Will guided democracy (demokrasi terpimpin) be beneficial or detrimental for Indonesia’s growth in the next decades?

Posted: May 6, 2013 in politics, Quora Question
Tags: , , , , , ,

Answer by Jonathan Marpaung:

Absolutely not [beneficial]. The success of a democratic system depends on:
a) freedom for anyone to be elected
b) freedom to vote for anyone
c) an informed electorate

The main argument for guided democracy is the lack of point c). Before education and mass media was available to the average citizen it was understandable that more control was needed up top in order to maintain stability and growth. Now we are living in the 21st century where anyone can access the latest information at the tip of their fingers through the internet. Although black campaigns and misinformation is part of today’s media, the average person is now in a much better position to make informed decisions and votes.

Furthermore user driven content such as citizen journalism and social media has forced traditional media outlets to “up their game” and maintain a high standard of journalism. The playing field is completely different to the 1960’s and 70’s when most of these “benevolent dictatorships” sprang up around the world. The Arab Spring is an excellent example of how grassroots movement are more empowered then ever, using these tools to take down “guided democracy” regimes that have been in power for decades. Looking at this from a pragmatic viewpoint, this model of centralizing power in the hand of one man or women is a risky and unsustainable investment. Allowing a person to make major decisions for a nation of 248 million people, US$1,208 trillion GDP, 16th-largest economy of the world, with no checks and balances is a recipe for disaster.

Who the leaders or candidates are is not as big a factor anymore. What matters is the ability of citizens to choose leaders based on credible information and their conscience. Issues can be raised by the electorate that the candidates have to choose and prioritize according to their ideological or political platform. This system minimizes the damages that can be done by a “poor leader” (by intense scrutiny of popular or unpopular policies) and encourages good governance by “good leaders” by rewarding them in the next elections.

Coming back to the issue of growth, the last two terms of the incumbent president proved that little or no intervention by government allowed the economy to grow steadily year on year. People discredit SBY for moving slowly or doing absolutely nothing. I think his actions (or more precisely the lack thereof) were a major factor behind the steady economic growth, stability, and improvement in Indonesia’s credit rating.

What we need in 2014 is either a SMART, CLEAN, and COURAGEOUS president who has the guts to make the RIGHT radical decisions, or someone lesser from the pool of poor candidates who will cause MINIMAL DAMAGE by doing NOTHING. As a voter in 2014, how will you ensure that a proper Captain be selected to guide this ship into safe waters?

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