Indonesians not worried about PKI
SMRC survey reveals 86.8 percent of Indonesians do not see revival of PKI 75.1 percent of respondents do not see President Joko “Jokowi” Widodo as PKI sympathizer
Fears of communism spread following the kidnapping and eventual murder of six Indonesian Army generals on Sept. 30, 1965, in a coup d’etat that was blamed on the Indonesian Communist Party (PKI).
The event, referred to as the Sept. 30 Movement (G30S), is used by authorities as an excuse to crackdown on suspected communist sympathizers.
Several weeks before the commemoration of the G30S, anti-communist movements have sprung up across the country, indicating that there is widespread fear of the possible revival of the now-defunct PKI.
A survey commissioned by Saiful Mujani Research and Consulting (SMRC), however, suggests that such fear is not as widespread as it seems.
“In the survey, 86.8 percent of respondents say they don’t agree that there is currently a revival of the PKI in the country,” SMRC deputy chief Sirojudin Abbas told journalists during the launch of the survey in Jakarta on Friday.
Meanwhile, 12.6 percent of respondents say there is currently a revival of the PKI. Of this percentage, 39.9 percent — around 5 percent of the total population of adults — said a revival of the communist party was a threat to the country.
Conducted from Sept. 3 to Sept. 10, the survey involved 1,220 respondents aged 17 years or above, with a response rate of 87 percent, or 1,057 people. The survey used a multistage random sampling system with a margin of error of plus or minus 3.1 percent and a trust level of 95 percent.
Sirojudin further said the survey found that 75.1 percent of respondents do not agree that President Joko “Jokowi” Widodo is a PKI sympathizer or connected to the party.
“Politically, the revival of the PKI was not an important issue because it was not considered a fact by most Indonesian people. It seemed the issue, which was aimed at weakening the people’s support of Jokowi, was not an influential strategic issue,” he said.
Tensions over the alleged revival of the PKI have escalated after hundreds of anti-communists besieged the office of the Foundation of the Indonesian Legal Aid Institute (YLBHI) on Sept. 17, demanding that participants of an event taking place there that day disperse over accusations that the participants were PKI members and sympathizers.
Following the incident, politicians and several institutions called for public screenings of Pengkhianatan G30S/PKI, a movie most historians consider a mere propaganda piece created by the Soeharto regime.
Indonesian Military (TNI) Commander Gen. Gatot Nurmantyo ordered soldiers in areas across the country to attend public screenings of the movie.
University of Indonesia (UI) sociologist Thamrin Amal Tomagola, who was also present at the survey launch, said there was no space left for the communist movement to grow.
“From the political and cultural side of Indonesia, there is no place for radical thoughts, such as [those related to] communism, or the Islamic caliphate system,” Thamrin said. He further said that the political conscience of the Indonesian people accentuated harmony and religiosity; so if there was an effort to grow a radical movement, the society would naturally reject it.
Indonesian Institute of Science (LIPI) political analyst Syamsuddin Haris said there was no PKI revival and that it was merely an issue that was spread on the internet by people who want to take advantage of it.
“This is nonsense. If it’s real, where is the institution, who is the leader, what issues are they fighting for?” he said.
“It was mobilized by certain political elites to gain power for the 2019 presidential election.”