Do we still have the chance? Yes, I believe.
When? That, I don't know.
Feb 01-07, 2005
Sidelines ~ A Letter to a Friend Who Mocks Indonesia
By Goenawan Mohamad
Indonesia will never be born anew in one term, my brother. If you think a big change will occur in 100 days, this is what I have to say to you: a span of 100 days here is more akin to "1001 nights" or "seventh heaven:" a figure more rhetorical than mathematical. We cannot use it as a measuring tool. We can only use it as a trigger of imagination.
Yet don't equate the rhetorical with the flippant. Imagination is not just some part of a small fantasy. So when the administration of Susilo Bambang Yudhoyono (SBY) said it would show its mettle in 100 days you and I need not think of something imminent, only that we are ready for something significant.
That significant thing is hope. These days, 'hope' in Indonesia has a simple yet indefinable meaning. It can only gain meaning as an antonym of cynicism: to have hope is to not immediately deride or show mistrust towards the workings of community life. "Hope" is also the antonym of apathy, an attitude of indifference towards all efforts made in the name of public interest.
This government was actually borne out of hope as antonym of both cynicism and apathy. You do know, don't you, of the millions of eager votes that have installed our incumbent president in the palace. It needs to be said that such optimism is just the right dosage: the people elected SBY because they believed that change ~ not miracle, my brother ~ will come to pass.
But you retaliated: this administration was also born in troubled times. The hope that has been formed in Indonesia moves like a boat in the dark seas of distrust powered by furious waves. The instant the government falters, that hope will instantly vanish, and Indonesia is once again resigned to eternal self-mockery.
Where did it come from, this cynicism and apathy? You pointed it out: from the torrents of disappointments both direct and indirect, flowing from wide and spreading sources. Those sources have one name: corruption.
Corruption, you said, is not merely a crime of stealing from the Republic. Corruption in Indonesia kills the Republic itself.
Remember, you also said, community life moulds a country through a spontaneous, effective and continuous social and political network. That network itself is constructed from what is often called 'social capital,' even when I prefer the term 'social knots.' In other words: something that strengthens ties between citizens because they trust each other.
Corruption in Indonesia has broken the social knots all the way to the tiniest corner.
You called attention to this fact: the instant someone goes out of the house, he or she immediately has reason for mistrust. Take a day in the life of Susilo Bambang Gentolet (SBG), a resident of Tanah Abang, Jakarta.
7:10 SBG walks to the bus stop near his home. The rain on the fourth day has done the road in. Asphalt cracks, holes yawn, a sudden crop of gutters. He has to take care that his newly washed trousers do not get soiled by the mud hurled by passing motorbikes.
SBG knows that the road is susceptible because the contractor of the road maintenance does not pass muster. He knows that the contractor is there only because he has bribed the city council.
7:15 The bus arrives. Not at the station. Jakarta is one of the few capital cities in the world where the bus adheres neither to the bus stop nor the timetable. The bus is filled to overflowing. It is 45 percent in tatters, and in hours-long traffic, the act of standing in a bus is a daily ordeal.
SBG knows city buses cannot be multiplied because private vehicles are not restricted by regulations and high taxes. What becomes of a situation in which every rule and tax can be bent through bribes?
9:27 SBG arrives at his workplace, a company which imports medical equipment. That day, his colleague has been assigned to deliver some tens of millions of rupiah in cash to an official of Ministry X. As soon as he sits down at his desk he hears the Head of Marketing complain: "Aah, we are sure to be hit by the number of smuggled products."
SBG heaves a sigh. But how to prevent embezzlement if the customs department is so easily sidestepped? My brother, you said this story can be stretched and told in many variations. Mistrust has become part of daily conversation.
You then asked, what is now linking a spontaneous, effective and continuous relationship between one man and another, one institution and another? Surely not a country! Indeed, if to secure a promotion a civil servant has to bribe another, if the authority to enforce the law can be traded out between the police, the prosecutor and the judge, a country is no more a country.
And so Indonesia vanishes. You worded it more dramatically: "Indonesia is a republic that has ceased to be a republic." It has been pulverized by different private interests ~ from the traffic policeman's need for a side income to those in higher places.
I think you are right, my brother. Corruption is the privatization of power and opportunity. In Indonesia, it is an anarchy that sustains itself in official dress.
What is frightening, you also mentioned, is the paradox that occurs when anarchy becomes an 'institution': when it seeps into the sector most fearful of it ~ the bureaucracy and the military.
We can say a great deal about anarchy in government offices. Granted, they wear uniforms, do communal sports every weekend, pray together each Friday. Yet from those very same offices, thousands of words are unleashed and hitherto called rules, necessitating each citizen to have this or that permit. And then, each time someone knocks on the door to apply for a permit, there is bureaucrat X, all geared up for a bribe. One thousand rules simply mean the planning of 1,000 violations.
Anarchy within the military ranks is no less discouraging. With the defense budget totaling only 1 percent of GDP, Defense Minister Juwono Sudarsono once calculated that until the present day the national budget has only fulfilled a mere 30 percent of the military's total spending needs. The rest the armed forces have had to find for themselves. Yet, according to Indonesia Corruption Watch, in a book on the business of the military in Indonesia published in 2003, the total amount submitted by the business arm of the armed forces' Yayasan Kartika Eka Paksi ~ this amount is quoted from an official audit ~ is a mere Rp142,331 billion (around US$18 million). An officer in the planning department of the Military Headquarters was also once quoted as saying that the total contribution of military foundations only amounted to between 0.7 percent and 1 percent of the budget needed.
Remember, you also warned, in the end corruption can literally kill. In July 2003, a businessman was gunned down in front of a sports center in Jakarta. His bodyguard went down too. It transpired that the bodyguard was a sergeant in the anti-terror detachment of the Special Forces Command (Kopassus), the army's elite corps. Meanwhile, the police later discovered that the assassins were four marines hired by another businessman for the paltry sum of Rp4 million (US$6,000).
What happens when the police and the military enjoy a side income trading out violence, in addition to serving as bodyguards, assassins, or watchmen in gambling centers?
One can safely assume, more unsafe the environment, the more costly the security fee. It is not impossible that in areas where violence rages money has become, to quote a researcher, "the silent force of the conflict." Imagine this entirely probable scenario: a security guard sells weapons to someone from the private sector and a soldier bearing an M-16 comes home with 16-M (M as in millions). The guard will probably feel a tad guilty, but he can just as calmly
say he is not alone.
And here is your further mockery, echoing that of a military officer of a neighboring country who once trained with the armed forces and the police: Indonesia is a republic whose soldiers go out in combat with derelict equipment and poor ransom, while their generals boast stately mansions both inside and outside the country.
Here, anarchy is bound up with injustice. And when the two continue to grow, social knots begin to fray.
So what will happen? You are well within your right to mock, my brother, but how is it possible for Indonesia to be born anew in 100 days? When the SBY administration declared it would battle corruption it actually wanted to preserve hope ~ because it is precisely that hope which is worst shattered by the fraying of social knots.
Such an opportunity is no drivel. Please do not jeer. Corruption in Indonesia did not come with our forbears. A researcher once said that corruption in the Supreme Court only took place in the 1980s, before which judges were "clean" people.
Meanwhile, rampant and large-scale corruption only began after President Sukarno introduced the concept of 'Guided Economy.' At that time, foreign-owned private companies were taken over by the state, whereupon civil servants and military officials were entrusted with the tasks of managing everything from plantations and mining to trade and book publishing.
