Sat, 11 Sep 1999

New Order political adventure

It is very interesting to watch what is going on in the national political arena. Interesting here means almost the same as confusing. We must accept the fact that democracy has several different interpretations. Indonesia, as a sovereign and independent country, must also have its own interpretation. According to the interpretation of democracy during the New Order regime -- Pancasila democracy -- there is a place for differences of opinion and a place for criticism because criticism is important for the birth of creativity and differences should be settled by talks and debates and not by the power of arms. Tolerance and understanding are the basic factors.

What is happening now in Indonesia? Democracy now means winning or winning. When you win then the whole procedure is considered to have been conducted honestly and fairly, and when you lose, then there must have been foul play and irregularities and everything should be repeated.

The outcome of all meetings, talks and deliberations for certain parties and groups must end in victory. It is always a win-win solution. And if you do lose, then you cry foul and you start with protests, ultimatums, or demonstrations or walkouts or even fights like what almost happen in the General Election Committee between a political party representative and a government representative.

We are not yet mature enough for real democracy. And the proof lies in what is happening now in East Timor, which has caused immense suffering to the people, although the proindependence people have achieved an overwhelming victory with more than 78 percent of the votes. Trouble should not have happened because before the referendum, the leaders expressed that everybody should accept the outcome of the referendum, irrespective of which way it went. Timorese are suffering, thousands of people are leaving the troubled area, many have died and many more have been injured.

The Indonesian government is being held responsible by the international community and is being threatened with all kinds of sanctions, which might cause economic and other problems to the Indonesian people as a whole.

Why did we invade East Timor in the first place? What was in the back of the mind of the government at that time? Did we anticipate the possibility of encountering political and economic problems when we marched into East Timor? Or did we want to be considered anticolonial champions?

If I am right, a referendum was held at the time and the outcome was that Timorese people overwhelmingly expressed their desire to be part of Indonesia. And, as a consequence, East Timor was made the 27th province. Was this referendum conducted honestly, freely and democratically without any pressure from Jakarta? Then why was the result of the 1999 referendum so different and 78 percent of the East Timorese people decided to be free and separated from Indonesia?

East Timor's political adventure has proved to be a costly endeavor and a lesson to be heeded. Who is responsible? What profit did we reap, if any? Even the East Timorese have expressed their gratitude for the Indonesian invasion by choosing to be independent.

A tragedy, invented by the New Order government, and the aftermath is now resting heavily on the shoulders of the present government. We want to forget this nightmare as soon as possible.