Mon, 29 Dec 2003

Now or never!

Hard as one may try to welcome New Year 2004 with a smile, the month of December has brought to many Indonesians, if I may speak on their behalf, pessimistic sentiments. Even the prospect of the new-style general elections, with new breed of national leaders and legislators in sight, has failed to clear the mind. Two burning issues will stay at the forefront in the coming year as leftovers of the present upheavals: The combats against terrorism and corruption.

The most enigmatic human behavior is that the terrorizing of others seems, among some Indonesians, to have become a way of thinking to achieve their aims. And it looks as though that trend is here to stay, despite an intensive campaign by religious leaders.

This country may in the coming year succeed in ridding itself forever of a heavy foreign debt burden. However, a major contribution to the internal suppression of terrorist tendencies is the removal of poverty and social injustice, unlikely to be achieved effectively during the next regime of Indonesian leaders, mainly due to a lack of fresh thinking and an old- fashioned mind-set.

The worst prospect is the combat against corruption. It seems that only the naive believe that those responsible for the Rp 1.7 trillion BNI scam will ever get what they deserve, although the swift police investigation into the affair is commendable.

The national anticorruption commission is faced with an impossible mission in removing a contagious disease from which almost everybody is suffering -- the disease of stealing from and not serving the community. Crucial to its success is integrity, political honesty, consistency and courage in dealing with the task. Remember, the warning bell rings only twice: Now or never!