Tue, 31 Oct 2000

Is there any other choice of a leader?

There is a better way to resolve the country's problems than unseating President Abdurrahman Wahid, says Arbi Sanit, a political observer and lecturer at the University of Indonesia.

Question: Suggestions that President Abdurrahman Wahid should resign for his failure to implement most of the reform agenda has gained support from several politicians, public figures and students. Your comment?

Answer: The issue of Gus Dur's (Abdurrahman's) resignation was over when he stated his refusal to do so. He thinks he can cope with the country's problems, and that he still has the right to stay in charge...

What if he is impeached through a special session of the People's Consultative Assembly (MPR), which could be called over his alleged involvement in the Bulog and Brunei scandals?

Holding a special session is not a simple procedure. After politically being proved guilty, the House of Representatives (DPR) must legally prove the President's involvement before it can recommend a special session to the MPR.

And if Gus Dur is proven to be guilty through the legal process, there will be months of debate in the MPR of the President's responsibility (speech) before the impeachment (process can start).

The question is, is replacing the President the only solution? And can this overcome the government's weaknesses? Those questions remain unanswered. If the MPR unseats Gus Dur, this means it's Vice President Megawati Soekarnoputri's constitutional turn to be President.

But do all of us really believe that she can solve the problems? Her adviser is still Kwik (Kian Gie), the supposedly unsuccessful coordinating minister for the economy and industry. So who is the alternative leader?

Unseating Gus Dur is just the answer to the fact that Gus Dur has been designated the collective enemy.

Can Megawati head an effective and stable government if the Muslim-oriented axis force, which supported Gus Dur's rise to the presidency, shifts its support to her?

There is no guarantee that the axis force will support Megawati's policies. Then she would be the next target of attack, likewise (MPR Speaker) Amien Rais if he became president.

Attacking (each other) is our political culture, which we inherited from Soeharto's political culture ... compromise is unknown. They (the political elite) don't have the intuition to develop agreements and find the substantial issues.

They've actually lost hope given their inability to face the country's complex problems and ... so they (seek) a scapegoat.

Look, what has Amien done in the MPR? The Indonesian Military's presence in the MPR was extended to 2009 and he said nothing. And under the first year of DPR Speaker Akbar Tandjung there have not been any laws really addressing reform ....

And Megawati too, what has she done after having acquired shared responsibility from Gus Dur? She was silent when defense minister M. Mahfud MD, who is under her coordination, made a foolish statement about the United States.

Do you think Gus Dur can cope with the country's problems if he retains the presidency?

Frankly speaking, the problems are too difficult compared with the nation's capacity. Amien, Megawati, Akbar and Gus Dur cannot handle the problems unless they cooperate.

So what is your suggestion?

What we have never really tried is encouraging the political elite to work together, as suggested earlier by (Muhammadiyah Islamic organization leader) Syafii Maarif and Deliar Noer (a leader of one of the Muslim political parties) -- but with an emphasis on being more responsible, helping each other and ending the issue of who loses and who wins.

Hasn't this been attempted several times, the latest such attempt being at Sultan Hamengkubuwono's palace in Yogyakarta?

Yes, but those attempts were not taken to the limit and were not really concrete. They (the political elite) can have daily meetings, if necessary ... and they would have to make agreements given the current absence of clear policies.

They must agree to solutions (to the problems), the operations involved, their supervision and costs. All of the agreements should then be presented to political institutions such as the factions and political parties in the DPR.

The mid-level (leaders) of all political groupings should learn the importance of such political cooperation; that's why the work should involve more parties.

Wouldn't that be nearly impossible?

It's the quickest way, though the hardest. If they are not willing to do so, we will always be unseating our president until we find one meeting two criteria: a new leader with more statesmanship, and (one from) a major political party.

And to find such a perfect combination we would need at least 15 years. (Asip A. Hasani)

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