SBY should serve the people, not Bakrie and Kalla
Jim Middleton: There seems to be a certain complacency about the Indonesian elections. Is that simply because the elections are still a few months away, or is it because a decade of democracy failed to live up to its promise?
Wimar Witoelar: We have an elections for the parliament in which even the list of candidates has not been announced, and we have an election for the president where the candidates are not convincing. The only who seems to be well-known is the current President, who is also quite disappointing to major sectors of the population.
JM: So after a decade of democracy, is there a mood to return to an autocratic government?
WW: Absolutely not. We are very happy to be in a democracy after 32 years of autocracy. Although there is some dissatisfaction causing the current malaise, it’s not nearly as bad as the oppression we suffered for 32 years. Of course among the younger generation who were not around during the Suharto years, there might be some romanticism handed down by their parents and grandparents who benefited from the Suharto regime. But it is natural in a democracy to have opposing viewpoints.
JM: So what needs to be done to overcome the current malaise, as you put it?
WW: The answer in one big word is voter education. But with implementation in attractive ways. Socialization in the media, good campaigns, and all that. Encouraging people that voting is the best way to get out of this dissatisfaction. Voting is not a one-time process. If we don’t make it this time we will try again the next time. That’s the message we are spreading around.
JM: What are the issues in these elections? Is it the economy?
WW: It should be the main issue. Unfortunately Indonesian elections have not been about issues, instead they are personality driven. And maybe based on track records. If Yudoyono and Megawati are both candidates then they will be compared on the basis of track records
JM: Why is it that corruption is less of an issue in the Indonesian campaign?
WW: Because all the candidates are corrupt, Jim. It does not distinguish one candidate from the other. Yudoyono started with a clean slate, but he has been compromised by acting in collusion with the business interests of his closest people. He has to stop supporting the big business interests of Bakrie and Jusuf Kalla then he would lose his identity. Fortunately we joist read today that President Yudoyono has finally reproached Bakrie for their negligence in paying damages to the victims of the Lapindo mud flow disasters. It is very very late as the victims are starting to seek asylum in the Netherlands, but at least it indicates he is aware of the implications.
JM: Many of the big players who have funded some candidates have lost money in the crisis. But apparently not the Suharto family?
WW: That is a very astute observation. The Bakrie family lost a lot of money and they are in trouble, but Suharto will never be in trouble because they have so much money. Even of they lost half of their money they would still be the richest family in Asia.
JM: Is it right that this is still President Yudoyono’s election to lose?
WW: Yes, it is his to lose if he forgets the true reason for his victory in 2004 which is the trust of the people, and instead hangs on to corrupt business people like Cabinet Minister Bakrie and Vice President Kalla. I think he is coming to that realization.
Interview on the Australian Network, December 4, 2008 – PerspektifOnline
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