Sunday, July 11, 2010

Molotov Cocktail Dawn Bombing of Jakarta Magazine

Explosive gifts of three Molotov cocktails were thrown at the office of Tempo magazine in Central Jakarta, immediately leading to condemnation all around. It was of course taken as a message of harassment and terror against all parties whose intention and job is to expose anything wrong in this country – mainly widespread, chronic corruption.

For it is such abuse of power that is the last frontier of those expecting to be able to act in their business-as-usual style, whatever progress reformasi has reached.

The pessimists have predicted that this is what the post-New Order Indonesia can expect — continued resistance at any attempt to loosen the hold of those who seek to control the vital strings to maintain personal gain.

The police have been quick to distance themselves from the dawn bombs, which did not harm anyone. The corps is in the spotlight yet again for their officers’ suspicious accounts, reaching tens of billions of rupiah per officer, all 21 of them, which were initially reported years ago – to the police headquarters.

Nothing happened to the reports filed by the Financial Transaction Reports and Analysis Centre (PPATK) until a snowball hit — graft accusations against a top officer, who disclosed more and more among subordinates and colleagues.

Incredulously, we have the honorable detective chief stating, yes I’m aware of this officer’s account of Rp 95 billion but it’s all from legal business.

All the leaders are saying politically correct things: Investigate all this, says SBY; Yes I plan to, says the National Police Chief, but no thank you we don’t need help, we’ll settle our own internal affairs. As if they could.

Police chief Gen. Bambang Hendarso Danuri was the same leader who raised the issue of “strong resistance” against attempts of change, imploring the public’s understanding that things must go steadily, slowly within the corps.

We have no such patience even as we acknowledge the police’s hard work in hunting down terrorists. The general’s impatience explains how copies of the Tempo report were whipped up on the street or on the Internet despite efforts of “men in police uniforms” to buy up the magazines.

Throughout this grueling period of reform, the pessimists appear to be right. It seems we’ll never root out corruption — the Molotovs being the last reminder of such “resistance” against exposure of any abuse of power.

But there are things which are here to stay.

One is press freedom. The public knows it can demand the press to behave itself, and demand that press workers continue to expose all wrongdoings. The press is their weapon; people have found the media can complement or strengthen organization of public energy, such as the online support groups for various causes.

Another is a big no to impunity.

This collective no is another public weapon. Ousting Soeharto and his New Order, however much credit actually went to the economic crisis, meant saying “enough” to the taken-for-granted privileges to act outside of the law.

Beyond extra-judicial killings, corruption has turned out to be an even harder battle — one in which you don’t have to be evil in arranging for some public money to reach your account; one in which “surely I should get a chance too” seems to be today’s frequent underlying motivation.

The realization of this much harder battle is behind the public support to expose, step by step, abuses of power concerning private and public offices and individuals.
It is this public support that drives media workers to pick up the pieces after each traumatic incident, and work for the next edition. Editorial, Jakarta Post

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