19 August 2010
SBY and a Third Term as President?
Ruhut Sitompul seems to want to return to his comedic acting roots by suggesting that the Constitution should be amended so that the current two-term limit on presidents can be extended to three terms or more.
The problem I have with this is not amending the Constitution. In a democracy the amending of the Constitution is possibly. There are strict rules in place for how this is done. If they are followed, and this is truly the will of the Indonesian people then so be it.
However, how quickly we forget. Indonesia is only a little more than ten years removed from what was a period of guided democracy under Soekarno, Indonesia's first president, and the ruthless, iron-fisted dictatorship of Soeharto. Both of these periods saw the slaughter of untold numbers of Indonesians. The very power to do this came from the fact that power was quickly consolidated and no term limits forced political change to occur no matter how minimal.
Look, the term limit system is not perfect, one only has to look at Russia and how Vladimir Putin has manipulated the political term limits system to ensure that he remains a powerful force, but that does not make it right.
So, how should we view Ruhut's latest jaunt into controversy? The cynic, or conspiracy theorist, in me says that this is a far more elaborate, and cunning, plan than people and media are giving it credit for. At the moment, most people seem to think that this is just "crazy old Ruhut trying to make a name for himself and get into the papers and on TV."
To the contrary, this could just as easily be the Democrat Party testing the waters for a move to introduce a constitutional amendment to parliament in a move to change term limit laws. By getting Ruhut to put the suggestion out there in the public sphere allows Yudhoyono and the Democrat Party to put at arm's length the statements of Ruhut.
This might seem surprising to some, but it is easier enough to do as Ruhut has always been viewed as the one that might let his mouth get into gear before his brain does. This in, and of itself, is surprising because Ruhut is obviously not a stupid man, this idea aside, so it seems strange to write this off as the ramblings of a crazy old politician with nothing better to do.
Hence, the idea that this may in fact be the Democrat Party, on Yudhoyono's instructions, testing the waters. After all, power tends to corrupt, if you search the annals of Indonesian political media coverage you will uncover plenty of statements to the effect that Yudhoyono only wanted to serve the people of Indonesia and he only wanted to do that for one term. He is now on his second term.
There is no legal harm in SBY doing a constitutionally permitted second term. There is plenty of social harm though, in popularly electing to a second term, a president who talks the talk but cannot walk the walk on corruption, among other problems.
Hopefully, the Indonesian people will react negatively to the idea of SBY doing a third term as president and this little sideshow can be put to bed forever.