Presidential Debates

Sep 2nd, 2008, in IM Posts, Opinion, by

Chris KomariChris Komari writes an open letter to politicians on the need for public presidential debates.

Public Invitation for Series of Public Presidential Debates

Dear Presidential Candidates and Indonesian Media at large:

Warm greetings from Northern California! May this letter find you all in great health and excellence spirit to continue serving the great cause for the wonderful people of Indonesia.

There have been debates going on in Indonesia about criteria to be President from age stand point and academic achievements. I find this unbelievably amazing since even the strongest country on earth; United States of America does not assert such a prerequisite to be President of United States. I don’t think these requirements are necessary. The current U.S. Presidential contest between Senator Barrack Obama and Senator John McCain is just a perfect example. Age orientation for neither being too old or too young and academic accomplishments do not prove any person to be a better President. Many instances of older and younger President in United States such as: John F. Kennedy and Franklin D. Roosevelt were both proven to be great leaders with their own leadership skill to resolve crisis facing the nation during their terms. What so critical to be future leader of a country is one’s ability to understand the critical issues and to address those issues with tangible result that will transform significant changes to the life of the million people at large.

There are many critical and depressing issues facing Indonesia at this very moment. Maintaining status quo with empty promises and empty slogans is no longer acceptable. It is very troubling to know that as Presidential election is approaching very rapidly and I have not seen any of these Presidential candidates pointing out those critical issues that need to be debated openly and publicly. The current notion entertained by political party leaders and presidential candidates to run a campaign platform with empty rhetoric, and empty slogans will do nothing to make a change and at the very best will only maintain status quo. This notion shall not be acceptable for the upcoming general and presidential election. These Presidential candidates shall be challenged openly and publicly to present a comprehensive plan and strategy to resolve those important issues. Because of this, I am raising the bar and taking a different approach. I open up a new chapter in presidential election in Indonesia by sending out public invitation to all of these presidential candidates to have series of public Presidential debates to discuss about those urgent and critical issues.

I believe so strongly that without resolving those critical issues, there is not much for any new President regardless how genius that person might be to make any significant changes in Indonesia. I am that confident! The issues have entangled President’s ability to govern and even brought down once was the most powerful man in the 35 years history of that country.

The debate shall be very simple. Each Presidential candidate will be asked to identify at least the top 10 issues facing Indonesia and why those issues are so critical? What program does he/she have to address those current issues and how to implement those programs? If the programs involve a massive project of rebuilding Indonesia’ infra structures, how the programs are going to be funded and where the money comes from? What condition and bench marks to be used to measure its success for their proposed plans?

Those are the framework of the debate and these debates shall be open for public with direct question and answer session amongst the Presidential candidates themselves as well as from the Indonesian people participating in the debate. These series of public debates are meant to scrutinize future President’s view and understanding on issues facing Indonesia and to hold them accountable to find its solution. These debates can be moderated by independent Journalists or private citizens. The date, place and time for the debate can be determined. I will be happy to go to Indonesia to join the debates based on agreed arrangement. One option that is being discussed is to invite all of these Presidential candidates to go to Northern California, USA to join the debates there. The work is still under consideration to determine whether it is feasible or not to hold such a debate in Northern California sometime in January 2009.

I am not running for President and personally, I am not interested in supporting the PERSON individually or, POLITICAL PARTY per say, but I am interested in supporting anyone or, any Presidential candidates who have similar ideas, ideologies and vision on how to make Indonesia to be a better, safer and brighter place to live for all Indonesians. For this reason, I am here ready to engage and participate in public debate and roundtable discussion about critical issues facing Indonesia with any political party leaders and Presidential candidates. I want to make sure that these prominent politicians; Presidential candidates and political party leaders, understand the issues and will address the issues that have direct impact to the millions and millions people of Indonesia. This is the spirit of this public debate invitation.

I have been in and out Indonesia in my attempt to meet those people that I think have the ability, capability and pure motivation beyond self-vested interest to serve the Indonesian people at large. That is what motivates me to meet those political party leaders, Presidential candidates and his/her Presidential team members. I am not concerned about who is going to be the next President of Indonesia as long as that person has a comprehensive plan that is measurable, attainable and make sense to address the critical issues facing Indonesia. These series of public debates will broaden their (our) knowledge and ability to resolve those issues. My goal is not only to make sure that those Presidential candidates and political party leaders recognize those problems and challenge them to come up with a comprehensive plan, but most importantly is on how to do it, how to implement their plans, how to finance the programs, where the money comes from and what bench marks used to measure its possibility of success of their proposed plans.

