Editorial: The Government Must Lead Indonesia, not Snipe
Since the Bank Century bailout investigation began last December, the Indonesian public has been treated to a political spectacle that has shed little light on the truth behind what happened. Members of the House of Representatives pushed for an investigation amid unsubstantiated allegations that the bailout money was diverted to President Susilo Bambang Yudhoyono’s re-election campaign team.
The investigation has found no evidence to support the allegations, although four of the nine factions on the House special committee investigating the Bank Century case last week named a number of government officials, including Vice President Boediono and Finance Minister Sri Mulyani Indrawati, as responsible for the “illegal” bailout.
With the full House’s final conclusions due on Wednesday, the political saga took more twists over the weekend. As the accusations fly back and forth between two senior aides to Yudhoyono and Prosperous Justice Party (PKS) lawmaker Mukhamad Misbakhun, it will come as no surprise if the public throws up its arms in total disbelief.
The political wrangling around the Bank Century bailout points toward a dangerous trend. Indeed, there is growing fear that Indonesia risks becoming ungovernable if the House and executive branch of the government cannot work in concert for the greater good of the nation. For the past four months the House has been paralyzed by the bailout investigation, with its legislative duties sidelined. Meanwhile, Yudhoyono’s cabinet has also been distracted to a large degree.
Where is all this leading us, we might ask? Is democracy being served and the truth being unveiled by the House investigation? In fact, just the opposite is true. The House leadership must answer to the people as to why no major legislation was passed these past four months when it should have been conducting the people’s business.
Despite his overwhelming re-election victory in July 2009, Yudhoyono has been stymied from carrying out his campaign pledges. Many of the government’s initiatives foundered as ministers were compelled to spend considerable amounts of time before the House special committee answering mundane questions.
This is not how democracy should be. Democracy is not supposed to serve the narrow interests of the political elite, but the broader interests of the people. It is hard to see how the Bank Century bailout investigation is serving the interests of the people or the nation. What we are witnessing at the moment is a false democracy that risks subverting the hard-fought gains achieved in 1998 and 1999.
There is an urgent need for the leadership in both the House and the executive branch to step in and preserve our democratic process, which up to this point has shown remarkable progress. The political paralysis must end if the country is to avoid a crisis of governance.