The dire warnings of Indonesia’s slide into lawlessness may be overstated, but there is no denying that a gradual erosion of trust and confidence in the country’s law enforcement agencies is underway.
Over the past few weeks, a worrying escalation of attacks against police officers and other institutions by military personnel and mobs is creating an impression that lawlessness is taking hold in the country. In March alone, such attacks left 12 people dead and property damaged.
Indonesia has always prided itself on being a law-abiding nation but the failure by the police and the legal community to uphold the law could prove fatal, especially to the country’s efforts to become a developed economy. If this view becomes more entrenched, it will affect business sentiment and investor confidence, as no businessperson or citizen will feel safe in this country.
Former Vice President Jusuf Kalla has described the ongoing situation as “jungle law,” where people take the law into their own hands. When mobs attack police stations and media offices, these cases are hard to resolve, emboldening people to carry out more such acts.
These attacks can no longer be brushed off as isolated incidents. The frequency of these forms of violence should ring alarm bells within the government, the police and the judiciary. Blatant disregard for the law cannot and should not be tolerated.
In the latest violent incident, a mob in Palopo, South Sulawesi, attacked the local Golkar Party office and municipal buildings on Sunday, following the official announcement that the party’s candidate had won the recent election for mayor there.
Will the perpetrators be arrested and brought before the law? Will they have to pay for the damage they caused? How the police respond to this and other such attacks will determine the future of the nation.