Friday, May 21, 2010


On 21 May 1998, devastating economic crisis has forced President Soeharto to step down from power.

After that, Indonesia has been experiencing the process of transformation from an authoritarian rule to a liberal democracy. This process is popularly known in Bahasa Indonesia as " Reformasi ".

And today, 12 years after " Reformasi ", I wonder whether the whole process has been beneficial for the Indonesian people, or merely for a bunch of politicians.

In this regards, I quoted a relevant article in Kompas (below).

12 Years after Soeharto, Indonesians Fear for 'Reformasi'
Jumat, 21 Mei 2010 | 12:01 WIB
JAKARTA, - Twelve years after the dawning of Indonesia’s ’Reformasi’ movement with the resignation of military strongman Soeharto, there are fears the country of 240 million people is on a slipperly slope backwards. No one disputes how far Indonesia has come: the economy is booming and last year’s peaceful elections brought political stability by returning Susilo Bambang Yudhoyono to the presidency for a second five-year term.

The massive street protests, bloody anti-Chinese riots  and economic ruin that marked the last days of  Soeharto's "New Order" regime are in the past, and Indonesia  is demanding a greater say in world affairs. But on the 12th anniversary of Suharto’s resignation Friday, all is not well with ’Reformasi’, the sweeping popular movement for democratic change that energised reform across the vast archipelago for more than a decade.

Some analysts fear the tide may be turning back in favour of Suharto-style cronyism and a political and business elite that has never, they say, relinquished power.

“There is not much difference between Soeharto’s time and now. It’s just that Soeharto’s cronies have been replaced by new cronies,” economist Martin Panggabean said.

Analysts express concern about persistent, widespread corruption, a lack of government transparency, a culture of impunity for human rights abuses and the increasing use of draconian libel laws to muzzle critics.

Such fears came to a head earlier this month with the shock resignation of finance minister Sri Mulyani Indrawati, an independent economist who frequently clashed with reactionary forces within the ruling coalition.

Indrawati won international accolades for keeping Southeast Asia’s biggest economy growing throughout the global downturn while battling to clean up the graft-riddled tax and customs offices.

But her lonely campaign received little more than rhetorical support from Yudhoyono, and eventually her position became untenable in the face of constant attacks from the Golkar party, Soeharto’s largely unreformed political vehicle. Speaking to business leaders earlier this week, the outgoing minister compared the current situation to the crony-dictatorship of Soeharto, who died in hospital in January, 2008.

“We have learnt from the 30-year regime of president Soeharto, where relationships between personal and public interests were so mixed-up,” she said.  “We all knew — what occurred during the New Order era was like a disease. But at that time it was done behind closed doors. Now it’s more sophisticated and the skills of power enable the decision-making process to be co-opted.”

In what some observers interpreted as a parting shot at the ruling elite before she starts her new job as a World Bank director next month, she said the current system worked like a “cartel” or a “same-sex marriage”. “You can see for yourselves, government officials with business backgrounds, even though they say they have put aside all their businesses, everyone knows that their siblings, their children, who knows who else from their families, are still running the firms,” she said.

The comments were reported as a stab at Golkar party chief Aburizal Bakrie, seen as the architect of the campaign to remove Indrawati after she tried to bring his vast business empire under the rule of law.

Within days of her resignation, and after secret talks with Yudhoyono, Bakrie had been appointed to lead a new “secretariat” tasked with overseeing the ruling coalition.

Analysts said a key test for ’Reformasi’ will be whether an investigation launched by Indrawati into 210 million dollars in allegedly unpaid taxes by Bakrie-linked mining companies is brought to trial or swept under the carpet.


dallco said...

to bad our country is steel the same condition

Anonymous said...

Bakrie really is the scum of the earth. I hope he's brought to trial over this, but have a sneaky suspicion he won't.

H. Nizam said...

Although in the economic side the condition may not be very much different, however the present open economic-social-politic condition would enable people to do their very best for themselves and the country.

Let's be positive that the law shall be enforced accordingly.

Anonymous said...

My fingers are well and truly crossed!

H. Nizam said...

I wish that you would mention your name and blog so that we can be friend and I can visit you.
Anyways, I agree that there is no guarantee that the present open system would bring better results that before. So I will also keep my fingers crossed.

Anonymous said...

I think there's something wrong with my phone. It's only letting me leave anonymous comments! My name's Tim, my blog it I hope you like it!

Anonymous said...


umihoney said...

What is important is the existence of a check and balance mechanism in the govt to ensure fair governance because we are social creatures having family ties and friends..and the culture of 'balas budi'..and also if we dont entertain will be labelled as 'tak kenang budi'.Unless we are truly subscribing to religious teachings, which i doubt,such mechanism would be useful.

H. Nizam said...

@Tim (the anonymous guy),
Thank you for identifying yourself and your blog. I will go there.

Our constitution and laws provide enough stipulations for check and balances. But, politicians are based on "similarity of interests" therefore "balas budi" is the rule of the game especially when there is no political party that has a majority(51%) in parliament.