To start fresh, dump excess baggage this election year
Ati Nubaiti ; A staff writer at The Jakarta Post
JAKARTA POST, 30 Maret 2014
Remnants of the past will always be a barrier to progress, so it is up to today’s generation and the ability of leaders to listen to them to dump unnecessary baggage and move on.
There are three recent examples of baggage weighing down the nation’s progress.
First, the mindset that it is normal for high officials to receive gifts; second, the notion that everyone misses Soeharto; and third, the idea we all yearn for military figures in leadership positions. Spare us, please.
The first example relates to justices blithely receiving iPods as souvenirs from their colleagues’ parties, then saying to the Corruption Eradication Commission (KPK): “We don’t think this is a gratuity that should be returned.”
These were justices of the Supreme Court, leaving one to wonder whether the court will soon have its few remaining credible members wiped away with poison, judging from the past unexplained deaths of a few good men in the civil and military services.
KPK chief Abraham Samad reminded us that it was the “lavish lifestyle” of high public officials, not the iPods, which could lead to the “seeds of corruption”.
The judges’ reaction and their supporters in the Indonesian Judges Association (Ikahi) showed us that high officials like them do not understand the widespread resentment of habitual corruption and the continuous cheering for the KPK, despite some shortcomings.
The second example of excess baggage was evidenced by Golkar Party chief Aburizal Bakrie. He almost drew pity as Golkar seemed to have nothing better to do than to pitch the view, as he said, that Golkar benefits from the people’s yearning for the good old days of the late president Soeharto.
Was Aburizal drawing on the logic of Thaksin Shinawatra, the former Thai prime minister said to draw the bulk of support from rural areas? Maybe many farmers remember Soeharto’s gentle smile and his meetings with them, and mainly the more intensive training of farmers compared to today.
Yet Aburizal’s statement is in contrast to the work of new and old Golkar members who have apparently been trying to adjust themselves to the aspirations of a more democratic nation, with freedoms that Soeharto never allowed.
Indonesian Democratic Party of Struggle (PDI-P) chairperson Megawati Soekarnoputri and her underlings are doing much to tone down anyone’s merry feelings surrounding Jakarta Governor Joko “Jokowi” Widodo being nominated presidential candidate of the PDI-P.
While anything Mega says is a mystery until D-Day, when she decides on a clear statement, PDI-P suggestions that a military man might do for vice president just reflect another example of an old mindset detached from today’s developments — though the suggestion might just be one of the PDI-P’s tricks to gain public input.
In the chaotic post-Soeharto years, many among us looked around for a strong, firm figure, and all the political parties, including the PDI-P, approached retired military officers just as they approached celebrities.
Then, retired general Susilo Bambang Yudhoyono became the first twice-directly elected president. He went at lengths to say all the right things for a leader of an emerging democracy and also showed all the signs of a new age, sensitive male with a lot of tears. In the end no one got a “strong and firm” figure from the retired general, and his musical talents became compared to Gen. (ret) Wiranto.
We do need the Indonesian Military (TNI) of course, but for what? The TNI must continue to reform so it becomes professional and more equipped to safeguard the archipelago; to completely drop dwi fungsi (dual role of the armed forces) as it promised, instead of trying to take a slow U-turn right back to the New Order principal of dual function, or having the military active in defense and non-defense matters, meaning all spheres of national life.
Together with civilians, the TNI must end impunity as a central way of achieving professionalism and accountability. Otherwise, we should not be surprised why human rights classes at the police and military academies are taking so long to show evidence of a reformed National Police and TNI.
It is this failure of military reform that has taken a great chunk out of any credibility that the military might still have. The old guard may say the civilians really love the military personnel around them, that is why territorial commands have been increased rather than reduced; or that civilians allowed the country to become so chaotic and even attacked by terrorists and could become even worse if they, the military, do not take charge.
The hundreds of retired officers showing support for presidential candidate Prabowo Subianto on Thursday would do the nation a great service if they understood why we need the military, and why we don’t.
The civilian bureaucracy and politicians have also been hard to reform, but at least they do not shoot their superiors when they are angry, as is the suspected motive of the latest shooting of a police officer by his subordinate.
So let us drop all this excess baggage — the cluelessness of our fight against graft and the yearning for the Soeharto era and a military leader, regardless of the much needed reform of civil-military ties.
It is such notions that have bogged us down all these long years after 1998 and will serve to keep us in the dumps.
Our youth deserves much, much better. ●