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.


lawritz said...

YOu and YOUR hell....

Ayah Evert Sudah Ampuni Pelaku Bom
Evert Mocodampis (33) menjadi korban tewas bom di Hotel JW Marriott. Victor Mocodompis, ayah Evert, meminta agar kasus bom ini dituntaskan. Namun, dia mengaku sudah mengampuni pelaku ledakan bom yang jahat itu..........

Rob Baiton said...


A little bit childish even for you!

In none of my posts have I compared the tragedy and suffering of those who lost love ones to something that I can understand or something that I have endured.

That said, I lost a friend in the first Bali Bombings (which was also the night of my wedding reception). So, in that sense and with those who lost friends in these most recent cowardly bombings I can empathize.

My condolences go out to all the families of those who lost loved ones. My condolences especially go out to the wife and child (who was born the day after the bombings) of Evert Mocodompis.

The fact that Evert will never get a chance to see his son nor his son a chance to see his dad is a real tragedy.

What is not a tragedy is a couple of photos of balaclava clad men shooting photos of the president.

So, if you want to grow up a little bit, then feel free to comment again. Better still, if you want to call me out with statements like "You and Your hell", why don't you come out from behind your self-imposed veil of secrecy and we go to and fro on some substance.

lawritz said...

I think you have got me wrong. I may be childish even so.

I am comparing your reaction, of the sort "that they rot in hell" to the father's.

Im not saying you are cruel. I thought that what the father felt would be closer to what I would thought you would feel as a father. You might remember your "hell" comment the other day?

Anyway I think this father is amazing.. I dont think his reaction is stupid. What do you think""

I'll forget about the annonymity stuff. I believe there is a way to not allow non bloggers to comment. If that is what you would prefer.

lawritz (v.2) said...

I think you have got me wrong with my opening. (I may be childish even so - that's debateable too)

In my comment I was comparing your reaction, of the sort "that they rot in hell", to the father's.

Im not saying you are cruel. I thought that what the father felt would be closer to what I would have thought you would have felt as a father. You might remember your "hell" comment the other day?

Anyway I think this father is amazing.. I dont think his reaction is stupid. What do you think?

I'll forget about the annonymity accusations. I believe there is a setting which allows you to not allow non bloggers to comment. If that is what you would prefer?

Rob Baiton said...


Touche :D

I might have got your point if it was with a little more explanation (I am pretty slow on the uptake sometimes).

He is an amazing man to forgive. Ultimately, I would forgive too. One would never forget, but ultimately forgive.

That said, I am not in his shoes and until it happens to you, then it is nothing but mere speculation.

I am pretty sure that if someone hurt Will or my wife or members of my family, then my first reaction would be to be a whole lot more vengeful that forgiving.

In terms of rotting in hell. These gents believe in God and believe that their God condones this kind of brutality and senseless violence in the murdering of innocents.

If it turns out that the bombers are Muslim then it is likely that they have been convinced that turning themselves into bombs and killing innocent people gets them an immediate and direct pass to paradise and 72 virgins or something.

So, in that case they are going to be rudely surprised when they find themselves in hell bashing rocks into pebbles and pebbles into sand for all of eternity.

My point simply being, if they believe in God and paradise they must also believe in hell, and this is where they would end up.

No intention of blocking you or your comments. Although, I was baiting you and seeing whether you could be tempted to come out of the blogging closet (so to speak).

lawritz said...

Understood. Ill be out when I know what I want to come out as... if you get my drift.

YOu just wrote..

So, in that case they are going to be rudely surprised when they find themselves in hell bashing rocks into pebbles and pebbles into sand for all of eternity.

I was driving down to Pacitan the other day and saw just that: tens of coconut leaf shaded booths every 100 m along the twisty road, with little piles rock being broken up by men women and boys -with hammers and bamboo pincers..

I make no comment.

I always suspected your name was not Baiton. I guess now I know. Im a bit slow.

Btw I hope Mr Tree has a good story to tell.

Rob Baiton said...


I have not known Tree not to have a good story to tell. The man always has a good story to tell.

I am certain though that not all of his "stories" make it into the pages of the Treespotter though. Nevertheless, what does, makes you wonder about what else there is.

