When Students “Resist” the Arbitrariness of the Indonesian Government

In the past, students were known as agents of change, the driving force of the nation, and the guardians of noble values.

A famous Indonesian poet, Taufiq Ismail, in his poetry “Takut ‘66, Takut ‘98” (“Afraid of ’66, Afraid of ’98”) once stated,

Students are afraid of lecturers

Lecturers are afraid of the dean

The dean is afraid of the chancellor

The Chancellor is afraid of the minister

The minister is afraid of the president

The president is afraid of students.

Taufiq Ismail’s poem describes the cycle of fear that pervades the world of Indonesian academics and politics. This fear spins in circles, starting from students who are afraid of lecturers, to the president who is afraid of students. This situation illustrates repression and the absence of space for criticism and democracy.

In this poem, it can also be seen that students are frightening figures for the authorities. Historically, the student movement has become a “weapon” capable of recklessly tearing apart the ruling regime, so that the president who was in power at that time had to step down from office.

In the past, students were known as agents of change, the driving force of the nation, and the guardians of noble values. They dare to fight oppression and fight for democracy. For example, the Tritura Action (the three demands of students towards the government) 1966 and the reform movement of 1998 pioneered by students.

Student Role

Indonesian students have various roles, including as agents of change, guardians of values, successors of the nation, moral strength, and social control—in addition to agents of event organizers. In every student movement, the doctrine regarding the role of students is always promoted to fuel enthusiasm and hope that students will not forget their role.

The role of students as agents of change and guardians of noble values ​​has an important meaning in the social and political dynamics of Indonesia. They are often critical voices reminding the government of its responsibilities to the people and democratic values.

In this case, student movements such as the Tritura Action and the reform movement not only show courage in facing authority but also illustrate awareness of citizenship rights and the need for change towards a better order.

Apart from that, students are also the nation’s successors who have a big responsibility in shaping Indonesia’s future. They are the generation that will inherit the baton of development, and therefore, their involvement in the country’s development is very important.

The higher education they receive also provides knowledge and skills that they can use to contribute positively in various fields, both in government, business, and civil society. As a moral force and social control, students also have a role in monitoring government policies and demanding accountability and transparency. They bring people’s voices into the public sphere and encourage the creation of more inclusive and just policies.

However, it is also important to remember that the role of students cannot be separated from their responsibilities and obligations as citizens. Constructive and responsible involvement in the development and democratization process will help realize the ideals of the Indonesian nation to become a just, prosperous, and sovereign country.

People’s Tongue Connector Student

Students are considered to be the people’s mouthpieces because they often become representatives or voices for the aspirations and interests of the wider community. By having access to knowledge and information as well as good analytical skills, students can articulate the problems faced by society and convey them to the government or authorized institutions.

As mouthpieces for the people, students also play a role in fighting for social justice, human rights, and equality for all levels of society. They become advocates for those who do not have a voice or sufficient access to voice their interests.

Indonesian students often hold demonstrations if there are policies from the government that are detrimental to society. Demonstrations are a form of expression of the role of students as agents of change and mouthpieces for the people.

When policies are considered detrimental to society or contrary to the values ​​of democracy and justice, students are often at the forefront of voicing dissatisfaction and demanding change.

In holding demonstrations, students convey their aspirations and demands openly to the government and the wider community. They exercised their constitutional rights to assemble and express opinions, and organized protests aimed at achieving the desired changes.

Student demonstrations often become the public spotlight and receive attention from the authorities. This can trigger a dialogue between students and the government, as well as trigger a process of policy change that is more in favor of the people’s interests.

So, demonstrations are an effective way for students to voice their aspirations and demands, as well as being part of their role as agents of change and mouthpieces for the people in fighting for justice and common interests.

Apart from that, students are also active in expanding social networks and building solidarity between citizens to overcome various challenges and problems faced by society. Through social activities, advocacy campaigns, or humanitarian projects, students can help strengthen social ties and improve living conditions in various communities.

Thus, the role of students as mouthpieces for the people confirms their position as agents of change who not only fight for their interests but also for the common good and progress of the nation. Through active involvement and awareness of their social responsibilities, students can continue to be a positive force in building a better and more just Indonesia.

Indonesian Students in the Current Era

It’s been decades since the collapse of the New Order regime, under the rule of President Soeharto, in 1998, which brought an agenda in the form of 6 claims: justice Suharto and his followers; amendment of 1945 Constitution; the widest possible regional autonomy; abolish the dual function of ABRI (the Armed Forces of the Republic of Indonesia); eliminate corruption, collusion and nepotism (KKN); and enforce legal reform.

Indonesian students in the current era still play an important role in the country’s social and political dynamics. They have inherited the spirit of change and desire for justice passed down from previous generations. Even though the challenges and changes in the socio-political context have occurred since the reform movement, students remain active in voicing their aspirations and demanding change for the benefit of society.

After the collapse of the New Order regime in 1998, students became one of the main pillars in pushing the reform agenda which included fair prosecution of the perpetrators of the previous regime’s crimes, amendment Constitution, strengthening regional autonomy, disbanding the dual function of ABRI, eradicating corruption, collusion and nepotism (KKN), as well as restoring and strengthening a fairer legal system.

During the reform era, many things were worse than the previous New Order regime. There are many corrupt practices carried out by the government: ministers, the chairman of the DPR (The House of Representatives, Republic of Indonesia), members of the DPR, regional heads, and so on, who participate in carrying out these illegal acts.

Not to mention, there are efforts to weaken the Corruption Eradication Commission (KPK)—a reform product institution—carried out by the government so that students in 2019 bring an agenda #ReformationCorruption by carrying out massive actions to demand that the government not be careless in carrying out its duties and functions.

Of course, students strongly oppose this, so they continue to voice their aspirations and “fight” the government’s reckless actions, which actually harm society, and instead benefit a few people, aka oligarchs.

Students in the current era are also active in various social movements, advocating for human rights, the environment, and social welfare, as well as advocating for gender and justice issues. Students are also involved in overcoming critical problems such as economic inequality, access to education, environmental crises, and others.

In the current era of digitalization and globalization, students also utilize information technology and social media to voice opinions and organize mass movements effectively. They become agents of progressive change and continue to fight for the values ​​of democracy, justice, and prosperity for all levels of society.

With their enthusiasm and courage, Indonesian students in the current era continue to be the people’s mouthpieces, drivers of reform, and drivers of change to create a better future for the nation and state. Students must have the courage to “fight” a reckless government because the government is of, by, and for the people.

Raihan M. Hatta
Raihan M. Hatta
I am studying at the Faculty of Law as well as the Faculty of Social and Political Sciences in Indonesia. I also work as a freelance writer, discussing political, legal, human rights issues and so on.