Chi K'ang-tzu, the head of the three clans who ruled in theKingdomofLuduring the Western Zhou Dynasty period, was advised by Confucius on how to promote a good government. One time, he asked Confucius about government. In response, Confucius gave him his famous remarks, “To govern is to correct. If you set an example by being correct, who would dare to remain incorrect?”
What Confucius meant was simple. The government is the ideal example for its subjects. If the government is able to give an example of good things, the commoners can’t do nothing but follow the good examples. So, if the government wishes for the people not to steal, and honor the law, the government must be the first one who imposes that on themselves. If the government fails to set a good example, then never expect that the people shall do a good one.
However, what Confucius said is in contrast with what we experience today. The government shall impose a very hard regulation on people, yet abhorring it for themselves. Should the commoners file a case with the court, whatever the result must be honored. However, when the parties are involving the government, it is another story.
As the Jakarta State Administrative Court (PTUN) ruled out the reclamation of Islet G for violating Law 27/2007, most experts and NGO are expressing their utter concern about the future of the sustainable environment and socio-cultural impact of the reclamation. Yet, instead of opening up a dialogue and obeying the rule of law, our government played deaf and blind.
The problem of the reclamation is not only about the good intention of building a better infrastructure or just about making a landmark project that will be the pride of all Indonesians. No one argues that the intention and the goal of achieving all of the ambitions are not good.
However, as a government that has sworn to protect its people, there are more than just the goal. The process of how to achieve those goals needs to be taken seriously. What good is it for us if for achieving such greatness we are sacrificing thousands of human lives or letting the people be uprooted from their culture?
I have to remind the current government that their existence is due to the reformation movement that was already fed-up with the totalitarian and corrupt government before the reformation, which cost us many Indonesian lives at that time. That reformation’s goal is so that our future generations shall never experience the abusive and authoritarian power of government and may live freely and peacefully in Ibu Pertiwi.
Yet, instead of continuing the reformation wholeheartedly, and moving forward to achieve a fully democratic life, the government is now thinking of going back to follow the New-Order examples. It seems that we are still living under the shadow of such era. Will we let those who died during reformation be in vain?
The biggest problem is not about continuing or stopping the reclamation project. It is just the tip of the iceberg. The main concern is how we set an example about living in a democratic era, free from government oppression, and rule of law is honored. That’s how we build the true reformed spirit and do the mental revolution.
I hope the government would take a careful action with how they respond to the reclamation issue. They have to obey the court decision and must not take the rule of law lightly. Even though the court decision is not inkracht van gewijsde, taking any action and policy that is contrary to the current court decision is not wise. It shows disrespect of the court and gives a lesson to people that if you have power in your hands, the court decision is nothing. Moreover, they have to hear the voices of all the stakeholders. The government has a lot of things to consider before making a policy and it’s not just about profit or loss.
Then, if with this reclamation case the court decision can be ignored, in other cases the same manner can be applied. If the rule of law has fallen apart, we will live in agony and tyranny of chaos. Therefore, before taking any further actions or making any statements to the people, please ask this question first: what examples shall I leave behind to the next generations?
Written by Frans Hendra Winarta
Published on The Jakarta Post