Measuring the Courage of the National Parties in Aceh

Measuring the Courage of the National Parties in Aceh

An academia, Dr Nasrulzaman assessed that the time has come for national parties in Aceh to unite and build solidarity. They need to showcase their performance for the upcoming gubernatorial election. “Ten years is enough for the local party, it is now time to create a democracy that can enlighten people. In fact, there are also many of the national parties’ cadres who are Acehnese. They are also high quality assets. Hence, the national parties’ axis must unite,” said Dr Nasrulzaman when he was contacted in Banda Aceh.

Nasrul mentioned that the national axis consists of national parties that have not decided their stands such as Democratic Party (PD), Golkar Party, National Democrat (Nasdem) and National Mandate Party (PAN) also Indonesian Democratic Party of Struggle (PDIP). They must sit together to discuss the future of Aceh. “It is such a needed move to show their qualities for Aceh, so the people realize that they no longer need to rely on the local parties that have already served in Aceh administration,” explained Nasrulzaman.

Nasrul then affirmed that it will be good to see the competition between national parties’ axis and local parties in the 2017 election. “The national parties must show their capacities, the next election will be great if there is a struggle between the local parties and the national parties,” said Nasrulzaman.

Independent Party: Promoting the Cadres of National Figures

The statement of Dr Nasrulzaman is true. The ex-combatants and ex-members of Free Aceh Movement (GAM) have already governed Aceh for 10 years after the Helsinki MoU. In 2007-2012, Aceh was led by Irwandi Yusuf-Muhammad Nazar who previously had been the elites of Aceh Referendum Information Center (SIRA). Then, in 2012 to now, Zaini Abdullah alias Abu Dato and Muzakir Manaf alias Mualem have been elected to govern Aceh. However, many assess that both administrations have failed to promote development in Aceh. In fact, the development does not progress. Moreover, the corruption is getting worse.

Do not blame the people of Aceh or the national parties for what happened in 2007 and 2012 elections. Generally speaking, the election was not in line with the principle of Direct, General, Free and Confidential (LUBER) as both were ruined by intimidations. This situation is well-described in the letter of Prof. Damien Kingsburry and William “Abu” Nessen published on “During 2012 electioneering, some of the very men who fought for Aceh’s freedom turned to force and intimidation, and to attacking other candidates as traitors to the cause. They attacked and even killed members of other parties, fellow men of GAM. At the swearing-in of the current governor and vice-governor, the former governor, a GAM man, was beaten up by other GAM men. We felt ashamed that former brothers-in-arms, people we knew and lived with during the war, would do such things”.

The euphoria post the Helsinki MoU was followed by the birth of local parties that gained a lot of attention from the society. This panicked the national parties because then there are many of their cadres who moved to the local parties, especially Aceh Party (PA), just to retain their chairs in Aceh House of Representative (DPRA) but they claimed that they do that as a struggle for Aceh people.

Thus, the opinion of Dr Nasrulzaman is right that a mature, experienced, and independent party must promote their best cadre to be a candidate in the election, else, they should choose a nationalist figure originally from Aceh to reform the mental in Aceh and fix the bureaucracy so that the benefits of development can be shared by all people of Aceh, not only those in power and their cronies.

The presence of nationalist figures as the candidate for the Aceh Governor of 2017 – 2022 is needed to advance the welfare of Aceh people and to eradicate corruption. It is hoped that there will be no more Din Minimi whose struggle is the expression of Aceh people’s disappointment with the Aceh administrators since 2007 to now.

The national parties in Aceh must be much more confident in facing the 2017 election than in 2007 and 2012. The confidence might be based on the decreasing credibility of local parties. This signals that Aceh people is now smarter in observing who to lead Aceh because appointing a wrong person will destroy Aceh. They have learnt the lesson from 2007 and 2012 elections in which the elected administrators have failed to create welfare for Aceh people so that there are some turmoil in some areas such as ALA and ABAS that now demand to be new provinces.

According to Damien Kingsburry and William Nessen, “The 2017 election must thereby reflect Islam’s commitment to being an abode of peace and goodness. The election must be Halal. Any attempt to obtain political benefit through support for or by allowing threats or acts of violence in a place of peace is, and must be seen as by all Acehnese, Haram. Peace through justice. Justice through free and fair elections. May peace and justice prevail in Aceh.”

Moreover, the cadres from the national parties will be more proud and militant knowing that their respective parties make their own cadres into the candidate and support them. This proves that the regeneration works well within the party. Also, the courage to promote their own cadres shows the maturity and integrity as well as competency that they must be proud of.

The national parties and Aceh people does not need to worry about any intimidation or infringement in 2017 election because all those will be firmly prosecuted in accordance with the Law. Let’s make Kingsburry and Nessen’s wishes for 2017 election to make the 2017 election a halal one come true. Hopefully.

*) Arif Rahman is a political observer focusing on Aceh issues and mass media.


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