A man does have to keep some secrets I guess.

Katadia said...

The question is: why did SBY need to score points after a landslide victory? Dum di dum.

Rob Baiton said...


I don't know that this is "the" question. But, it is one of a few that I could think of.

There just was not a need for a lot of the things he said in a "time and place" sense of the moment.

Reminds me of Forrest Gump, "stupid is as stupid does".

Jakartass said...

Ah, but what if ....?

Who are the major figures accusing SBY of 'politicising' the bombings? How come BIN, the army and police intelligence agencies did not react to the warning received two months ago?

One has to wonder at their failure, but then it's not at if they are immune from political allegiances.

Last month, an article in the Jakarta Post had the headline Prabowo’s intelligence contacts give him an edge.

He may have had more support from BIN (and the military) than SBY and the Wiranto pair, but, thankfully, he ended up as an also-ran.

Yes, SBY could - and most seem to be saying 'should' - have solely focussed on the tragic loss of life and on how every agency was working hard to catch the perpetrators, those who had brainwashed the suicide bombers that is. But then the fickle public would have wanted more.

Well, we've got it now, and I don't see how losing a few points in a popularity contest is going to matter to him. He's already spoken about being more assertive in his last term as president, of clamping down on the excesses of the legislature and bureaucracies.

I suspect he'll also be able to bring together the different factions within the non-civilian ranks who failed to prevent this latest outrage.

Rob Baiton said...


Indeed there are not a lot criticizing SBY for what was said. However, there are some, and there are some NGOs banding together as well.

What will come of it? Perhaps nothing! So be it.

The Prabowo possibilities are interesting. Perhaps what was said was done so as a calculated attack to take him and Gerindra out of the game for 2014?

On the warnings. I guess it can go either way; SBY is not in control of those on the ground and this does not bode well for the man being more assertive or he is in control. If he is in control, then what gives?

I do not believe that the Indonesian electorate of people are fickle. This was not about giving the people or the fickle masses what they wanted.

This was simply an opportunity to go on the offensive against his political rivals by taking advantage of a tragic set of circumstances.

Ah yes, the clamping down on the excesses of the Legislature and the Bureaucracy. I wonder if this includes the KPK and the Corruption Court?

I guess the next five years will provide us the answer on your last point. I do not share your optimism though at this point in time.

therry said...

What I can't help but wondering is the bit when SBY was hinting about someone who had done something bad in the past, such as murdering or making people disappear, and that this 'someone' was still untouched by the law.

That has got to be the most ridiculous statement I've ever heard from a president. Or not.

I mean, he was and still the president. If this person is untouched by the law and has done some serious crime, why would he not capture him and put him in jail?

And what's the use of saying something like that amidst this whole tragedy?

So very unwise. But then again, that is so typical of SBY saying something like that.

He always thinks nothing is his fault. Weird. He should be deeply embarassed that he let this slip away. We got bombed once again.

Most of us still hold that so-called Eastern tradition of being humble. I don't see that from SBY. He's totally clueless.

Rob Baiton said...


I don't know that it is the most ridiculous statement I have ever heard from a sitting president, "I never had sexual relations with that woman!"

However, I think it was unnecessary in the context of the events. If SBY wanted to call out Prabowo he could have done it at just about any other time that he wanted to.

This is just poor form and judgment in my view (most people think I just don't understand the Indonesian way, whatever!).

Those that love SBY will be apologist for him. These statements are already making their way into the media sphere such as Anas Urbaningrum's "that is not really what the president meant (or words to that effect)".

In contrast, those less favourable of the president will not the extraordinary or bizarre timing of the outburst. HS Dillon is on the record (see the link to The SMH) as noting that very thing.

I am not sure that the little dummy spit is going to haunt the man on the domestic front. However, I posted last week about Partai Demokrat's intent to lobby hard for SBY to get a look in at the UN as the Secretary General (it seems that I am not the only eternal optimist alive in this world).

Thanks for the comment, appreciated.

therry said...

You're one of my up-to-date sources of national issues in Indonesia so I don't see why you can be perceived as not knowing the 'Indonesian way'.

