Tue, 14 May 2002

Hamzah's visit to Ja'far not wise

Vice President Hamzah Haz's visit to the commander of the Laskar Jihad Muslim group, Ja'far Umar Thalib, who is at present in police custody, has attracted a lot of attention, especially from politicians. Why did Hamzah do this? He said that he visited Ja'far not in his capacity as Vice President, but as a fellow Muslim. But you cannot ignore the fact that he is the Vice President of the Republic of Indonesia, and that should be always in his mind.

In fact, he made this visit because he feared the influence of an earlier visit made by his archrival Zainuddin MZ to Ja'far, which could harm his chances in the next presidential election. Hamzah's explanation that his 90-minute visit was purely friendly, and should be interpreted as a visit from one Muslim to another Muslim who is in trouble, is unacceptable.

And why was Hamzah Haz (not the Vice President) received by the National Police chief after arriving accompanied by his official security detail, although he did not use his official car. He was also accompanied by members of the vice presidential staff, like Laode Kamaluddin and Djalil, and his group also included Eggy, a senior adviser to the United Development Party (PPP) who is currently the chairman of PPMI -- a labor organization affiliated with PPP.

If he considers this visit as a duty between Muslims, why did he not visit Akbar Tanjung in detention. Akbar is a fellow Muslim and also occupies the high position of Speaker of the House of Representatives and chairman of Golkar Party?

Both Akbar and the Speaker of the People's Consultative Assembly, Amien Rais, consider Hamzah's visit an intervention in law enforcement that can create problems in the legal process against Ja'far Umar Thalib.

Suddenly another question pops up in my mind. I have never heard Ja'far and his Laskar Jihad condemning the separatist Free Aceh Movement (GAM), which has been in existence since 1976. If Ja'far is a pure red-and-white leader then he should condemn openly any separatist movement and express his loyalty to the Unitary Republic of Indonesia, proclaimed on Aug. 17, 1945.