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SBY fails to uphold supremacy of law: Observers
Hans David Tampubolon, The Jakarta Post, Jakarta
Law enforcement, the fight against corruption and economic enhancement were the weak points of President Susilo Bambang Yudhoyono’s administration during the first year of his second term, a discussion heard on Friday.
“In terms of law enforcement, we have witnessed many issues over the last year, including the Bibit-Chandra case, the Bank Century debacle, bloated bank accounts allegedly belonging to high-ranking police officers, the Molotov attack on the Tempo magazine office and the bullying of anticorruption activist Tama S. Langkun,” Indonesian Survey Institute (LSI) senior researcher Burhanuddin Muhtadi told the discussion at the House of Representatives.
Oppression against minority groups was a major problem Yudhoyono had to resolve, Burhanuddin added.
“There is one regent’s instruction to exile Ahmadiyah followers to a remote island. The state must do something about that,” he said.
Burhanuddin was referring to the West Lombok regency administration’s suggestion to move 20 Ahmadi families, who had already been displaced for many years after their village was attacked by mainstream Muslims, to an island in Sekotong subdistrict. West Lombok regent Zaini Arony said the plan was part of the government’s efforts to “protect” the Ahmadis.
Zaini said he would seek the governor’s support of the widely-criticized plan, because it had only been put forth after consultations with religious, community and youth leaders. Critics have said the plan would amount to violation of human rights, and Zaini acknowledged that not everybody in the meeting supported the idea.
Early this month, an Ahmadiyah village in Bogor, just south of Jakarta was also attacked by militant mainstream Muslims, but the police were able to contain the violence.
Signs of increasing intolerance have also been evidenced by church closures and fierce militant rejection of churches and their congregation members in their neighborhoods.
Burhanuddin said that persecution against the Ahmadis reminded him of medieval practices in Europe, which should have long since been absent in a modern democracy like Indonesia. The government’s poor showing in the fight against corruption was ironic because the main selling point of Yudhoyono’s last presidential campaign was his commitment to the supremacy of law, he added. Another discussion speaker, law expert Irmanputra Sidin, said the President was to blame for the law enforcement agencies’ failure to reform themselves.
“The police and the attorney general have both failed to regain public trust. We can [therefore] say that Yudhoyono has failed,” he said.
Yudhoyono’s Democratic Party chairman Anas Urbaningrum defended the administration, saying there had been major improvements in law enforcement, however, most of them went unheard because of poor public relations.
Commenting on a possible Cabinet reshuffle, Anas said that Yudhoyono should react firmly to Cabinet ministers who did not perform well, and some ministers should be replaced.
“The President should not maintain Cabinet ministers who did not perform well because they would only burden his administration,” he said.
Rumors of a possible Cabinet reshuffle have been swirling since last week when Yudhoyono marked the first year of his second term in office.
The Democratic Party has long insisted that Yudhoyono must improve his administration by replacing certain ministers. Golkar, the second largest party, has also made similar calls, and has even said it did not mind preparing substitutes should Yudhoyono dismiss certain Golkar ministers.
Anas said the first year in office was the best time for Yudhoyono to reshuffle his Cabinet because the new ministers would still have enough time to familiarize themselves with their jobs.
He maintained that the Yudhoyono administration had made progress during the past year, but public awareness remains low because of the administration’s inadequate communication skills.