Explosive WikiLeaks Cables Nail Yudhoyono

Source:
http://www.asiasentinel.com/index.php?option=com_content&task=view&id=3052&Itemid=175

Explosive WikiLeaks Cables Nail Yudhoyono

Written by Philip Dorling   Friday, 11 March 2011

Description:
US embassy in Jakarta has serious doubts about theIndonesian president’s own integrity

When Susilo Bambang Yudhoyono won a surprise victory in Indonesia’s 2004 presidential elections, the United States Embassy in Jakarta hailed it as “aremarkable triumph of a popular, articulate figure against a rival[incumbent president Megawati Sukarnoputri] with more power, money, andconnections.

“The former army general and security minister has gone on to win international accolades for strengthening governance, promoting economic reform, and his efforts to suppress the Islamic militant group Jemaah Islamiyah.

While visiting Jakarta last November, US President Barack Obama applauded Indonesia’s democracy and “the leadership of my good friend President Yudhoyono. “However Yudhoyono’s record may have to be reviewed after secret US embassy cables, leaked to WikiLeaks and provided to Fairfax Media, reveal allegations of corruption and abuse of power that extend all the way to the presidential palace.

According to the diplomatic cables, Yudhoyono, widely known by his initials SBY, personally intervened to influence prosecutors and judges to protectcorrupt political figures and put pressure on his adversaries. He reportedly also used the Indonesian intelligence service to spy on rivals and, on at least one occasion, a senior minister in his own government.

Yudhoyono’s former vice-president reportedly paid out millions of dollars to buy control of Indonesia’s largest political party, while the President’s wife and her family have allegedly moved to enrich themselves on the basis of their political connections.

The US embassy’s political reporting, much of it classified “Secret/NoForn”- meaning for American eyes only – makes clear that the continuing influence of money politics, which extends, despite the President’s public commitment to combating corruption, to Yudhoyono himself.

The US embassy cables reveal that one of Yudhoyono’s early presidential actions was to personally intervene in the case of Taufik Kiemas, the husband of former president Megawati Sukarnoputri. Taufik reportedly used his continuing control of his wife’s Indonesian Democratic Party (PDI-P) to broker protection from prosecution for what the US diplomats described as “legendary corruption during his wife’s tenure.”

Taufik has been publicly accused, though without charges being laid against him, of improper dealings in massive infrastructure projects heavily tainted with corruption. He is believed to have profited from deals relating to the US$2.3 billion Jakarta Outer Ring Road project, the US$2.4 billion double-track railway project from Merak in West Java to Banyuwangi in East Java, the US$2.3 billion trans-Kalimantan highway, and the US$1.7 billion trans-Papua highway.

In December 2004, the US embassy in Jakarta reported to Washington that one of its most valued political informants, senior presidential adviser TB Silalahi, had advised that Indonesia’s Assistant Attorney-General, Hendarman Supandji, who was then leading the new government’s anti-corruption campaign, had gathered “sufficient evidence of the corruption of former first gentleman Taufik Kiemas to warrant Taufik’s arrest.

“However, Silalahi, one of Yudhoyono’s closest political confidants, told the US embassy that the president “had personally instructed Hendarman not to pursue a case against Taufik.”No legal proceedings were brought against the former “first gentleman,” who remains an influential political figure and is now speaker of Indonesia’sparliament, the People’s Consultative Assembly.

While Yudhoyono protected Taufik from prosecution, his then vice-president, Jusuf Kalla, allegedly paid what the US embassy described as “enormous bribes” to win the chairmanship of Golkar, Indonesia’s largest political party, during a December 2004 party congress, US diplomats observed firsthand.

“According to multiple sources close to the major candidates, Kalla’s team offered district boards at least Rp 200 million (over US$22,000) for their votes,” the US embassy reported.

“Provincial boards – which had the same voting right, but also could influence subordinate district boards -received Rp 500 million or more. According to one contact with prior experience in such matters, board officials received down payments …and would expect full payment from the winner, in cash, within hours of thevote.

“US diplomats reported that, with 243 votes required to win a majority, the Golkar chairmanship would have cost more than US$6 million.

“One contact claimed that [then Indonesian House of Representatives chairman Agung Laksono] alone – not the wealthiest of Kalla’s backers – had allocated (if not actually spent) Rp50 billion (more than US$5.5 million ) on the event.”

The US embassy cables further allege that Yudhoyono had then cabinet secretary Sudi Silalahi “intimidate” at least one judge in a 2006 court case arising from a fight for control of former president Abdurahman Wahid’s National Awakening Party (PKB). According to the embassy’s contacts, Sudi told the judge “if the court were to help [Wahid] it would be like helping to overthrow the government.”The intervention of “SBY’s right-hand man” was not successful in a direct sense because, according to embassy sources with close ties to the PKB and lawyers involved in the case, Wahid’s supporters paid the judges Rp3 billion in bribes for a verdict that awarded control of PKB to Wahid instead of adissident faction. However, Yudhoyono’s strategic objective was achieved as external pressure on Wahid’s “precarious position” forced the PKB tore position itself to support the administration.

Other US embassy reports indicate that Yudhoyono has used the Indonesian State Intelligence Agency (BIN) to spy on both his political allies and opponents.The president reportedly also got BIN to spy on rival presidential candidates. This practice appears to have begun while Yudhoyono was serving as co-ordinating minister of political and security affairs in former president Megawati’s government. He directed the intelligence service to report on former army commander and Golkar presidential candidate Wiranto.

Subsequently, at a meeting of Yudhoyono’s cabinet, BIN chief Syamsir characterised Wiranto as a “terrorist mastermind.”

Through his own military contacts Wiranto learnt that he was the subject of”derogatory” BIN reports, but when he complained he was told by presidential adviser TB Silalahi that no such reports existed.

The leaked US embassy cables are ambiguous on the question of whether Yudhoyono has been personally engaged in corruption. However, US diplomats reported that at a 2006 meeting with the chairman of his own Democratic Party, Yudhoyono “be moaned his own failure to date to establish himself in business matters,” apparently feeling “he needed to ‘catch up’ … [and] wanted to ensure he left a sizeable legacy for his children.

“In the course of investigating the President’s private, political and business interests, American diplomats noted alleged links between Yudhoyono and Chinese-Indonesian businessmen, most notably Tomy Winata, an alleged underworld figure and member of the “Gang of Nine” or “Nine Dragons,” a leading gambling syndicate.

In 2006, Agung Laksono, now Yudhoyono’s Co-ordinating Minister for People’s Welfare, told US embassy officers that TB Silalahi “functioned as amiddleman, relaying funds from Winata to Yudhoyono, protecting the president from the potential liabilities that could arise if Yudhoyono were to deal with Tomy directly.

“Tomy Winata reportedly also used prominent entrepreneur Muhammad Lutfi as a channel of funding to Yudhoyono. Yudhoyono appointed Lutfi chairman of Indonesia’s Investment Co-ordinating Board.

Senior State Intelligence Agency official Yahya Asagaf also told the US embassy Tomy Winata was trying to cultivate influence by using a senior presidential aide as his channel to first lady Kristiani Herawati.

Yudhoyono’s wife and relatives also feature prominently in the US embassy’s political reporting, with American diplomats highlighting the efforts of the president’s family “particularly first lady Kristiani Herawati …to profit financially from its political position.

“In June 2006, one presidential staff member told US embassy officers Kristiani’s family members were “specifically targeting financial opportunities related to state-owned enterprises.” The well-connected staffer portrayed the President as “witting of these efforts, which his closest operators (e.g. Sudi Silalahi) would advance, while Yudhoyono himself maintained sufficient distance that he could not be implicated.

“Such is the first lady’s behind-the-scenes influence that the US embassy described her as “a cabinet of one” and “the President’s undisputed top adviser.”

The embassy reported: “As presidential adviser TB Silalahi told [US political officers], members of the President’s staff increasingly feel marginalised and powerless to provide counsel to the President.

“Yahya Asagaf at the State Intelligence Agency privately declared the first lady’s opinion to be “the only one that matters.

“Significantly, the US embassy’s contacts identified Kristiani as the primary influence behind Yudhoyono’s decision to drop vice-president Kalla as his running mate in the 2009 presidential elections.

With Bank of Indonesia governor Boediono as his new vice-presidential running mate, Yudhoyono went on to an overwhelming victory. The president secured more than 60 per cent of the vote, defeating both former president Megawati, who had teamed up with former special forces commander Prabowo Subianto, and vice-president Kalla, who allied himself with Wiranto.

