Candle In Any Given Darkness

Posted on July 9th, 2009 at 10:21 am by Akhyari


THE election is a triumph for Indonesia and for President Susilo Bambang Yudhoyono. It is a development of strategic good fortune for Australia of epic proportions.

If, as Paul Keating often argued, the rise of Suharto in the mid-1960s was the greatest beneficial strategic act for Australia in the post-war period, then the rise of SBY and the development of Indonesia as a stable democracy is an equally important piece of luck for the lucky country.

Exit polls indicate SBY is likely to win the presidency on the first round – a staggering achievement. But to have brought Indonesia to the stage where it has such large, crucial elections so peacefully and so routinely is an even bigger feat.

Listen to the criticisms of this election: it’s been boring, lacking in striking policy contrasts among the candidates and short on vision. How many nations would give anything to have elections like that?

All the candidates were credible. SBY has brought political stability, extraordinarily effective counter-terrorist action, modest institutional reform and solid economic growth.

His opponents were a former president, Meagawati Sukarnoputri, and incumbent Vice-President Jusuf Kalla.

The worst criticisms of SBY seem to be that he is a crook karaoke singer (a quality he shares with many Indonesian former military men) and that he can be overly cautious.

SBY’s supporters say this caution is a key to his achievements. He moves in the right direction, but only as fast as the public consensus will allow. He pushes the consensus along but avoids polarising his countrymen.

Megawati, and her vice-presidential running mate, former Suharto-era general Prabowo Subianto, perhaps trying to take a leaf out of Kevin Rudd’s book, accused SBY of being a “neo-liberal”.

They also made this accusation against SBY’s vice-presidential running mate, Boediono.

Boediono was a finance minister and head of Indonesia’s central bank. It is no disrespect to him to point out that no politician could have less charisma than he does.

Instead of a movie star or a general or a rich industrialist, SBY chose a technocrat as his running mate. He didn’t need extra votes or charisma.

This may be a problem in four years as there is unlikely to be a strong administration candidate for president.

But for now, the President has a big agenda of economic and institutional reform to confront.

SBY educated one of his sons in Australia and has a record of co-operation with Canberra in crucial issues.

In an often dark world, this election is a bright candle.

Source: The Australian

Popularity: 5% [?]

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