In the end, when 'Guided Economy' met 'Guided Democracy,' such massive power in the bureaucracy ('bureaucrat capitalists,' in the Indonesian Communist Party jargon) spiraled out of control. This is why in Southeast Asia, in the matter of corruption Indonesia takes the cake. Thailand, Malaysia, Singapore and the Philippines are relatively free from such a crime. They never had to nationalize their foreign-owned private companies on such a scale and were never tempted by socialism that promises equality but in the end is only skilled in producing 1,000 control mechanisms. This also goes some way in explaining why corruption is taking place in Vietnam and China: the tentacles of the old socialist bureaucracy are being kept in place, but now Indonesia under President Suharto did not change the basic structure laid out by Sukarno. The bureaucracy still took precedence, and like in Vietnam and China today, it gave birth to a system that married the worst of socialism (control) and capitalism (greed).
It is no easy task for anyone attempting to cut these tentacles of control and greed. Corruption has spread into the courtrooms and local and national parliament, infiltrated party politics, religious institutions, the media, even NGOs. The administration of Indonesia ~ that anarchy that sustains its life in official dress ~ has now become a guiding light to everyone in Indonesia. And yet you cannot endlessly mock.
Who knows this president who was elected by his people with such a sure majority will not forever waver ~ even if it is supposedly his greatest weakness. Who knows he will treat such extraordinary occurrences as the Aceh natural disaster and nationwide corruption as a total war. Many a bandit speaks in the name of 'national pride' and 'patriotism' in order to preserve his or her interests, but the main patriotic attitude of the day is to combat cynicism
with an extraordinary act.
Which means: keep on arresting the big bandits, detain them, and when proven guilty, send them to Buru Island, not just Nusakambangan.
You said 'total war' necessitates a spectacular battle cry. I agree. We have to ensure that our lifeboat of hope does not sink into a deep sea of mistrust. We do not want Indonesia to sink along with it. We do not want to lose a country so invaluable.
January 28, 2005
The Jakarta Post
Monday, February 7, 2005
Development plan short on details
By Zakki P. Hakim, Jakarta
The newly unveiled government five-year development plan raises more questions than answers, notably in the manufacturing sector, as not only does it contain targets that are ambitious, it is also lacking in steps to move from basic into more sophisticated manufacturing process.
Drawn up by the National Development Planning Agency (Bappenas), the program -- called the Mid-term Development Plan (RPJM) 2004-2009 -- targets an average growth of 8.56 percent for the manufacturing sector during that period to help the economy expand by 6.6 percent per annum.
However, questions have already arisen as to how the targets could be achieved, considering the manufacturing sector in the country had been growing at around 5 percent since the financial crisis in the late 1990s.
The program was absent in explaining government plan to gradually move from basic manufacturing products such as textile and footwear into an industry that needs higher human resources skill and technology such as semiconducter and computers, one legislator said.
As economist-turned-legislator Zulkieflimansyah puts it this way, "It is pointless now to have such a high growth if we keep manufacturing or producing the same products over and over again, say 10 years from now."
Under the five-year plan, the government would focus on 10 priority industry clusters. They are in food and beverages, seafood and maritime products, textiles and clothing, footwear, palm oil, wood products, rubber and rubber products, pulp and paper, electrical machinery and appliances and petrochemical products.
The sectors were chosen based on their ability to absorb workers, meet basic domestic needs such as food and medicine, develop and process agricultural and maritime products as well as other natural-based resource materials, and on their export potential.
A document containing more detailed steps and sectors has also been issued by the Ministry of Industry to support the medium-term program.
Still, Zulkiefli questioned the government's steps to emerge from the trap of industrial stagnation which the country currently faces.
"Our top manufacturing products today are the same as what we had back in the 1970s," said Zulkiefli, a United Kingdom-trained economist specializing in industrial policy.
He pointed at South Korea as an example.
The nation had similar top products in 1970s, but after a 30-year process of industrialization, it has now emerged as a giant producer for semiconductors, computers, automobiles, petrochemicals, communication gadgets, ships, steel plates, medical equipment, synthetic fibers and electronics parts.
"It is relatively the same with Malaysia and Thailand too. Indonesia has never had an explicitly articulated blueprint, unlike the ones created by South Korea decades ago or Malaysia and Thailand years ago," he added.
"Still, the Ministry of Industry must be credited for producing a detailed policy in a timely fashion. However, it lacks explanation on things such as technological transfer and the process of industrialization," said Zulkiefli, a member of the House of Representatives Commission VI overseeing industry, trade, investment, small and medium enterprises and state-owned firms.
Rachmat Gobel, Indonesian Chamber of Commerce and Industry (Kadin) vice chairman for industry, technology and maritime affairs, also said it would be unlikely the government could reach the target this year.
"Maybe next year, but only after the government had dealt with numerous problems discouraging the private sector at the moment," he said.
Nevertheless, he said that policy was at least on the right track, but the private sector, in the shorter term, would prefer to see improvement in issues such as rampant smuggling, taxation, labor laws and lack of infrastructure.
The Jakarta Post
Tuesday, February 8, 2005
Govt upbeat RI to be dropped from money laundering list
By Rendi A. Witular, Jakarta
After lobbying members of the Financial Action Task Force (FATF), a global anti-money laundering group, the government is optimistic Indonesia will be removed from the FATF's blacklist.
Minister of Trade Mari Elka Pangestu was upbeat on Monday over the prospect of the country being removed from the list of noncooperative countries and territories (NCCT) set out by the powerful Paris-based FATF.
"The FATF countries that we have talked to have responded positively to our attempts to combat money laundering. There are signs that they will drop us from the NCCT list since we have done a lot in that direction," Mari said at the State Palace.
Mari is among the ministers deployed by President Susilo Bambang Yudhoyono to lobby member countries of the FATF. Mari recently visited France and Britain to that purpose. France is the current head of the FATF.
Coordinating Minister for the Economy Aburizal Bakrie, who has been in discussions with the United States and Canada, also expressed confidence Indonesia would be removed from the list.
"We are confident we will be off of the blacklist during the upcoming session of the FATF. My meetings in the United States and Canada were very promising," said Aburizal.
The FATF will convene in Paris on Wednesday to review the NCCT list and at the same time decide the fate of Indonesia.
FATF is a global anti-money laundering watchdog set up by the developed nations of the Organization for Economic Cooperation and Development.
Indonesia has been on the noncooperative list along with Nauru, Nigeria, the Philippines, Myanmar and the Cook Islands since 2001.
By being on the list, Indonesia risks several sanctions, which include higher risk premiums imposed on local firms when making transactions with international firms; termination of correspondence alliances between local banks and banks in member countries of FATF; and the rejection of letters of credit (L/Cs) issued by local banks.
Mari said the government had taken several important steps to get off the noncooperative list, including passing an anti-money laundering law and establishing the Financial Transaction and Report Analysis Center (PPATK). She also said the PPATK had audited the country's financial institutions to uncover any money laundering activities.
"I have told the FATF member countries that with all of our efforts, we deserve to be removed from the list," she said.
However, there is no guarantee the FATF will see the efforts as sufficient, particularly since they have produced few concrete results.
One of the concerns of the FATF is that Indonesia has not yet been able to bring a money launderer to court, despite the legal framework for the prosecution of the crime.
The Jakarta Post
Tuesday, February 8, 2005
Religion `Won't Win Corruption Fight'
By Hera Diani, Jakarta
Religious leaders have confessed that strict law enforcement and harsh punishments are more effective than religious teachings in combating corruption.
