Jumat, 26 Maret 2010

Reform in Indonesia: Towards Democratic Developmental State

Basically, in social and political sciences there are two types of ideal state, democratic state and developmental state. However, it is extremely scarce to find a state with combination of those two models. Even Singapore and Japan, they cannot be categorized as very democratic states because of single dominant party in their political system.

In the case of Indonesia, some experts agree that during new order era, the government could achieve high performance of development, from which it was classified as developmental state (eg. see Leftwich, 2001). Unfortunately, democracy was only a dream and rhetoric rather than as a reality. The incumbent authorities tended to say that high growth of development, in turn, would promote democracy. At the same time, they reject an assumption that democracy is a precondition for development. That is why, political stability through limitation of press freedom, oppression of labor unions, restriction of political parties and social movements etc., constituted the main strategy in development process in Indonesia.

When the economic crisis hit Indonesia in 1997, democratic waves suddenly became the major agenda in building “New Indonesia”. These phenomena are spurred by the reason that without democracy, Indonesian peoples will never able to deal with their national development goal. It means that there is a paradigm shift from “democracy as outcomes of development’’ to “democracy as prerequisite for development’’. In simple way we can say that political reform in Indonesia concerns with such shift of paradigm.

In line with the demanded reforms, legal provisions that were enacted under Soeharto regime must be amended. In other words, all new legislative products should contain democratic values. One of them is Law no. 22 (1999) concerning Local Government. Compared to the previous regulation, this law gives local governments wider power and bigger freedom in arranging household affairs, formulating organization / institutional structure, allocating human resources, and exploring financial potency. The package of political acts also makes radical changes regarding MPR/DPR structure, election system, and political parties stipulation.

Based on such legal reforms, even Ambassador Ralph L. Boyce says that Indonesia is a country that is able to proceed a rapid decentralization and democratization (Media Indonesia, August 14th, 2002). There is a general agreement among experts nowadays that Indonesia is a very democratic country. Certainly, it can be declared as the most important result of total reform in Indonesia. But, how about the developmental aspects?

After the implementation of Local Government Act (LGA 1999), there are abundant propensities of conflicts between local government and central government, and among local governments. The state dependency on foreign debts is also becoming much more distressing. Moreover, while social development in Indonesia has tended to decelerate due to the severe economic and currency crisis (Utomo, the Jakarta Post, August 13th 2002), local politicians seem to focus merely on their own interests so that corruption emerges as widespread phenomena. In “rehat” rubric, Republika (August 14th 2002) presents a good illustration that in the era of autonomy, legislative is the main actor of corruption. In short, the quality of development and the performance of governance (particularly in local level) are likely to worsen during the last 5 years. In other words, Indonesia can be grouped as democratic non-developmental states with other countries such as Venezuela, Costa Rica, Jamaica, India, Gambia, and South Africa (Leftwich, 2001).

Either non-democratic developmental state or democratic non-developmental state is not an ideal situation for Indonesia and any other countries. Political and governmental reform must able to speed up the occurrence of democratic developmental state. It is worthless if reform movement does not make any difference compared to foregoing conditions. In this sense, the key factor in the developmental states (either democratic or not) is that they have capacity to accelerate economic / development growth, while in the non-developmental states, they lack of such capacity. So, the very basic question is, what conditions enable a democratic state to generate the capabilities that transform it into a successful democratic developmental state, and how to generate them?

In general, the following requirements should be met to construct a developmental state: a dedicated developmental elite; relative autonomy for the state apparatus; a competent and insulated economic bureaucracy; an empowered civil society; a capacity to manage effectively local and foreign economic interest; and a varying balance of repression, legitimacy and performance. Unfortunately, it is extremely difficult to create such requirements for developmental state. In this case, we need accurate strategies of development. For that purposes, Kimura (1999) offers six central points in promoting (local government) capacity building. Those six points are: establishing nation-wide minimum standard of services, improving policy formulation capacity, modernizing bureaucracy, reorganizing boundary between local governments, promoting check and balance system in local level, and strengthening financial basis.

The above sketch implies that the political reform is not complete yet. Instead, it should be pursued by a series of governmental and developmental agendas. Otherwise, the “New Indonesia” is likely to be unrealized. @ Tri Widodo WU.

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