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the Jakarta Post: Plain view of 2009 politics

The Jakarta Post
21 December 2009

by Wimar Witoelar

By Wimar Witoelar
The year of 2009 is a year of politics. Starting with the warm-up to the legislative elections, it reached a political climax on July 9, 2009 with the election of President Susilo Bambang Yudhoyono and his running mate Boediono. They won with a resounding majority, with more votes than the two rivals combined. The Suharto-conceived powerhouse of Golkar had to be content with a miniscule 12.41%, while Sukarno’s daughter and Suharto’s former son-in-law won a respectable 26.79%, as SBY-Boediono won with a very comfortable 60.80%.  The margins should have produces a stable political climate, but such is not the case. The signs were there to forewarn trouble. Fi rst, while SBY-Boediono won with 60% of the votes, their two rivals spent 60% of the total campaign money.  Megawati-Prabowo spent Rp 260 billion; JK-Wiranto spent a modest Rp 83 billion. The total is Rp 344 billion while SBY-Boediono team spent Rp 232 billion. The lopsided relationship between spending and results is normal in a mature democracy, but here the losers behave like small children who lose a football game. They cry foul, finding blame in the referee. They spread rumors to weaken the credibility of the results and so forth. To the nation’s credit, the people resisted the challenge to the election results, with some support of the firm hand of the Constitutional Court under the distinguished Mahfud MZ, who deserves to  be Indonesia’s Man of the Year 2009.
The Presidential Election is a five-year event in Indonesia, much like the FIFA World Cup is a four-year event. But some elements in the political parties think this is a tennis tournament, where the battle is fought every month. Many politicians in Golkar and PDIP, the main losers in the 2009 election, behaved admirably.  Jusuf Kalla was the first to concede defeat in a gracious way, and has kept cool so far except some outbursts on Bank Century. Wiranto followed suit as Golkar started to put its house in order to prepare for 2014. But this was superseded by big money flowing into the party. JK stalwarts were replaced by Aburizal Bakrie the richest man in Indonesia. Golkar assumed an aggressive position in the media, in speeches and in the parliament. Golkar turned around from supporter of the government to launch the strong attacks on two SBY key persons, the respected Dr Boediono and Dr Sri Mulyani. The two pillars of the internationally applauded economic system are not liked by masses of PDIP and partners who for lack of an economic program assailed the Indonesian economy as “neolib”, a word least understood by the people who use it as a rallying cry.  Golkar, while being led by the most profitably of the neolib system, joined the outcry.
Against the resistance of the political elite, SBY stood firm in defending Boediono and Sri Mulyani. That might have been an important reason for SBY’s resounding victory. People liked the way he stands up for the nation’s development, relying on professionals instead of party politicians. There is no question even now that Boediono and Sri Mulyani are by far the most qualified and experienced economists in public service. Both have impeccably clean track record, and all Indonesians should be proud to have two top government officials with international reputations.  All Indonesians, that is, except those with something to lose with the leadership of a clean government. 
The previous government of SBY gained a lot of achievements. But there were doubts on corruption. It is hard to be credible when the cabinet is full of conflict of interest ranging from tax fraud to stick market manipulation to cronyism dictating government decisions. The SBY-JK government was not a clean one. The current SBY cabinet promises to be cleaner, judging from the personnel in the cabinet. While we may have doubts on the competence of some of the appointees, there are no big-time corrupt people in this government. The situation has reversed.
Corruption was inside of the government, now the corrupt people are outside. Outside of the cabinet, but not outside of the political system. Many suspect elements are members of the parliament, and some officials who had been dismissed by Sri Mulyani have been selected to head important agencies such as the Audit Agency (BPK).  When Sri Mulyani upheld the law on tax, capital markets and acquisitions, some fell victim to the rulings in favor of good governance. This has spawned a vendetta among the erstwhile victims of reform.  That is the plain truth about the Bank Century debate. To be sure, major crimes are involved, especially on the part of Robert Titular and his accomplices in the law enforcement agencies and among politicians. But it is being dealt with since November 2008 and largely ignored until political discontents failed on issues to unsettle President Yudhoyono.  They found their chance in Bank Century. The case was taken over by serious money, acquiring politicians and media support in the most cynical cabal since 2001.
Those of us who invest our hopes in the President are often dismayed when he is perceived as indecisive. But often after the consternation comes relief. SBY treats political volatility with the focus - and exasperating deliberation - of a bomb defuser.  The Bank Century case is another political bomb. And it is slowly being defused. Without overplaying his hand, he stands firm on his stand that the bailout was the correct decision. This clears the way for others to expose the political motives behind the abuse being bombarded against Sri Mulyani and Boediono, two of the most honest public servants Indonesia has today. 
While politicians and mainstream media are having a ball, the decision will come from President Yudhoyono. The old adage says that SBY spend too much effort on image and not enough on substance. That is not true, at least not today.  The SBY leadership of 2009 has strong substance. Then why is everyone against him, when he won more than 60% of popular votes?

