Sun, 13 Aug 2000

Yielding to critical pressure

There has been, in the view of most domestic and foreign observers, good news from the political battleground called the Annual Session of the People's Consultative Assembly (MPR) at Senayan, Jakarta. President Abdurrahman Wahid or Gus Dur has yielded to pressure from members of the MPR to improve his performance in his next term in office. He has agreed that the day-to-day business be entrusted from now on to Vice President Megawati. It is possible that Mr. Wahid is physically feeling the heavy strains of his office and desires to "walk a little slower".

But that would not be enough; he should also speak less and look around more and, if he could, he should ideally walk more to keep his health.

The impending Cabinet reshuffle, as indicated personally by Gus Dur, is more good news for change. However, change in Cabinet personnel who are more professional than their predecessors alone is not enough. They should preferably enjoy an international reputation as well and political party backing. The obvious reason is that the economy cannot recover unless there is international trust supporting the efforts. Also the new Cabinet cannot entirely be exempt from political party backing as part of the democratic element.

But most essential is that the whole Cabinet and each member of the administration has a clear cut idea of the recovery program in whatever field that it agrees to implement. Control by the media and legislative institutions or private organizations, would in that case, be more effective. The new reshuffled team should be firstly program-oriented while other considerations are secondary. And this one mind program attitude has been missing in the outgoing administration.

Another essential requirement is that each Cabinet minister must abandon the slightest thought of getting more influence than they need, openly or covertly, through their position. Just think of the man who was once one of the world's richest (Soeharto), who has seen his illegally accumulated wealth vanish in smoke. How can Indonesia become a great nation, prospering materially and spiritually, if it has no honest and idealistic leaders, who cherish honor, personal integrity and service to the poor more than anything else?