In January 2010 the US embassy observed: “Ten years of political and economic reform have made Indonesia democratic, stable, and increasingly confident about its leadership role in south-east Asia and the Muslim world.

Indonesia has held successful, free and fair elections; has weathered the global financial crisis; and is tackling internal security threats.

“However, America’s diplomats also noted that a series of political scandals through late 2009 and into 2010 had seriously damaged Yudhoyono’s political standing.

A protracted conflict between the Indonesian police and the national Corruption Eradication Commission had damaged the government’s publicanti-corruption credentials, while a parliamentary inquiry into the massive bailout of a major financial institution, Bank Century, called into question the Vice-President’s performance as former central bank governor.

One prominent anti-corruption non-government organization privately told the US embassy that it had “credible” information that funds from Bank Century had been used for financing Yudhoyono’s re-election campaign.

Former vice-president Kalla strongly criticized the bailout, alleging thatthe Bank of Indonesia under Boediono had been negligent in supervising Bank Century and arguing that the bank should have been closed as its failure wasdue to fraud perpetrated by major share holders.

Against this background the US embassy reported that Yudhoyono was increasingly “paralyzed” as his political popularity rapidly diminished.

“Unwilling to risk alienating segments of the parliament, media, bureaucracy and civil society, Yudhoyono has slowed reforms. He is also unwilling to cross any constituencies …

Until he is satisfied that he has shored up his political position, Yudhoyono is unlikely to spend any political capital to move his reform agenda, or controversial aspects of US -Indonesia relations,forward.

“Over the past 13 years Indonesian democracy has undoubtedly strengthened. The Suharto dictatorship has been replaced by a competitive political system characterized by robust debate and free media.

However, as the leaked US embassy’s reports show, in what is only a glimpseof the inside workings of President Yudhoyono’s tenure, some of the secretive and corrupt habits of the Suharto years still linger in Indonesian presidential politics.

Another version of this story appeared in The Age in Melbourne, Australia.

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President Obama’s Speech at University of Indonesia

President Obama’s Speech at University of Indonesia:

“… May our two nations work together, with faith and determination …”

Jakarta, November 10, 2010

 

 

Thank you for this wonderful welcome. Thank you to the people of Jakarta. And thank you to the people of Indonesia.I am so glad that I made it to Indonesia, and that Michelle was able to join me. We had a couple of false starts this year, but I was determined to visit a country that has meant so much to me. Unfortunately, it’s a fairly quick visit, but I look forward to coming back a year from now, when Indonesia hosts the East Asia Summit.

 

Before I go any further, I want to say that our thoughts and prayers are with all of those Indonesians affected by the recent tsunami and volcanic eruptions – particularly those who have lost loved ones, and those who have been displaced. As always, the United States stands with Indonesia in responding to this natural disaster, and we are pleased to be able to help as needed. As neighbors help neighbors and families take in the displaced, I know that the strength and resilience of the Indonesian people will pull you through once more.

 

Let me begin with a simple statement: Indonesia is a part of me. I first came to this country when my mother married an Indonesian man named Lolo Soetoro. As a young boy, I was coming to a different world. But the people of Indonesia quickly made me feel at home.

 

Jakarta looked very different in those days. The city was filled with buildings that were no more than a few stories tall. The Hotel Indonesia was one of the few high rises, and there was just one brand new shopping center called Sarinah. Betchaks outnumbered automobiles in those days, and the highway quickly gave way to unpaved roads and kampongs.

 

We moved to Menteng Dalam, where we lived in a small house with a mango tree out front. I learned to love Indonesia while flying kites, running along paddy fields, catching dragonflies, and buying satay and baso from the street vendors. Most of all, I remember the people – the old men and women who welcomed us with smiles; the children who made a foreigner feel like a neighbor; and the teachers who helped me learn about the wider world.

 

Because Indonesia is made up of thousands of islands, hundreds of languages, and people from scores of regions and ethnic groups, my times here helped me appreciate the common humanity of all people. And while my stepfather, like most Indonesians, was raised a Muslim, he firmly believed that all religions were worthy of respect. In this way, he reflected the spirit of religious tolerance that is enshrined in Indonesia’s Constitution, and that remains one of this country’s defining and inspiring characteristics.

 

I stayed here for four years – a time that helped shape my childhood; a time that saw the birth of my wonderful sister, Maya; and a time that made such an impression on my mother that she kept returning to Indonesia over the next twenty years to live, work and travel – pursuing her passion of promoting opportunity in Indonesia’s villages, particularly for women and girls. For her entire life, my mother held this place and its people close to her heart.

 

So much has changed in the four decades since I boarded a plane to move back to Hawaii. If you asked me – or any of my schoolmates who knew me back then – I don’t think any of us could have anticipated that I would one day come back to Jakarta as President of the United States. And few could have anticipated the remarkable story of Indonesia over these last four decades.

 

The Jakarta that I once knew has grown to a teeming city of nearly ten million, with skyscrapers that dwarf the Hotel Indonesia, and thriving centers of culture and commerce. While my Indonesian friends and I used to run in fields with water buffalo and goats, a new generation of Indonesians is among the most wired in the world – connected through cell phones and social networks. And while Indonesia as a young nation focused inward, a growing Indonesia now plays a key role in the Asia Pacific and the global economy.

 

This change extends to politics. When my step-father was a boy, he watched his own father and older brother leave home to fight and die in the struggle for Indonesian independence. I’m happy to be here on Heroes Day to honor the memory of so many Indonesians who have sacrificed on behalf of this great country.

 

When I moved to Jakarta, it was 1967, a time that followed great suffering and conflict in parts of this country. Even though my step-father had served in the Army, the violence and killing during that time of political upheaval was largely unknown to me because it was unspoken by my Indonesian family and friends. In my household, like so many others across Indonesia, it was an invisible presence. Indonesians had their independence, but fear was not far away.

 

In the years since then, Indonesia has charted its own course through an extraordinary democratic transformation – from the rule of an iron fist to the rule of the people. In recent years, the world has watched with hope and admiration, as Indonesians embraced the peaceful transfer of power and the direct election of leaders. And just as your democracy is symbolized by your elected President and legislature, your democracy is sustained and fortified by its checks and balances: a dynamic civil society; political parties and unions; a vibrant media and engaged citizens who have ensured that – in Indonesia – there will be no turning back.

 

But even as this land of my youth has changed in so many ways, those things that I learned to love about Indonesia – that spirit of tolerance that is written into your Constitution; symbolized in your mosques and churches and temples; and embodied in your people – still lives on. Bhinneka Tunggal Ika – unity in diversity. This is the foundation of Indonesia’s example to the world, and this is why Indonesia will play such an important role in the 21st century.

 

So today, I return to Indonesia as a friend, but also as a President who seeks a deep and enduring partnership between our two countries. Because as vast and diverse countries; as neighbors on either side of the Pacific; and above all as democracies – the United States and Indonesia are bound together by shared interests and shared values.

 

Yesterday, President Yudhoyono and I announced a new, Comprehensive Partnership between the United States and Indonesia. We are increasing ties between our governments in many different areas, and – just as importantly – we are increasing ties among our people. This is a partnership of equals, grounded in mutual interests and mutual respect.

 

With the rest of my time today, I’d like to talk about why the story I just told – the story of Indonesia since the days when I lived here – is so important to the United States, and to the world. I will focus on three areas that are closely related, and fundamental to human progress – development, democracy, and religion.

 

First, the friendship between the United States and Indonesia can advance our mutual interest in development.

When I moved to Indonesia, it would have been hard to imagine a future in which the prosperity of families in Chicago and Jakarta would be connected. But our economies are now global, and Indonesians have experienced both the promise and perils of globalization: from the shock of the Asian financial crisis in the 1990s to the millions lifted out of poverty. What that means – and what we learned in the recent economic crisis – is that we have a stake in each other’s success.

 

America has a stake in an Indonesia that is growing, with prosperity that is broadly shared among the Indonesian people – because a rising middle class here means new markets for our goods, just as America is a market for yours. And so we are investing more in Indonesia, our exports have grown by nearly 50 percent, and we are opening doors for Americans and Indonesians to do business with one another.

 

America has a stake in an Indonesia that plays its rightful role in shaping the global economy. Gone are the days when seven or eight countries could come together to determine the direction of global markets. That is why the G-20 is now the center of international economic cooperation, so that emerging economies like Indonesia have a greater voice and bear greater responsibility. And through its leadership of the G-20’s anti-corruption group, Indonesia should lead on the world stage and by example in embracing transparency and accountability.

