Tag: Megawati Sukarnoputri

Jokowi appoints controversial police general as new spy chief

Police General Budi Gunawan,  who was embroiled in allegations of corruption two years ago, has been appointed by President Joko Widodo as the country’s new National Intelligence Agency (BIN) chief, raising concerns among reform organizations over the integrity of the nomination process.

Jokowi withdrew the appointment of Budi as National Police chief  in 2015 following widespread public opposition after the officer was named a corruption suspect by the Corruption Investigation Commission.

He later was appointed National Police deputy chief after he won a court case challenging his  suspect status.

Budi was also promoted to the rank of four-star general by presidential decree, creating another public fuss as traditionally there only the National Police Chief is entitled to the full general rank. Tito Karnavian, the head of the national police, took the promotion lightly, claiming that despite the fact that there are now two active police generals, he and Budi worked for different institutions.

The appointment and promotion are widely perceived as politically driven, as the controversial general served as longtime adjutant to Megawati, who is also Jokowi’s political patron. A former Indonesian president, she has chaired the PDI-P for 20 years.

“The promotion was probably granted as compensation because he failed to become National Police chief. If so, then it is more politically driven than a professional assessment” Bambang Widodo Umar, an expert in the police from University of Indonesia, was quoted as saying by local media, kompas.com.

The KPK suspected that Budi had accepted bribe money from a businesswoman when he was chief of the police’s Career Development Bureau from 2004 to 2006.

Responding the KPK’s move, the National Police named the commission’s leaders suspects in separate old cases in what many believed to be an attempt to intimidate the agency.

The police even arrested KPK deputy chief Bambang Widjojanto for alleged perjury when he was a defense lawyer. Bambang’s arrest outraged the public, including national figures who openly supported Joko Widodo during his presidential campaign.

The Commission for Missing Persons and Victims of Violence (Kontras) has questioned Budi’s nomination as spy chief, saying Budi’s integrity is questionable as he was once a graft suspect.

The rights group further criticized Jokowi for the nomination, saying he had again decided to name a public official without considering their track record.

In the recent cabinet reshuffle, Jokowi appointed Wiranto, who has a questionable human rights track record, as coordinating political, legal, and security affairs minister, as well as giving the energy and mineral resources minister post to Arcandra Tahar, who shortly after his appointment was dismissed for allegedly holding dual citizenship.

Before being inaugurated, however, Budi passed a screening process by the House of Representatives Commission I overseeing security and foreign affairs. All 10 political party factions approved his sole candidacy for the position as National Intelligence Agency (BIN) chief in a hearing on Sept. 7.


Indonesia’s future held hostage by old guard

It is a belief shared by many that political parties are a necessity for democracy to function. However, political parties and politicians generally have a reputation for forgetting their campaign promises as soon as they get people’s votes.

A political party is supposed to be a fertile ground for grooming  a nation’s future leaders, but this seems to be a pipe-dream in a country where politicians resort to corruption in order to “get back” what they have spent to be where they are.

Politics is not a cheap business and most major political parties in Indonesia remain dominated by old money with ties to Soeharto’s corrupt new order era.

President Joko Widodo rose to political prominence because he was seen as “a breath of fresh air” in Indonesian politics and part of a new generation of politicians with no connection to political aristocracy. “A new hope” was how Time magazine described Jokowi in its October 15 edition.

But things aren’t always what they seem. As it turns out, Jokowi has his hands tied, partly because he is not the main figure of his political party, PDI-Perjuangan.

It is widely believed that Jokowi is beholden to PDI-Perjuangan chairwoman Megawati Sukarnoputri, although few could have imagined the scale of her influence in the day-to-day running of the government.

The writings were on the wall when Megawati repeatedly alluded to him being “the skinny man” and “party officer”.

As if trying to show who the real boss is, Megawati refused to let Jokowi took the podium during a PDI-Perjuangan congress and hectored the party’s rank and file about their obligations as party functionaries, threatening to expel anyone refusing to toes the party line.