Simple, really. He still has the majority of the people supporting him, but he does not have the support of mainstream media and party politicians. The reason is that media and politicians are for sale, but the people are not.  Stick to your election mandate, Mr. President, and you will find the opportunists running for cover. They already are.

By Wimar Witoelar

 

The year of 2009 is a year of politics. Starting with the warm-up to the legislative elections, it reached a political climax on July 9, 2009 with the election of President Susilo Bambang Yudhoyono and his running mate Boediono. They won with a resounding majority, with more votes than the two rivals combined. The Suharto-conceived powerhouse of Golkar had to be content with a miniscule 12.41%, while Sukarno’s daughter and Suharto’s former son-in-law won a respectable 26.79%, as SBY-Boediono won with a very comfortable 60.80%.  The margins should have produces a stable political climate, but such is not the case. The signs were there to forewarn trouble. First, while SBY-Boediono won with 60% of the votes, their two rivals spent 60% of the total campaign money.  Megawati-Prabowo spent Rp 260 billion; JK-Wiranto spent a modest Rp 83 billion. The total is Rp 344 billion while SBY-Boediono team spent Rp 232 billion. The lopsided relationship between spending and results is normal in a mature democracy, but here the losers behave like small children who lose a football game. They cry foul, finding blame in the referee. They spread rumors to weaken the credibility of the results and so forth. To the nation’s credit, the people resisted the challenge to the election results, with some support of the firm hand of the Constitutional Court under the distinguished Mahfud MZ, who deserves to  be Indonesia’s Man of the Year 2009.

The Presidential Election is a five-year event in Indonesia, much like the FIFA World Cup is a four-year event. But some elements in the political parties think this is a tennis tournament, where the battle is fought every month. Many politicians in Golkar and PDIP, the main losers in the 2009 election, behaved admirably.  Jusuf Kalla was the first to concede defeat in a gracious way, and has kept cool so far except some outbursts on Bank Century. Wiranto followed suit as Golkar started to put its house in order to prepare for 2014. But this was superseded by big money flowing into the party. JK stalwarts were replaced by Aburizal Bakrie the richest man in Indonesia. Golkar assumed an aggressive position in the media, in speeches and in the parliament. Golkar turned around from supporter of the government to launch the strong attacks on two SBY key persons, the respected Dr Boediono and Dr Sri Mulyani. The two pillars of the internationally applauded economic system are not liked by masses of PDIP and partners who for lack of an economic program assailed the Indonesian economy as “neolib”, a word least understood by the people who use it as a rallying cry.  Golkar, while being led by the most profitably of the neolib system, joined the outcry.

Against the resistance of the political elite, SBY stood firm in defending Boediono and Sri Mulyani. That might have been an important reason for SBY’s resounding victory. People liked the way he stands up for the nation’s development, relying on professionals instead of party politicians. There is no question even now that Boediono and Sri Mulyani are by far the most qualified and experienced economists in public service. Both have impeccably clean track record, and all Indonesians should be proud to have two top government officials with international reputations.  All Indonesians, that is, except those with something to lose with the leadership of a clean government. 

