VP Jusuf Kalla: Democracy is Second Priority
28 November 2007
The Golkar annual meeting last week was a lacklustre affair and did not attract much media attention. But an official statement by Vice President Jusuf Kalla, who is concurrently Golkar Chairman, provoked strong reactions. In the context of a Golkar increasingly uncomfortable with Kalla's haphazard statements, it invites widespread speculation of SBY's erstwhile running mate. Here is an excerpt from a recent Metro TV television interview ('Indonesia This Morning,' Wednesday November 28, 2007):
Zelda (Metro TV): Vice President and Golkar Chairman Jusuf Kalla said that democracy is only a means a tool a process and not a goal. Therefore it is only a second priority which comes after the goal of achieving economic prosperity. A number of party leaders have jumped all over the Vice President for making that comment. Wimar Witoelar is with us for his take on it. What do you think the Voice President meant?
Wimar: I am just going to express distress and disappointment that such a ridiculous statement should be made. Coming from anyone the statement causes concern, but coming from the holder of the second most important position in the country, it is downright dangerous.
But one can expect it from Jusuf Kalla, because he is a man with anti-democratic tendencies. He once said at a seminar before he was elected, that he wished we had a leader like the former prime minister of a neighboring country, who doesn't worry about democracy, but makes his nation run like clockwork. I just said that is a country of three million people, ours has more than two hundred million. Mr Kalla replied: "I am just impatient at democracy."
I thought that after he got elected he would get rid of these archaic, ancient notions. but apparently these thoughts are still there and are coming to the surface now. It's just his nature. A very dangerous statement.
Zelda: Should Indonesia be like Singapore or Malaysia that achieved economic prosperity at the cost of democracy?
Wimar: Indonesia should be like Indonesia, the world's third largest democracy. The only thing we can be proud of today is democracy. We cannot be proud of our economy, we cannot be proud of our corruption, we cannot even be proud of our Vice President. But we are very proud of our democracy. That's the only thing we have, and we should hold on to it.
Update: Martin Manurung pointed out in his blog, the poorest countries are undemocratic, while the most properous countries are democratic. So how did Jusuf Kalla and other anti-democratic people get the idea that the we are better off undemocratic?