Addressing a seminar on corruption eradication on Monday, Muslim cleric Solahuddin Wahid said that although the country sees its people as religious, and the state's ideology is based on divinity, Indonesia is ranked among the world's most corrupt nations.
"Places of worship are abundant and filled to capacity, some 200,000 people also perform the haj pilgrimage every year. But corruption is still rampant," said Solahuddin, also deputy chairman of the National Commission on Human Rights (Komnas HAM).
Last year, Indonesia was ranked as fifth most corrupt nation, climbing one place from sixth in the previous year, based on a report from the Berlin-based Transparency International (TI).
Some prominent corruption cases have even occurred within the Ministry of Religious Affairs.
The guilty parties, Solahuddin said, were not deterred by the knowledge that religion prohibits corruption and that God will surely punish them.
"Thus, 'worldly' punishments would be more effective than a religious approach in battling corruption," said the brother of former president and Muslim cleric Abdurrahman Wahid.
Minister Weinata Sairin from the Indonesian Churches Association (PGI) said there has been a dichotomy between spiritual life and the professional world.
"Religiousness is still a matter of ceremony and symbol. The churches are full of worshipers, but corruption remains," he said.
Solahuddin said the country's educators should teach universal values.
"We have to teach our children to be honest, hardworking, loving, understanding and disciplined. That money is not the main goal but rather the fruitage of our hard work," he said.
Religion would continue to play a vital role, Solahuddin said, but more to provide warnings and explanations.
"But religion is not limited to prayer. Also, there is no such thing as sharia (Islamic) law if justice is not upheld -- we would hunt down those who did not fast or pray, but free the corruptors -- for what?" Solahuddin said.
Meanwhile, legal expert Romli Atmasasmita urged the government to soon ratify the United Nations' 2003 Convention Against Corruption and translate it into laws and regulations.
"Ratification would grant us the right to file lawsuits, such as the restoration of corruption assets in other countries. It would also oblige the government to obey the regulations of the convention," he said in the seminar.
Another legal expert, Sunaryati Hartono, said that reform was needed at all levels of government to avoid corruption, collusion and nepotism.
"The structure of the administration must be transparent and consist of individuals of the same status, or on the same level, so that it can be more modern, efficient and democratic," Sunaryati said.
He said outsourcing was also worth consideration.
According to Sunaryati, at least nine bills should be passed without delay to ensure the government functions at its best.
They are those on ombudsmen, public services, governmental ethics, administrative law, the civil service, the division of power between the central and local governments, the witness protection scheme, the administrative court and the bill on freedom of information.
Feb 08-14, 2005
Interview ~ Muhammad Jusuf Kalla:
"I Am Not a Rival to the President"
Muhammad Jusuf Kalla, 63, is a central figure in the government of Susilo Bambang Yudhoyono. A number of his initiatives, like the handling of post-tsunami Aceh and the dialog between the Indonesian government and the Free Aceh Movement (GAM), has made him a 'super vice president.' Jusuf admits he makes quick decisions because, "many issues don't follow procedures."
Indeed, luck seems to be on the side of Jusuf Kalla. On December 24, this rich Bugis (people from South Sulawesi) businessman was elected head of the Golkar Party, the biggest political party in parliament. This altered the configuration of political forces. The concern over political instability caused by pressures from the House of Representatives (DPR) immediately vanished. Jusuf Kalla emerged as the government's savior. His position grew even stronger.
Jusuf Kalla is one official who lives by the traditions of a tradesman: he is perceptive, quick to make decisions and totally un-bureaucratic. Yet he is relaxed and makes himself accessible to journalists. Phone calls and text messages from the media are almost always returned. Unlike many senior government officials, he carries his own cellular telephone. "If I get a missed call, I call them right back," he said. Last Monday Tempo interviewed Jusuf Kalla, following an appointment that was 'un-bureaucratically' agreed upon. "Come at 4 pm," he said.
Wearing a grey shirt without a tie, Jusuf met with the Tempo team: Bambang Harymurti, Arif Zulkifli, Wenseslaus Manggut, Setyardi and photographer Bernard Chaniago. He was on the telephone with the Indonesian team negotiating with GAM, in Helsinki, Finland. A follow-up meeting with GAM is scheduled for the end of February.
How would you evaluate the results of the Indonesia-GAM meeting at Helsinki, Finland?
We are unlikely to make inroads in just one day. When we drafted the Malino agreement to end the conflict in Ambon, we met every five days. The conflict in Ambon may be new, but it's more savage. People laugh while they're killing. The conflict in Ambon caused the death of 2,000 lives in one year-far more than the Acehnese conflict. The situation with GAM is better now. Today we meet, laugh together and embrace each other. Before, we couldn't even meet face to face. And this is only the first meeting. We will meet again on February 20.
GAM leader Hasan Tiro is still demanding for an independent Aceh. Could there be a meeting point somewhere?
Correct. But don't forget he's getting old. I'm amazed people are still loyal to him. But I'm optimistic. We have achieved 25 percent of the target. We have already taken them out to dinner and traded stories. Three more meetings, and I think the problem with GAM will be over.
What is Indonesia offering GAM?
In negotiating the Malino agreement, both sides didn't want the word 'peace.' That wasn't a problem, because I solved it by stressing the words 'cessation of conflict.' In fact, the essence is the same. And GAM refuses to discuss the concept of NKRI (Unitary State of Indonesia). I say that's not a problem either. It's more important to stress the need to live together under a special autonomy.
The government is offering GAM palm oil concessions as well as money. Are those topics being discussed in Helsinki?
We haven't gone that far. We are still at the very early stages. Other than making those offers, I have another strategy. I purposefully asked Hamid Awaluddin, the Justice & Human Rights Minister to head the Indonesian negotiating team. This is because Hamid is a Bugis. The Acehnese don't dare to speak rudely to a Bugis. The GAM prime minister, Malik Mahmud told Hamid, "I don't dare speak rudely. If I did, the Bugis would be vengeful."
Why was the meeting held outside the country, which the DPR took to task?
GAM wanted guarantees from foreign countries, either ASEAN or the European Union. We had no choice. This goes back to the arrest of GAM negotiators by the police in May 2003. That was a fatal mistake. Negotiators cannot be arrested. The element of trust would be lost. It was like the Dutch East Indies company which arrested Indonesian negotiators in Indonesia.
You seem to have a prominent role in these negotiations with GAM. Is it true you are trying to 'compete' with the president?
Everything that I do has the consent of President Yudhoyono. But I don't think I stand out. As for division of tasks, I help in any way I can. I am the president's assistant. If I have some initiatives, I take them to the president.
Has the president ever disagreed with your initiatives?
Of course there have been differences, but never problems. People seem to see me as a rival to the president. There are people who are disappointed with the cabinet lineup that is seen to consist mostly of 'my people.' That perception grew stronger when I became Golkar chair. Some people think I've become a contender. Politically, my position is seen to be stronger.
And do you feel yourself to be a rival of the president?
Not true. People should read Article 4, chapter 2 of the Constitution which reads: "In carrying out his/her duties, the president must be assisted by a vice president." That means, a vice president to help in running the government. That is very clear. Indeed, Pak SBY and I have a 'note of agreement.' I think all presidential and vice-presidential will have their 'notes of agreement.' After all, the president and vice president are elected jointly. This is very different from the days of Pak Harto. In those days, the vice president was picked by Pak Harto himself. One can become a vice president without too much sweat. I am not one of those.