There’s not much Jokowi can do because he needs PDI-P’s support in parliament. But this does not bode well for Indonesia in the next four years.

The government’s lacklustre attempts at reform have prompted investors to adopt a “wait and see”attitude, while the rupiah continues to slide.

The Democratic Party is no different. Former president Susilo Bambang Yudhoyono has just recently been re-elected as the party’s chairman.

The 65-year old retired general took over the party’s leadership from Anas Urbaningrum in 2013 after the latter was named a corruption suspect.

Co-founding the Democratic Party in 2001, SBY is considered as part of the old regime as he served in the military until he retired in 2000. “The thinking general,” as he has come to be known, served under the late president Abdurrahman Wahid and Megawati Sukarnoputri before successfully running for president in 2004.

Yudhoyono’s re-election was considered inevitable, as the party struggled to look for a strong leader after several of its younger members, including Anas and former sports minister Andi Mallarangeng, were arrested for graft cases.

The other old guard politicians dominating politics in Indonesia include Prabowo Subianto, 65, Surya Paloh, 63, Aburizal Bakrie, 68, and ex-general Wiranto, also 68.

Dynasty politics is also very much alive today, spreading like disease from political parties to executives in the regions.

The 68-year old Megawati Sukarnoputri is grooming her daughter, Puan Maharani at the PDI-Perjuangan just as Susilo Bambang Yudhoyono is grooming his son Edhie Baskoro Yudhoyono at the Democrat party.

What they are doing is only inviting a wave of public cynicism.

This is a clear indication that the reform movement of 1998 was only successful in replacing Soeharto as president, but did not significantly change Indonesia’s political landscape.

Where do we go from here? We know it is almost impossible for young cadres to reach top positions in a political party while old figures with influence and money are still holding on to the command stick.

Young buds needs lots of sunshine to grow, and the old guard are just simply blocking it. Indonesia needs to move on and look for new leaders who can rise to the occasion.

Establishing a new political party is not cheap, and it will take a lot of work to make it popular. It would be wise, for the sake of injecting fresh blood, that the old generation of politicians to step aside and give the chance to the youth to start taking up the baton.

Barack Obama became president when he was 47. I am sure there are local Obamas who aspire to follow his path. It’s time that the old let some sunshine in.

Has civilian leadership failed Indonesia’s reform movement?

My heart sank  when I read the news the other day that more than 50,000 soldiers would be deployed to help farmers achieve President Joko Widodo’s goal of self-sufficiency in rice production for the next two years.

So the commander in chief has ordered professional soldiers to trade  guns for hoes and ploughes and wade through muddy rice fields.

As desperate as it may sound, this is not the first time soldiers have been assigned jobs outside their professional role for the Indonesia’s armed forces (TNI).

The Army’s elite commandos- Kopassus- have taken part in cleaning the garbage-clogged Ciliwung river as part of the city administration’s efforts to prevent annual floods.

Just recently, the highly respected Corruption Eradication Commission (KPK) also asked the TNI to fill its secretary-general position and contribute investigators as KPK has been embroiled in what many perceive to be an inter-agency feud with the police.

The speculation of a conflict between the police and the KPK came to the fore again after the police arrested senior KPK investigator Novel Baswedan for his alleged involvement of an assault case dating back in 2004. The police are also investigating KPK top officials – Abraham Samad and  Bambang Widjojanto – now suspended – in separate, old cases.

Jokowi, under public pressure, has demanded an end to the witch-hunt against KPK, but his calls appear to have fallen on deaf ears.

Some say the police have more respect for Jokowi’s predecessor, Susilo Bambang Yudhoyono, who is a retired army general.

SBY is also the founder and later chairman of the Democrat Party, allowing him to lead on his own terms. In contrast, Jokowi is only a “party officer,” to use the term popularised by PDI Perjuangan chairwoman Megawati Sukarnoputri.

