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Indonesia: “What's wrong, Mr. President?”

Categories: East Asia, Indonesia, Politics


President Susilo Bambang Yudhoyono

The speech of Indonesian President Susilo Bambang Yudhoyono on the eve of the country's Independence Day celebration disappointed many people, including netizens. Could this be a sign that the president, who secured a big mandate in the elections, is already losing the public support?

Lawmakers said [2][id] that the president's speech didn't mention some contemporary issues like sovereignty and consumer security.

For example, a fresh border spat between Indonesia and Malaysia took place last weekend when several Malaysian fishermen were arrested by Indonesian sea patrol for fishing on Indonesian waters. Polis Diraja Malaysia (Malaysian Royal Police) intercepted the fishermen’s arrest and in return captured three Indonesian officers. The incident is currently under investigation and the release of three officers is being negotiated.

The deadly explosions [3] coming from faulty canister of subsidized liquefied gas (LPG) continue to fuel anti-government sentiments in the country. The number of casualties is still rising despite intensified efforts to minimize accidents.

Puan Maharani, granddaughter of Indonesian first president Sukarno and heiress to a prominent political clan, said [4] that president SBY’s speech disregarded the people’s welfare in general.

Critics noted that the president's appeal to all Indonesians about the need of “living harmoniously in a pluralistic society” is contradicted by his silence to the recent attacks against Christian congregations outside of Jakarta, the country's capital. He is also mum about the attack in the Ahmadiyyah community in West Java by Islamic Defenders Front, an extremist group that advocates Sharia-based laws in the secular country.

Relly Jehato [5], who blogs at Kompasiana blog network said that the speech was normative and lacking in sincere problem-solving plans.

Sulit memang untuk menemukan perubahan yang benar-benar masif pada pemerintahan SBY. Mengapa? Keberhasilan seorang SBY sangat ditentukan oleh kualitas reformasi pada berbagai institusi dan kepentingan politik lain yang menyertai dan menopangnya. Mulai dari jajaran birokrasi, aparat penegak hukum, parleman, partai politik, dan masyarakat sipil.

It’s difficult to spot massive changes that SBY’s government has promised. Why? Because its success should be determined by quality reforms of institutions and other supporting factors — bureaucrats, law enforcers, parliament, political parties and the people.

He concluded:

Persoalannya, sejujmlah institusi tersebut masih berada dalam kondisi sekarat alias sarat masalah. Ini diperumit oleh sikap SBY yang kerap bimbang, ambigu, tidak tegas, lamban, dan cenderung kompromisti. Kita pun lantas bertanya: apakah pidato SBY kali ini masih omong doang, sama seperti penilaian banyak kalangan?…Kita tunggu dan lihat saja…

The problem is that most of the institutions mentioned above are beset by problems and the president’s indecisiveness and compromising nature complicate things (as part of the reform roadmap). Many wondered: was the speech an empty talk?  (I guess) We should just wait and see..

Here are few comments from Indonesian Twittersphere:

@ekyamiruddin [6]:  SBY banyak dikritik orang. Dan tdk keliatan demokrat mendukungnya. Hmmm, what's wrong mr president ?

SBY criticized by many and Demokrat (author’s note: his political party) didn’t seem to defend their leader. what's wrong mr president ?

@SayRizal [7]: Presiden SBY Pidato, Banyak pejabat yg tidur, BBan, Catur, dll, Contoh seorang pemimpin yang sudah tidak punya lagi wibawa #indonesia65

During his speech, many officials were either sleeping, updating their Blackberry, etc. An example of leader who’s losing his charisma.

@bhe_es [8]: @fadjroel :sedih rasanya mendengar pidato kenegaraan presiden SBY,,hanya berisi pandangan dan tujuan semu yang menjadi khayalan …

It’s sad to hear that SBY’s speech was filled with vague visions, goals, and imaginations.