Political Activists Dismayed by Indonesian President’s Statement

By webadmin on 01:25 am Nov 24, 2009
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Camelia Pasandaran & Nivell Rayda

Political activists expressed dismay on Monday night at what they said was a vague, even illogical statement from President Susilo Bambang Yudhoyono concerning the scandals involving the Corruption Eradication Commission and the former Bank Century.

Fadjroel Rachman, a member of the Crisis Management Prevention Committee (Kompak) who once ran as an independent presidential candidate, said Yudhoyono had lost his moral and political legitimacy.

“SBY is over,” he said. “He should peacefully step down. We will spread the idea that he has lost legitimacy.”

At the Central Jakarta offices of human rights group Imparsial, dozens of activists from various institutions had gathered to watch Yudhoyono’s much-anticipated statement on the scandals.

However, what Yudhoyono said left them shaking their heads in disbelief. He reiterated that he believed the case against two suspended deputy chairmen of the antigraft commission, known as the KPK, should not be resolved in a courtroom, but said he would not order the National Police or the Attorney General’s Office to dismiss the case.

“At first I thought the speculation on whether Chandra Hamzah and Bibit Samad Rianto had indeed committed a crime or not can only be settled in a court of law,” Yudhoyono said. “But after observing the condition of society, which has so much distrust in the legal process at the National Police and the Attorney General’s Office, the case has significant social implications and not just legal aspects. I feel strongly that the case should not be brought to court … but still [should be resolved] according to the Constitution, the law and other regulations.”

The activists expected much bolder action. They have been calling for weeks for the charges against Chandra and Bibit — extortion and abuse of power — to be unequivocally dropped. They have also demanded that National Police chief detective Comr. Gen. Susno Duadji be fired, National Police Chief Gen. Bambang Hendarso Danuri and Attorney General Hendarman Supandji be replaced, and businessman Anggodo Widjojo be arrested. Anggodo is a central figure in an alleged plot to frame Chandra and Bibit.

“As a political communications expert, I do not understand the contents of the president’s speech,” said Effendi Gazali of the University of Indonesia. “This is no longer an out-of-court settlement, but an out-of-logic settlement.”

“In the logic of political communication, deduction of certainty is a must. The next step is not clear. Instead he is forming a new team,” he added.

In his statement, Yudhoyono said a new task force would be formed to eradicate the “judicial mafia,” whose role in the country’s legal system has been highlighted by the KPK scandal.

However, political analyst Rocky Gerung, from the University of Indonesia, said the president intentionally made the recommendation sound vague.

“Essentially he is asking politely for the National Police and the AGO to stop the case. He didn’t want to sound like he intervened in a legal case. I hope the National Police and the AGO can decipher the president’s statement correctly,” Rocky said.

The Reform Institute’s Yuddy Latief criticized what appeared to be Yudhoyono’s indecisiveness, which he said could lead to public chaos. “I think we need a president who has clear language,” he said.

The president has long been criticized for being slow in taking decisions. A Javanese, he is also known to be overly careful in his language and favors speaking obliquely.

“We need a new president,” said Usman Hamid, of the Commission for Missing Persons and Victims of Violence (Kontras). “SBY proved today that he could not be president … We will call on the public to join a peaceful social protest. We will mobilize people power.”