By: Putera Satria Sambijantoro
Saturday, May 22, 2010
VOTE FOR VENDETTA. 2014 is payback time, during which this Iron Woman will set to bring Indonesia’s bureaucratic reform to the next level and take her vengeance to those corrupt lawmakers and politicians.
Six years ago, Susilo Bambang Yudhoyono certainly could remember what it felt like being treated unfairly by his supervisor when he, apart from his position as Coordinating Minister of Political and Security Affairs under Megawati Soekarnoputri, was actually neither invited nor involved by her in several cabinet meetings concerning various political and security matters.
But for Yudhoyono, it seems that every cloud has its own silver lining –so does Megawati’s harsh treatment to him which eventually led to his resignation from his ministerial post on March 11 2004.
This is because in the end, it’s Yudhoyono who had the last laugh. Megawati’s decision to expel Yudhoyono from the other cabinet members –as well as the cruel words from Taufik Kiemas (Megawati’s husband), who added fuel to a fire and accused Yudhoyono of exaggerating things and being ‘too childish’– backfired and contributed to her loss in the presidential election to Yudhoyono at the same year.
In fact, Megawati’s story of how a president made the most of her authority to bully her own subordinate had without doubt helped Yudhoyono to win sympathy from many Indonesians; eventually leading him to win the presidential election and trounce Megawati by a wide margin.
What Indonesia had in the past is somewhat identical to the situation at present, where now finance minister Sri Mulyani Indrawati suddenly turns out to be a media-darling figure and draws sympathies from many Indonesians following her heroic role as the sacrificed bishop to save her king from his inconvenient position in the political chessboard.
For Sri Mulyani, it is worth noting that there were several cases besides Yudhoyono’s story above, particularly women, when someone rose to prominence and eventually ended up on top level in politics because she was able to gain sympathy of the people.
In Pakistan, the father of the legendary Benazir Bhutto was unjustly ousted from power by his political foe through a military coup and was sentenced to death. This later sparked a deep-rooted indignation among the Pakistanis which helped the Pakistan People Party, of which Benazir Bhutto was the chairperson, to gain massive support from the people.
Benazir Bhutto, who once headed finance ministry like Sri Mulyani, finally reached the pinnacle of her politics career when she took oath as the first and the only woman ever to become a prime minister in Pakistan.
The preceding tale was also similar to Megawati Soekarnoputri whose tear-jerking past helped her a lot to be recognized in Indonesia politics and won the sympathy of the people. Her father Soekarno, a national hero who proclaimed Indonesia’s independence, was exiled and sullied when Soeharto took over and Soekarno’s descendents, including Megawati, had to endure 32 years of oppression and tribulation from Soeharto and his cronies.
Prior to her seemingly reluctant move to World Bank, actually Sri Mulyani has drawn many sympathies already for her role of being the shield to the president himself during the fallout of Bank Century bailout, protecting Yudhoyono from the scorching political bullets while at the same time her own boss apparently was more interested in washing his hands clean on the subject.
Besides, Sri Mulyani was, without doubt, the person who deserves the largest share of the credit for Indonesia’s striking economic performance during the last financial crisis which, ironically, was the backbone of Yudhoyono’s victory in the last presidential election.
And now instead of protecting Sri Mulyani from the business and political rascals who have been unsettled by the bureaucratic reform which she initiated, Yudhoyono decided to forgo her and bow to the given pressure.
Fortunately, those cruel treatments of Yudhoyono’s to his meritorious finance minister may be a blessing in disguise for Sri Mulyani herself as well as many Indonesians who have been longing for a fearless, intellectual figure who has the capability and guts to become a president and reform Indonesia from the very top of the bureaucracy itself.
Thanks to the enormous exposure from the press –as well as numerous analysis and insights from high-profile intellectuals in various media–, in addition to the growing sympathies to Sri Mulyani her departure has also opened the eyes of many Indonesians about how brilliant this person actually was and how much she has done to Indonesia’s economy during her tenure as finance minister.
As an old saying goes, you never know what you get until it’s gone. It’s like when Michael Jackson passed away and, because of massive coverage from various types of information media all over the world, all of a sudden all music fans worldwide realized the fact that his contribution to the music industry had actually been so immense.
The difference is that Sri Mulyani is still alive and when she finishes her four-year term as World Bank’s managing director in 2014 and comes back to Indonesia as she has promised, she could be one of Indonesia’s highest profiles for our election during that year.
For Sri Mulyani, the moment could not be better. She is only 47 at present, and if she really wants to bid for presidential post in 2014, she will be 51.
If one still considers her to be too green to be a president, she still has a lot of time behind her back. If Sri Mulyani only runs as a vice-president candidate in 2014 then runs again for president five years later, then she is still 56 at 2019. And bidding at the age of 56 will put her still even younger than Prabowo Subianto, who ran at the age of 57 during the last presidential election and in fact was still the youngest among his counterparts.
One problem that emerges is Sri Mulyani is a well-known technocrat, and it is still questionable whether she possesses such political motivation to be a president –or even as a vice-president.
But Sri Mulyani should reflect to Michelle Bachelet, Chile’s first woman president, who was said to be initially hesitant to run for presidential post because she actually never possessed such ambition. In the end, due to the unprecedented surge on her popularity and pressure from her own supporters, she ultimately changed her mind and the rest that happened in Chile afterwards was history.
There is no doubt that Sri Mulyani’s recent popularity among Indonesians will definitely make political parties slaughtering each other to get her signature four years from now. And if at that time she is equipped with a decent political wheel, the spines of Indonesia’s corrupt businessmen and politicians will surely shiver like they never before.
The bureaucratic reform which Sri Mulyani spearheaded may suffer a temporary setback following her exodus to United States. But when she comes back here to run for a more strategic role to bring a broader scale of bureaucratic reform, she has more than enough ammunition already to get her revenge towards those corrupted evils who have colluded to kick her out from the country that she loves the most.
This article was published in Asia News Network on Tuesday, June 2 2010