Thursday, December 3, 2009

Have You Changed, Mr. President?

IN A QUANDARY. As the supreme commander, pressure is piling on Susilo Bambang Yudhoyono's shoulder to take more decisive act towards the perpetrators of the defamation plot of KPK executives.

After a prolonged time of silence, President Susilo Bambang Yudhoyono has finally announced his ruling on the rift between the Corruption Eradication Commission (KPK) and the National Police; yet his approach on the case by pronouncing such vague statement raises an even bigger question mark for Indonesians: is this really the man who once astonished Indonesian people because of his industrious efforts in fighting graft?

Indonesians’ concern is very much understandable: for a president whose efforts in eradicating corruption in Indonesia had earned him a worldwide recognition and a landslide victory during the last presidential election, so far his response to the rift between the Police and KPK fell very short from the expectations. And that vague statement of his also doesn’t feel like the solution to our apprehension.

Besides, before the statement itself, his previous silence about this KPK case has raised disputes already regarding his consistency in fighting corruption–many even pointed out the possibility of his involvement in the plot to undermine the once larger-than-life commission as his name was repeatedly mentioned on the wiretapping tape.

The election few months ago was my first election experience and in fact I was one of his supporters who wholeheartedly marked his face in the ballot during the last presidential election, but so far his undecided stance towards this case has let me down. I see his previous statement as no sign of a sturdy president who once impressed me by his valiant act to throw his own son’s father-in-law to incarceration; it seems more like a statement that comes from an irresolute general whose indecisiveness seems likely to disappoint his citizens who have put many hopes in his shoulder.

If Yudhoyono really wants to fulfill his past promise of pushing a bureaucratic reform in Indonesia, there is no better target to be set as his priority than the National Police and the Attorney General Office (AGO) –and after all their disgraces have been made public because of this case; this seems to be the perfect moment. In fact, the reputation of Indonesian National Police and Attorney General Office have been very bad already among Indonesians –so bad that I recall that in one of the classes which I attended, my lecturer even laughed off the feasibility of the government’s plan to reform the severely dilapidated bureaucracy of Indonesian National Police and the AGO.

“They are just too bad and that reformation thing is just a waste of the government state budget; they should do revolution (to the police and AGO) and not reformation,” she said. “Do you know the difference between revolution and reformation? Revolution means dissolving the whole institution and building a brand new one afterwards.”

Yudhoyono should have tackled such concern and implemented his actions toward those ramshackle institutions long time ago. And after this case occurs and people’s confidence towards the National Police and the AGO has plunged to its lowest level, many people –including my lecturer– may be wondering: why he has still not taken any serious act yet to those institutions?

But I soon realize that instead of being recognized as a frontline general who leads his army to confront enemies at the vanguard, Yudhoyono is renowned as a thinker general; a brilliant strategist who is expert in planning a strategy so his army can come out victorious in the end.

Because of his recent indecisiveness, I am starting to wonder if his brilliant strategy has successfully deceived me to give my vote to him. Was Yudhoyono really the person who threw Aulia Pohan to jail? Or actually it was KPK who did it and thus should deserve the credit; while Yudhoyono actually did nothing and just let him jailed as part of his strategy because he knew that freeing him at that time would surely diminish his popularity among us and hurt his chance of winning the re-election?

It doesn’t make sense to me because if throwing his own son's father-in-law to jail would be so easy like that, then why can’t he do the same thing to those high-rank police officers whose involvement in the plot to defame two KPK deputies proved to be obvious?

Only Yudhoyono himself knows the answer. It has been merely a month since he was inaugurated as our president, but his once flawless legacy of combating corruption in Indonesia is now in doubt already as he still stands unmoving albeit the KPK is being continually undermined.

Mr. President, puzzling statement like the one you said few days ago is not the thing needed to regain the trust of Indonesians; what is more necessary is your concrete and decisive action in helping the KPK and giving punishment to the case’s culprits. By doing so, you will return to the track that will lead you to an Indonesian president whose legacy of fighting corruption will be remembered in many years from now. And by doing so you can also prove to us that you are still the same Susilo Bambang Yudhoyono whose face on the ballot we marked wholeheartedly during the last presidential election.

This article was published in The Jakarta Post on Thursday, December 3 2009

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