Fri, 12 May 2000

Kwik not quick enough

Slow though President Abdurrahman Wahid's movements are, due to his physical restraints, his limited eyesight (view), he demands others, in particular members of his Cabinet's economic team, to produce quick results.

Coordinating Minister for the Economy, Finance and Industry Kwik Kian Gie has been spared from accusations of corruption, collusion and nepotism, unlike his two colleagues from the Indonesian Democratic Party of Struggle and Golkar Party, Laksamana Sukardi and Jusuf Kalla, respectively.

With the sliding of the rupiah against the U.S. dollar, if it can be used as a yardstick, the Cabinet's program of economic recovery is not progressing quickly enough. It appears even to be stagnant, with the delay of the International Monetary Fund's pledged assistance of US$400 billion for another month and the state budget still to be approved by the legislature, with many alterations.

But President Abdurrahman, who is known to be a genius in the realm of the immaterial (spiritual) affairs of his religion who refuses to give up things easily, believes he has the answer to inject more blood into the ailing economy's veins. He has appointed a pair of "fresh" assistant supervisors to Kwik, and with himself already joining the economic team, nothing can go wrong now.

The pace of economic recovery will now be picking up. The state of the economy is after all decided by how close your contacts are with world leaders (by often visiting them personally) and with the Almighty (by praying often for the welfare of your country and members of your family).

An economy, indeed, is a strange thing; it can jump too high (overheat); it can collapse suddenly (crisis); it can also move fast (inflation). In the case of Indonesia, with Kwik in charge, Abdurrahman thinks the economy is not moving quickly enough. The legislators, a few ministers, the media and the general public are not sure whether the additional staff, ordered to "supervise", will not be burdensome or annoying to the minister, who does not need to be spied on. Had Kwik needed more staff he would have indicated this long ago and would have chosen his own assistants. He is a coordinating minister, isn't he?

Now that he has been honored with an academic title from a Thai university, surely Abdurrahman cannot afford to make misjudgements any more, or level accusations against his ministers without proof. It is a pity that he still has to rely on whispers.