Over the past few weeks, many Indonesians have been mourning for the outgoing parliament`s decision to pass athe bill that would take away people`s right to vote on regional direct election; electing around 500 governors and city leaders all over the country. This has led to Indonesia’s to return of theto electoral system under dictator Suharto before the reformation of 1999, which means a grave setback for the 3rd largest democracy; y, which has often been touted as a model of compatibility between Islam and democracy.
As Indonesia`s outgoing President Yudhoyono plans to challenge this bill into constitutional court, there is an interesting social interaction is that`s emergingcaught out of the political sphere. since the beginning of 2014. Our people have entered a new era of participatory democracy withsince the recently elected President Joko Widodo, a former mayor of the small town of Solo and a furniture trader who has; have shed thethe light of hope to young Indonesians.
For the first time, this August, Indonesian populace reached the highest voting turnout for a on presidential election withup to 70.,7% percent out ofof 190 million voters, ; a percentage of which greaterhigher than the last two United States elections in United States and other countries. Thiselections. This rendered a new hope to people that their voice and actions can matter in politics,; regardless of how small it is.
How young people ensure their voice in government?
2014 is important year for Indonesia, not only because of the legislative and presidential election, but also due to thegiven big number of young first-time voters (more than 100 million are less than 30 years old). I believe, instead of waiting on the government to open doors, young people are the actors who can usetake popular movement to inculcate participation in politics and democracy.
Instead of waiting the government, Yyoung people can organiseorganize themselves and knock on the government`s door to in makeing sure there is youth participation in the policy-making process. ThroughWith the NGO I co-founded in 2009, Indonesian Future FLeaders, I took a lead in organizing Indonesian Youth Parliament 2014 which aims to reintroduce parliament and politics in general through platforms that areis familiar to young people, and becominge athe channel of inspirationaspiration from the young ones to the government. It reaches out to 3,800 youth through roadshows and camaigncampaign simulations in 11 cities, has 15,800 online petition signatures and elected 34 youth parliaments from each province who channeleded their declaration to the Parliament and Ministry of Youth and Sport, as well as Ministry of Education and Culture.
Although my generation (those born during 1985-1999) wasere taught under an education system thatwhich did not nurture the growth of critical thinking, lived under rampant corruption, with no transparency and without freedom of information (only inuntil 1999 was the law of freedom of press established), young people today haves been more courageous than ever, to speaking out their aspiration with the help of media and technology, to seeing the world as it is and are driven to make their world better.
Hong Kong style street protests by students and, young people`s movements in Thailand are a few other examples thato epitomize audacity of young people`s hope to create a better democracy for their country. However, this is just thea start of peaceful political activism for young people. Street protest, peaceful movement, intellectual discussion and debate shall continue to ensure a new era of participatory democracy that is inclusive and be heard by the government.
Give our young people a space to organize themselves down the street or intellectually through public debate, because the government can`t leave it unheeded for everforever.