We need Presidential candidates who can come up with not only a laundry list of what to do, but how to do it with clear direction and goals. And then hold them accountable to generate the expected results to see whether the plans workable and attainable or not. This is the kind of leader that we need in Indonesia who is not only having a comprehensive plan to resolve those important issues, but also who have broader foresight visions on how to make Indonesia better, stronger and be more independent economically, politically and militarily. His/her ability to understand those issues and present a comprehensive package of solution to the people of Indonesia is the kind of Presidential candidate that I am going to support.

I am a public servant and I am there to serve the public in whatever capacity I can to address the issue. This is one of my ways for doing it. What so critical to me is neither the seat at the House of Representative nor the Presidency, but it is the issues that must be resolved. That shall be a priority for the current and the next President of Indonesia. The first step for us now is to scrutinize these Presidential candidates by engaging in series of public debates to find out whether these future Presidents really understand the issues facing the nation and what plan does he/she has to resolve those issues. That is the goal and the direction of these public Presidential debates.

Introduction:

Being an Indonesian citizen living in United States, I could not describe how proud I was when I witnessed a successful transition and the 1st ever direct presidential election in Indonesia in 2004 without any bloodshed. The fact that this smooth transition from authoritarian regime to a democratic ruler in the biggest Muslim country in the world was a new accomplishment, especially in the environment after September 11 terrorist attack in New York. This elevates the image of Indonesia in the world not only as a country but also as Muslims and proves that in fact, Democracy and Islam is compatible. This is something that President Bush was eager to find to justify his failed foreign policy in Iraq and Afghanistan. This was a primetime for Indonesia in the eyes of the world, especially, in United States of America (USA).

Despite my ongoing efforts to influence those who are in power to take advantages of this new phenomenon for the betterment of Indonesia economically and militarily, there were only little efforts toward this goal, especially after Jakarta and Bali bombings disappearing from the world’s attention. The issue of fighting terrorism was a valid issue to gain military cooperation from United States to get billions and billions of dollars in the form of weapons, intelligence and military cooperation and also cash. Pakistani Government was able to get $20 billion dollars assistance from United States for this effort to fight terrorism. Most importantly, the issue of fighting terrorism can be utilized as a launching pad to work hand in hand with the West, especially with United States to address Indonesia’s massive debts and other critical issues. Unfortunately, this golden opportunity went by without any significant accomplishment and cooperation obtained from the West, especially, from the United States of America (USA) due to lack of leadership and diplomatic ability to seize the perfect moment to influence the world and those who are in power in the White House and in the US Congress.

As democracy emerging in Indonesia, many new political parties born taking advantage of the new laws and taking part in the drum beat of reformation. Many religious clerics are taking dramatic shift from preaching religious issue to preaching political issue, from sitting inside a Mosque to sitting inside a Parliament building. Many musicians and artists also take apart of this new opportunity from performing art works to campaigning political issues on stage. Millions of ordinary people also seize the moment and opportunity. The wind of change breezes throughout Indonesia and democracy seems like demo-crazy if not demo-madness as we have seen ongoing public demonstration happens almost every day in the beginning. To some people, democracy seems to be an opportunity to generate revenue by creating chaos on the main street of the Capital. Public demonstration is becoming a new phenomenon and an outlet for getting cash. But is that really democracy?

Many new national parliament members came from many different backgrounds and have neither public office experience nor parliamentary proceeding and thus creating a new debacle in itself inside the parliament. Many new laws that were introduced and later adopted were contradicting to each other, if not overlapping with other existing laws and regulations making it very difficult to be implemented on the field.

Internationally, Indonesia acceded to the ICCPR (International Covenant on Civil and Political Rights) on February 23rd, 2006. This covenant has been ratified by more than 144 countries to include Universal Declaration of Human Right (UDHR) 1948 to be part of the covenant. Under this covenant, Indonesia is required to remove and rectify any rules, regulations and laws that are in contradictions with this covenant and Indonesia its own 1945 Constitution to guarantee its citizen of basic human rights. Unfortunately, even until today I have not seen any urgent attempt by the speaker of the Parliament to harmonize those conflicted regulations, especially, the ones that are in direct contradiction with the Indonesia’s 1945 Constitution. This opens up new lope holes and power abuses. For the sake of clarity and protecting its citizen rights, the Parliament as a whole shall take on the issue sooner than later. The laws must be cleared and less ambiguities in its words and meaning.