Besides, what is the 'Indonesian way' anyway? We're all different.

Some foreigners know this country much better than I do. And some are ignorant. But the same thing can be said about the majority of Indonesians, especially when it comes to something as simple as throwing the rubbish in the bin :P (just an example, of course).

Jakartass said...

Short question before my bedtime: Has any president post-Suharto been in total control?

Habibe and Gus Dur got booted out by legislators. Megawati was, and is, the front for hubby Taufik Kiemas (and now Prabowo as well).

Every country needs a counter-balance to executive excesses. I guess, therefore, that most of us in this 'forum' can be pleased that SBY is being criticised.

The current furore will soon die down, to be replaced by other issues, such as Lapindo, Papua, Munir, the Manohara cinetron ....

Rob Baiton said...



Just having a rant moment, that's all. But I am over it now ;)

The rubbish toss might be just one example but it is a good one. There is nothing like walking up Thamrin or down Sudirman and not being able to find a roadside bin as all the plastic bins have been removed and recycled by enterprising trash collectors :D

Rob Baiton said...


I do not hold out a lot of hope on the Lapindo or Munir fronts. I guess if justice is done albeit at a much slower pace than was envisaged or desired, but done, then so be it.

The Manohara case has certainly taken on a life of its own. I am still trying to get my head around the idea of being, allegedly, a victim of some really serious domestic violence and then wanting to sinetron-ize that and relive the whole series of nasty and unsavoury events all over again. I s'pose money is certainly a good pain killer.

On the control front, point taken. However, I don't know that I was thinking of "total" control in an all encompassing sense. I was probably thinking more along the lines of, and similarly to Therry, that the dig at Prabowo was specific and therefore if this is SBY's belief why has he not gone after Prabowo in the past?

The other control issues that I was thinking about were Lapindo and Munir. My personal opinion is that as president he should have been able to force some hands in terms of getting the right people before the courts in the Munir case and getting Bakrie to stop dragging his feet in terms of paying restitution to all those who are deserved of it.

Then again, and as I have said many times previously, nothing would be more pleasing for me to be able to admit the error of my ways and that I was wrong on all counts with regards to the president-elect for a second term.

Jakartass said...

It was strongly rumoured back in 98 in the immediate aftermath of Suharto's 'abdication', that Prabowo, then head of Kostrad (having been booted out of Kopassus following the kidnapping and disappearances - of activists) attempted a coup. Habibie told Wiranto, then army chief, to sort it out. Prabowo was dismissed from the army and went off to turn his millions into billions.

SBY was, if my memory serves, military commander of Jakarta at the time.

Remember that the TNI exercised 'territorial control' over all Indonesian citizens at the time ~ some say they still do even thought the police are now the civil authority. It is well documented how the army, in particular, were, and maybe still are, involved in the Islamic fundamentalist groups and have been heavily involved in stirring up religious strife in, for example, the Moluccas and Central Sulawesi.

Therry, take note: Prabowo is a very scary - I'd say evil - and ambitious man. Maybe SBY chose an opportune time - wide public exposure - to obliquely, in a Javanese way, to bring Prabowo down in public estimation. If so, it's worked.

Whether SBY is his own man or beholden to the political elite, which includes the military, will only be known in a year or so. I suspect that he will go down in Indonesian history as having been the first successful 'democratic' president.

Rob Baiton said...


There is no doubting that Prabowo is a scary man and there seems to be a sufficient number of people in the know about the alleged evil deeds he has perpetrated in his time.

Hopefully, the wheel of justice will turn full circle and he will get what he deserves. If not, I hold out high hopes for karma.

In the context of the moment it was not so oblique even in a Javanese way. He all but called him out by name. Not all that cryptic, considering just about every one is familiar with the allegations about Prabowo's involvement in kidnapping and disappearing activists, as well as the coup attempt that did not get off the ground.

I guess we will see on the first successfully elected democratic president front. However, as I have consistently said, I do not hold out the same level of optimism as you on SBY's ability to marshall the forces of good against evil and then win the war.

Yet, if he does I will be more than happy because this means that the Indonesian people will be in a much better position and a much better place than they are now. I would be more than happy to eat humble pie on this one.