21 July 2010

The Power of Journalism, Citizen Journalists, and Bloggers...

Poor old SBY has got his talking heads out trying to spin the rebuff he gave to Susi Haryani and her badly burnt son, Ridho Januar.

The president's men, in this case the talking head is Julian Aldrin Pasha, are now telling us that they are responsible for the treatment that young Ridho is getting because they coordinated the response with Pertamina and the Cipto Mangunkusumo hospital.

This may be true, but it only became true after the poor treatment was exposed in the press, initially by the Jakarta Globe, and then picked up on by new media types like bloggers, twitterers, Facebookers, and the like.

This is damage control, this is reactive and not pro-active. SBY and his merry men and women had a choice. They made a bad choice and are now trying to save a little face. Sad!

The outpouring of support for Susi and Ridho was immediate and large. There were quite a number of donors ready to stump up much-needed cash to see Ridho get the treatment he needs to recover from his very serious burns. However, to her credit, Susi has been unequivocal in stating that she does not want the money and she does not want to manage it. Her choice is to send it to the hospital and they can sort out how much the cost is and how much of it the donors have covered.

Perhaps, a trust fund of some description managed by an independent party would be a better choice, but at least it would seem that through the generous giving of donors the treatment costs are covered. Unfortunately, this means that PT Pertamina will look to shirk its responsibility and pass of the expenses to donors.

It has not been surprising that both the president and Pertamina have been trying to pass the buck to each other on this one. Pertamina claiming that the exploding gas cylinders are the result of poor and rushed policy making on the run. And, the government claiming that Pertamina are cutting corners and putting out inferior product into the market. Well, maybe it is not quite that simple, but a cursory reading gets one to that point.

Well, Mr. President, if you really do care and you really are responsible for all this coordination, why is it that these gas cylinders are still exploding and maiming innocents like young Ridho? Sometimes a president has to make the hard calls and do what has to be done, perhaps now is one of those times. Time to harden up and face down the special interests and start being presidential.

Ho hum...

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