These members of the Parliament are elected to supposedly working and fighting for the interest of the ordinary people but rather, they are working merely for the interest of his/her political party affiliation. It does not surprise me since they are promoted and selected internally by political party to be on the ballot. At the end, party affiliation becomes a dominant issue. The interests of the ordinary people are left out and neglected. After the election is over, the role of the people seems to vanish in the air and never been allowed to get involved in any decision making process at any level in the government’s affairs. This is not what democracy is all about in any stretch of imagination. This occurs because of democracy in Indonesia is still new, and secondly, in the absence of public rule of engagement in political public playing field for members of Parliament and other public officials in Indonesia.

In the great State of California, we recognize the very well-known California Codes Government Code Section 54950-54963 known as “the Brown Act”. This is the law that requires public access to meeting and requires the elected officials to let the public speak. This spirit of this law is nothing but to involve the ordinary people at the Government’s affairs. Most importantly, the Brown Act limits, restricts and guides the public conduct of its public officials in the State of California. Is the Brown Act alone enough to govern Californian public officials? The answer is no. There are other rules, such as: “better rule of government” which is designed to improve its officials’ public engagements with the people and minimize the lope holes at the Brown Act. Many Counties and Cities in the State of California adopted their own local laws through City Codes and Ordinances. All of these local laws were adopted to improve their public engagements to serve nothing but the public interests by involving public at large in the government’s affairs. None of those local laws are contradicting or overlapping the State or Federal laws. .

Many rules and regulations introduced and later adopted by the State, County or at City level was designed to improve the previous laws, minimizing any lope holes for the best interest of the public at large. This is something that is still missing within the current context of democracy in Indonesia. As I see it today, Democracy in Indonesia is more like a government of political party, by political party and for political party. This is incorrect and this has to change since this is not what the spirit of democracy is all about. Democracy is about the people interest and not about the interest of certain groups, elites, political parties or big corporations.

In 2004 election, the Presidential candidates came up with a laundry list several pages long elaborating about issues facing Indonesia and what they are planning to do is elected to be President. But none of these candidates elaborated on how to implement those programs, how to fund those programs, where the money comes from and what is the indication used (bench marks) to measure its success of their plans. Any plans and programs that are not measurable and attainable with timeline are still empty promises. This notion shall not be repeated in 2009. It is time for a change, and the time is now!

Then the very troubling corruption madness occurs in almost every level of government offices, especially at the judicial system of government. And because the justice system in Indonesia does not function and work as it is meant to be fair, just, co-equal and absolute independent, it tangles almost every effort by the executive branch to improve the social fabric of its society. Lack of enforcement on the rule of laws and continuing power abuses tripled the problems. KPK (Komisi Pemberantasan Korupsi) was then established as a result of the lack of credibility at the judicial system to root out corruption creating layers after layers in the system of Government and draining much of the Indonesia’s financial resources.

Also in the absence of judicial system ability to function fairly and independently, KPU (Komisi Pemilihan Umum) was established to monitor, regulate and oversee the general and presidential election process. Even though KPU has been functioning as it was intended to be, it has no enforcement authority. The last 2004 election, Golkar party was the biggest violator on KPU regulations but because this commission does not have either Executive, Legislative or Judicial authority to enforce the law, there was nothing that KPU could do to hold Golkar party accountable and imposed punishment accordingly. This is a new government office that was claimed to be independent and absolute but was unable to punish the violator. What does that say and prove? I anticipate that new violations in the upcoming election are yet to continue. If the violation does happen again and committed by a major political party in Indonesia, what action KPU is going to take?

If we look at the job of KPK and KPU, it is clearly still within the framework of judicial system of Government. And because one branch of Government does not work, an alternative was established. The worst part is that one the newly formed offices has lack of enforcement authority. That was not too unfortunate step taken since the judicial system was completely untrustworthy. But keeping the office (KPU) the way it is with lack of enforcement is unwise policy. Understanding this issue, it is now the time for the Indonesian Government to gradually reform judicial system and place KPK/KPU back within that framework of judicial system with its judicial authority. The executive and legislative branch of Government must work together to reform Indonesia’s judicial system to be corrupt and bribery free as well as to be absolute independent. Otherwise, fixing the bigger issues will almost impossible.

The corruption madness also occurred at KPU; the very independent office that was supposed to be corrupt free. The lack of public oversight through transparency, check and balance resulting in the corruption debacle committed by the very prominent members of KPU. The establishment of KPK and KPU emphasizes the fact that Indonesia’s system of government, especially, at the judicial system of government is completely broken, so inefficient and ineffective. During 35 years of authoritarian ruler, Soeharto’s regime had created a massive government in his attempt to control and silence every adversary even at the Parliament level by asserting membership of the Indonesian Arm Forces. Now during this reformation era, it is even bigger with the establishment of new offices and independent commissions. What are the impacts?

