in our news
reporting, our journalism has always stood on the belief of the right
moral ground when grave choices must be made.
We were not silent during reformasi. Neither have we been shy when power is abused or civil rights trespassed.
men and women cannot stay idle and do nothing. Speak out when
persecution occurs, stand firm in rejecting the tide of sinister forces.
At certain junctures in a nation’s life, its people are called
upon to make stark choices. No longer is it a mere ballot cast for one
candidate over another, but rather a moral choice on the fate of the
Russia faced such a choice in 1996, during a runoff
between independent incumbent Boris Yeltsin against Gennady Zyuganov
representing the old-guard Communist Party. It was a moral choice for
hope versus remnants of the past. They chose hope.
In five days
this nation too will make a moral choice. In an election like no other —
divisive in its campaigning, precarious in its consequences —
Indonesians will be required to determine the future of our body politic
with a single piercing of a ballot paper.
The Jakarta Post in
its 31-year history has never endorsed a single candidate or party
during an election. Even though our standpoint is often clear, the Post
has always stood above the political fray.
But in an election
like no other, we are morally bound to not stand by and do nothing. We
do not expect our endorsement to sway votes. But we cannot idly sit on
the fence when the alternative is too ominous to consider.
candidate in the presidential election has qualities in his declared
platform. They have been dissected at length the past three weeks. And
voters will sway one way or another based on it. Yet there is also a
sizable part of society who are undecided in their preference.
In such a case, perhaps one can consider who not to vote for as their reasoning for that moral choice.
deliberations are dictated on the values by which the Post has always
stood firmly for: pluralism, human rights, civil society and reformasi.
are encouraged that one candidate has displayed a factual record of
rejecting faith-based politics. At the same time we are horrified that
the other affiliates himself with hard-line Islamic groups who would
tear the secular nature of the country apart. Religious thugs who
forward an intolerant agenda, running a campaign highlighting polarizing
issues for short-term gain.
We are further perplexed at the
nation’s fleeting memory of past human rights crimes. A man who has
admitted to abducting rights activists — be it carrying out orders or of
his own volition — has no place at the helm of the world’s
Our democracy will not consolidate if
people’s mind-set remains wedged in a security approach in which
militarism is an ideal. A sense that one candidate tends to regard
civilian supremacy as subordinate to military efficacy.
nation should be proud of its military, but only if those in uniform
acknowledge themselves as servants of the democratic, civilian
As one candidate offers a break from the past, the other romanticizes the Soeharto era.
is determined to reject the collusion of power and business, while the
other is embedded in a New Order-style of transactional politics that
betrays the spirit of reformasi.
Rarely in an election has the
choice been so definitive. Never before has a candidate ticked all the
boxes on our negative checklist. And for that we cannot do nothing.
the Post feels obliged to openly declare its endorsement of the
candidacy of Joko “Jokowi” Widodo and Jusuf Kalla as president and vice
president in the July 9 election. It is an endorsement we do not take
But it is an endorsement we believe to be morally right.