As Golkar is left flat-footed, SBY gains strategic advantage

The Jakarta Post
09 March 2010






Wimar Witoelar


In the  strange world of Indonesian politics, the challengers are entrenched money politicians and the defenders are reformers who are taking the nation above endemic corruption and abuse of power. Reasonable people find it difficult to understand the lopsided public opinion.  Students who have traditionally found pride in courageous stands against the power establishment now unwittingly place themselves on the side of a corrupt business elite. Special interest politics have again found a willing host in the Golkar party. Politicians cynically identify themselves as the voice of the people as they serve the Golkar party chairman. An illogical leader of people politics,  the number four  richest man in Indonesia has multiplied  his business fortune five times in five years as a cabinet minister. Many are grateful that SBY has political courage to politely brush aside Minister Coordinator Aburizal Bakrie and Vice President Jusuf Kalla, in one fell swoop, placing the second cabinet firmly on the side of reform.


Despite his achievements, this President is accused of many things, SBY is seen as indecisive, waffling, narcissistic and remote. Some of the accusations are true and some are not, but the point is that none of his perceived shortcomings are impeachable offenses. The latest fad has people twitting about the significant wealth of President Yudhoyono and Vice President Boediono. People miss the fact that the combined wealth of SBY-Boediono at less than Rp 30 billion, is dwarfed by Jusuf Kalla – Wiranto at Rp 400 billion, and  Megawati – Prabowo at Rp 2000 billion. The grand total of all six is still a fraction of  the staggering wealth of Aburizal Bakrie estimated at above Rp 5000 billion.


The fallacies of perception are normal when media spins the truth for political gain. Unfortunately the only two television stations broadcasting serious news are used by their owners to pursue political gain. The slanted perspective of both stations are a public disgrace. Talk shows repeatedly present the twisted views of compromised talking heads. In a recent broadcast one station reported Sri Mulyani as being besieged by large student demonstrations when in fact there were only ten people playing out a spirited disruption against campus police.


After a hard parliamentary battle that defeated his Partai Demokrat, President Yudhoyono has amazingly found a strategic advantage.  With their parliamentary victory, Golkar found themselves with no strategy for the next rounds. Golkar is undecided between continuing the juggernaut against the government and holding on to their coalition privileges. It is not an easy position for Bakrie. His real motive was the elimination of the Ministry of Finance from office to prevent the unraveling of his illegal business practices. As SBY made it clear he is firm in defending Sri Mulyani, Bakrie has no recourse than try to regain the goodwill of the president. The conciliatory stance of Bakrie in his television speech two days after the president's ios notable for its lack of content. While Golkar operatives are waiting for the call to attack, Aburizal Bakrie has made a speech of reconciliation, making operators realize they are left hung out to dry. This forlorn  position is also the tale of woe of PKS, who deserted their coalition position. It may have been motivated by the fact that one of the initiators of the Pansus, a PKS leader,  is now under investigation for a USD 22 million scandal which could well have contributed to the very downfall of Bank Century. The PDIP has an easier position as they have been playing a consistent role as opposition. Their only problem is restlessness within their ranks as some party seniors are attracted by the idea of replacing Golkar as coalition partners for the president. And some quasi-young activists have become restless in their ambition and have  jumped to the National Democrats which offers more concrete rewards for attacking SBY.


SBY has no worries after he made the blockbuster speech that exonerated Sri Mulyani and Boediono and repeated his endorsement of their handling of Bank Century. He can concentrate on catching up with the business of government while the hodgepodge opposition try to formulate a new tactical objective. A cabinet reshuffle is a real option but there is no haste. It can well be done in the framework of wider changes in the government and the party coalition. 


The parliament may be left alone for awhile since it is a farce. The DPR tragicomedy came to a climax last week in a travesty on fairness targeted against the most distinguished officials in the Indonesian government, Finance Minister Sri Mulyani and Vice President Boediono. They made signals to impeach President  Yudhoyono but that is clearly an empty bluff. The Bank Century case had captured television for months but the general public prefers reality shows and soap operas. The economy has been doing well. Inflation last year was just 2.8%, , as the economy grew by 4.5% last year. Unemployment is down, and consumer confidence is sound. 


SBY is a president elected directly by the people by a landslide margin, and signs are that he still has the trust of the people. But public perception has to be swung back to a semblance of rationality for the nation to appreciate the efforts of SBY, Sri Mulyani, Boediono and the reformers in the government. Clearly something has to be  done in the communications area. Define the limits of bias in television broadcasts. Develop television programs and stations who will commit to truthful reporting and public education.


The president has  a heavy load of homework, but he can do it with the confidence of a master strategist. The more we appreciate his efforts, the sooner results will be palpable.





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  1. From benhan on 09 March 2010 18:31:52 WIB
    As usual, a straight forward article exposing all the deceptions
  2. From jaka on 11 March 2010 07:19:21 WIB
    Benar Pak Wimar. Sudah saatnya SBY dan tim merangkul stasiun2 Televisi yg sudah ada dan membentuk stasiun TV yg baru untuk menghadapi \"the bad rich guys\" yg sering mempropagandakan hal2 yg tidak benar melalui stasiun televisi milik mereka.

    Saya baru saja kembali dari tanah air setelah sebulan melihat sendiri kedua stasiun telivisi milik org2 bermasalah tersebut menyerang SBY,Boediono dan Sri Mulyani melalui narasumber2 yg itu2 saja,terkesan sok tahu dan melakukan agitasi2 yg menyebalkan para pemirsa tv( mungkin narasumber2 itu menganggap para pemirsa bodoh) .

    Kemudian berita dan tayangan yg sama terus diulang2 sehingga kentara sekali hal tsb sebagai suatu propaganda murahan kalau tidak bisa dikatakan tidak profesional.

    Saya pikir ,sekaranglah waktu yg tepat bagi SBY dan tim untuk membalikkan opini melalui program2 televisi yg dapat mengcounter propaganda2 hitam tersebut.

    Mr. President ,say good bye to those bad guys. That\'s it !

  3. From viviana on 13 March 2010 23:14:01 WIB
    I am agree with Jaka. Jangan mentang2 banyak duit jadi bisa membeli media & menggiring opini publik. Nggak fair banget tuh !
  4. From Irwan on 16 March 2010 09:56:30 WIB
    "Clearly something has to be done in the communications area."

  5. From hesti luh s on 05 April 2010 06:52:58 WIB
    i like the last one about truthful reporting and public education, clearly we left that centuries ago I'm not even sure we can even get started. simple as that. then everyone is and will be liberated to have or make their own sane judgement over anthing..information is power really.

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