Is it true the president initially disagreed with you becoming Golkar chairman?
At first, it was to be Surya Paloh. I moved forward at the last minute, just five days before the elections. But this was all directed by Pak SBY. He said, "Pak Jusuf Kalla must be the man in charge. He is the Golkar man." Then I said, if that was the president's wish, I accept. I took it as a responsibility. The development process needs political stability. It needs the support of political parties, not a permanent opposition such as the National Coalition had wanted.
In the end, why did you take over from Surya Paloh?
This is just about strategy. The provinces were saying that the only man to beat Akbar Tandjung was Jusuf Kalla.
How much money was spent to ensure that you won?
It didn't take money. Don't forget, 50 percent of Golkar's executives are government officials. There are nine governors and many regents. So it wasn't difficult to get money. They are unlikely to get money from me. I could only pay for their hotel bills. The situation was different from the convention, which needed a lot of money. Then, the candidates vying for the Golkar chair had to visit the provinces.
Now that you've been elected, are you cleaning up the party of Akbar Tandjung's people
Indeed, many have asked for such changes. But I said, a good leader is one who can lead friends and former foes. If I'm only able to lead friends, then I would just be the leader of a group. I did replace Mohammad Hatta, head of the Golkar faction at the DPR and Rambe Kamaruzaman, head of the Golkar faction at the MPR (People's Consultative Assembly). The party constitution requires faction executives to come from the Golkar central leadership board. If I didn't replace them, I would be violating the rules.
You now control Golkar. How will the Golkar members in the DPR manage the government?
I asked the Golkar Party to remain critical, objective and balanced. So, they will continue to be critical but with good reason. Balance means in line with conditions. Don't just dot the 'i' and cross the 't' the way they attacked the Vice President's Decision on Aceh. That was not balanced at all.
Were there many Golkar members who asked for their share of positions in government?
That cannot be. Yes, there were friends who proposed names. There's a pile of biodata on my desk from various sectors. I keep-who knows they might be useful one day. If they are good, we would consider them objectively. But the decision to appoint someone does not come from me. We have a final team to evaluate all positions, led directly by the president himself. Recommendations come from the bottom, not from the top. So, in order to appoint a director-general, the minister concerned must be involved.
How true is it that money plays a role in getting certain jobs?
That's an old story. Today, God willing, that won't happen any longer. If there are people who claim to be able to do it, how will the money feature in it? This cannot be done. The decision to select an echelon I official, for example, must be approved by the president, the vice president, the Minister of Home Affairs, the Minister for Administrative Reforms and the head of BIN (State Intelligence Agency). Everything is decided at a meeting.
How well do you communicate with the president?
It depends on the issue. We communicate officially through weekly cabinet meetings and our breakfast meetings. On top of that, we meet every two days. We phone each other often, on average three times a day. We discuss all issues jointly. There are no feelings of reluctance between us. We understand each other well. That's because we were both coordinating ministers at the same time.
The president refers to you as a vice president who 'responds very rapidly.' Is this true?
Yes, that's normal. If I get a 'missed call,' I would call right back, especially if it was the president. That's a habit. It's true that I communicate with him more through the telephone. But I don't send him text messages, because his cellular phone is with Ibu Ani (wife of the president).
You are a fast mover, SBY follows procedures. How does this work?
It depends on the situation. On Aceh, for example, of course we cannot follow procedures. If, to buy biscuits we must go through a tender, the Acehnese would soon die. But I do admit we have different styles of doing things. To bridge that difference, we communicate often. I don't think there has ever been a president and vice president who call each other so frequently, from five in the morning to 11 at night. In order to understand the Farid Faqih case, for instance, Pak SBY called me. Then I called him when I got the information from
The president plans on replacing the TNI Chief of Staff. Who is the candidate?
We don't have a strong candidate yet. Still discussing it.
Will there be a 'west wing' here?
In the United States, a west wing seems to be needed. Such a huge country has only 14 ministers. Indonesia has a state secretary and a cabinet secretary. Even so, the president feels something like a west wing is needed. There will be 10 people in it. I will have five people under me.
On another matter, you own a number of big companies. How do you avoid conflicts of interest?
The government wants to develop the economy. I cannot prevent people close to me from doing business. They have been involved in business for decades. Forbidding them would be discriminatory and dangerous. So, I will not fire anyone.
Does that include Bumi Karsa, a company owned by your younger brother, which took part in the bidding to build the Hasanuddin Airport in Makassar?
As long as a company possesses the capabilities, it can take part in tenders. There's no problem. Bumi Karsa, the company my family owns has been building airports for 25 years, so let it take part in the tender. In fact, it would be wrong if it didn't do it. Anyway, structurally, I no longer have anything to do with the company. I'm still the owner, yes. But if I let that go, how would I feed myself? My monthly salary as vice president is only Rp40 million.
At the end of your term in 2009, will you be rich or not?
That will depend on how my children run the company. But please note, only 20 percent of my businesses are involved with government projects. The auto business, shopping malls and MacDonald's have nothing to do with the government. But we shouldn't think too much about money. Life cannot just be measured by money. As a vice president, I get respect. During ceremonies, I get to sit in front seats. Even if a tycoon like Sudono Salim is willing to pay Rp1 billion, he still couldn't have a front seat during state functions.
Are you thinking of running for president in 2009?
(Laughing) There are a lot considerations. By then I will be 67 years old. Besides, it's not easy for a Bugis like myself to be directly elected as president. Psychologically that has an impact. Moreover, I am a trader who went into politics by accident. There were no intrigues on my becoming Trade & Industry Minister. I just knew well Amien Rais and Alwi Shihab, who felt a cabinet would be incomplete without a representative from eastern Indonesia. It was that way when I was appointed minister by Ibu Megawati. Again, my meeting up with Pak SBY was purely coincidence. The story is that when he resigned from his post as Coordinating Minister for Politics & Security, I came in to see him at his office. We made a pact: "whoever makes it, will give the other a chance." Then we hugged each other.
Muhammad Jusuf Kalla
Place & Date of Birth: Watampone, Makassar, May 15, 1942
Education: BA Economics, Hasanuddin University (1967)
- Owner, Bukaka Group-involved in agribusiness, construction, automotive,
malls, trade and telecommunications
- Minister, Trade & Industry (1999-2000)
- Coordinating Minister for People's Welfare (2001-2004)
- Vice President (October 2004-to date)
Financial Times (UK)
February 9, 2005
Foreign Investors Still Wary of Jakarta
By Shawn Donnan
Indonesia's new government has pledged to make the country a better place to do business, but two new, and potentially ugly, legal disputes threaten to undermine its efforts and remind foreign investors why they still have good reason to be wary.
While French oil group Total fights off two contractors who want its profitable local subsidiary declared bankrupt over a US$7m billing dispute, Singapore-listed retailer Dairy Farm faces a legal battle over a bid to increase its stake in supermarket chain Hero.
Total is the country's leading producer of liquefied natural gas, of which Indonesia is the biggest exporter. Dairy Farm's parent, Jardine Matheson, has played a big role in the revival of Astra, Indonesia's leading vehicle company, as its leading shareholder through Singapore-based subsidiary Cycle and Carriage.
The disputes come at an uncomfortable time for President Susilo Bambang Yudhoyono, who took office last October promising greater legal certainty for foreign investors.
In an interview with the FT, Mr Yudhoyono said: "My commitment is to develop a conducive environment for doing business in - and with - Indonesia."