The majority expenditures of Indonesia’s national 2007 budget approved by the Parliament on October 17 were pretty much sucked up by the central government. Out of Rp.763.6 trillion government’s total expenditures for the entire country, Rp.504.8 trillion alone was spent by the Central Government. That is over 66% of the total expenditures while the total revenue was projected at Rp.723.1 trillion based on average oil price at $63 per barrel. Even with this approved budget, Indonesia was projected to have about $40.5 trillion in deficit (about -1.1% of its GDP).

What excluded in the budget deficit calculation spreadsheet were the monstrous public debts, which stood at $144 billion US dollar in 2006. If those massive public debts are included in the budget calculation spreadsheet against revenue and spending, how many years will Indonesia be finally able to balance its budget? In other words, the projected deficit to stand at Rp.40.5 trillion (-1.1% of GDP) was a metaphorical deficit and not in a real sense deficit because much of the liability owed by the Indonesian government to Paris Club (18 countries), ADB, JBIC and World Bank was not included.

When the oil price increased and stood at over $145 per barrel, it shocked SBY’s administration. How big the deficit is going to be in his 2007 budget with that kind of oil price? The fund that was allocated to cover government subsidies will be double if not triple. The figure can be 2.5 or 3 times bigger as projected reaching to over Rp.100 trillion in deficit. That is why SBY’s administration was in a rush to increase the domestic oil price known as BBM (Bahan Bakar Minyak) to cover much of the bigger deficit anticipation. It maybe the best option available on the table but certainly, the most unfortunate action taken by SBY administration sacrificing much of the poorest Indonesian people that have been so poor struggling everyday to survive. Other options shall be exercised and raising domestic fuel price should be the last resort.

Reformation is a great thing and democracy is still the best form of government we find on earth. But incorrect implementation of Democracy creates a new set of problem that we have seen today in Indonesia. Despite vigorous attempts to improve every sector of Government, these new troubles overwhelmed the drum beat of reformation. As a result, many Indonesian people think that reformation was worse than authoritarian ruler, which is not true. For ordinary Indonesian, what is the benefit of reformation if it does not do any good to change their life and the condition on the ground?

I have not seen any dramatic economic policy and actions taken by neither the current administration nor the previous administrations to improve revenues and minimize spending. The size of the central government is not getting smaller even with the regional autonomy policy. The central government spending is so humongous and outrageous. At this point, balancing Indonesia’s national budget is beyond a talking point by the current President and the current members of the Parliament. During Suharto administration, these massive debts were not even acknowledged publicly and called: “Foreign Aids” instead of debts (Bantuan Luar Negeri) in an attempt to manipulate public perception. This was a top State’s secret for over 35 years that is no longer a secret today.

This is something the Indonesian public at large needs to know and this is something that the current and the future President of Indonesia shall be held accountable for. This is an issue that all of these Presidential candidates must be questioned and challenged openly and publicly. That is the number # 1 top priority for anyone who wants to be the next President of Indonesia. Any President candidate who does not bring solution to this issue will do nothing to make any significant change in Indonesia if elected. At the very best, he/she will only maintain status quo, which is not acceptable proposition to my view. Resolving Indonesia’s massive debt is a must issue for the upcoming Presidential election in Indonesia. This shall be a national issue to be debated openly.

If we think Indonesia as a big corporation or company, this corporation has too much public debts and filling bankruptcy is much better off than maintaining its operation with that financial condition. This was the condition of Indonesia in 2002 where its total foreign and domestic’s debts stood at 80% of its GDP. It was even worst in the previous years. In 1997 with South East Asia economic crisis coupled with Indonesia’s domestic banking disaster, rupiah currency had lost 85% of its value against USD (US Dollar), Indonesia’s stock exchange index had fallen by 50% and in that one year alone, income per capita was reduced by 15%. By the end of 1998 early 1999, Indonesia’s debts became unsustainable stood at $143 billion, which was equivalent to its total GDP. In other words, Indonesia’s total foreign and domestic debts stood at 100% of its GDP. It was not only threatening fiscal sustainability but it made very difficult for the country to operate and let alone of financing the needed basic infra structure. As a result, poverty in Indonesia risen from 11% in 1997 to 50% in 2001. That was over 107 million Indonesians living under poverty. $1.4 billion poverty alleviation program that was launched in 2007 did not even scratch the surface if not missing the point addressing the underlying issue of poverty.

It does not take a genius to figure it out that there is a direct correlation between the government’s massive debts and its citizen’s prosperity and poverty. The more bankrupt the government is, the more likely its citizen will suffer due to lack of funding for public services and infra structures.

