Thu, 03 Aug 2000

Summit distraction and destruction

Undeniably, the recent summit of influential political leaders -- Abdurrahman Wahid, Megawati Soekarnoputri, Amien Rais, Akbar Tandjung -- arranged in the former capital city of the Republic, Yogyakarta, and hosted by the popular Sultan of that special autonomous territory, provided a cooling distraction from the accumulation of political tension in the capital city in anticipation of the annual meeting of the People's Consultative Assembly (MPR) when anything can happen.

A communique issued at the end of the summit, dubbed the Yogya Document 2000, spoke of the need for political detente and preserving spiritual and national unity. It agreed that the next MPR meeting would refrain from impeaching the head of state and instead would only raise "routine matters".

A group of students earlier rejected the summit and called it of no use to effectively tackle national issues.

The nation's fate should not be put in a few people's hands. If the nation is faced with insurmountable issues, why weren't the members of the Supreme Advisory Council consulted instead of resorting to a friendly get-together to privately sort out differences outside of constitutional procedures and democratic tradition.

The Yogya summit has, in my view, left a bitter after-taste. Under the reform era, democracy must be practiced according to the rules and through established institutions not through collusion at high levels.

Also, democracy does not call for a "political moratorium" to achieve economic ends. Learning the truth through differences of opinions, as the French prefer judging from their proverb, should be the new tradition of the new open society of the reform era.

Political solutions under whatever conditions should not lead to destruction of newly acquired democratic values. Economic achievements should not be the end objective, but should serve as the means to bring about social justice by revealing democratic truths and balance.

A momentary distraction may serve a positive purpose in cooling down a heated atmosphere.

Was it a bad omen, or just a tragic coincidence, that when the summit was still in progress, a powerful bomb exploded in the capital city, killing innocent people? What is certain is that this country's image, especially in the eyes of prospective investors, suffered another blow.