20 July 2009
SBY -- Flustered?
My previous post on the recent bombings in Jakarta and the speech by SBY in the aftermath dealt with the idea that he used his position as president to take advantage of the tragic events to score a few political points and to finger the opposition of being involved. Now, it may well turn out after the investigation that the president's accusations are borne out and Prabowo was the man.
However, all early indications are suggesting that this was a JI, or remnants of JI, operation with a man by the name of Nur Hasbi (or Nur Aziz) allegedly being at least one of the suicide bombers. It seems that Nur Hasbi has links to JI and to Abu Bakar Ba'asyir through Al-Mukmin Ngruki Islamic Boarding School (Pesantren).
The Sydney Morning Herald and their correspondent on the ground in Jakarta, Tom Allard, is running a story with the headline that the speech indicates that Dr. Yudhoyono is flustered and that the speech in which he links his rivals (primarily Prabowo) to the bombing violence as being extraordinary. The sense of extraordinary being that the speech and the linking of his rivals runs counter to what most people would have expected considering the nature of the events. The story goes on to suggest that this is raising serious concerns about the president's judgment in a crisis situation.
When you are like me, to suggest that the president might have a few judgment issues and that he took advantage of a tragic situation to score political points is likely to get you labeled as a foreigner (or as Indonesians prefer to call their white foreign folk, bule) trying to read too much into a situation, or simply not understanding the Indonesian dynamic or "way" because you are white (there are plenty of examples of this -- See Indonesia Matters for a sampling of these types of comments). This is always an easy way out of having to debate the real issues of substance. It always reminds me of the kid who brings the ball for the footy match and when he gets picked last, decides he would rather take the ball and go home than play.
The substantive issues in the speech are critical and must be addressed. It is time for the president to ante-up if he is intending to stand by the statements that he has made. Specifically, the idea that the attack was really an attack by the political elites of Indonesia against him personally. The president talks in his speech about Indonesia being a country where the rule of law applies and a place where evidence is required to gain a conviction. Now would see like an appropriate time to put forward a little more convincing proof than a few photos and a video of some balaclava clad supposed terrorists shooting at a mugshot of the president.
Furthermore, that there is or was a plan to take over the General Election Commission headquarters on the announcement of his presumed victory in the recent presidential elections. If there is enough intelligence floating around that this "attack" was a real possibility then there is enough intelligence obviously that the attack would have been thwarted. How about some evidence being released and the arrest of some of the would-have-been perpetrators of this brazen attack on Indonesian democracy and the headquarters of the KPU.
Finally, the president has indirectly linked Prabowo as being an instigator of the bombings and presumably the impending violent response to the announcement of the presidential election results on 27 July 2009. This really does require a little bit of support in terms of evidence. It will be interesting to see whether Prabowo and his legal team thinks there is enough in the statement to start some defamation proceedings. Anyone who knows anything about Prabowo's questionable human rights history knows that the references in SBY's speech can only be about Prabowo.
The speech was extraordinary. It was extraordinary because the speech was prepared prior to it being given. This was a planned and calculated attempt to use a tragic set of circumstances for personal political gain. Even if at some point in the future the president's assertions are proven to be true, specifically that his political rivals are involved, it still does not condone the method or the timing of the speech to launch a personal attack of his own. It cannot be forgotten that this is a case where innocent Indonesians and foreigners lost their lives in attack that was anything but a personal attack on the president.