Fri, 03 Aug 2001

Mega's overseas trips

Precisely a month after her appointment as the fifth president of Indonesia, i.e. Aug. 23, 2001, President Megawati will begin an overseas trip to all ASEAN member countries. This means that she will visit eight countries. It seems, even though her political aspirations are different from those of former president Abdurrahman "Gus Dur" Wahid, that when it comes to overseas trips, she is following his example.

We are not supposed to comment further about the trip because I believe there is a strong diplomatic justification behind it. As laymen of course we "can't " understand and there is "no need" to understand.

We don't know the total budget for the trip. Let's assume US$ 100,000 per country, the total will be $800,000. Using the exchange rate of Rp 9000 per dollar the sum equals Rp 7.2 billion.

I think with Rp 7.2 billion we could build about 180 classrooms for elementary schools. If each classroom could accommodate 25 students, then about 4,500 students could be admitted.

I just want to appeal to the President; if possible prior to her overseas trip, how about visiting Aceh and Irian Jaya? As we all know, those two provinces aspire to secede from the republic. By visiting them we hope that would generate new ideas for solving their problems.

It is not a bad idea if we prioritize our domestic agenda before we move to international affairs. Also it would be much better if the President visited Sambas, Sampit, Poso, Maluku and the refugee camp in West Nusa Tenggara.

The market has reacted positively to the appointment of the President. As an indication, the rupiah is getting stronger against the U.S. dollar. We therefore hope the President will utilize this favorable momentum to the utmost and avoid any action that might potentially damage the already favorable climate.

With the representatives of the Indonesian Democratic Party of Struggle (PDI Perjuangan) in the House of Representatives at only about 30 percent, the presidential position is not quite solid. But it doesn't mean that PDI Perjuangan should always listen to the voice of its allies and do whatever they ask.