 

America has a stake in an Indonesia that pursues sustainable development, because the way we grow will determine the quality of our lives and the health of our planet. That is why we are developing clean energy technologies that can power industry and preserve Indonesia’s precious natural resources – and America welcomes your country’s strong leadership in the global effort to combat climate change.

 

Above all, America has a stake in the success of the Indonesian people. Underneath the headlines of the day, we must build bridges between our peoples, because our future security and prosperity is shared. That is exactly what we are doing – by increased collaboration among our scientists and researchers, and by working together to foster entrepreneurship. And I am especially pleased that we have committed to double the number of American and Indonesian students studying in our respective countries – we want more Indonesian students in our schools, and more American students to come study in this country, so that we can forge new ties that last well into this young century.

 

These are the issues that really matter in our daily lives. Development, after all, is not simply about growth rates and numbers on a balance sheet. It’s about whether a child can learn the skills they need to make it in a changing world. It’s about whether a good idea is allowed to grow into a business, and not be suffocated by corruption. It’s about whether those forces that have transformed the Jakarta that I once knew -technology and trade and the flow of people and goods – translate into a better life for human beings, a life marked by dignity and opportunity.

 

This kind of development is inseparable from the role of democracy.

 

Today, we sometimes hear that democracy stands in the way of economic progress. This is not a new argument. Particularly in times of change and economic uncertainty, some will say that it is easier to take a shortcut to development by trading away the rights of human beings for the power of the state. But that is not what I saw on my trip to India, and that is not what I see in Indonesia. Your achievements demonstrate that democracy and development reinforce one another.

 

Like any democracy, you have known setbacks along the way. America is no different. Our own Constitution spoke of the effort to forge a “more perfect union,” and that is a journey we have travelled ever since, enduring Civil War and struggles to extend rights to all of our citizens. But it is precisely this effort that has allowed us to become stronger and more prosperous, while also becoming a more just and free society.

 

Like other countries that emerged from colonial rule in the last century, Indonesia struggled and sacrificed for the right to determine your destiny. That is what Heroes Day is all about – an Indonesia that belongs to Indonesians. But you also ultimately decided that freedom cannot mean replacing the strong hand of a colonizer with a strongman of your own.

 

Of course, democracy is messy. Not everyone likes the results of every election. You go through ups and downs. But the journey is worthwhile, and it goes beyond casting a ballot. It takes strong institutions to check the concentration of power. It takes open markets that allow individuals to thrive. It takes a free press and an independent justice system to root out abuse and excess, and to insist upon accountability. It takes open society and active citizens to reject inequality and injustice.

 

These are the forces that will propel Indonesia forward. And it will require a refusal to tolerate the corruption that stands in the way of opportunity; a commitment to transparency that gives every Indonesian a stake in their government; and a belief that the freedom that Indonesians have fought for is what holds this great nation together.

 

That is the message of the Indonesians who have advanced this democratic story – from those who fought in the Battle of Surabaya 55 years ago today; to the students who marched peacefully for democracy in the 1990s, to leaders who have embraced the peaceful transition of power in this young century. Because ultimately, it will be the rights of citizens that will stitch together this remarkable Nusantara that stretches from Sabang to Merauke – an insistence that every child born in this country should be treated equally, whether they come from Java or Aceh; Bali or Papua.

 

That effort extends to the example that Indonesia sets abroad. Indonesia took the initiative to establish the Bali Democracy Forum, an open forum for countries to share their experiences and best practices in fostering democracy. Indonesia has also been at the forefront of pushing for more attention to human rights within ASEAN. The nations of Southeast Asia must have the right to determine their own destiny, and the United States will strongly support that right. But the people of Southeast Asia must have the right to determine their own destiny as well. That is why we condemned elections in Burma that were neither free nor fair. That is why we are supporting your vibrant civil society in working with counterparts across this region. Because there is no reason why respect for human rights should stop at the border of any country.

 

Hand in hand, that is what development and democracy are about – the notion that certain values are universal. Prosperity without freedom is just another form of poverty. Because there are aspirations that human beings share – the liberty of knowing that your leader is accountable to you, and that you won’t be locked up for disagreeing with them; the opportunity to get an education and to work with dignity; the freedom to practice your faith without fear or restriction.

 

Religion is the final topic that I want to address today, and – like democracy and development – it is fundamental to the Indonesian story.

 

Like the other Asian nations that I am visiting on this trip, Indonesia is steeped in spirituality – a place where people worship God in many different ways. Along with this rich diversity, it is also home to the world’s largest Muslim population – a truth that I came to know as a boy when I heard the call to prayer across Jakarta.

 

Just as individuals are not defined solely by their faith, Indonesia is defined by more than its Muslim population. But we also know that relations between the United States and Muslim communities have frayed over many years. As President, I have made it a priority to begin to repair these relations. As a part of that effort, I went to Cairo last June, and called for a new beginning between the United States and Muslims around the world – one that creates a path for us to move beyond our differences.

 

I said then, and I will repeat now, that no single speech can eradicate years of mistrust. But I believed then, and I believe today, that we have a choice. We can choose to be defined by our differences, and give in to a future of suspicion and mistrust. Or we can choose to do the hard work of forging common ground, and commit ourselves to the steady pursuit of progress. And I can promise you – no matter what setbacks may come, the United States is committed to human progress. That is who we are. That is what we have done. That is what we will do.

 

We know well the issues that have caused tensions for many years – issues that I addressed in Cairo. In the 17 months that have passed we have made some progress, but much more work remains to be done.

 

Innocent civilians in America, Indonesia, and across the world are still targeted by violent extremists. I have made it clear that America is not, and never will be, at war with Islam. Instead, all of us must defeat al Qaeda and its affiliates, who have no claim to be leaders of any religion – certainly not a great, world religion like Islam. But those who want to build must not cede ground to terrorists who seek to destroy. This is not a task for America alone. Indeed, here in Indonesia, you have made progress in rooting out terrorists and combating violent extremism.

 

In Afghanistan, we continue to work with a coalition of nations to build the capacity of the Afghan government to secure its future. Our shared interest is in building peace in a war-torn land – a peace that provides no safe-haven for violent extremists, and that provides hope for the Afghan people.

 

Meanwhile, we have made progress on one of our core commitments – our effort to end the war in Iraq. 100,000 American troops have left Iraq. Iraqis have taken full responsibility for their security. And we will continue to support Iraq as it forms an inclusive government and we bring all of our troops home.

 

In the Middle East, we have faced false starts and setbacks, but we have been persistent in our pursuit of peace. Israelis and Palestinians restarted direct talks, but enormous obstacles remain. There should be no illusions that peace and security will come easy. But let there be no doubt: we will spare no effort in working for the outcome that is just, and that is in the interest of all the parties involved: two states, Israel and Palestine, living side by side in peace and security.

 

The stakes are high in resolving these issues, and the others I have spoken about today. For our world has grown smaller and while those forces that connect us have unleashed opportunity, they also empower those who seek to derail progress. One bomb in a marketplace can obliterate the bustle of daily commerce. One whispered rumor can obscure the truth, and set off violence between communities that once lived in peace. In an age of rapid change and colliding cultures, what we share as human beings can be lost.

 

But I believe that the history of both America and Indonesia gives us hope. It’s a story written into our national mottos. E pluribus unum – out of many, one. Bhinneka Tunggal Ika – unity in diversity. We are two nations, which have travelled different paths. Yet our nations show that hundreds of millions who hold different beliefs can be united in freedom under one flag. And we are now building on that shared humanity – through the young people who will study in each other’s schools; through the entrepreneurs forging ties that can lead to prosperity; and through our embrace of fundamental democratic values and human aspirations..

 

Earlier today, I visited the Istiqlal mosque – a place of worship that was still under construction when I lived in Jakarta. I admired its soaring minaret, imposing dome, and welcoming space. But its name and history also speak to what makes Indonesia great. Istiqlal means independence, and its construction was in part a testament to the nation’s struggle for freedom. Moreover, this house of worship for many thousands of Muslims was designed by a Christian architect.

 

Such is Indonesia’s spirit. Such is the message of Indonesia’s inclusive philosophy, Pancasila. Across an archipelago that contains some of God’s most beautiful creations, islands rising above an ocean named for peace, people choose to worship God as they please. Islam flourishes, but so do other faiths. Development is strengthened by an emerging democracy. Ancient traditions endure, even as a rising power is on the move.

 

That is not to say that Indonesia is without imperfections. No country is. But here can be found the ability to bridge divides of race and region and religion – that ability to see yourself in all individuals. As a child of a different race coming from a distant country, I found this spirit in the greeting that I received upon moving here: Selamat Datang. As a Christian visiting a mosque on this visit, I found it in the words of a leader who was asked about my visit and said, “Muslims are also allowed in churches. We are all God’s followers.”

 

That spark of the divine lies within each of us. We cannot give in to doubt or cynicism or despair. The stories of Indonesia and America tell us that history is on the side of human progress; that unity is more powerful than division; and that the people of this world can live together in peace. May our two nations work together, with faith and determination, to share these truths with all mankind.

U.S. Officials Admitted that Boys Weere Sodomized In Iraq Prison

U.S. Officials Admitted that Boys Were Sodomized In Iraq Prison

By Washington’s Blog

May 21, 2009 “Washington’s Blog” —  Many people have heard Pulitzer prize winning reporter Seymour Hersh’s claim that boys were sodomized at Abu Ghraib and that the Pentagon has video of the rapes.

Many people think that they’ll believe it when and if they ever see the video. But we don’t need to wait for the military to release the videos. There is already proof that Hersh is right.
For example, the Guardian wrote in 2004:

The October 12 memorandum, reported in the Washington Post…came to light as more details emerged of the extent of detainee abuse. Formal statements by inmates published yesterday describe horrific treatment at the hands of guards, including the rape of a teenage Iraqi boy by an army translator.. .

According to the leaked memorandum … it also called for military intelligence officials to work more closely with the military police guards at the prison to “manipulate an internee’s emotions and weaknesses”. ..

In the Washington Post report, one detainee, Kasim Hilas, describes the rape of an Iraqi boy by a man in uniform, whose name has been blacked out of the statement, but who appears to be a translator working for the army.
“I saw [name blacked out] fucking a kid, his age would be about 15-18 years. The kid was hurting very bad and they covered all the doors with sheets. Then when I heard the screaming I climbed the door because on top it wasn’t covered and I saw [blacked out], who was wearing the military uniform putting his dick in the little kid’s ass,” Mr Hilas told military investigators. “I couldn’t see the face of the kid because his face wasn’t in front of the door. And the female soldier was taking pictures.”

It is not clear from the testimony whether the rapist described by Mr Hilas was working for a private contractor or was a US soldier…

Another inmate, Thaar Dawod, describes more abuse of teenage Iraqis. “They came with two boys naked and they were cuffed together face to face and Grainer [Corporal Charles Graner, one of the military policemen facing court martial] was beating them and a group of guards were watching and taking pictures from top and bottom and there was three female soldiers laughing at the prisoners,” he said.

More convincingly, the Telegraph wrote in 2004:

America was braced last night for new allegations of torture in Iraq after military officials said that photographs apparently showing US soldiers beating an Iraqi prisoner nearly to death and having sex with a female PoW were about to be released.

The officials told the US television network NBC that other images showed soldiers “acting inappropriately with a dead body”. A videotape, apparently made by US personnel, is said to show Iraqi guards raping young boys.

(If that link becomes broken, see this).

There you have it: the Telegraph implied in 2004 that U.S. officials admitted that there was a video of guards raping boys. Even if the Telegraph’s implication is wrong, there is strong evidence that such rapes did in fact occur as Hersh said.

And whether or not any of the rapists were U.S. soldiers or contractors, at the very least, American soldiers aided and abetted the rape by standing around and taking videos and photographs.

Whether or not Obama releases the photographic evidence, he must prosecute all of those who committed such atrocities, stood around and watched, ordered them to be committed, or created an environment in which they could occur.


Obama: From Anti-war Law Professor to Warmonger in 100 Days

Obama: From Anti-war Law Professor to Warmonger in 100 Days

It didn’t take long for President Barack Obama to swing behind targeted assassinations and bombing raids, says Alexander Cockburn

By Alexander Cockburn

May 21, 2009 “First Post” — How long does it take a mild-mannered, anti-war, black professor of constitutional law, trained as a community organiser on the South Side of Chicago, to become an enthusiastic sponsor of targeted assassinations, ‘decapitation’ strategies and remote-control bombing of mud houses at the far end of the globe?

There’s nothing surprising here. As far back as President Woodrow Wilson, in the early 20th century, American liberalism has been swift to flex its imperial muscle and whistle up the Marines. High-explosive has always been in the hormone shot.

The nearest parallel to Obama in eager deference to the bloodthirsty counsels of his counter-insurgency advisors is John F. Kennedy. It is not surprising that bright young presidents relish quick-fix, ‘outside the box’ scenarios for victory.

Obama’s course is set and his presidency is already stained the familiar blood-red

Whether in Vietnam or Afghanistan the counsel of regular Army generals tends to be drear and unappetising: vast, costly deployments of troops by the hundreds of thousands, mounting casualties, uncertain prospects for any long-term success ­ all adding up to dismaying political costs on the home front.

Amid Camelot’s dawn in 1961, Kennedy swiftly bent an ear to the advice of men like Ed Lansdale, a special ops man who wore rakishly the halo of victory over the Communist guerillas in the Philippines and who promised results in Vietnam.

By the time he himself had become the victim of Lee Harvey Oswald’s ‘decapitation’ strategy, brought to successful conclusion in Dealey Plaza, Dallas, on November 22, 1963, Kennedy had set in motion the secret counter-insurgency operations, complete with programs of assassination and torture, that turned South-East Asia and Latin America into charnel houses for the next 20 years.

Another Democrat who strode into the White House with the word ‘peace’ springing from his lips was Jimmy Carter. It was he who first decreed that ‘freedom’ and the war on terror required a $3.5bn investment in a secret CIA-led war in Afghanistan, plus the deployment of Argentinian torturers to advise US military teams in counter-insurgency ops in El Salvador and Nicaragua.

Obama campaigned on a pledge to ‘decapitate’ al-Qaeda, meaning the assassination of its leaders. It was his short-hand way of advertising that he had the right stuff. Now, like Kennedy, he’s summoned the exponents of unconventional, short-cut paths to success in that mission.

Lt. Gen. Stanley A. McChrystal now replaces General David McKiernan as Commander of US Forces in Afghanistan. McChrystal’s expertise is precisely in assassination and ‘decapitation’ . As commander of the military’s Joint Special Operations Command (JSOC) for nearly five years starting in 2003, McChrystal was in charge of death squad ops, his best advertised success being the killing of Abu Musab al-Zarqawi, head of al-Qaeda in Iraq.

The phrase ‘sophisticated networks’ tends to crop up in assessments of McChrystal’s Iraq years. Actually there’s nothing fresh or sophisticated in what he did. Programmes of targeted assassination aren’t new in counter-insurgency. The most infamous and best known was the Phoenix Program in Vietnam, designed to identify and eliminate cadres of Vietnam’s National Liberation Front, informally known as the Viet Cong, of whom, on some estimates, at least 40,000 were duly assassinated.

In such enterprises two outcomes are inevitable. Identification of the human targets requires either voluntary informants or captives. In the latter instance torture is certain, whatever rhetorical pledges are proclaimed back home. There may be intelligence officers who rely on patient, non-violent interrogation, as the US officer who elicited the whereabouts of al-Zarqawi claims he did.

But there will be others who will reach for the garden hose and the face towel. (McChrystal, not uncoincidentally, was involved in the prisoner abuse scandal at Baghdad’s Camp Nama. He also played a sordid role in the cover-up of the friendly-fire death of ex-NFL star and Army Ranger Pat Tillman.)

Whatever the technique, a second certainty is the killing of large numbers of civilians in the final ‘targeted assassination’ . At one point in the first war on Saddam Hussein in the early 1990s, a huge component of US air sorties was devoted each day to bombing places where US intelligence had concluded Saddam might be hiding. Time after time, after the mangled bodies of men, women and children had been scrutinised, came the crestfallen tidings that Saddam was not among them.

Already in Afghanistan public opinion has been inflamed by the weekly bulletins of deadly bombardments either by drones or manned bombers. Still in the headlines is the US bombardment of Bala Boluk in Farah province, which yielded 140 dead villagers torn apart by high explosives, including 93 children. Only 22 were male and over 18.

Perhaps ‘sophisticated intelligence’ had identified one of these as an al-Qaeda man, or a Taliban captain, or maybe someone an Afghan informant to the US military just didn’t care for. Maybe electronic eavesdropping simply screwed up the coordinates. If we ever know, it won’t be for a very long time. Obama has managed a terse apology, even as he installs McChrystal, thus ensuring more of the same.

Obama is bidding to be as sure-footed as Bush in trampling on constitutional rights

The logic of targeted assassinations was on display in Gaza even as Obama worked on the uplifting phrases of his inaugural address in January. The Israelis claimed they were targeting only Hamas even as the body counts of women and children methodically refuted these claims and finally extorted from Obama a terse phrase of regret.

He may soon weary of uttering them. His course is set and his presidency already permanently stained the ever-familiar blood-red tint. There’s no short-cut in counter-insurgency. A targeted bombing yields up Bala Boluk, and the incandescent enmity of most Afghans. The war on al-Qaeda mutates into the war on the Taliban, and 850,000 refugees in the Swat Valley in Pakistan.

The mild-mannered professor is bidding to be as sure-footed as Bush and Cheney in trampling on constitutional rights. He’s planning to restore Bush’s kangaroo courts for prisoners at Guantanamo who’ve never even been formally charged with a crime! He’s threatening to hold some prisoners indefinitely in the US without trial.

He’s even been awarded a hearty editorial clap on the back from the Wall Street Journal: “Mr. Obama deserves credit for accepting that civilians courts are largely unsuited for the realities of the war on terror. He has now decided to preserve a tribunal process that will be identical in every material way to the one favoured by Dick Cheney.”

It didn’t take long. But it’s what we’ve got ­ for the rest of Obama-time.

source: thefirstpost.co.uk

Indonesian celebrities go for political seats

Indonesian celebrities go for political seats

THE JAKARTA POST – September 03, 2008

Diaz Hendropriyono, Washington, DC

The rise of celebrities in the political arena has created a mixed message. While many are against it, mainly because of their lack of political experience, others are willing to give these actors an opportunity to prove themselves.

At the executive branch, as it is widely known, actors Rano Karno and Dede Yusuf have been democratically elected as the vice regent of Tangerang, Banten, and deputy governor of West Java, respectively.

Currently, Helmi Yahya is running for deputy governor of South Sumatra and Dicky Chandra for vice regent of Garut, West Java. There are at least two “dangdut” singers running for deputy mayor, Syaiful Jamil in Serang, Banten, and Ayu Soraya in Tegal, Central Java.

Additionally, there are indications that Wanda Hamidah, Della Citra and Ikke Nurjanah are eyeing the second-in-command position in the City of Tangerang and the regencies of Serang and Majalengka.

Having celebrities running for a political seat at the executive branch is undoubtedly not a new phenomenon. In the Philippines, actor Joseph Estrada had been the mayor of San Juan before becoming president. Comedian Joey Marquez was the mayor of Paranaque City. The job of chief minister in the Indian provinces of Andhra Pradesh and Tamil Nadu was filled by actors N.T. Rama Rao and M.G. Ramachandran, respectively.

Turkish actress Fatma Girik was the mayor of Sisli. Argentine cabaret dancer Isabel Peron replaced her husband as president. Twin child-actors Lech Kaczynski and Jaroslaw Kaczynski were for a year the president and the prime minister of Poland at the same time. And in Russia, actor-comedian Mikhail Yevdokimov was trusted as the governor of the Altai Krai region.

In the United States, actor-producer Sonny Bono, once married to singer Cher, was elected mayor of Palm Springs, California; TV host Jerry Springer was mayor of Cincinnati, Ohio; “Dirty Harry” star Clint Eastwood was mayor of Carmel, California; singer Jimmie Davies was governor of Louisiana and World Wrestling Federation star Jesse Ventura was mayor of Brooklyn Park, Minnesota, as well as governor.

As was more popularly known, actor Ronald Reagan was elected governor of California before becoming the U.S. president. And presently, actor-bodybuilder Arnold Schwarzenegger is in his second term as governor of California.

In some cases, celebrities’ popularity is not always enough to get them elected. For example, Filipino actor Fernando Poe, Jr. lost the presidential election to incumbent Gloria Macapagal-Arroyo. Beverly Hills Cop star Gill Hill failed in his bid to become the mayor of Detroit, Michigan. Italian adult movie star Ilona Staller was unsuccessful in her run for the mayor of Milan. And more recently, TV star Fred Thompson withdrew his candidacy for U.S. president after losing in the primary election.

In Indonesia, running for deputy governor of Banten, Marissa Haque lost the provincial election. Didin Bagito even decided to pull out from his candidacy for deputy mayor of Serang before the election for lack of public support.

Although there are celebrities running for political offices in other countries such as what is found in Indonesia, there is still one notable difference: The majority of Indonesian celebrities seem reluctant to run for local executive head and are more comfortable to be number two. Among the many who participate in the race, only a few run for the first-in-command posts. Although unsuccessful, Gusti Randa ran for mayor of Padang, and Primus Yustisio is now running for the regent of Subang.

The small number of celebrities who run for regional head may create negative impressions. The public may judge that these actors do not have the confidence to manage a government, thus they need to be coupled with someone who has experience in public administration and policy. Doubtless, this will eventually hurt the artists’ reputations.

It should be remembered that there are many actor-politicians who have had some accomplishments during their administration. For instance, although the court found him guilty of plunder before finally being pardoned by the current president, some still consider former president Estrada a success. At least 46 Moro Islamic Liberation Front secessionist camps, including that of Abu Sayyaf, were overrun during his time in office.

California Governor Schwarzenegger recently signed landmark legislation to reduce carbon emissions to 1990 levels by the year 2020. He also banned the sale of sodas in schools and set a stricter nutritional standard which required more fruits and vegetables in meal planning. And California will be the first state in the nation to ban the use of trans-fat oils in restaurants.

In his first inaugural address, former U.S. president Reagan boldly preached: “Government is not the solution to our problems; government is the problem.” During his presidency, he reduced income tax rates, increased GDP by 3.4 percent annually, created more than 16 million new jobs and increased military spending — although at the end, left his government with a huge deficit. Many even think he deserves credit for ending the Cold War.

To forbid Indonesian celebrities from entering politics is to go against the pillars of democracy. Their participation does not violate any law either. Hence, celebrities who take part in district head elections must prove themselves capable of managing a government administration and creating public policies, such as those movie stars in other countries. It is then the public’s duty to evaluate their performance.

However, evaluating their contribution to the public seems difficult when these celebrities are “only” elected as second-in-command. Thus, celebrities must be emboldened to run for, and political parties need to support them as regional heads, not deputies. Only by doing so will the public know whether or not these celebrities can truly govern.


The writer is PhD Candidate at the Center for Public Administration and Policy, Virginia Tech University. He can be reached at d_hendropriyono@ yahoo.com

Professor Kishore Mahbubani about Indonesia

Kamis, 31 Juli 2008

Lecture By Professor Kishore Mahbubani

Presidential Lecture, in State Palace

LECTURE BY PROFESSOR KISHORE MAHBUBANI,
DEAN OF THE LEE KUAN YEW SCHOOL OF PUBLIC POLICY
AT THE NATIONAL UNIVERSITY OF SINGAPORE

AT THE PRESIDENTIAL PALACE,
JAKARTA. 31st JULY 2OO8

Mr President
Distinguished Ministers
Excellencies
Ladies & Gentlemen

I am truly humbled by this request to address such a distinguished
audience. lt is an especially great honor because I come from one of the
smallest states in the world, Singapore. I didn’t realize how small
Singapore was unti lmy wife and I went on holiday on the island Samosir
in Indonesia. It is located in side a lake on the top of a volcanic
mountain, called Lake Toba. But this small island is about the size of
Singapore.

However, growing up in Singapore as a member of a minority group, I came
to realize that I had a special advantage in connecting with all corners
of Asia. My family were Hindu Sindhis. As a young child, I learn to
write Sindhi whichh as the same script as the Arabic script. I also soon
discovered that my name `Mahbubani`came from the Arabic word, Mehboob,
which means beloved. Hence, when I travelt o West Asia, I feel at home.
Similarly, when I traveli n Southh Asia, both in India and Pakistan, I f
eel at home as I can understand Hindi and Urdu. Indeed, I do all my
writing only by listening to the famous Hindi movie singer, Mohamad
Rafi. Equally significantly, through my Chinese friends in Singapore, I
have also developed a sensitivity to East Asia. My Indian origins also
enable me to connect with the Buddhist strains of the Chinese, Japanese
and Korean societies. As an ethnic Indian, I also remember what Presiden
Sukarno said: “ln the veins of every one of my people flows the blood of
Indian ancestors and the culture that we possess is steeped through with
Indian influences.” And of course, I grew up in South East Asia and
learnt Bahasa Melayu as a child.

It is this background whichh as emboldened me to write about the biggest
story we are going to see unfolding in the world: the relurn of Asia.
From the year 1 to the year 1820, the two largest economies were China
and India. Many other parts of Asia, including the legendary Sri Vijaya
and Majapahit empires, thrived together with China
and India. The last 200 years of Western domination of world history
have been a historical aberration, an aberation which is coming to an
end. Hence, Goldman Sachs predicts that by 2050, the four largest
economies will be China, India, USA and Japan. Indonesia will also rank
among the world’s largest economies then. The recent World Bank Growth
Commission Repot reported that 13 economies had grown by an average of
7% over 25 years. This list of super-performers also included Indonesia.

I have no doubts that Indonesia will be part of this great
transformation of Asia. Indeed, Indonesia has already played a heroic
role in the transformation of Asia. lt has successfully made one of the
most difficult transitions any society has to make: the transition to
full democracy. This is a remarkable story which has not been fully
understood by the world.

To describe how remarkable this transformation is, let me tell you what
I actually said when I spoke at a forum organized by Asia Society in San
Francisco on 2l February 2008. One of my fellow panelists was Larry
Diamond, the world-famous expert on democracy. This is what I told them.
The world’s beacon of freedom and democracy
is the United States of America. But in the last seven years, America
has been walking backwards in this area. If someone had told me ten
years a go that the first modern developed society to reintroduce
torture would be America. I would have said “Impossible” . But the
impossible has happen. Ms Irene Khan, the Head of Amnesty International,
has described Guantanamos as “a Gulag of our times”. She is right. In
addition, in a story that has not been fully told, America, the bastion
of civil liberties, has also been quietly retreating in this area. Many
of my American friends are also shocked but they say to me “Kishore, you
must understand, We were massively attacked on 9/11″. It is true that
America was attacked. But the fact that the beacon of freedom and
democracy could retreat in many areas of human rights after one attack
showed how fragile America’s commitment is to some key human rights
principles.

By contrast, the second country to be attacked after 9/1 1was Indonesia.
lt took place one year later on 12 October 2002 in Bali. Despite this,
Indonesia did not retreat. Indeed, even though Indonesia had gone
through a wrenching financial crisis in 1998 and 1999 which caused the
economy to shrink significaitly, and even though it had experienced a
lot of social and political turmoil as a result of this financial
crisis, Indonesia went steadily a head in its advance toward democracy.
Remarkably, less than 10 years after this huge financial crisis, Freedom
House declared in a global survey entitled ‘Freedom In the World” in
2005 that Indonesia’s status has moved from “partly free” to “free”
during President SBY`s term of office. President SBY deserves alot of
credit for this remarkable success. This is why two eminents cholars,
Andrew MacItyre and Douglas Ramage, have said that President SBY “is the
most capable, focused and internalionalist of the post-Soeharto
presidents” and that “his record of leadership is unlikely to be beaten
over the next decade or so”. America may also move forward again
together with Indonesia when it elects a president whose father was also
an lndonesian.

By the way, when I finished describing how A merica had gone backwards
and Indonesia had gone forward in freedom and democracy, I expected
Larry Diamond to disagree with me. Instead, he agreed with me.

To fully understand how remarkable Indonesia’s transformation has been,
imagine the members of the Chinese politburo having a discussion on how
China should make the eventual transition to democracy. I have no doubt
that they are aware that they will have to make this transition. They
also know how difficult this will be and that
even though China’s percapita GDP is higher than Indonesia’s. China is
not yet ready to make this leap into democracy. The Chinese leaders must
be amazed that lndonesia made this successful leap in a period of great
economic snd political uncertainty.

The big tragedy here is that Indonesia`s remarkable story has not fully
spread to the world. This is because the international media`s dominated
by the Western media, which cannot imagine that Asia can do better than
the West in many areas. This is why I chose to write my book on “The New
Asian Hemispherea” at this point in time: to provide a non-Western
perspective on the great transformation of Asia. Something remarkable is
happening in Asia, but the world does not really understand what is
happening. Indeed, many Asians are also not aware of how remarkable the
great Asian story is.

The best way to understand how remarkable Asia’s story is, is to compare
it with the story of Latin America. We all know that the first continent
to modernize was Europe. The second continent to modernize was North
America. The third continent that was supposed to modernize was Latin
America.

Why Latin America? At the beginning of the 20’century, Latin America was
seen as the land of promise for many reasons. Firstly, most of the Latin
American elites had come from Europe. They spoke European languages.
Hence, they were fully expected to replicate Europe’s success in Latin
America. Indeed, an American writer, David Gallagher (reviewing a book
by Michae Reid), described Latin America in that period as follows:

/Between 1850 and 1930, many Latin America countries had a very
successful run. Their economies were relatively open, exports thrived,
and in some countries, democracies looked like consolidating
successfully. By 1910, a century after independence, Argentina was, on
a per-capita income basis, one of the half dozen richest countries in the
world. Immigrants flocked there from all over Europe. Chile was also
thriving. German immigrant had colonized large tracts of the south and
Valparaiso was one of the world’s most prosperous ports”./

We know that the Germans, Spanish and ltalians have created very
successful economies in Europe. So why did these immigrants fail in
Latin America?

The failure of Latin America to develope despite these massive advantage
as hundred years ago is one big story. But there is another even more
amazing story of Latin A merica’s economic failure in the last 25 years.
The reason why this story is amazing is that many Latin American
economies adopted the right and not the wrong economic policies in this
period. Despite this, they failed. Please let me quote a few
distinguished authors who make this point.

Mark Weisbrot and David Rosnick, two American economists, wrote: ” Among
policy-makers and economists in the United States it has been widely
assume that the economic policy changes which began to be implemented in
Latin Americain the early 1980s would eventually bear fruit, and lead to
strong economic growth. A quarter century later, this has not yet
happened. lndeed, these two authors wrote that from the period 1980 to
1999, when Latin America implemented the right economic policies, the
result was that “this is the worst 20-year growth performancfe or more
than a century, even including the years of the Great Depression”.

Let me add that Latin America’s record of economic failure despite
Implementing the correct economic policies is also documented by Danny
Leipziger, a senior World Bank official, and Ricardo Hausmann, a Harvard
Professor. Their papers are cited in footnotes in my text
.
Now, let me come to the remarkable part of the Asian story. One major
Asian country also began to implement the correct economic policies
around the same time as Latin America. And it did so under very
unpromising circumstances. It had experienced 30 years of failed
centrally-planned communist economics. l.t also had a disastrous
experience with both the Great Leap Forward (1958-1960) and the Cultural
Revolution (1966-1976). Any observer watching both Latin America and
China implementing the right economic policies in the 1980s would have
confidently predicted that Latin America would succeed and that China
would fail.

Instead the exact opposite happened. China took off in an explosive way.
Ricardo Hausmann said “whichever way you measure it the events in China
are really remarkable. Chinese out put per worker grew annually at 7.8%
and is 2.8% faster than the second country”. In the same period, the per
capita growth in Latin America grew by 0.5% annually from 1980 to 1999
and actuallyf ell to 0.2% in the five years from1 999 to 2004.

What is the big lesson we should learn from this dramatic contrast
between the experiences of Latin America and China despite the fact that
both implemented the right economic policies? The big lesson is that
economic development is not a result of economic policies a lone. This
is indeed the biggest mistake made b y the Washington consensus: in
leading people to believe that only economic policies lead to economic
growth. Social and political policies play an equally important role.
However, when economic development fails, economists are reluctant to
speculate or assess which social and political policies may have
contributed to economic failures.

The big difference between China and Latin America is the nature of the
Social contract between the governing elites and the population they
governed. When Deng Xiaoping took over the leadership of China, his only
goal was to strengthen China. He knew that the only way to do that was
to unleash the energies of the Chinese. hina’s big advantage was that it
had removed the feudal classes and the feudal mentality with the
communist revolution. Hence, Deng Xiaoping carried out his policies with
the goal of helping all the people of china, and not just a small elite
or feudal group.

By contrast, the main disadvantage of many Latin American societies is
that they continue to have either feudal elites or a feudal mentality.
The ruling classes are more interested in preserving their special
privileges, not in helping the masses of the population. By focusing on
the interests of the ruling elites, not the interests of the population
as whole, the Latin American societies have not been able t o succeed.

In my book, I speak of the seven pillars of Western wisdom that several
Asian societies have begun to implement. These seven pillars explain the
success of Asian societies. One of them is ‘meritocracy’ . The simplest
way of understanding the virtues of meritocracy is to ask this question:
why is Brazil a soccer superpower and an economic middle power? The
answer is that when it looks for soccer talent, it searches for it in
all sectors of the population, from the upper classes to the slums. A
boy from the slums is not discriminated against if he has soccer talent.
But in the economic field, Brazil looks for talent in a far smaller base
of the population, primarily the upper and middle classes.

Asia always had the world’s largest pool of brain power. But it also had
the world’s largest pool of unused brain power. The s imple reason why
Asia is taking off now is that the unused brain power is finally being
used. In my book, I look at the case of India, whichh as had the caste
system for thousands of years. For thousands of years, birth was
destiny. lf you were born untouchable (people below the lowest caste),
you lived untouchable and you died untouchable. To day, as a result of
several reform movements, India is changing. I describe the case of a
young man who was born untouchable, went to school as an untouchable and
sat separately in class and at mealtimes. However he did well in school,
got scholarships, went to Columbia University in New York to get a PhD
in economics. Today, he is the Chief Economist of the Reserve Bank of
lndia. His namei s Narendra J dhav.

China and India a resucceeding and taking off because they are finally
finding the right means of igniting the hundreds of millions of brains
that they always had. After China and India, the third largest pool of
brain poweirs in the ASEAN region, where w e have over 5 00 million
people. The success of ASEAN will be determined by whether we follow
China and India’s pattern and unleash the brain power of the masses or
whether we follow the Latin American path of nurturing the interests of
the elite classes.

Which way will the ASEAN countries go? The honest answer is that the
answeris not clear. One of the most telling comparisons I often take is
between South Korea and the Philippines. In the 1950s, the Philippines
was perceived to be one of the most promising economies in the world. It
had everything going for it: an educated elite, the strong support of
America. By contrast, South Korea was seen to be a basket case,
especially after it had suffered the ravages of the Korean War from
1950-1953. One important fact that I only recentlyl earned is how much
of South Korea was ravaged. Indeed, it almost lost the war. The South
Korean capital, Seoul, had fallen within days and within weeks, the
defending UN forces had been driven to the Southern tip of the Korean
peninsula.

Hence, in 1960, the GDP of the Philippine was US $6.9 billion while that
of South Korea was US$1.5 b illion. The GDP of Philippine was almost
five times larger.

By 2007, the respective figures were 144 billion US dollar and
969.billion US dollar. The South Korean GDP had become almost seven
times larger. What happened? Why did the Philippines fail to keep pace
with the growth of South Korea? The politically in correct answer is
that Philippines society has retained most of the feudal mentality that
continue to bedevil Latin American societies. By contrast, South Korea
managed to remove most trac es of its feudal mentality.

To understand the South Korean story, I would like to strongly
recommened to you a book by the distinguished Harvard Professor,
Professo Erzra Vogel, entitled /The Four Little Dragons: The Spread of
Industrializatiton East Asia. / He did a study to find oout why the
success oh Japan (which he also wrote about in his famous book “Japan is
Number One”), the next few Asian societies succeed were the four Asian
tigers: South Korea, Taiwan, Hongkong, and Singapore. Since these four
societies were very different, the wanted to find out whether there were
any common elements that explained their success.

One common element he found was the following: “concern for the overall
social order led officials to be sensitive to problems of inequality
early in the process of industrialization and to make efforts to spread
income opportunities to all parts of society”. What is remarkable here
is that, even though none of these four societies were Socialist and
even thought he governments of South Korea under Park Chung Hee, Taiwan
under Jiang Jing Guo, Hong Kong under British coionil rule were seen as
right-wing and not left-wing, all these governments focused on making
sure that the fruits and opportunities of development were shared
between all classes, from the top to the bottom, unlike the Latin
American societies, where the bottom never experienced the fruits of
economic growth. In 2007, the Gini coefficient for Brazil was close to
0.6 while that of South Korea and Taiwan w as barely over 0.3.

It is vital to emphasize here that Japan, China, India and the four
tigers did not invent the principle of meritocracy (which I describe as
the principle of looking for talent in all sectors of society).
Essentially, these Asian societies copied the best practices of the
Western developed societies, especially America, which remains the most
meritocratic society in the world. Two of the beste xamples of the
fruits of American meritocracy are the two speakers who preceded me in
this Presidential Lecture series: Shaukat Aziz and Bill Gates. Shaukat
Aziz arrived in America with no educationin any Western university. He
was educated entirely in Pakistani educational institutions. But through
sheer merit he rose to the highest levels of Citibank, part of the group
of seven that ran the bank. Bill Gates went to Harvard but dropped out.
Despite that he ended up as the richest man in the world by creating a
completely new industry.

In my lecture to day, I have only emphasized the virtues of meritocracy,
which is only one of the seven pillars of Western wisdom that I discuss
in my book. Let me briefly mention the other six but as I do so you will
find that they are all linked to the virtue of meritocracy.

The first pillar is free market economics. Free market economics does
not just enhance economic productivity through incentives for good
performance. Free market economic as l so leads to the continuous
creation of new elites and removal of old elites. Indeed one little
known fact is that the best description of the virtues of capitalism is
provided by Karl Marx. His essays explain well how capitalism destroys
feudal elites. The f eudal Latin American elites failed in their
economic reforms because they refuse to give up the “rent” income that
they could extract from their privileged positions. “Rent” income
distorts free markets. One quick way to promote economic growth is to
destroy “rent” income.

The second pillar is science and technology. An enormous shift is taking
place in Asia. The late Nobel Laureate in Chemistry, Richard Smalley has
predicted that by 2OlO, 9% of all PhD holding scientists and engineers
will be living in Asia. The third pillar is meritocracy, which I have
spoken about. The fourth pillar is pragmatism. The best definition of
pragmatism is given by Deng Xiaoping when he said it did not matter
whether a cat is black or white; if it catches mice, it is a good cat.
He used this simple saying to explain to the Chinese people why China
had to switch from centrally planned economics to free market economics.

But Deng Xiaoping was not the first pragmatist in Asia. T he first
pragmatist were the Meiji reformers. After watching the total
colonization of India by the British in1 850s and the humiliation of
China in the Opium War of 1839-1842, the Japanese knew that they too
would be colonized or humiliated if they did not change. So the Japanese
Meiji reformers went out and copied the best practices of the West.

The big untold story of Asia is how so many Asians have successfully
copied this Japanese practice of adapting from the best. Earlier I had
praised the South Korean success in development. One little known secret
about the South Korean success is that South Koreans initiated their
success by copying the Japanese. The reason why this secret is so little
known is because the South Koreans get very angry if you suggest that
they had copied from the Japanese. I discovered this when I wrote an
essay in lime magazine mentioning this fact. The response was a flood of
angry emails from South Koreans denouncing me. Given this strong
Korean-Japanese rivalry, I thought it was a brilliant decision by Dr.
Mahathir to award the contract to build one tower each of the Petronas
Towers to rival Korean and Japanese teams. The result was spectacularly
successful.

The fifth pillar is the culture of peace. The remarkable thing about
East A sia is that even though the biggest wars since World War ll were
fought in East Asia (the Korean War, the Vietnam War and the
Sino-Vietnames War), the guns have been largely silent in our region
since 1980. The sixth pillar is the rule of law. No modern economyc an
function without an impartial and fair rule of law. Foreign investors
need this. So does international trade. This is why China is now
producing more new well traine djudges than any other country. But
China’s case also illustrates the enofmous difficulty of fully
implementing rule of law. Traditionally, most Asian societies have had
rule by law, but not rule of law. Hence, the emperor issues edicts but
is not bound by his edicts. China has a modern society but while in
theory the CCP members are subject to the same rule of law as ordinary
members, in practice they are often not. This is unlike America where
even the President and Senators can be indicted or impeached.

Fortunately, many Chinese CCP members are honest. lf they are not,
China’s economy could not have grown so fast. However, in the long run,
neither China nor any other Asian society can just rely on honesty. We
need to adopt the Western system of rule of law, not rule by law, if we
are to succeed. Andrew Mclntyre and Douglas Ramage have also said that
President SBY “has taken more of a leadership role than his predecessors
in the counter-corruption drive. His official approval and encouragement
have created something of a virtuous circle of reinforcement and
political probity.” This is one of the reasons why the rule of law is
needed: to prevent and eradicate corruption.

The seventh and final pillar is education but it is in some ways the
most important one. Without education -and I mean primary, secondary and
tertiary education- no society can succeed. One reason why China and
India are among the most successful Asian societies is that they have
the largest number of students studying in American universities. In
2006-2007, China had 68,000 students studying in the US and lndia had
83,000 students.

In conclusion, please let me summarize the implications of what I have
said for the future of ASEAN societies, including Indonesia and
Singapore. I would like to conclude with three specific prescriptions to
promote national development:

(l) The first prescription is to develop a win-win /social contract/
between the governing elites and the masses. This is why Japan, China,
India and the four tigers succeeded. Th e absence of such a social
contract is also why the Latin American societies are not succeeding. In
many Latin American societies, the elites want to cling on to their
“rent’ income to ensure that their privileged positions are not
challenged. Hence, no Shaukat Aziz or Bill Gates can emerge or succeed
in such a feudal setting.

The main point to emphasize here is that it is in the interest of the
ruling elites to also introduce meritocracy in the new social contract.
When hundreds of millions of new brains enter the market place, the
economy becomes bigger and the society more socially and politically
stable. When people at the bottom believe that their societies offer
opportunities for them to progress, you also get less crime. When I was
in Latin America, I was explicitly warned that I should stay far away
from the slums. But when I was in Mumbai, India earlier this month, my
youngest son and l wen on a guided tour through the biggest slum in the
city, the Dahravi slum. lt felt safe. People were busy working. The
children were studying in schools. And if the social contract works, the
people will be out of the slums in one lifetime.

(ll) The second prescription is to develop the belief that we can
succeed. As a child, I grew up in Singapore when it was under British
colonial rule. One of the most pernicious effects of colonial rule was
that our minds were colonized.

Hence we were led to believe that the Europeans were naturally superior
to the Asians. This mental belief in the supremacy of the Europeans
carried on long after political independence.

Today, we have a remarkable reversal. The most optimistic young people
in the world are young Indians. While many of them are still poor, they
are confident that their tomorrow will be better than their today. By
contrast, when I travel to Europe, many of the young people are not
confident that their tomorrow will be better than their today.

About a year ago, the International Herald Tribune correspondent in
Mumbai, Mr Anand Giridharadas, called me. He asked me whether there was
too much hype in India. I said that it was always better to have hype
than no hype. Just imagine how differently we would view the future of
Latin America and Africa, if we could generate the same hype in Latin
America and Africa as we have in India today. Hype is a sign of hope.

We should develop the same kind of hype in ASEAN. To do this, we have to
believe that we can succeed.

(III) The third prescription is to focus on the youth. Let me explain
why. There is an Arab proverb which says that he who speaks about the
future lies, even when he tells the truth. The proverb is right. We
cannot predict the future. But there is at least one respect in which we
can make confident predictions about the future: if we can measure the
amount of snow that has fallen in the Himalayas in any winter, we can
predict the future flood levels in the river Ganges because the snow
that has fallen will determine the future flood levels in six months.

In Asia, we see the demographic snow on the ground in the form of our
youth in our countries. If we can educate our youth and prepare them for
a very different world of tomorrow, we have good prospects of creating a
good future. But if we fail to educate our youth, we are guaranteeing
that there will be no improvement in our standard of living. Hence, if
we want a great future, we have to invest in our youth: education,
education, education. Here, Indonesia already has some success stories
worth mentioning. While only 76% of children complete primary school in
India, 91% complete it in Indonesia, even though India spends 7.2% of
its GNP on primary education, while Indonesia spends only 3.2%. In
short, Indonesia has laid some good foundations in this area.

Therefore, in conclusion, the three prescriptions are Social Contract,
Belief and Youth. Please remember these three prescriptions through the
acronym, SBY.

Thank you.

———— ——— ——— ——— ——-
/* Professor Kishore Mahbubani is Dean of the Lee Kuan Yew School of
Public Policy at the National University of Singapore. He has recently
published/ The New Asian Hemisphere: the Irresistible Shift of Power to
the East.

Indonesia Papua:More religions, more trouble

Indonesian Papua  

More religions, more trouble

Jul 17th 2008 | JAKARTA
From The Economist print edition

 


THE separatist conflict in Indonesia’s Papua region—formerly known as Irian Jaya and once one of the world’s great liberal causes—has become relatively quiet in recent years. Small groups of protesters still occasionally gather to wave the Morning Star independence flag and get arrested for it. But decades of repression by the Indonesian security forces, combined with the granting in 2000 of partial autonomy from Jakarta, have sapped the separatists’ ranks. However, according to a recent report on the region, there is a risk that the separatist conflict may be rekindled or replaced by religious strife because of the arrival of new and more muscular forms of both Islam and Christianity.

 

 

 

 

 

Broadly speaking, indigenous Papuans—who are dark-skinned Melanesians, like their kin next door in Papua New Guinea and Australian aborigines—tend to be Christians or animists, whereas the many migrants to the region from elsewhere in Indonesia are mostly Muslim. In recent years fundamentalist Christian groups, some started by American and Canadian preachers, have been proselytising among indigenous Papuans. Their success has also prompted the development of fundamentalist streams in the established Protestant churches.

Among the Islamic radical groups to arrive in Papua with the migrants is the Indonesian chapter of Hizb-ut-Tahrir, an organisation started in Jerusalem, which seeks to unite Muslims worldwide under one government or “caliphate”. But there are also a few indigenous Papuan Muslims, some of whom have recently returned from studies in the Middle East, bringing back fundamentalist ideas.

The report, by the International Crisis Group (ICG), a think-tank, says rising religious tension has already come close to triggering violence between Muslims and Christians, as is already common in the nearby, mixed-faith province of Maluku. In Kaimana district, for example, members of the two religions had long lived together harmoniously. But in December locals came close to blows over the erection of an iron tower shaped like a Christmas tree, topped with a Star of David—often used by charismatic Christian groups but best known as a symbol of Judaism.

The new Christian groups have raised Muslims’ hackles by boasting (sometimes falsely) of their conversions of Muslims. Muslims, in turn, have become increasingly vigilant against any perceived threats either to their faith or to Indonesian sovereignty. Some Islamic radicals are prone to conspiracy theories about plots to prise Papua away from Indonesia, often involving America and its majority-Christian regional allies, Australia and the Philippines.

Increased fundamentalism has sharpened each ethnic group’s fear of domination by the other. The Indonesian government has discontinued its programme of transportation to Papua and elsewhere to relieve overcrowding on Java. But migrants are still flooding in. Official figures show that in 2004 Muslims were 23% of the region’s 2m-odd population, up from 6.5% in 1964. In reality the proportion of Muslims is thought to be much higher, probably over half now—but the government has not published accurate updated figures.

Christians believe this is a cover-up to hide the truth: that migration has made Papuans a minority in their homeland. They also fear that the government in Jakarta is increasingly endorsing Islamic orthodoxy at the expense of Indonesia’s non-Muslims. The Muslims, in turn, agree that they are now the majority in Papua—a local Hizb-ut-Tahrir leader recently claimed that Papua is 65% Muslim—but they feel that Papuan autonomy could lead to them being discriminated against or even expelled from the region.

There are some moderating influences: last year, mainstream Muslims set up a new body, the Papuan Muslim Council, to put the case for tolerance. Some of the charismatic Christian groups, far from inciting separatism among ethnic Papuans, argue for accommodation with the Indonesian powers-that- be (render unto Caesar and all that). Even so, argues the ICG, there is a danger that continuing migration, combined with the radicalisation of both main religions, could re-ignite the dormant separatist conflict.

If the heightened religious tension is not to become a catalyst for violence it would help if there was a sense of urgency about improving the dismal quality of life of almost all Papuans, whether indigenous or migrants. Autonomy has had a feeble start: central-government ministries have been reluctant to cede control to local Papuan authorities; where they have, money has been misspent, including by newly recruited Papuan bureaucrats struggling with responsibilities for which they lack skills. Last year President Susilo Bambang Yudhoyono ordered his officials to speed up development programmes for Papua. As usual, his orders fell on deaf ears.