Since 1997, over 39 million people lost their job. Government’s program to give out $110,000 US dollar to villages to create new million jobs did not make sense. Despite vigorous attempt by SBY administration to stipulate economic and even the current 7% economic growth is still insufficient to provide all new-job seekers with employment, let alone dent Indonesia’s huge unemployment tally which stood at 9.8% in February 2007 which was over 23 million people being unemployed. This 7% economic growth that was promoted is just like a drop of water in an empty big bucket. It is too insignificant to address unemployment in Indonesia. In 1998, Indonesia’s debt to export ratio (DER) stood at 251.70% (yes, this was not a mistake), while its debt service ratio (DSR) stood at 33%. To fund the country’s national budget (APBN) in 2004, Indonesia had to borrow money from IMF through CGI for $2.8 billion dollar. Look, even to pay its operation cost for the country including gaji pegawai negeri, Indonesia had to borrow money form foreign countries. How long Indonesia is going to be remaining dependent on other foreign countries and bug down in this deep debt trap?

If we think of Indonesia as an automobile, the issue is not only with incapable driver, but it is also with the car itself that has been tangled with wiring and engine problem per say and make it difficult to run smooth and fast on the road, fast enough to compete with other moving vehicles on the same path. This chronology reflects and represents the value of Indonesia’s currency (Rupiah) compared to USD (US dollar) that has been weakening for decades. In the 80’s, $1 was equal to about Rp.850. Now 28 years, it has been nine times (9X) worst as in 2008, $1 (USD) equal to over Rp.9.000,- In 2005 it reached all time low, in which Rp.15.000 was equal to $1 (USD). This shows that the overall Indonesian’s economy compare to US economy is not getting better; it is nine times worse since the 80’s. The fact that there is no significant economic policy by the Government of Indonesia from the previous and the current administration to address this significant issue is just mind boggling.

With no measure in place to deal with its consequences, inexperience IMF councils instructed Bank of Indonesia to shut down 16 banks. Indonesia was forced to bail out 16 different banks creating $60 billion new debt, which later on became $80 billion on top of other mounting debts that Indonesia already has. In return IMF loaned Indonesia $43 billion called Emergency Financial Package with string attached. This IMF package required elimination of social subsidies on fuel and food, causing acute hardship to the million poor Indonesian that brought down Suharto’s regime.

What is so wrong with this IMF debacle is the fact that the IMF forced Indonesia to turn massive private debts to become government debts; making private debts becomes public debts, which is in away burdening more to Indonesia’s tax payers, the millions ordinary Indonesia people to pay for it. This was not a highway robbery, it was a country robbery. Creating $80 billion dollar new debt to get $43 billion dollar loan from the IMF was a complete rip off if not criminal in nature making Indonesia in much deeper and deeper debt trap. That was $123 billion dollar mistake and the biggest irresponsible if not criminal public conduct, in the name of Indonesian people by their very own public officials. What a tragic blunder! But that was not the only big blunder. There are several more big blunders. It is just too long to mention here.

Indonesia is a country and not a big corporation, filling bankruptcy or filling default is a very difficult option and the last source that any leader would ever consider. If not well-prepared and carefully planned, the long term repercussion can be disastrous and fatal.

How bad is this massive debt?

Picture this. State of California as being the 5th largest economic power in the world is now having $15.2 billion in deficit. Look at what the Governor and the Representatives at the State Senate in Sacramento have been doing. They have been debating and pressuring each other on how to balance the budget. In terms of GDP size, California as a State has bigger GDP than Indonesia as a country. With only $15.2 billion dollar deficit in the State budget, these Representatives from both parties and the Governor have been debating left and right on how to resolve the issue.

Now let’s look at Indonesia. In 2002, Indonesia’s Domestic and Foreign Debts stood at $152 Billion dollar, which was equal to 80% of its GDP. It was Rp.1.370.0 trillion Rupiah in debt while the size of its GDP was Rp. 1.716.5 trillion rupiah. In December 2006, Indonesia’s total public debt stood at $144 billion USD dollar, 48% of its GDP. By the end of 2008, Indonesia’s Domestic and Foreign debts are projected to stand at about $136 billion dollar, which is around 36% of its GDP. This figure can be different and varies subject to the world average oil price fluctuation per barrel. Compared to $15.2 billion deficit in California, the $136 billion dollar debts is much tougher burden for Indonesia besides the debt amount is 9 times bigger, its GDP is smaller than California.

Even with these massive debts, I have not seen any outrage, any heated debate about it; I have not seen any of these Presidential candidates or parliament members addressing this issue vigorously? They are just pretty much adem ayem. Why?

