Court rejects lawsuit against Jakarta Governor Anies Baswedan over ‘pribumi’ inauguration speech

Jakarta Governor Anies Baswedan (Right) and former Vice Governor Sandiaga Uno. Photo: Instagram / @aniesbaswedan
Jakarta Governor Anies Baswedan (Right) and former Vice Governor Sandiaga Uno. Photo: Instagram / @aniesbaswedan

One of the earliest controversies surrounding Jakarta Governor Anies Baswedan was his inauguration speech in October, during which he said that it’s time for the pribumi (a term loosely defined as a “native” Indonesian citizen) to be the masters of their own land again.

The controversy is back in the spotlight again today as the Central Jakarta District Court rejected a lawsuit over the speech filed by a group named Anti-Racial and Ethnic Discrimination Advocacy Team (Taktis) back in October.

In reading out the judges’ decision, presiding judge Tafsir Sembiring ruled that the plaintiff did not have a personal legal connection with the defendant, which is necessary for a civil lawsuit.

“It’s highly likely that we’ll appeal to the High Court,” said Taktis member Daniel Tonapa Masiku at the conclusion of the hearing, as quoted by Kompas today.

During his inauguration speech on October 16, 2017, Anies said, “Jakarta is one of the few places in Indonesia that felt the presence of colonialists in our daily lives for centuries. In those days, we pribumi were oppressed and defeated. Now that we’re sovereign, it’s time for us to be masters of our own nation. Don’t let Jakarta be like that Maduran saying: ‘The duck lays the eggs but the chickens hatch them.’”

His speech was derided by many to be in poor taste — considering he had just defeated non-pribumi former Governor Basuki “Ahok” Tjahaja Purnama in a long and oft-times ugly campaign — as well as for accentuating racial divisions that resulted from the Jakarta election last year.

It was pointed out that his speech violated a presidential edict from 1998 disallowing the use of the term pribumi when referring to Indonesians in political communication. Another group, Banteng Muda Indonesia (BMI), a youth wing of the PDI-P party, reported Anies to the police over the speech, which they argued was a direct violation of Law no. 40/2008 on the Eradication of Racial and Ethnic Discrimination, punishable by up to five years in prison. However, that lawsuit seems to have gone nowhere.

When asked to comment, Anies said that his speech, and his use of the word pribumi, was said in context of the Dutch colonial era. He has since refused to elaborate further on what he meant as public uproar over the controversy gradually died down.

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