The previous government of SBY gained a lot of achievements. But there were doubts on corruption. It is hard to be credible when the cabinet is full of conflict of interest ranging from tax fraud to stick market manipulation to cronyism dictating government decisions. The SBY-JK government was not a clean one. The current SBY cabinet promises to be cleaner, judging from the personnel in the cabinet. While we may have doubts on the competence of some of the appointees, there are no big-time corrupt people in this government. The situation has reversed.

Corruption was inside of the government, now the corrupt people are outside. Outside of the cabinet, but not outside of the political system. Many suspect elements are members of the parliament, and some officials who had been dismissed by Sri Mulyani have been selected to head important agencies such as the Audit Agency (BPK).  When Sri Mulyani upheld the law on tax, capital markets and acquisitions, some fell victim to the rulings in favor of good governance. This has spawned a vendetta among the erstwhile victims of reform.  That is the plain truth about the Bank Century debate. To be sure, major crimes are involved, especially on the part of Robert Titular and his accomplices in the law enforcement agencies and among politicians. But it is being dealt with since November 2008 and largely ignored until political discontents failed on issues to unsettle President Yudhoyono.  They found their chance in Bank Century. The case was taken over by serious money, acquiring politicians and media support in the most cynical cabal since 2001.

Those of us who invest our hopes in the President are often dismayed when he is perceived as indecisive. But often after the consternation comes relief. SBY treats political volatility with the focus - and exasperating deliberation - of a bomb defuser.  The Bank Century case is another political bomb. And it is slowly being defused. Without overplaying his hand, he stands firm on his stand that the bailout was the correct decision. This clears the way for others to expose the political motives behind the abuse being bombarded against Sri Mulyani and Boediono, two of the most honest public servants Indonesia has today. 

While politicians and mainstream media are having a ball, the decision will come from President Yudhoyono. The old adage says that SBY spend too much effort on image and not enough on substance. That is not true, at least not today.  The SBY leadership of 2009 has strong substance. Then why is everyone against him, when he won more than 60% of popular votes?

Simple, really. He still has the majority of the people supporting him, but he does not have the support of mainstream media and party politicians. The reason is that media and politicians are for sale, but the people are not.  Stick to your election mandate, Mr. President, and you will find the opportunists running for cover. They already are.

 

http://www.thejakartapost.com/news/2009/12/21/plain-view-2009-politics.html

 

 

 

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10 Comments:

  1. From Chandra on 21 December 2009 22:30:59 WIB
    Agree on 90% of what WW said. The remaining 10% is " SBY stood firm in defending Boediono and Sri Mulyani" while the fact, at least the way I see it , is the opposite. It was very clear that SMI and Beodiono were the targets of political opportunist in the very beginning of BC row, long before the committee released it's recommendation for both SMI and Boedi to resign, but it seems that SBY said nothing. Despite his wrongdoing, George W Bush is a better president in a sense that he defended Donald Rumsfeld when the later was under pressure to step down. But of course SMI and Boedi are not Rusmfeld. This nation badly needs clean, firm and bright persons like both of them and last but not least we need a firm president who defend the ministers he picked up without waiting to see where the wind blows.
  2. From Bisnis Pulsa Elektrik on 22 December 2009 01:41:49 WIB
    korupsi harus diperangi pak.
  3. From hok on 22 December 2009 10:06:32 WIB
    Dalam perspektif saya ,Bargaining politik dari kasus bank century ini kemungkinan besar adalah keinginan untuk dibebaskannya pelaku tax fraud sebesar Rp.8 trilyun rupiah ,jumlah yg jauh lebih besar daripada yg diberitakan selama ini,yaitu Rp 2,1 trilyun.

    Akankah SBY dan tim ekonomi meluluskan permintaan paksa konglomerat terkaya Indonesia itu melalui manuver politik oportunis parlemen dan provokasi media massa milik sang konglomerat dan koleganya ?

    Kalau hal itu diluluskan SBY dan tim, tentunya kita harus menunggu lebih lama lagi untuk dihargai oleh dunia sebagai bangsa yg bermartabat dan terhormat,bukan ?