One of the sentiments that I heard is that once you are elected to be member of the executive or legislative, the basic salary and compensation they receive is more than enough to live a good life, why bother addressing this very difficult issue exposing oneself of public scrutiny. As long as they keep loyalty to their boss or political party affiliation, they will remain in a good shape. This kind of adverse notion shall be brought up and challenged openly. The rule of the game for the election of the Parliament member shall be reformed and tailored in such a way to address the interest of the people as a priority.

All members of Parliament must undergo public scrutiny through public debates to represent the interest of the people where he/she represents. The members of Parliament must be people oriented and not political party oriented. For that reason, the people where he/she represents must elect him/her directly the same way as electing President or Governor at the provincial, regional and/or district level. This system will place the interest of the people above other interests. This is why the rule of political public playing field is so critical in Indonesia. The current system does not serve the interest of the people and too many lope holes. The legislative and KPU must work hand in hand to draft a new bill that will address this issue. Without addressing this issue, the interest of the people will be overwhelmed and dominated by the interest of certain groups, elites and political parties. That shall be eliminated sooner than later.

What is at stake and what are the problems for Indonesia?

The 1st problem: “Our debts are in US dollar and our currency is in Rupiah. The loan repayments will INCREASE as the Rupiah continues to depreciate. Make it much more challenging and difficult! This means that the ordinary people of Indonesia have to work MUCH and MUCH HARDER as tax payers to keep up with the increasing US currency. That translates to the much longer time needed for Indonesia to be able to pay off its massive foreign and domestic debts if not for a generation to come.”

The 2nd problem: “The Indonesia’s ability to pay these loans will DECLINE as the debt service ratio (DSR) has risen over the years from 33% in 1996 to 50% in 1998. The ability to repay these debts will depend on EXPORTS, and exports are greatly dependent on “demand and supply.”

On the demand side, Indonesian market had about 64% in Asian region. But on the supply side, the real sector was very poor, unable to operate due to the debt repayment problem and lack of MARKET CAPITALIZATION. This will translate the declining value of the Rupiah against other currencies, especially, the US currency.

On the other side, with virtually no significant ability from the Indonesian Government to stipulate domestic economy due to lack of funds and massive debts, the trend continues and domestic consumption will have to be imported and thus eliminating the change for Indonesia in capturing its DOMESTIC EQUITY MARKET. This translates the likelihood of declining and weakening the currency Rupiah against US Dollar.

With no MARKET CAPITALIZATION and DOMESTIC EQUITY MARKET, the currency Rupiah will most likely continue to weaken. This is a double deep. That means the ability for Indonesia to pay off its massive debts will take much longer time, beyond imaginable. It is a sad reality that with this bad economy, there is no sound Government economic policy; it is either non-existence or chaotic that is undertaken to remedy this issue in a country that is so rich with natural resources.

The 3rd problem: “Because the required loan repayment is so large and so humongous, the potential and funds needed to stipulate the economy are lacking. What does it mean? That means as Indonesia is lacking of fund needed due to massive debts to stipulate its economy and to rebuild its infra structures, this will make it impossible for Indonesia to improve its current condition. This condition triples already complicated matters. It is high possibility that the condition will likely to get worse each year as we have seen for the last 28 years with its currency value.”

This just amazes me that one former President of Indonesia did not even know the size if Indonesia’s public debts. It is mind boggling that not even a single current presidential candidate ever brought up this issue on the surface to be debated publicly and openly.

The 4th problem: “Such an immense debt stock could exacerbate adverse public perception and expectations (false hopes).” This situation is just like a combustion chamber with high density, where a tiny spark can create an explosion burning the entire chamber, making Indonesia susceptible to external shock and turmoil. We have seen this happening in 1998.

It is beyond any reasonable doubt that Indonesia’s massive foreign and domestic debt is the most pressing issue facing Indonesia at this time and this shall be the number #1 issue and a top priority that any new President of Indonesia has to be challenged to deal with. Any slogans, empty rhetoric and a laundry list of what to do by Presidential candidates are no longer acceptable in the upcoming election. It is time for a change!

These underlying issues for all of these debacles must be understood and resolved first if we want to see any significant change. That is the main job of the next President of Indonesia and members of the Parliament. Each of these Indonesia’s Presidential candidates must be questioned, asked and scrutinized on how to resolve the country’s massive foreign and domestic debts and balance its national budget. Their plans to undertake these massive debts cannot be too broad, rhetoric and empty promises in nature. It must be clear, comprehensive, make sense, measurable and attainable with timeline and bench marks to measure its success. It is time for all of these Indonesia’s politicians, members of the Parliament and future President to rise up to tackle those big issues and deliver results to the Indonesian people and not empty promises. Now is the time for a change and I am taking the 1st step toward that direction. Empty rhetoric to maintain status quo is just unacceptable in such a critical time.