But the president also expressed some frustration. "I know that legal certainty is very, very important. I do my best," he said, adding, however: "I cannot create everything overnight. I have to... push my apparatus to do that kind of thing."
The bankruptcy petition filed against Total's local unit by two Indonesian contractors is particularly irksome to investors because it mirrors past disputes involving Canadian insurer Manulife and the UK's Prudential.
In response to those disputes, Indonesia's parliament last year passed a new bankruptcy law closing the loophole used by disgruntled contractors in each case, and shielding banks and
public companies from similar battles in the future.
However, according to Total's lawyers, the legislation did not cover energy companies such as Total, which have "production-sharing contracts" with the government.
"Companies overseas are looking at this and saying 'Hang on a second, this is a US$7m dispute and Total is a multi-billion dollar company. That doesn't make sense'," said Chris Newton, president of the Indonesian Petroleum Association.
The contractors insist they have a case and that Total is failing to honour the results of an arbitration hearing last year. But it is the methods that worry investors, rather than the dispute itself.
According to Todung Mulya Lubis, Total's lawyer, such methods could be employed against other oil majors such as BP and ExxonMobil that currently work in Indonesia under production-sharing contracts. This would be troubling for the government, which is seeking increased investment in its oil and gas sector to stave off a long-term shift towards becoming a net importer of oil.
Dairy Farm's legal issues raise what are likely to be more worrying concerns for anyone seeking a stake in a publicly listed Indonesian company.
The company last month completed a US$20.5m tender offer that saw it increase its stake in Hero to 32.6 per cent.
The offer, approved by Indonesia's Capital Markets Supervisory Agency (BAPEPAM), was open to all shareholders and taken up by those holding some 20 per cent of Hero's shares.
But the company now faces a legal assault by Hero's local rival, the Lippo Group's Matahari, whose merger overtures Hero has shunned in the past.
In an ongoing case brought against the regulator by a mysterious shareholder and since joined by Matahari, a Jakarta court last month ruled BAPEPAM was wrong to have approved the Dairy Farm deal.
Matahari is now preparing to take both Dairy Farm and Hero to court directly, says Matahari's lawyer, who was also involved in the Prudential case.
The case raises the prospect that any foreign investor buying a stake in an Indonesian company should prepare for the possibility of legal harassment from competitors.
The Jakarta Post
Saturday, February 12, 2005
Confidence building measures is a phrase from the diplomatic realm that could be used to describe the cautious but steady treadings of the Ministry of Defense under Juwono Sudarsono.
There had been some speculation that Juwono might be the next foreign minister, but however qualified the professor of international relations might have been to continue the nation's foreign policy, he was needed even more to build bridges in order to span the differences between a democratic Indonesia and a military "unlike those in Western democracies".
The latest news from Juwono's office is the completion of the first draft of a revised security and defense bill. One proposed change is that the Indonesian Military (TNI) will be put under the Ministry of Defense, instead of under the direct supervision of the president, as is currently the case.
If the draft is approved by President Susilo Bambang Yudhoyono, it would signal a change in the President's views. During a discussion while campaigning for the presidency, Susilo, a retired general, said placing the TNI under the defense ministry was not a preferable option.
Judging from Minister Juwono's statements, the signs are that he has been patiently conveying to all sides, including the President, his repeated theme of continuing earlier efforts (however invisible to the public) at necessary changes, including the improved transparency and accountability of his own ministry and the institutions in charge of security, namely the National Police and the TNI.
In a defense paper delivered last year in London, Juwono outlined the need for "an accountable and credible defense force" that is able to defend Indonesia's strategic waterways and archipelagic sea lanes. Currently, an official military budget of barely 1 percent of gross domestic product hinders the ability to achieve this goal.
A professional defense force is in everyone's interest, and nowadays professionalism at any institution, civil or military, means accountability and transparency. With this in mind, Juwono and his team of experts from the defense ministry and from independent research institutions are seeking to revise the defense and security legislation.
However, we recall the bill on the military that was suddenly passed late last year after it seemed to vanish into thin air, shortly after several civilian experts resigned from the team drafting the bill over a number of contentious articles concerning the authority of the military chief.
The new law also glossed over the controversial issue of the territorial commands that are at the heart of the non-defense functions of the TNI; functions that were supposed to end after former president Soeharto stepped down in 1998.
During the debate of the TNI bill, we remember the indignant rejection of the term "civilian supremacy" by TNI Commander Gen. Endriartono Sutarto, who like other officers remembers the military's troubles under meddling politicians in the turbulent 1950s.
One of the "confidence building measures" in this light is the assurance that such meddling will never happen again. To this end, one of the proposed changes to the legislation on defense and security takes away from lawmakers the power to appoint the military chief.
Much more debate is expected over a host of defense and security issues. But what is of the utmost importance here is support from all sides for efforts to make our institutions accountable in their use of public funds.
Such support would include corresponding efforts to end TNI's perceived impunity. If our elite cringe at the thought of having to consider the interests of foreigners (read U.S.) in making our security forces more accountable, they should remember that while Indonesians may not be as loud or influential as U.S. senators, they are the ones who truly want a transparent and accountable military.
Only with corresponding efforts to make the security forces accountable can we take effective steps to build the necessary trust among the public and those institutions that are supposed to protect the people. Without this, Minister Juwono's efforts will, like so many others, end up being for nought.
Feb 15-21, 2005
State Secretariat: Return of the 'State Within a State'
Structural revamping at the State Secretariat: organizational need or individual rivalry?
Sudi Silalahi turned to the man sitting beside him. He seemed to have a million questions on his mind. He was looking at the documents that Yusril Ihza Mahendra, who was sitting right next to him, was holding. In a meeting with the House of Representatives (DPR) Commission II on Wednesday last week, Yusril explained the institutional structure of the State Secretariat in a decree that President Susilo Bambang Yudhoyono had just signed. "I haven't even seen this
decree. What I have is the old one," Sudi said.
There is a difference in the new decree concerning the position of these high-ranking officials. Yusril announced that, "In the new structure, the Cabinet Secretary is not a member of the cabinet. The Minister/State Secretary is." Sudi countered this statement the next day. "The Cabinet Secretary is part of the cabinet," he said, briefly.
Surprising. Two secretaries-Yusril, who is the Minister/State Secretary and Sudi, the Cabinet Secretary-who, in the old structure, are both close to the president, now have different information about their area of duties. What is really happening?
A Tempo source in the palace said that the presidential decree on the Restructuring of the State Secretariat was signed only about two hours before the meeting at the DPR on Wednesday last week. Although he did not mention the time, Yusril said that the decree he had just read out before Commission II, which even Sudi had no knowledge of, had just been signed by the president.
It is true that President Yudhoyono has planned to restructure the State Secretariat for a long time. This is understandable as he is the first Indonesian president directly elected by the people. Unlike his predecessors, Yudhoyono does not have the State Policy Guidelines (GBHN). That is why he must devise his own policy amidst the present political situation. Therefore, said Denny J.A., executive director of the Indonesian Survey Institute, "The president must have strong machines to support him." One of these machines is the State
In Suharto's time, the State Secretariat was known to be very powerful. It was the only instrument supporting the president's duties as the head of state and the head of government. Besides, projects of a certain value had to gain this institution's approval. That was why, during Suharto's time, this institution was often referred to as a super-institution or even labeled "a state within a state."
When Abdurrahman Wahid was president, the power of this institution was split among the State Secretary, Cabinet Secretary, Military Secretary, Government Control Secretary, Presidential Secretary, and the Vice-Presidential Secretary. All these instruments were equal and directly under the president's command.
