Half of the respondents to a survey marking 13 years of the reform era think that their lives have not improved — while more than a third chose Soeharto as their favorite president.
“Like it or not, that’s what the survey says,” Indo Barometer director M. Qadari told The Jakarta Post after releasing the survey on Sunday.
The survey, titled “Evaluation of 13 Years of Reform and 18 Months of the Susilo Bambang Yudhoyono–Boediono Administration” was carried out between April 25 and May 4 and involved 1,200 respondents from all 33 Indonesian provinces.
The number of respondents who chose Soeharto as their favorite president was 36.5 percent, followed by Susilo Bambang Yudhoyono ( 20.9 percent ), Sukarno ( 9.8 percent ), Mega-wati Soekarnoputri ( 9.2 percent ), B.J. Habibie ( 4.4 percent ) and Abdurrahman “Gus Dur” Wahid ( 4.3 percent ).
The survey also showed that 40.9 percent of the respondents from both rural and urban areas said that the New Order regime under Soeharto was better than the reform era, while only 22.8 percent said that reform era was better than previous periods, while 3.3 percent preferred the Old Order under Sukarno.
However, more than half of respondents were seemingly ignorant of politics: 47.8 percent said they did not know when the reform era began and 17.5 percent answered incorrectly.
“It is interesting to know what Indonesian people think about reform after 13 years. Most of them identified reform as ‘any changes’ instead of democracy, corruption eradication or the economic crisis,” Qadari said.
Only 29.7 percent of respondents said that they were satisfied with the current administration, 55.5 percent said they were unsatisfied and the remainder declined to answer.
The survey also indicated that only 31 percent of respondents said that the current situation was better than compared to 13 years ago, 27.2 percent thought that both eras were the same while 28.2 percent answered otherwise.
Qadari said that the Indonesian people’s awe of former president Soeharto and the New Order regime implied a dissatisfaction with the reform era.
“When people said that the Soeharto regime was better than the reform era, they are simply criticizing current situation and how reform hasn’t brought changes for them. This is an irony as well as a slap in the face for reform activists,” he said.
Qadari said respondents made a strong connection between reform and the government’s performance, as many said that reform was measured by the success of the government, instead of how democracy has been upheld.
Ray Rangkuti, a reform activist in 1998, said the survey’s results implicitly criticized everyone who adulated the reform era.
“This is a slap in the face. This survey shows that reform has yet to change and make a better life for most of the Indonesian people,” he told the Post. ( swd )