Democratic ‘Resilience’ and Civic Space in the Pandemic Era: Competing Forces, Adaptation and Survival
Thu 14:00-15:30 Room 3.07
- Vidhyandika Djati Perkasa Centre for Strategic and International Studies, CSIS, Jakarta, Indonesia
- Wida Ayu Puspitosari Brawijaya University, Malang, Indonesia
- Ervin Grana University of the Philippines Diliman
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Coping With “The Neglect of Democracy”: East Timorese Ex-Refugee, Displacement and Marginalization
Wida Ayu Puspitosari Universitas Brawijaya
The sheer magnitude of forced displacement during the political conflict between Indonesia and East Timor in 1999 and its aftermath rendered some generalization of complex problems which have caused a large number of residents to flee to West Timor. Ironically, those refugees, or the so-called ex-refugees, face difficulty to return home in Timor Leste. When they fled their native nation to support ‘the integration’ with the nation state of Indonesia showing their sense of loyalty and nationalism 18 years ago, they knew they were abandoning their lives for an uncertain future in the country. This sense of loyalty show be rewarded by the Indonesian government by putting care on their livelihood. Sadly, that never happen. Neglecting refugees’ needs is a breech towards democratic values. Pro-integration East Timorese say their lives have seen little improvement. They lived in chronic poverty. They had been expecting that the Indonesian government grant them land titles - but after 18 years their hopes have faded. Most refugees’ families survive depending on the local people generous assistance but that assistance has limitations.
The Breaking Down of Democracy in Papua: Betrayal, Resistance and Marginalization
Vidhyandika Djati Perkasa Centre for Strategic and International Studies
Efforts to solve the complexity in Papua is in disarray. Incidence of conflict and violence which claims lives of security apparatus and civilians implicating separatist groups intensify. The security approach to restore order initiated by the central government seems to faced dead-lock. Meanwhile the central government still view instability and conflict in Papua as a development problem. Hence, the soft approach through the implementation of the extension of the Special Autonomy is heavily relied to solve the complexity in Papua. This is ironic since Special Autonomy has loose its legitimacy due to the by-passing or ignoring indigenous Papua voices in the formulation and implementation. Overall, authoritarian which is against the spirit of democracy manifest clearly in the handling of the problems in Papua. In addition, separatist group become an ‘new’ and even progressive actors which have contributed towards the break-down of democracy values. Meanwhile the central government still leave behind ample of unresolve cases of human rights violation which has never been investigated for the sake of justice. As the result there is growing distrust between local Papuan people and elites towards the central government. Loyalty to the nation state of Indonesia is becoming a widespread issue among local Papuan elites and the people. Development through Special Autonomy is faced with scepticism and resistance. Meanwhile local Papuan needs, existence and aspiration are continuously being marginalised. Papua is facing another dark moment and the central government is ‘a lonely crowd’ in the effort to solve the complex issues in Papua amidst various forces of betrayal and resistance.
The Paradox of Service Delivery: Engaging with State Violence in Sitio San Roque
Ervin Grana University of the Philippines Diliman
Bourdieu defines symbolic violence as the sine qua non of force and coercion. But how might the context of a slum community filling gaps in the Philippine government’s COVID-19 response complicate our understanding of state violence? I advance two insights through the case of two grassroots initiatives supported by a political intermediary – a term I leverage to describe a
middle-class challenger organization situated in a Strategic Action Field (SAF). First, I argue that Bourdieu’s concept of social capital permits an account of the differing effects of physical and symbolic violence. Finally, although I argue that physical and symbolic violence operate in a dialectic, the effects of the former are dispersed within a SAF. The effects of the latter, in contrast, are pronounced within an organization, whereby a political intermediary makes use of its organizational identity as a schema through which it organizes around (hybrid) institutional logics constructed by the state.
Countries in the world, specifically Southeast Asia, have experienced various forms of ‘crisis’ such as the 1997 Asian Financial Crisis and the Covid-19 pandemic. This has led to portray forms of ‘state behaviours’, which significantly impact democracy and human rights practices. The crises have seemingly allowed the state to blatantly exercise power which has been used to directly disrupt democracy practices and corrode the promotion of human rights (Asia Centre, 2020).
During this pandemic, the Global State of Democracy 2021 clearly states that democracy is now at risk. Its survival is endangered by a perfect storm of threats, both from within and from a rising tide of authoritarianism. Sadly, the Covid-19 pandemic has exacerbated these threats by implementing state emergency, the spread of disinformation and crackdowns on independent media and freedom of expression where civic space is known to be shrinking and suppressed.
In other words, the pandemic has given stronger power to the state to suspend democratic activities, stifle political criticism, introduce intrusive movement tracking and data gathering applications imposed on individuals (Asia Centre, 2020). Covid-19 has also caused an impact across multiple dimensions of fragility under the so-called democratic system. The pandemic creates new fragilities and has also amplified existing tensions and vulnerabilities. (Harrison and Kristensen, 2021). Various terminologies have shown the backsliding of democracy in the macro context, such as democratic erosion or a decline of the democratic quality of democratic regression and set-back. Based on this ironic phenomenon, it has become the main reason why the theme of this panel is significantly essential to be discussed in this conference.
However, despite the bleak pictures of democracy, we cannot see existing forms of democracy ‘practices’ that have been impacted by Covid-19 as taken for granted or as something that is ‘given’. By no means in any circumstances, there are contested or competing ‘forces’ with diverse self-interests, such as political elites, military apparatus, central and local government, regional interest, the business community, religious groups, NGOs and civil society organizations, which are all involved in shaping ‘the resilience of democracy in its current form both in positive and negative ways.
Authoritarian governance, which emerged under such a democratic system, is an example of the by-product of ‘weakening’, polarisation, fragmented or even the ‘defeat’ of pro-democratic actors within these competing forces. These forces may operate in various areas such as politics, state policies and regulations, governance, development and the environment, economic cooperation, and collective identities (ethnic or religiousbased). Due to such competing forces, democracy is progressively ‘adapting and struggling to survive.