It was unfortunate for Zaskia Gotik. Because of her joke about Pancasila on one of the private TV programs, this dangdut singer is now threatened to face jail sentence.
Zaskia, who was invited as a participant on a comedy quiz show, said that the symbol of the fifth principle of Pancasila is – apologies – a twerking duck (bebek nungging). Not only that, Zaskia stated that Indonesia’s Independence Day is on the 32nd of August.
The statement led to a prolonged case, because some organizations reported Zaskia to the police over desecration and insult of the nation’s symbol. Zaskia could be penalized behind bars.
For us, there is no limit to the freedom of expression, even as joke material. Sacred things such as the state leaders, national symbols, even divinity could be freely discussed, criticized, or made fun about. Something sacred, will not lose its sanctity just because it was used as a joke.
Freedom of speech as the main principles of classical liberalism or libertarianism would create a more mature society in dealing with any problems and to not be reactive to criticism and negative statements. As long as there is no threatening violence and murder (hate speech), the freedom of speech cannot be silenced.
However, we live in a country that upholds the decency and limitations of expression. Freedom of speech must be observed in accordance with soft laws and cannot escape the applicable rule of law. The law in Indonesia guarantees freedom of expression, although at the same time restricting it with “Eastern values”.
Leadership and the symbol of the country are considered as something that should be respected. Pancasila, which is the post-independence national consensus, is so sacred in uniting the nation in bonds of the Deity, Humanity, Unity, Democracy and Social Justice.
Until replaced by new values for the better through the state’s mechanism and legitimate representation (which seems to be impossible to happen in fifty years), of course, the values of Pancasila are obliged to be respected.
But the question is, how do we ensure that all Indonesian people treat Pancasila with respect?
Repressive ways and coercion that occurred during the New Order, one of them required citizens to enrol at P4 education (Guidelines, Appreciation, and Implementation of Pancasila) and impose Pancasila as the sole basis of political and civic organizations, only produce a bad impression of authoritarianism, and therefore Pancasila is considered no longer relevant for a democratic society.
Zaskia Gotik’s statement stating that the symbol of the fifth principle of Pancasila is – apologies – a twerking duck is a form of ignorance on the values of Pancasila and ignorance from Indonesians with low level of education (Zaskia Gotik only passed elementary school) on the urgency of memorizing the principles of Pancasila. While the state elite only practice Pancasila during the state ceremonies, the Pancasila is considered no longer relevance for the society.
If the state still considers that the values of Pancasila are important, then people like Zaskia Gotik should receive further education on these values, rather than being reported to the police. Stupid people should not be punished, they should be educated.
While this country allows radical Islamic groups to deliberately mock Pancasila and the Republic of Indonesia to uphold obsession over sharia and the Islamic caliphate, it seems to be ironic that the nation is involved in reporting Zaskia Gotik who clearly has apologized for her mistake.
This country seems to agree with the mockery of radical groups against Pancasila, which often involves hate speech to minority groups. The government, which supposedly acts stronger in protecting all citizens from the threat of other groups, seems to only be able to act firmly to a singer with minimum level of education.
Of course, Pancasila should not be used as if an inanimate object of the 18th century. The ideology of Pancasila should be updated in order to protect the life of 230 million Indonesians. Pancasila should continue to be discussed, criticized, until one day – perhaps – be changed in order to adjust with recent developments in the society.
Pancasila needs to be strengthened in order to protect the freedom of all Indonesians. Do not let Pancasila to be used as a tool to oppress, to rob the freedom of others like other fascist ideologies. In this case, “Pancasila” should forgive Zaskia Gotik to practise its second principle: Just and civilized humanity.