Perhaps Indonesians should start getting used to an increased presence of TNI in public life, as various ministries are also queuing to enlist soldiers to help and do civilian tasks.

Transportation Minister Ignasius Jonan and TNI chief Gen. Moeldoko have signed a memorandum of understanding allowing the military to deploy armed personnel to secure vital transportation hubs.

Under this agreement, all seaports, airports, railway networks and bus stations in the country will officially be under the protection of TNI personnel.

The Law and Human Rights Minister Yasonna H. Laoly signed a cooperation agreement with the TNI under which the military will deploy its personnel to guard prisons throughout the country as the ministry does not have enough qualified prison guards.

A opinion poll conducted recently by the Indonesian Survey Institute (LSI) found that the public’s trust in the TNI was at an all-time high.

Respondents to the survey placed the TNI as the most-trusted institution, in the same league as the presidency and above the KPK. Meanwhile, the National Police ranked sixth out of 11 institutions.

This raises a critical question: Whatever happened to so-called civilian supremacy?

Shouldn’t local leaders be the ones who send farming instructors to help farmers? Shouldn’t people who throw their garbage to the river be held accountable for their action? And what do you mean exactly Mr. Yasona, when you say we don’t have enough prison guards?- Shouldn’t the police be at the forefront of  fighting  crimes and providing domestic security after they were separated from the military 15 years ago?

The TNI was used by the late president Suharto to guard his presidency for more than three decades. Under Suharto, the military was assigned the “dual function” role – both as a security and political entity, allowing its presence even in the nooks and crannies of the vast archipelago.

There was a time when democracy activists joked “You can’t say the D (democracy) word, because all walls have ears”.

But then the wind of change came and Indonesia today is the third largest democracy in the world.

One of the most significant achievements of the reform movement  was to create a  clear line between security matters and defence. This was formalised in a People’s Consultative Assembly (MPR) decree in 2000.

But the civilian leadership has been hollowed out by power and corruption, a danger recognised clearly by Lord Acton.

Indonesia Corruption Watch (ICW) listed 47 directly elected regional leaders who were involved in graft cases in 2014, up from 35 in the previous year. Some say, to become a governor, one needs funding of around Rp 100 billion (US$11.14 million), while the governor’s salary is only Rp 8.7 million per month.

A recent ICW report states that the regional budget has become the biggest contributor to the potential losses to the state due to corruption cases that have occurred in the first half of 2010. According to ICW data, corruption cases of the regional budget in 2010 have cost the state about Rp 596.23 billion, out of a total of Rp 1.2 trillion in state losses due to corruption.

So while civilian leaders are busy enriching themselves- basically ignoring the people who directly voted for them- they are asking the military to clean up their mess, and do their jobs.

People are fed up with 15 years of corrupt leadership just like they were fed up with the same thing for three decades.

Civilian leaders should start to get their act together and do their jobs, or people will lose faith in democracy and yearn for the return of  “the good old days” of autocracy.

Should the latter happen, those who sacrificed their lives fighting for “Reformasi” 17 years ago will roll in their graves.

Disillusionment sets in as Jokowi fumbles

When Joko Widodo won the fiercely-contested presidential election last year, he was seen by millions of Indonesians as a leader who could shake things up for the better, a sentiment reflected on the cover of Time magazine’s October 15 edition titled “A New Hope”. Continue reading “Disillusionment sets in as Jokowi fumbles”

Controversial general quietly sworn in as deputy police chief

While eyes were on the opening ceremony of the Asian African Commemoration Conference (AACC) on Wednesday, newly installed National Police chief General Badrodin Haiti inaugurated Comr. Gen. Budi Gunawan as his deputy in an unusual closed-door ceremony at the National Police headquarters in South Jakarta. Continue reading “Controversial general quietly sworn in as deputy police chief”