Government Role on Community Participation as One of the Decentralization Instrument, Study Case : Musrenbang

Musrenbang (Musyawarah Perencanaan Pembangunan) is a concept that Indonesia governments choose to create democracy in planning through local participatory. This concept relies on the people’s need and aspiration to develop planning program. Basically this concept was an instrument of decentralization development to create transparency between governments to the community. Musrenbang briefly defined as a forum for every actor and stakeholder to formulate the development program, the stakeholder here including government and non-government actors including the community as the data sources (Wilson, Djani, and Madsuki, 2009).

It was a good concept actually but there are still some aspects that need to be improved especially in relation with community participation. In case of musrenbang, without participation and willingness of community the goal of it cannot be reached. So that encourage people in the community to participated must be done to support the goals and objectives of decentralization through musrenbang to reach good governance. Decentralization itself is a concept that definitely the reversed of centralized concept, it should be means as the changing from the top down concept to bottom up. Bottom up is not always means as every think about the program is done by the community, but in every step of development is done by the people’s needs so that they can develop themselves. It means that the main objectives here should be directed for public advantages not the individual or institutions benefit.

The idea of participation in musrenbang now is a bit vague, the reason is because there are some group of peoples that change the direction of the objectives. Some people with strong power try to driven the way of development to get personal or individual advantages (Wilson, Djani, and Madsuki, 2009). It was the main obstacle on musrenbang implementation now. Community is the main target to understand their needs on development but that kind of problem interrupted the communication between the government and the community. It created a fuss in what peoples think and trust to the government.

The problem of trust is already started before decentralization being adopted in 1999, it already began from the era of President Soeharto. The reason is the lack transparency of centralistic governmental concept that turned out into an authoritarian government (Pramusinto, 2010). Although peoples trust improved year by year after the emerging of new concept of decentralization that bring democracy to the community but these days people trust started to decreased. It caused by the same problem like what already stated before about strong power driven the direction of development.

For instance Musrenbang in Bandung seems only do jus for formality without any discussion between stakeholders. In this forum usually the government institution in charge on presentation of development program and then without any discussion the program will directly accepted and the forum finish. That kind of musrenbang definitely could not facilitate community aspiration and needs. The number of people come to this forum become another problem. This number could not represent all aspiration of the people. Small number of stakeholder seems only come and sits to fill the formality without any desire to argue the planning development and evaluate it to be better. Control is definitely needs so the musrenbang concept goes to the right direction.

Participation in Bandung for example is really different with what Thailand government does for their participatory development program. In Thailand community trust to government a little bit better than in Indonesia but the unwillingness still appear as problem. In slum upgrading program in Thailand government tends to approach the community step by step. First the community actors will be approached so that he or she could gives more understanding to their community neighborhood. By that they can gain community trust to them. After that many forum and meeting continuously do for indentified what the community wants and needs so that they can chooses the best way to do the development. From the description above we can see that Indonesian government not as patient as Thailand government, and lack of deep problem identification.

From the Thailand practices government role in this kind of participation concept is not only as the controller but also could serve as a facilitator although usually it’s already taken over by other institution such as NGO and consultants. Government as the institutions in charge of development have to get rid of the individual or institutional benefit perspectives especially related with money oriented. So that government could gain the community trust, it is the best advantages that government can get to do development. But for the condition now those kinds of perspectives is still difficult to reach. Especially when there are still many problem occurred because of function overlapping between government institutions.

There are some institutions that in charge in planning and public service providing in the government, Public Works ministry and BAPPENAS (national planning and development ministry). These two institutions sometimes have overlapping programs. So it would be better if those institutions started to discuss and formulated the best development based on their basic function. But until now Indonesia does not have a bridge for those two institutions. In my opinion a neutral institutions needed to facilitate the discussion. If the problem inside the government could be resolved so the people trust can gain and the people willingness to follow government program will increase. Increasing transparency and government reliability are also the best way to gain people trust.

These days, government reliability is always being a big question for the local community. It was a result of unimplemented program that often happened especially in rural area. Information media like newspaper, television, radio, and others media always bring reliability as their topic of discussion which is usually tends to talked about its negativity. This kind of information makes it even worsens. So for the better result of development this problem has to resolve immediately.

On the participation in community level people does not have enough knowledge about development and government program so that government have to find neutral and expert facilitator to give understanding to the community. Government also could take over the facilitator roles because government also consists of planning and development expert. But in Indonesia cases government tends to gives the job to the expert from consultant officer or to the academicians from the university. But basically even government or another expert the most important thing is the facilitator is neutral does not have tendency to driven the people aspiration to some individual or institutional advantages but more to find what people needs in real life.

When a facilitator who works with the community have other objectives that lead to the individual or institutional advantages will gives bad impact to the community itself. The bad impact here not always means decreasing of the community quality of life or welfare but more to the inappropriate support to community activities. And if the development in line with the community activities and life so more positive impact could get easily. Community especially in the rural area who does not have enough education usually easy to be driven by what facilitator says so that facilitator here has to be really patient and neutral.

So the main point of the discussion above is how the government could do participation as the best way to reach the goals and objectives of decentralization. Government role in increasing people trust and willingness, controller and facilitator is the best way to keep the development concept. Improving reliability and resolve internal problem will be useful so that the community would like to joint government program. But all people need have to be accommodate it have to filtered and prioritized so that the development could be controlled, because in some cases development could leads to bad impacts such as environmental impact. That’s why government has a big role on balancing and controlling development but still manage to fulfill the people needs through participatory concept.

References :

Green, Keith. 2009. Decentralization and Good Governance: The Case of Indonesia. UNPAN.

MCleod, Ross H and Harun. 2009. Memperbaiki tata kelola pemerintahan kabupaten dan kota di Indonesia: peran reformasi akuntansi sektor publik. Crawford School of Economics and Government.

Pramusinto, Agus. 2010. Building Good Governance in Indonesia Cases of Local Government Efforts to Enhance Transparency.

Wilson, Ian, Djani Luky, and Maduki Teten. 2009. Mengelola kepentingan politik dalam proses anggaran: Sebuah investigasi terhadap mekanisme akuntabilitas dalam pengalokasian anggaran pemerintah daerah di Indonesia. Crawford School of Economics and Government.


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