Friday, June 11, 2010

The phenomenon of Anas Urbaningrum

Although there is no guarantee that fresh blood will supply innovative ideas and a “new spirit”, we still hope that a younger mind and soul should play a greater role in national leadership.

In the aftermath of reformation, old faces still dominate the political arena. Some analysts and commentators are worried that the process of regeneration does not run efficiently.

Reformation fails to produce new leaders. Old players are too strong, a situation which thwarted the birth of new leaders.

In the recent years, three are young potential leaders — Rizal Mallarangeng, who already devoted a certain amount of energy and money to advertise his candidacy for president via the media, Yuddy Chrisnandi, a former candidate for Golkar chairman, and Ulil Abshar-Abdalla, one of the founders of JIL (Liberal Islam Network) who threw a hat in the NU (Nahdlatul Ulama) leadership arena — failed.

Now, Anas Urbaningrum becomes the chairman of the Democratic Party. Does it mean that an Indonesian Obama has come? Do not rush to a conclusion.

The case of Rizal is as follows. Once he said: “I do not run on behalf of myself, but on behalf of a generation. I respect President Susilo Bambang Yudhoyono, Gus Dur, the Sultan [of Yogyakarta], and Amien Rais. But, they should not be alone.”

Rizal then rhetorically asked: If another country can produce new leaders, why can’t Indonesia? After 10 years (of reformation) why should only Gus Dur and Amien (dominate the Indonesian political landscape).

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The preventive approach to terrorism

The preventive approach to terrorism

The saga of "terrorist" hunting goes on in Indonesia. More targets are killed. More suspects' names are detected. This news coincides with the hotter news of chasing down those suspected of corruption. What a hard task for us Indonesians!

Many TV stations broadcast the drama of the chases, the arrests, and the shootings, as dramatically as scenarios in Hollywood movies. Of course, the former is more real than the latter.

Some Indonesian commentators, who appear in the electronic media, criticize this approach employed by our policemen, which is seen as curative rather than preventive.

It is true that shooting people is cruel. Some lawyers remind us that "terrorists" are also human beings who deserve humane treatment. They should not be treated like the objects of a hunting game. Consider too that they also have families and friends who watch TV every day. It is not hard to imagine how these friends and family members feel when their friend or relative is discredited in the media and chased by the police. Note that their children may want to take revenge.

However, what these commentators call preventive is still ambiguous. The Densus 88 anti-terror squad's approach is curative. No doubt. The team extinguishes a fire that is already burning.

A preventive approach is not the burden of the anti-terror squad. The preventive approach is a long-term task which should be shouldered by Indonesian society through educational institutions - be they formal, such as schools and universities, or informal such as pesantren (traditional boarding schools) or mosque groups. These institutions should give a balanced view of reason and religion, religious duty and humanity, dogma and history, and between the content of the scriptures and their interpretation.


Welcoming a guest and de-radicalization

Two harrowing incidents - the police gunning down Southeast Asia's most wanted radical and the mass rallies protesting President Barack Obama's visit to Indonesia - distracted the Indonesian public's welcome to the president's pulang kampung (coming home).

The term was coined to indicate that Indonesians expect a lot from the visit. However, the visit, like anything else in the world, fails to make everybody happy. There is no magical thing in the world that can ensure universal satisfaction.

The visit, many hope, should bear fruit in the political, economical and social relationships between the archipelagic country and Uncle Sam's country, between those who wear a sarong and those who wear a cowboy hat, between Andy Warhol's country and Afandi's, between the heirs of John F. Kennedy's dream and those who want to keep Sukarno's legacy alive, between those who enjoy country and jazz music and those who enjoy keroncong and dangdut, and between the country whose seal reads EPluribus Unumand that which reads Bhinneka Tunggal Eka - both mottoes emphasize diversity and unity.

Radicals are of course, are not pleased with the visit, which will be celebrated by other Indonesians who "revere" Obama. These radicals will never give up entirely. Rather, they seized the golden opportunity to show to the public that they - including their movement and agenda - are still alive. To them, showing up as a huge crowd in protest of the visit is important. So is drawing parallels between the current war in Afghanistan, inherited by Obama, with the wars waged by his predecessor.

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