09 October 2010

More on the SBY Trip to Holland That Wasn't...

Well, it is hardly surprising that the spin would come. The need to explain and justify why the Indonesian President pulled the plug on a state visit to The Netherlands just minutes before a scheduled departure from Halim Perdanakusuma airport in East Jakarta was paramount in trying to salvage some respect for the president.

It is not surprising either that the old ways have come to the fore again; make this an issue of national pride and paint the other side as unethical and morally corrupt. Paranoia?

It would seem that the president's biggest beef about what transpired is that any decision by a Dutch court to hear any case against him is a breach of the bilateral relationship. Mr. President, are you serious? Maybe, you need to get some new advisors on what constitutes a breach of the bilateral relationship. While you are at it, sir, you should get some new legal advisors (preferably at least one with some significant current international legal experience). Then, you might reconsider who you have on the ground in Holland doing the diplomatic bilateral leg work for these visits.

The cancellation of the State visit does not have anything to do with national pride. It has to do with petty ego and the knee-jerk reactions of a president who is more often than not indecisive on all things of importance and more prone to acts of petulance than decisive leadership. The thing that most dented national pride here was the decision to play scared of the RMS petition and presume that the Dutch courts would entertain the petition.

The funniest part of the spin put on this by SBY is the claim that the Dutch courts were in some way unethical in agreeing to look at the petition on the day of his proposed visit. If one is speaking of unethical courts and a legal system in need of significant reform, then he probably has a point. The president should in fact stay at home and fix the problems in his own backyard. After all, the president now seems to be all about sending the "right" messages. So, Mr. President, start sending those right messages.

But even funnier still is that he has set himself a precedent that all but ensures that any individual or group that feels the need to force the president's hand need only lodge a petition in a court of law. The president, in order to maintain consistency, would be left with no choice but to jump up and down claiming unethical breaches of bilateral relations and cancel his trip.

I wonder if the Free Papua Movement in Australia has considered this option? The next time there is even distant chatter that the president might be planning a trip to Australia the FPM should start planning a petition and lodge it about 48 hours before the State visit is scheduled to start.

Ultimately, Mr. President, human rights violations are serious breaches of international law. Sir, there are ethical considerations, moral considerations, in fact, there are human considerations to be had here. The reality Mr. President is that the Dutch courts function pretty well in comparison to your own. Let's face it, the chances of you being arrested and prosecuted for crimes against humanity, including torture, are pretty remote if you have not committed any crimes. To be sure, this would be true for any crime.

But, let's look a little closer to home - a case with no merit can go all the way to the Supreme Court and be reinstated despite public knowledge that the whole case is a fabrication designed to undermine the anti-corruption agency (KPK).

Hold on a minute, Mr. President, wasn't your election platform centered on anti-corruption and the desire to clean up government? Then how does one in your position sit idly by why corrupt powerful interests seek to dismantle the one institution that is likely to drive your post-presidential legacy? Now, what sort of message are you sending Sir?

Ho hum...

8 comments:

H. Nizam said...

Hi Rob,
The presidential advisers should look back at history when the Indonesian govt tried very hard to crush East Timor liberation movement a.o by pressuring other countries to ban their activities.

tikno said...

Hmm... I just can say that he should not cancel his state visit.
Seemingly he dislike the court be held coincide to his visit

Rob Baiton said...

@ Harry...

At this point in time, I do not think there are similar circumstances in which one can compare East Timor (Timor Leste) and Maluku.

I think that it is more of a case of behaving like adults, or in this case mature sovereign nation states, and getting what needs to be done, done.

Rob Baiton said...

@ Tikno...

Long time between comments, my friend! I hope all is well in Tikno-land?

Yes, he seemingly dislikes the ethics of the court in listing a hearing for the day of his arrival. However, I am not a subscriber to the theory that two wrongs make a right.

Even if there was a case to be made for Indonesian national pride, there is not, then cancelling the State visit has the same unethical and diplomatic concerns that SBY is trying to talk up as justification...hence two wrongs not making a right.

If there truly was any offense in the Dutch handling of this matter, then SBY and Indonesia would have been better served by adopting the high moral ground and going ahead with the state visit. Instead SBY sank to the level he was complaining about as being bad form.

Sad man, sad president!

Jakartass said...

Yep, this was very immature of him, and so says the man on the Jakarta bus.

rani said...

Hi Rob,

I do think he needs better advisors, not (I suspect) the yes-men he has now. Or maybe just stop trying to imitate Obama, at least the latter had a more justified reason and decency not to announce the cancellation mere minutes before he supposed to take off.

I'm in NL now and my uni was one of the places that SBY was supposed to visit. With all the pre-visit hassles (presentation preparations, security arrangement etc), no wonder many people at the uni regret the turn of event. Heck, even the clerk at the theatre I went to yesterday said it was a pity that he didn't come.

Rob Baiton said...

@ Jakartass...

Yep, I swung by and read your little piece on the same set of shenanigans that I am commenting on here.

Interesting. I am still chuckling at all the spin doctors arguing that the Indonesian people are overwhelmingly in favour of the President sticking it to the former colonial masters!

Ho hum...

Rob Baiton said...

@ Rani...

Yep, it was a little bit over-the-top. But, perhaps your uni could invite him again, and 10 minutes before he is scheduled to speak, the uni cancels as says they have someone else instead...Bu Mega maybe?

I am sorry, but your president has "No class".