This upcoming presidential and general election shall be a different kind of election with different tone and substance. Each of you can play a significant role by raising those issues that I mentioned above. You can simply forward this open letter to your political party leaders, parliament members or, to your Presidential candidate that you support. It is not critical who is going to be the next President of Indonesia, but it is critical that those important issues are to be resolved by the next President of Indonesia.

The Role of Journalists and a Free Media:

There are many critical issues and ongoing problems that have been neglected for so long by the previous administrations and the current administration. This is where the Indonesian journalists and a free media play its critical role to address the issues by raising the issues. Unless Indonesian journalists and a free media play its critical role to be the 4th branches of Government in a democratic society, the many issues in Indonesia will be left in the back burner unresolved.
How many more years do Indonesian people have to wait to see any significant change in their live? How long Indonesia is going to pay off her massive debts and be independent economically? With 18 countries within Paris Club alone will take 40 years. How about with ADB, JBIC and the World Bank? Will it take a generation to pay off her debts?

What actions shall be taken to streamline those monstrous spending by the central government? How many millions more of Indonesian people will lose their jobs, remain unemployed and living in poverty? What economic policy shall be taken to make a significant change in Indonesia’s economy? Is it necessary for Indonesia to have so many Ministers? Is it necessary for Indonesia to have 700 members of national Parliament and another 128 members of Regional Representatives or DPD (Dewan Perwakilan Daerah)?

United States of America being the most powerful country on earth with $13.8 trillion dollar in its GDP in 2007 and has 50 states has only 535 members in Congress. Now compared that with Indonesia that has 33 small provinces, where 3, 4 or 5 provinces combined is still smaller than State of California or Texas. Its GDP was still in billion (not in trillion) stood at $663 billion in GDP (in 2002) but Indonesia has total of 828 members of Representatives in the central government. So, Indonesia being a much smaller county in size and its GDP compared to United States of America (USA), has 293 more members in Parliament. And what these guys do? The government is becoming so big and so inefficient. That is why much of the national budget expenditures 2007 are sucked up by the central government. This has to change!
How about traffic jam and flood in Jakarta? Are these problems a dead meat? If Governors and Ministers level are unable to resolve these issues once and for all, why don’t you (Indonesian journalists) ask the future President of Indonesia to address these issues?

Those questions must be raised by the pres across the board and hold those current members and future members of the Parliament, political party leaders, current and future President of Indonesia accountable to answer these questions. These shall be national issues for national debates at the upcoming general and Presidential election in Indonesia. That would be a great start and I am starting it now!

The recent “Freedom of Information Law (Act)” that was passed by the Parliament shall be a significant tool for any Indonesian journalists to do their jobs. Their works must be closely tied to the public’s right to know. They represent free media, newspapers, radio and television networks that can investigate the workings of government and report on them without fear of prosecution. The press is the surrogate of the citizen, reporting back through print and broadcast media what it has found so that the citizenry can act on that knowledge. In a democracy, the people rely on the press to ferret out corruption, to expose the maladministration of justice or the inefficient and ineffective workings of a government body. No country can be free without a free press, and one sign of any dictatorship is the silencing of the media. It is also the job of the press to monitor any abuse of power and human rights.

As Indonesia is gradually embracing democracy, it is critical that the Indonesian press and media undertake a great length to educate the public at large by presenting a true understanding of Democracy and monitor the implementation of its principles. Regardless of any new name and perhaps, a different kind of Democracy Indonesia is going to embrace, Democracy can not be separated from its 11 principles, which are:

  1. Sovereignty of the people.
  2. Government based upon consent of the governed.
  3. Majority rule.
  4. Minority rights.
  5. Guarantee of basic human rights.
  6. Free and fair elections.
  7. Equality before the law.
  8. Due process of law.
  9. Constitutional limits on government.
  10. Social, economic, and political pluralism.
  11. Values of tolerance, pragmatism, cooperation, and compromise.

Those are the 11 principles of Democracy that any democratic government shall implement. Does it guarantee that the people of Indonesia will live in peace and harmony? It does and it does not, it depends on many factors. But one thing for sure is this. If implementing those 11 principles of Democracy may and may not guarantee its success, neglecting those 11 principles of democracy is no doubt will bring chaos and turmoil in a diverse society like Indonesia. Chaos and turmoil can be triggered by many things. Those 11 principles will at best preserve and protect individual rights as a citizen that will nurture people to respect each other to live in peace and harmony.

