Dear esteemed members,
The continuing saga of reform efforts in
It is noteworthy to see how the KPK deals with the hope of the Indonesian people who have been discouraged for generations in dealing with corruption issues. Just established about one year ago, with limitations in funds and institutional support, the KPK has brought 3 government officials, including the incumbent Governor of Aceh, to Court, where they were found guilty by the
One issue that may have silenced critics for now is the fact that despite the fact that terrorism is still a big issue for most governments in the Western hemisphere, Indonesia is able to prove that the growth of Islamic parties has not lead to chaos in the democratization process in Indonesia. The winners of the general election were largely political parties supportive of national and business interests. The Islamic parties are well-suited in the new democratic system, and they prefer to speak up in the benches of the Parliament to defend their interests rather than becoming a radical opposition. The significant growth of the PKS, the Justice and Prosperous Party, which is filled with young people who have declared their platform against corruption and poverty have amazed many political analysts who now predict that a future with PKS in the big picture is a viable future for Indonesia. The verdict is that Islamic parties and people in
The confusion felt by most observers however relates to recent development of an apparently growing rivalry between SBY and his running mate, Jusuf Kalla, in many important executive decisions. General consensus has acknowledged Kalla, the chairman of Golkar that still dominates bureaucracy, has a different way of running things, and this situation supports speculations that both will compete in the 2009 elections. Despite reform efforts in the judiciary, recently, the Supreme Court has shortened the imprisonment length of Tommy Suharto, the son of former President Suharto, who has been declared guilty of influencing the murder of a Justice at the Supreme Court, from 15 to 10 years on a technicality. An Indonesian court has also freed Nurdin Halid, member of the Parliament from the Golkar fraction, who is a businessman and chairman of a cooperative that was alleged to have committed corrupt acts. An Indonesian court also convicted Adiguna Sutowo for only 7 years for the cold-blooded murder of a young bar tender in Sutowo’s Hilton Hotel Jakarta, a decision that people believe to be related to corrupt practices in the Indonesian judiciary systems. Recently, a lawyer was caught red-handed by the KPK when he was delivering a bribe to the anti-corruption judges in the High Court of Jakarta in connection with the corruption case of Abdullah Puteh, the Governor of Aceh. The next day, the judges abruptly confirmed the verdict of the lower court in convicting the Governor of Aceh for 10 years.
In the business sector, we are still waiting for the willingness of the administration to be consistent with SBY’s marketing deals. There is uncertainty on how the Cemex case is to be resolved. The 3-G telecommunication licenses are to be re-tendered. Confusion exists on which law shall govern the multimedia and pay-television businesses: the Telecommunication Law or the newly-issued Broadcasting Law. Also the recent sale of Pertamina’s Very Large Crude Carriers has created controversy – not only has the matter become a court case involving the Anti-trust Commission (KPPU), but it has now gone to the parliament, which has just formed a special team to investigate if fraud was involved. These are some examples that stress the need for foreign investors to have a better understanding on domestic politics, socio-cultural changes, and how the legal system can be effectively enforced. This is a heavy homework for SBY. He needs to commit to a larger amount of effort and to invite more support from all layers of Indonesian society. And fortunately he is not alone.
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Arief T. Surowidjojo
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