When Megawati Sukarnoputri became president, she did not amend the presidential decree about this institution that Abdurrahman Wahid had issued but she vacated several posts, for example the post of the Government Control Secretary, previously assumed by Bondan Gunawan. Then, the posts of the State Secretary and the Cabinet Secretary went to Bambang Kesowo. Besides, she also appointed several presidential special staffers.
President Yudhoyono has rearranged the State Secretary institution to suit its functions and serve present needs. Once he thought of picking up the White House Office model of the United States. His men are in ring one of his leadership. Counselors for economic, political and security affairs are in ring two. In ring three there are ministers, whose jobs are focused more on technical rather than political matters. Perhaps this model is suitable in the US.
"This model cannot just be imitated here," said Denny, who has submitted to the president a draft proposal on the modification of the structure of the State Secretariat.
It was not easy, however, to penetrate this institution. A Tempo source in the palace said in daily activities, the role of the Cabinet Secretary seemed to be bigger than that of the Minister/State Secretary. President Yudhoyono often appears more with Sudi than with Yusril.
Before the meeting between the State Secretariat and the DPR on December 8, 2004, according to a palace insider, Yusril submitted a proposal on the restructuring of the State Secretariat to the president. One outstanding item in this proposal was the "dwarfing" of the role of the Cabinet Secretary. The president did not give his approval and asked this matter to be discussed by all the secretaries within the presidential office.
When the second draft was submitted, it was similar to the first one. Again, the president rejected it and asked the State Minister for Administrative Reform ~ who is authorized to arrange the state organization-to formulate this matter. Yusril, however, rejected the State Minister's proposal.
Yusril argued that the State Minister for Administrative Reform had formulated the presidential regulation on special staffers. It had been planned that the president would have 10 special staffers, the vice president would be assisted by five special staffers, and the ministers would be helped by three special staffers. Yusril said that one of the presidential special staffers in the new structure would be a spokesperson, whose position would be under the Cabinet Secretary. At present, the position of Andi Alifian Mallarangeng, the presidential spokesperson, is still "formally uncertain." "There has never been a decree and he has never got his pay from the state's budget," said Denny J.A.
This means that the institution close to President Yudhoyono is really in need of revamping. The draft signed by the president two hours before the meeting with the House's Commission II stipulated the structure that would be adopted. This caught Sudi by surprise. This was like "an administrative coup," said a Tempo source in the palace, who knows very well about the process in which the draft of the presidential decree had been submitted.
When Tempo asked Yusril about this by telephone on Saturday last week, he refused to give a response. "That is a rumor, stories that people have circulated. I'm not interested in rumors," he said. Yusril was not sure that the person that gave the information to Tempo had read the draft of the new regulation.
One of the controversial articles in the presidential regulation is the one stipulating that the Cabinet Secretary is accountable to the president and the vice president and is under the coordination of the State Secretary. This means that the Cabinet Secretary, previously directly under the president, is now under the Minister/State Secretary. In the light of this stipulation, Yusril, therefore, was right when he said that Sudi was not a cabinet member.
Yusril also explained to the House members that the restructuring of the State Secretariat also abolished the position of the Presidential Secretary and placed the Military Secretariat and the Vice-Presidential Secretariat under the State Secretariat. Meanwhile, the position of the presidential spokesperson will be under the Cabinet Secretary.
Besides, according to a Tempo source, this presidential regulation also shrinks the role of the Military Secretary. While previously this institution also took care of police personnel assigned within the palace, now it will be no longer responsible for this matter. The reason is that the police are no longer part of the military and therefore are not suitable to be under the Military Secretary. The police will come under the State Secretary.
Sudi Silalahi preferred to give no further comment. "Just ask Pak Yusril," said the former secretary of the Coordinating Minister for Political & Security Affairs. "I believe there will be a more detailed explanation later."
A more neutral opinion came from Denny J.A., who, through his Indonesian Survey Institute, has actively provided input to the president. He said that the confusion over the role of Yusril and Sudi is the result of the lack of clarity in the job description of the State Secretary and the Cabinet Secretary.
Each president adopts a different system. In Suharto's and Megawati's eras, for example, the positions of the State Secretary and the Cabinet Secretary were in the hands of Sudharmono and Bambang Kesowo, respectively. "Both of them viewed things from their own perspective," Denny said.
Before the House members, Yusril answered various questions about this restructuring. He said that in the present format, the secretaries in the presidential office took their own way without any institution coordinating them. As a result, there has often been confusion in presidential administrative matters, which should actually go through one door: the State Secretariat. "The control becomes unclear. It is just this aspect that is improved."
About his position, which will be stronger than that of the Cabinet Secretary, Yusril said that his authority was very limited and he would not be a super-powerful person like Sudharmono or Moerdiono in Suharto's era, both then authorized to manage projects, budgets, and administrative matters of non-ministerial government institutions. "I'm just ordinary. I just do my job honestly," he said.
This is indeed not a matter of honesty in doing the job, but about power distribution.
Andari Karina Anom, Sapto Pradityo, Yura Syahrul
The Jakarta Post
Tuesday, February 15, 2005
Govt urged to improve legislation on human rights
By Tony Hotland, Jakarta
Human rights activists urged the government to provide better legislation for human rights protection in the country as it aims to ratify the International Bill on Human Rights.
Director of Indonesian Human Rights Monitor (Imparsial) Rachland Nashidik said that without such a measure, the move to ratify the international convention would only be seen as a mere cosmetic gesture to enhance Indonesia's image in the international community rather than to bring substantial progress in the protection of human rights here.
"Looking at our history (performance of past governments), I'm pessimistic that the government will enact (the necessary) laws immediately or even in the future due to strong political reluctance," he said over the weekend.
"The idea of ratifying the bill surfaced during the administration of Gus Dur (president Abdurrachman Wahid). But there's a question mark whether the plan to ratify it now is because we're elected to chair the United Nations Human Rights Commission last month," he said, referring to Makarim Wibisono, a senior Indonesian diplomat who has been appointed to the top post at the UN human rights body.
President Susilo Bambang Yudhoyono is said to have instructed the Ministry of Justice and Human Rights to prepare for the ratification of the International Bill on Human Rights, which came into being three decades ago.
The bill consists of two covenants: the International Covenant on Economic, Social and Culture Rights; and the International Covenant on Civil and Political Rights.
Rachland said the government should also adopt two optional protocols contained in the bill. One is allowing individuals to submit petitions about human rights violations in Indonesia, and second is the abolition of the death penalty in all forms.
"If the government wants to be thorough and show that it takes the bill seriously, it should consequently enact implementing laws and adopt these two protocols. At least, the ratification allows the amendment of the current Human Rights Law, which still contains many loopholes," he said.
Indonesia has ratified a number of conventions in connection with human rights, such as the International Convention on the Elimination of All Forms of Racial Discrimination; the Convention Against Torture and Other Cruel, Inhuman, or Degrading Treatment or Punishment; or the Covenant on the Elimination of All Forms of Discrimination Against Women.
However, no laws have been enacted to follow up the ratified conventions to make them a part of Indonesian law, making the protection of these respective issues more discounted and more difficult to assure.
Makarim Wibisono also warned the government to be responsible with its plan to ratify the bill.
"What's worse than not ratifying the bill is ratifying it, but intentionally ignoring the responsibility it brings by not applying it. It means you need the implementing guidelines, such as laws and government regulations," he said.
He also said that the international bill should be able to address the issue of legal impunity enjoyed by certain groups of people, which many believe is the main reason why many human rights cases here have failed to bring justice to the victims.
The Jakarta Post
Tuesday, February 15, 2005
Military can learn from tsunami: Scholar
The tsunami of Dec. 26 should be a turning point in the nation's defense ministry, especially in the light of the inadequate response to the disaster on the part of the Indonesian Military (TNI), a researcher said.
Ikrar Nusa Bhakti, who studies defense issues, told a discussion on Monday that "What happened in Aceh showed how our TNI has limited capability and facilities. The disaster should not only be taken as a lesson but also a turning point for new policies".
He cited the Chinook helicopters, owned by the small city state of Singapore, which proved vital in distributing assistance to survivors in affected areas, compared to the few functioning helicopters of the TNI, which is tasked to secure a vast archipelago. Shortly after the disaster the TNI leadership had appealed for the assistance of several military institutions from various nations.
Monday's talks followed reports that the Ministry of Defense had finalized the first drafts on the revision of legislation on security and defense. Among proposed amendments to the 2002 Defense Law and the 2004 Military Law, is that the TNI would be placed under the direct supervision of the president. The amendment aims for a more professional police and military, even though the law on the TNI was just passed in December.
Koesnadi Kardi, who heads the education and training body of the defense ministry, said that improving human resources and facilities would be critical to such changes.
"In line with the TNI's internal reform program announced in 1998, the defense ministry has also developed a Defense Restructuring Program (DRP) that needs human resources with sufficient understanding of defense issues," Koesnadi said.
He added that the DRP calls for improvements in human resources and a reformulation of doctrine, defense system and strategy.
"In the future, the role of defense would belong to the whole nation as it includes defense in terms of economic strength, political stability and weapons system. A synergy is needed of the three elements to establish national security and it needs competent human resources."
Ikrar, who is a senior researcher with the National Institute of Sciences (LIPI), said it would be a very tough job for the defense ministry to handle the newly proposed defense system, especially to reorganize a new structure overseeing the TNI.
Resistance is also expected as military officers have cited concerns about intervention by politicians if the TNI is placed under a ministry.
"Looking at the complications the ministry faces, we can expect that during the 2004-2009 Cabinet, there may only be a development of regulations and programs. The execution itself may start only in 2009. Regeneration should be the main focus for the meantime," said Ikrar.
The Jakarta Post
February 16, 2005
Opinion ~ Witnessing the Violent Face of Indonesia
By Thang D. Nguyen, Jakarta
As 2004 came to an end, Western intelligence forces issued a warning of a potential terrorist attack at a Hilton hotel in Indonesia during the Christmas and New Year's holidays.
Fortunately, no terrorist attacks happened. Unfortunately, however, a killing took place at Jakarta's Hotel Hilton on New Year's Eve.
The suspect of the killing is tycoon Adiguna Sutowo, who shot a bartender at Hilton's Fluid Club named Yohannes Haerudy Natong, better known as Rudy -- dead after the bartender told him that his female companion's credit card had been rejected.
The police arrested Adiguna after the shooting, and he remains in custody while an investigation takes place.
Meanwhile, Rudy's death went almost unnoticed. For the most part, it was overshadowed by the news of the tsunami that hit Indonesia and several other Asian countries on Boxing Day.
But the killing of Rudy has not been covered well by the Indonesian media because the suspect is a member of Jakarta's elite. After all, Adiguna is the brother of Pontjo Sutowo, the owner of the Jakarta Hilton, and the son of the late Ibnu Sutowo, a former president of state oil and gas company Pertamina.
In other words, the Indonesian media has been burned because of its coverage of scandals involving Indonesia's elite.
For instance, last year, Bambang Harymurti, the chief editor of the weekly news magazine Tempo, was found guilty of libel against tycoon Tommy Winata, one of Indonesia's most powerful businessmen.
Violence serves not only the Indonesian business world. In fact, the culture of violence in Indonesia has started among, and remains with, Indonesian political elite, namely, top members of the Indonesian military (TNI).
Examples are aplenty. In the Soeharto years, the TNI served him well as a handy tool to silence the Indonesian media, non-governmental organizations and student activists.
At the same time, it has committed atrocities and human rights violations in pre-independence East Timor and other parts of Indonesia.
Today, violence remains a strong part of TNI culture. A case in point is the recent beating of antigraft activist Farid Faqih by Indonesian soldiers in Banda Aceh, the area worst hit by the tsunami. The soldiers' alleged grounds for the beating was that Farid, who is the coordinator of the Government Watch (GOWA), had stolen two truckloads of aid supplies donated by the military wives' association (Dharma Pertiwi).
Did Farid deserve the beating? No. Whatever the cause of his act, Farid should have been handed over to the Indonesian police for investigation. Whatever their crimes may be, suspects, or criminals for that matter, are human beings and should, therefore, be treated with dignity and humanity. And what if Farid took the aid supplies to give to tsunami victims? Or did he get beaten up because he is an anticorruption activist?
Likewise, Rudy did not deserve to die just because his customer's credit card did not work. For one thing, it happens all the time that, either because of billing problems or over-the-limit issues, credit cards are rejected.
Furthermore, Rudy was just doing his job. In other words, the bartender did not insult Adiguna by telling him that his companion's credit card had been rejected.
But worst of all, Rudy died just a few weeks before his wedding. A 25-year-old college student, Rudy had taken on extra work as a bartender to save up for the happiest day of his life.
It will not happen now, and nothing can bring him back to his fiance, family, and friends. They can only hope that justice will be done.
"[Adiguna] has taken the life of the child [Rudy]. It's vital that he must be punished as severely and appropriately as possible," said Frumens da Gomez, Rudy's uncle.
And what about the murder of human rights activist Munir, who was poisoned with arsenic on Sept. 7 last year on a Garuda flight to the Netherlands? It has been five months since President Susilo Bambang ordered an investigation into Munir's death. Alas, nothing has been found thus far.
Together, Munir's murder, Rudy's death and Farid's beating remind us that violence remains strong in Indonesian society; that injustice is what the poor and the weak get; and that activists who make Indonesia a better place are in constant danger.
As President Susilo Bambang Yudhoyono has just celebrated his 100th day in office, his people wish him well in the months to come. He cannot go wrong by focusing on such priorities as Aceh's tsunami recovery, the economy, fighting corruption, infrastructures and education.
He would be wise, however, to make sure that justice is served in the cases of Munir, Rudy, and Farid. If not, these cases may harm his presidency.
Most importantly, if justice is not served in these cases, they will damage Indonesia's international image as a young, promising democracy.
Mr. President, progress awaits you. So does justice.
The writer is a Jakarta-based columnist. His new book is The Indonesian Dream: Unity, Diversity, and Democracy in Times of Distrust.
The Jakarta Post
Thursday, February 17, 2005
Jakarta, Customs Top Graft List
By Tony Hotland, Jakarta
In the eyes of the business community, Jakarta is the most corrupt city and the customs service the most corrupt institution in the country, according to a survey by Transparency International Indonesia (TII), the results of which were revealed on Wednesday.
Of 21 cities/regencies surveyed, the country's capital was perceived to be the most corrupt by the business community, followed by the major provincial capitals and industrial centers of Surabaya, Medan and Semarang.
Getting positive reviews were the smaller cities of Wonosobo, Banjarmasin, and Makassar, which were perceived as being the least corrupt cities in the country.