    Ataukah para pemimpin tidak peduli akan martabat dan kehormatan sebagai bangsa itu ? Satu pertanyaan yg menakutkan saya sebagai Bangsa Indonesia bila jawaban mereka adalah YA .
  4. From Sunu Gunarto on 22 December 2009 10:42:22 WIB
    Entah isu apa lagi nanti yang akan bergulir kalau masalah BC sudah clear. Sangat wajar bila partai politik yang korup ingin menjatuhkan birokrat yang bersih agar korupsinya tidak terbongkar. Mereka (koruptor) bisa menggerakkan media masa, mahasiswa, pengamat ekonomi/politik untuk meneriakkan anti korupsi dimana-mana dengan kekuatan uangnya. Barangkali ini ujian 100 hari program KBI jilid dua, tinggal bagaimana presiden menyikapinya. Semoga semua ontran-ontran politik ini adalah proses untuk menuju Indonesia yang stabil di bidang politik, ekonomi, sosial dan budaya untuk mencapai Indonesia adil-makmur, sejahtera. Amin.

    (http://formulabisnis.com/?id=sunu_g)
  5. From Andy on 22 December 2009 10:52:55 WIB
    I was part of the masses who thought that the way SBY handled Bibit-Chandra case was too “slow” and “indecisive”. But now, looking back, I realized that he made all the right moves. Bibit-Chandra are back in their desk, the KPK keeps running (even stronger), Susno and Ritonga were kicked out, Anggodo is in criminal investigation, the government gives full support for eradication of the “judicial mafia” and the KPK, Polri and Kejaksaan are (at least in the media) in the kiss-and-make-up mood. Aren’t they all that we wanted since day 1? He made it happen without banging the table or making constitutional misteps.

    Now, looking at the way he handles Sri-Boediono case (they are the ones I worry about, not the whole Bank Century case), I have bigger confidence in SBY that things will turn out OK in the end. Who cares about dramatic turns of event? That’s what the media want, not me. I only want Sri and Boediono to keep doing their job in peace. The rest are just alternative prime-time entertainment when my sensitive stomach can not stand all the cheesy lines from Take Me Out Indonesia anymore.
  6. From Dmitri on 22 December 2009 13:49:13 WIB
    Yang bener SBY bomb defuser? Looks like he is letting SriBOED deal with the bomb on their own
  7. From andre on 05 January 2010 00:30:20 WIB
    saya tentu akan lebih suka andaikan Presiden membela orang yang dipilihnya secara lugas, a vivid vote of confidence.
    banyak orang sudah mulai resah mengenai porsi politik yang terlalu besar dalam pengusutan Century. Dampak minimalnya adalah waktu dan energi yang dihabiskan.
    Tentu pak Boed & bu Sri Mul bisa menggunakan dua hal tersebut untuk memacu pertumbuhan ekonomi yang berkelanjutan.
  8. From Ryan on 27 January 2010 08:01:27 WIB
    I agree with Dmitri and andre about the vote of confidence. SBY should have give a strong vote of confidence, that he believes Sri Mulyani and Budiono have done the right things regarding Century. The government is 100% behind them no matter what, He knows and approve the bailout. But that's just wishful thinking.

    Instead, SBY goes on a self pity berserk. "I'm a target of terrorism","My oppositions are trying to stop my inauguration", "Anti corruption day rally is going to dethrown me (or something)", and "People are trying to impeach me!!"

    Even Obama's administration has drawn some criticism regarding their huge bailouts not (just?) from the republicans mind you but from liberals and democrats.
  9. From Benny Handoko on 27 January 2010 11:23:28 WIB
    @Dmitri @Ryan to understand SBY is a complicated matter. He acts like a brilliant strategist, you could only see his strategy after he won the war. He knew he was targeted by the opposition. If in the first chance he defended SMI and Boediono directly, ppl will accuse him of being preventive, being dictator. Better, he let PD joined Pansus, to act as inner control of Pansus process, let the media do the blow up, being confident of SMI-Boed defences and then wait and see the turn of tide, accelerate it by his final speech.. just in time before 28 Jan. In politics, being honest is just not enough, you need to be smart too... The way SBY accumulated his power, from a relatively young party to a dominant political power have proved that he is really good!
    Just be patient and wait for the outcome of the biggest test on his leadership yet.
  10. From Ryan on 09 June 2010 15:25:45 WIB
    And the outcome is...... SekGab

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