Indonesian Geopolitics: Perspective for Choosing Leaders

Leaders cannot just come and be elected. Nor can it be duplicated or ordered – or just like “abracadabra! be the leader”.

However, in the conclusion of modern Indonesian history, leaders can be identified as originating from the people. This is what the great leader of the Republic of Indonesia, Bung Karno, said: “Let us not forget, for our purposes, that leaders come from the people and are not above the people (Bung Karno, Connecting the People’s Tongue, p. 69).

Bung Karno’s message is very relevant for implementing (choosing) today’s leaders. Moreover, recently political tensions have heated up in connection with the dynamic constellation of the political year, so choosing a leader should not be haphazard.

At the same time, it must also be understood that in the political year leading up to the 2024 elections, sales “for” the people and on behalf of the people are very loud in order to be elected as leaders.

So the political dynamics from here increase in tension, it feels hotter, because each of them claims that their party deserves to be the leader because they come from the people and are above the people.

This political passion has never waned. On this scale of heated tension, perhaps, it can be interpreted as part of democracy.

Of course, the democracy that we adhere to does not allow for free expression of differences of opinion and thought, nor does we just want to claim to be a leader.

Although it cannot be denied that the democracy adopted by this nation has the potential to heat up political tensions. However, as hot as politics gets, Indonesia’s democratic personality still prioritizes national unity and unity.

This is also what Bung Karno put forward in Pancasila as the basis of the state that “We must carry out the democracy we have, namely Indonesian Democracy, bringing the Indonesian personality (p. 105),” to be actual for implementation.

In Indonesia’s democratic personality, leaders come from the people, and are not above the people, which also indicates that the leader they want to elect does not come from fame.

Therefore, in his speech on the Anniversary of the Proclamation of the Republic of Indonesia in 1963, Bung Karno reminded us that: we, Indonesian leaders, must not stop, must not sit quietly smiling at the impact of fame and the impact of past services. We must not “teren op oud roem”, must not live off of passing fame, because if we “teren op oud roem” we will later become a nation that is “hanging on”, a nation that is crazy for the future, a nation that is rusty.

That was also what the great South African leader, Nelson Mandela, said in clear language, who emphasized that: “A good leader must be ready to make sacrifices to fight for the freedom of his people.”

And Mandela, like Bung Karno, fought for his people’s freedom from oppression.

Maintain trust and ethics

The Greek philosopher, Aristotle (384 BC – 322 BC), said that “A good leader must first be willing to be led.”

So a good leader knows that he does not just lead others, but first leads himself.

In this way he builds influence and authority from the most basic ingredients, namely: belief.

Both full confidence in oneself and the confidence that other people have given him to lead, which makes him an inspiration for realizing hopes.

This continuity is also built by ethics. Thus, apart from maintaining trust, you also have to know ethics.

So every leader, especially government leadership, really needs basic knowledge of ethics in life, in order to make life more comfortable, safe and enjoyable, for the sake of smooth running of tasks, relationships and harmony in life.

Then this ethics includes political ethics, implemented in speech that can reflect concern for other people, namely other people’s feelings, other people’s interests, and care for other people.

Implementing this political ethic also makes a leader always polite to everyone – firm and attractive. As well as being wise, respecting and appreciating different opinions from other people.

Then have a friendly smile, not be arrogant, and respect other people’s work. As well as behaving in a friendly manner and being able to please other people.

All of this is summarized in the language of the philosopher and sophist Abu Hamid Al Ghazali (1058-1111) from Persia, that leaders have the main characteristics, “are civilized and noble.”

This is also what makes the appearance of a leader so excellent and ethical, appearing wise in self-control based on faith in God, excellent personality (behavior), intelligent, and with a national outlook.

Thus, the role of ethics and principles of government knowledge, as well as spirituality, is very important for government leadership. Because leadership and spirituality have had a huge influence on daily human and natural life since the industrial revolution, society also still needs “honest scientists” and “independent science” which are absolutely necessary in democratic life.

Then democracy and a new era of national leadership require leadership reform efforts, development strategies to increase credibility, independence and social and economic capabilities capable of providing employment opportunities and a decent living, and building a solid foundation for sustainable development.

Democracy and political ethics of leaders

In the lead up to post-2024 elections, disputes could arise so we need to anticipate this as early as possible.

In the regional and presidential elections, the relationship between the elite and the grass roots of lower society is very close and even directly related, so the sensitivity is very high.

Problems that arise during elections will have a negative impact on society. Apart from being triggered by sharp political competition, this also empirically shows that people’s aspirations are very diverse and it is not impossible that there are pros and cons, so it is very possible for clashes to occur in society.

The existence of elites who are frustrated after failure can allow unexpected conflicts to occur.

Triggered again by the lack of political quality and awareness among the supporting community, narrow fanaticism and uncontrolled emotional behavior can arise and can lead to anarchy.

For the Indonesian nation and state in a life full of shocks and disturbances, leaders are needed who have: the spirit of service, emphasize obligations and responsibilities, understand the wishes of the people in areas that need services from the government, and always maintain national integrity on the basis of the constitution, principles and morality, ethics and always being open in making decisions regarding the interests of the wider community, towards a rising Indonesia.

Furthermore, for a leader capitalizing on intelligence, emotional control, even spirituality, or money is not enough. Social capital is also needed.

This social capital, among other things, is the people’s trust in their leaders and the leaders’ honesty towards their people.

These are the expectations and criteria for leaders that should appear in the line-up of figure candidates in the 2024 election.

(Prof. DR. Drs. Ermaya Suradinata, SH, MH, MSI, is the former Director General of Social and Political Affairs of the Indonesian Ministry of Home Affairs, Chancellor of IPDN, Governor of Lemhannas RI, and currently the Expert Council for Geopolitics and Geostrategy of BPIP RI.)