Mon, 10 Jan 2000

Bishop involved in politics?

This is a reaction to your report on Maluku may get new leaders in the Jan. 6, 2000 edition. Since when is a Catholic bishop, or priest for that matter, called upon to act as a spokesman for the President on political matters? Was it proper for Bishop Petrus Mandagie to tell The Jakarta Post what President Abdurrahman Wahid may have told him in private on the replacement of both the Maluku governor and the Pattimura Military commander in an effort to find new people to resolve the prolonged conflict? As a religious leader he should not have made a statement to the media on such a sensitive political matter as if he were just promoted to become the President's spokesman on Ambon.

His statement may make the situation worse. This is a statement that falls in Dr. Tamrin Amal Tamagola's characterization of the Ambon conflict being engineered from Jakarta (Kompas, Jan. 6, 2000). Every time a statement is made in Jakarta on the issue, a series of conflicts may ensue in the region resulting in additional deaths and wounded.

As someone being posted in Ambon, Bishop Mandagie should have realized this and thus discuss the President's information with the task force for solving the Ambon crisis chaired by Prof. Selo Soemardjan, and with the various parties in Ambon when he gets back to contribute to the speedy solution of the crisis that continues to cause severe pain.