Sat, 18 Mar 2000

Gus Dur and his guesswork

Admittedly, it was meant to be a confidential political whisper from President Abdurrahman Wahid, or (cleric) Gus Dur, about some military commanders he saw as attempting or just conspiring to undermine the authority of his government. But because it was conducted in front of television cameras, the whisper turned into an explosion that shocked the nation like an earthquake of serious magnitude.

Every person and public organization has since begun to analyze, speculate and draw conclusions as to the social and international ramifications.

Personally, I find it regretful that Gus Dur should let off steam in the wrong place and time, at least if we take his position as head of state into consideration. Those in the military, and close to him, advised that Gus Dur should instead take action, and not make known "an intelligence secret" to the world.

Of course, he is not "afraid" of a possible military uprising against him, given that his followers would easily cope with that. But such a statement can easily be interpreted by investors. According to him, everything is not all right concerning security in the long-term. Are members of the Singapore Chamber of Commerce not a bit hesitant in investing their money here after they learned of the unsafe situation in whatever form.

It would be pitiful, indeed, if traveling about the globe so many times to assure investors that Indonesia is safe, he himself destroyed his own work.

Again, ethically as a cleric, he has nothing to hide and nothing to keep some vital information on intelligence matters to himself, but as a head of state or a statesman he would be wiser not to be so generous in public or before the television cameras. The right place is before parliament or before ministers in charge of security.

The nation is wrapped in smoke and smog is affecting neighboring countries due to the fires burning forests, annoying many foreigners.

Gus Dur should not release another blanket of guess work over the heads of his loyal followers who are engaged in democracy.

It is to be hoped that this extraordinary man does not slip or fall into the trap of his opponents, who are still great in both numbers and resources.