The survey compiled the responses to questionnaires and face-to-face interviews with 1,305 business owners and top managers from local and multinational firms operating in the 21 areas.
The questions mostly centered around the need to pay bribes in order to obtain public procurement contracts and business permits, and also the level of satisfaction with the services provided by local government institutions.
"It's quite saddening that the ambivalence of local businessmen as regards bribery actually exacerbates the problem," said Todung Mulya Lubis, a member of the TII's board of directors.
The survey confirmed public concerns about deep-rooted corruption within government institutions, and served to back up a Transparency International (TI) survey that ranked Indonesia as the fifth most corrupt country out of 146 surveyed last year.
The 2004 Indonesian Corruption Perception Index survey, conducted between October and December last year, was conducted in cooperation with, among other bodies, the Berlin-based TI and the European Commission.
The 21 cities were selected based on a number of factors and discussions, including with the Indonesian Chamber of Commerce and Industry (Kadin), and were ranked on a scale of zero to 10, with zero indicating the most corrupt.
Besides identifying the country's most corrupt areas, the survey also said that the customs service, police, and armed forces were the institutions where bribery was most common.
A total of 140 respondents said they had to pay bribes to the custom service approximately 31 times per year, with the average amount paid each time being Rp 38 million (US$4,086).
Meanwhile, over half of the respondents believed that strict law enforcement with severe punishments for culprits were essential for eliminating corruption in the country, and were believed to be more important than higher salaries.
Therefore, most of them hoped the government would press ahead with the hard task of reforming the country's weak legal system.
International Herald Tribune
Thursday, February 17, 2005
Yudhoyono, Indonesia's Man in Charge
By Michael Vatikiotis - Op-Ed Contributor
Jakarta -- Three months into his presidency, Susilo Bambang Yudhoyono is discovering one of the realities of Indonesian politics: Power is in the eye of the beholder. The 55-year-old retired general rode to power on the back of a powerful popular mandate won not just once, but over two rounds of direct elections. Yet within weeks of taking office in October, he was battling speculation that his presidency was already a lame duck after his running mate and vice president, Yusuf Kalla, won control of the country's largest political party, Golkar.
Part of the problem here is that Indonesians judge their leaders by perceptions of the manner in which they wield power, not necessarily by the ends it achieves. As in other Southeast Asian countries, the political elite in Indonesia thrives on rivalry and the factionalism this breeds. A divided executive branch breeds opportunities for advancement; a strong unified leadership limits the options for politicking.
So the Jakarta political circuit is buzzing with speculation that the wily vice president, a businessman-turned-politician from Makassar in South Sulawesi, is actually running the show, and Yudhoyono sits idly in the palace, a profoundly inaccurate picture.
Despite polls that show his popularity in decline, casual conversations with ordinary Indonesians in Jakarta point to a large reservoir of goodwill toward SBY, as the president is popularly known. There is an earnestness and eagerness about the president's boyish expression that inspires confidence and faith. And there is a new buoyant mood in the air, despite the tsunami that struck North Sumatra and cost hundreds of thousands of lives.
Indonesians are very proud of the direct presidential elections last year. For once they can hold their heads high in the world. A Jakarta-based politician just back from a visit to Europe and the United States said that it was the first time he had seen Indonesian diplomats take pride in their country. In March, Indonesia assumes chairmanship of the Human Rights Commission in Geneva. The United States is reaching out to re-establish military ties, and the
government in Jakarta has entered into a new process of negotiation with the Acehnese independence movement.
Yudhoyono can and should take credit for this new mood of optimism, which incidentally has a knock-on effect on trade and investment. The tsunami has no visible impact on investor confidence in Indonesia, which is brimming at long last because corporations from near and far sense that the country has at last turned a corner and is ready to emerge from the crisis mode in which it has suffered for almost the past eight years.
None of this has been affected so far by perceptions of a rift between Yudhoyono and his vice president, nor should it. Yudhoyono has made it plain in recent interviews that he is in charge, and that Kalla is there, as he archly puts it "to assist the president." Kalla's bid for the Golkar chairmanship, Yudhoyono claims, was his idea, because he needed a strong ally in Parliament. Kalla's lead role in the negotiations with the Acehnese is, he maintains, entirely appropriate. "Nothing that is done by the vice president is unknown to me," Yudhoyono told Tempo magazine in an interview earlier this month.
But that's not to say that Yudhoyono is making it easy to win praise. Critics say that the president is slow and indecisive. No one considers that he is disinterested or ill intentioned, like some of his predecessors, but he has been slow to act, and this often leaves the impression that Kalla, a hard-nosed businessman with the can-do spirit, is making things happen faster.
It's probably more accurate to characterize Yudhoyono's ponderous quality as more cultural baggage. Another feature of power in Indonesia, especially among the majority Javanese - including Yudhoyono - is their predilection to caution, caution to a fault, often involving protracted searches for divine wisdom and propitious moments.
Judging from the track record of one former Javanese president, Suharto, caution can easily be mistaken for inaction. It took Suharto nearly a decade to consolidate his power and assert his authority in full. But when he finally acted, it was decisively and with authority. Yudhoyono talks about the five years he has to implement his policies. The problem in a democracy is that it's the voters who set the pace, not the fortunetellers.
Michael Vatikiotis is former editor of the Far Eastern Economic Review.
Environmentalists say massive timber theft uncovered in Indonesia's Papua
Jakarta, Feb. 17 (AFP) - Environmental investigators say they have uncovered massive timber smuggling from Indonesia's Papua province to China in what they described as the world's largest logging racket involving one wood species.
The London-based Environmental Investigation Agency (EIA) said 300,000 cubic meters (more than 10 million cubic feet) of merbau wood is being smuggled out of Papua every month to feed China's timber processing industry.
Merbau is a hardwood mainly used for flooring.
"It's probably the largest smuggling case that we've come across in our time of research on illegal logging in Indonesia," Julian Newman, the group's head of forest campaigns, told a press conference.
"This illegal trade is threatening the last large tract of pristine forests in the whole Asia-Pacific region," he said.
China has become the world's largest buyer of illegal timber owing to a continued economic boom, the EIA said.
The investigation has revealed that in a just a few years, a small anchorage in eastern China has been transformed into the largest tropical log trading port in the world, the group said in its report issued Thursday.
A nearby town has become a global center for wood flooring production with 500 factories together consuming one merbau tree every minute, the report said.
The EIA said illegal logging in Papua involved Indonesian military and civilian officials, Malaysian logging gangs and multinational companies, brokers in Singapore and dealers in Hong Kong.
Syndicates pay around 200,000 dollars per shipment in bribes to ensure the contraband logs are not intercepted in Indonesian waters. Indonesia has banned the export of logs, to curb illegal logging.
"There's no denying that military officers are involved in illegal logging," said Muhammad Yayat Alfianto of the Indonesian environmental group Telapak, which worked together with the EIA in the investigation.
Sam Lawson of the EIA said merbau smuggling was worth one billion dollars a year based on the wood's value in the West.
The profits are vast as Papuan communities only received around 10 dollars for each cubic meter of merbau felled on their land, while the same logs fetch as much as 270 dollars per cubic meter in China.
"Papua has become the main illegal logging hotspot in Indonesia. The communities of Papua are paid a pittance for trees taken from their land, while timber dealers in Jakarta, Singapore and Hong Kong are banking huge profits," said Alfianto.
Indonesia is losing forest areas the size of Switzerland every year, according to the EIA.