Thu, 09 Nov 2000

No pain, no gain

I am responding to Mr. Frank Richardson's letter published in the Nov. 6 Jakarta Post entitled Show greater statesmanship.

A common saying throughout much of the world is "No pain, no gain" and judging by the complaints emanating from such a broad cross section of the ruling elite, apparently Mr. Gelbard is causing some pain.

For the first time in many years, I am proud of the actions by the American Ambassador for cutting through the charade of a feudalistic show of "manners" and stating the facts as they are. The Indonesian ruling elite need a wake-up call and after three years of reform of the "Indonesian way", they still don't seem to be getting the message of true reform.

We are in the 21st century, not the 19th, and the Indonesian leadership has attended the finest of U.S., Australian, Singaporean, Malaysian and European Universities. It is about time these esteemed colleagues do a reality check and face the facts that they are mortgaging their children's futures and are not fulfilling the expectations of their people. This can only lead to further disintegration and bloodshed.

Hardly a day goes by that we don't read about one minister or another groveling at the doors of the more developed nations, begging for loans on one hand, while lobbying for debt forgiveness on the other. All the while, wrapping themselves in the red and white cloak of "National sovereignty" at the slightest suggestion that they prosecute rapists, murderers, thieves, corruptors and thugs who got the country into the mess we face today. Just take a ride around Menteng, Pondok Indah, Kemang or any of the other "elite" neighborhoods to see that monetary crisis is but a fading memory for the favored few.

Or how about the creation of the three new airlines? Where is the money to fund these personal projects coming from? How much longer do you believe the funding countries should wait before bringing what can only be described as an obvious misappropriation of funds to full accountability?

Indonesia is not a poor country. So why is it the ruling elite insist on more loans, mortgaging their children's future while making no discernible effort to seize the assets of those who raped and pillaged Indonesia for over 30 years? Worse yet, the new ruling elite seem just as eager to continue the same methods and practices of the past regime. Anyone who travels outside of Indonesia or reads extensively realizes how foolish, greedy and self serving the ruling elite appear in the eyes of the rest of the world.

How much longer will it be before the average Indonesian citizen comes to the same realization?

I'm sorry Mr. Richardson, but it's about time we stopped being apologists to and for our Indonesian colleagues and focus our efforts on helping them face the reality that unless they change their ways and put the needs of the country ahead of their personal gains, Indonesia is going to become the next Bosnia. I honestly believe America, through Mr. Gelbard, is employing a "tough love" strategy to avoid that eventuality.