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.
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.
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?