The shape of the world a generation from now will be influenced far more by how we communicate the values of our society to others than by military or diplomatic superiority. William Fulbright, 1964

Monday, October 20, 2014



“Most countries have oligarchs, but in Indonesia the oligarchs have a country. They have been lording it over us for so long, arresting the nation from its march toward the common good.

That neat piece of prose by Driyarkara School of Philosophy academic B Herry-Priyono in  The Jakarta Post brought a thoughtful touch to the 20 October inauguration of Indonesia’s seventh president, Joko (Jokowi) Widodo.

The pomp was low key and the organisation professional.  Some of the old guard looked sour, but at least they came.  There weren’t too many uniforms.

The event went smoothly despite predictions of a boycott by Jokowi’s rival, former general Prabowo Subianto whose presence was formally recognised and applauded during the 90 minute event. This was despite the bully, who took more than three months to concede defeat, having no position equal to the assembled politicians, diplomats and world leaders – plus partners. 

Jokowi even called Prabowo, who has spent the past few months slandering, insulting and undermining him at every turn, his ‘friend’. What more evil has to be done to become an enemy?
But this is Java, so perhaps it went some way to placating a man with anger and dollars enough to create havoc and destroy the people’s choice.

Before the anthems,  protocols and a conga-line of handshakers,  a jocular Jokowi chatted with reporters and showed off his family, with his eldest son Gibran Rakabuming Raka, giving a splendid performance of surliness.  Maybe that’s his Australian education rubbing off.

The body language and brief comments by his other two kids and wife Iriana also showed they’d rather be elsewhere.  Fair enough – she married a timber trader, not a leader of the nation. Did anyone ask her if she ever wanted to be First Lady? No, but they did comment on her hairdo and ask what shoes she’d wear, a question I didn’t hear being put to her husband.

When Pak Jokowi started his speech it seemed it would be another faltering performance.  Then, suddenly, President Jokowi emerged, speaking strongly and moving with dignity.  Some people are born to rule – others grow into the job.
But beware the oligarchs. They never forget and seldom forgive.  And whatever the President might say, they are no friends of reform and democracy.

Statement seen on Facebook:

We, the People, have spoken. Hear our voice.
You were not chosen to gather riches for yourself, or for your family and friends.
You were not chosen to ride in big cars swaggering through our crowded streets, sweeping us aside like rubbish.
You were not chosen to make secret deals with VIPs in fancy hotels while we wait for the crumbs from your table.
You were not chosen to sell our motherland, our heritage, our future.
You were chosen to lead us to a land where equality, fairness and justice flourish. You are us and we are you.
Forget us and you will betray yourself and our beloved nation.
We, the People, have spoken. 
Hear our voice.

Feel a little pity for Greg Sheridan.
The foreign editor for a once worthy newspaper, he now sees himself as the Expert on Indonesia.  In some quarters, namely those owned by his boss Rupert Murdoch, he is described as being ‘most influential.’
Sheridan isn’t just another hack in the scrum with a battered tape recorder and ripped notebook.  This is a man who walks on the other side of the security fence.
Last year he told The Jakarta Post that Australian Prime Minister Tony Abbott had been his friend for almost 40 years, asking his readers to “keep an open mind about our new prime minister … who comes to Indonesia … full of goodwill.”
In case some might think Sheridan had left The Australian and joined his friend’s PR office he added that he also loves Indonesia.  These honeyed words got him interviews with former president Susilo Bambang Yudhoyono, but not Jokowi.
It was bad enough that Jokowi’s advisers bestowed a one-on-one interview to The New York Times, but they also included Australia’s Fairfax Media, publishers of The Age and Sydney Morning Herald.
In brief, Sheridan was scooped.
Like Probowo he then threw a hissy fit, condemning the Fairfax story and trying to cap it with one of his own – an interview with “one of the most senior officials in Indonesia.”
As this person wasn’t named we can only assume he’s as ‘most influential’ with the new government as Sheridan.


The Cabinet.  Who's in, who's out.  Selected by merit or through the old mates' club?  Details expected 21 October.

No comments: