Friday, November 20, 2009

Indonesia’s dysfunctional presidency

At quite a number of places and in meetings that I have been attending lately, I met a variety of people who shared the same sense of bewilderment which was (and still is) bothering me. They were bewildered: why does President appear to be reluctant and indecisive in his handling of the ongoing dispute between the National Police and the Attorney General's Office, on the one hand, and the Corruption Eradication Commission (the Indonesia acronym is KPK), on the other.

Although he has acquired the image of a leader who scrupulously moves along the corridors of prescribed law, lately however, he is perceived as a confused leader who, somehow, has pushed himself in a tight corner. The President should present himself in the eyes of the public as a strong and resolute leader who achieved a convincing political victory in the recent presidential election. Instead, he appears to be clumsy in his actions, awkwardly moving around in a shrinking space.

One wonders whether this is the same President that only recently managed to acquire a solid base of legitimacy by capturing nearly 61 percent of the popular vote.
Furthermore, does he not enjoy the assured support of the Partai Demokrat that has emerged from the recent parliamentary election a victorious party 300 percent stronger (in terms of the number of parliamentary seats captured) compared with its 2004 election score?

Why is it then that given the impressive political trust bestowed upon him, such an unexpected situation has emerged: a dysfunctional Presidency. What could be the alarming consequences of this situation?

Eep Saefulloh Fatah Jakarta.The writer is a political scientist. This is an excerpt, translated from his column in the Kompas daily, Jakarta

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