Having said all of those, I do not suggest that there is no progress in Indonesia. Yes, there are many progresses in Indonesia that I am very proud to acknowledge. I even acknowledged it at the very 1st paragraph in this introduction how proud I was being an Indonesian living overseas witnessing a successful 1st direct Presidential election in 2004 and newly emerging democracy there that Indonesia people are eager to embrace. But those progresses are unfortunately too insignificant to change the living condition of Indonesian people at large. Unemployment and poverty is still staggering in number. The gap between the poor and the rich is getting bigger and widening over time. Power abuse, corruption and human right violations are yet to continue unpunished.

In every opportunity that I had meeting with prominent politicians from back home, Indonesia, I did not hesitate to raise and ask about those issues openly and publicly. I don’t hesitate to get opinions from my American friends and politicians on the same issues. Some of these discussions were one-on-one basis in an open forum and also in private that took place in Indonesia and in the USA. To name a few of them, they are:

  • Former Presidents of Indonesia
  • Former Coordinating Minister of Economic Affairs
  • Chairman and Secretary General of Major Political Parties
  • Former Governor
  • Former Interior Minister
  • Current Presidential Candidates
  • Current members of Parliament
  • Media Founder, Media Pundits and Political Consultants
  • Several Retired Generals of Indonesia Arm Forces
  • Executive Directors of NGO’s in Indonesia and its deputies
  • Some professors at University of Indonesia and UC Berkeley, California.

I respect differences in point of view on any matters but nonetheless, I have met with very unsatisfactory answers on such critical issues that I mentioned above. All of these things motivate me to form a political party in my attempt to participate in the political contest to make sure that those urgent and critical issues are to be addressed and resolved. While forming a political party takes tremendous amount of time and effort, I do not wait and ignore the current issues that have entangled Indonesia and her ability to eliminate poverty. What so critical to me is neither the seat of the Presidency nor at the House of Representative, but it is the issues that need to be resolved once and for all.

I want to say this with a degree of concern and caring that unless those issues are resolved first once and for all, there is not much for any new President can do, regardless how genius this person might be to make any significant changes in Indonesia. I am that confident with the issues because with how it is today, President’s ability to govern will be very limited. Those issues have entangled Indonesia for so long and have lead to the down fall of once was the most powerful man in that country. Each of you can play a critical role to address those important issues every step of the way until it gets resolved. Believe it or not, every problem has solution and together, we can turn the impossible possible!

I have brought up those issues before you and all what you need to do is to keep raising those issues. I am looking forward to seeing those issues to be debated nationally by these President candidates in Indonesia. Thank you.

Sincerely,

Chris Komari
Founder/Chairman
Future Indonesia Independent Party
(Partai Masa Depan Indonesia Mandiri)
2780 Willow Pass Road, Bay Point, CA 94565
Email:futureindonesia@yahoo.com

* Chris Komari served as a City Council for the City of Bay Point, State of California, USA in 2002. He is now serving as Board Member of Project Area Committee (PAC) in the same city; a governing body under jurisdiction of Contra Costa County, State of California, USA. He was former Chairman of Tsunami Fund Raising Concert in San Francisco 2005 and also former Chairman of Indonesia Day 2005. In his efforts to represent the unspoken voices from the millions and millions ordinary Indonesian to address on the issues, he formed a political platform called: Partai Masa Depan Indonesia Mandiri. This political party is still in its early stage of formation and it has not yet been registered or certified by the Government of Indonesia.


40 Comments on “Presidential Debates”

  1. avatar Andy says:

    Good point, if they can’t hack it in a televised debate, they shouldn’t be running the country. It takes poise, style and intelligence under pressure to perform there. It is pretty much the way the west have been going for ages. Wouldn’t Indonesians like to see how their leaders perform head to head when faced with the major issues?
    One thing though, it should be about political issues not populist ones. Too often in Indonesia populist moralising overshadows the real important issues. A good example of this was when the ‘pornografi’ bill was put forward at the time when corrupsi was again raising it’s ugly head. Which is most of the time anyway.

  2. avatar Purba Negoro says:

    Good argument.
    But your argument is principally based on the premise democracy is fundamental to wealth and stability.
    Singapore, Russia and China easily disprove this, thus Western-style liberal democracy is invalidated.

    The US is a very poor model for any form of democracy- aside from State Corporatist Militarist Aggressor.
    It’s a two party system where presidential candidates must be vetted by AIPAC and the Electoral College- the status quo of the vested elites are thus perpetuated indefinitely.
    Hardly what Jefferson envisaged.

    In summary, lovely letter, ultimately unconvincing.

  3. avatar Purba Negoro says:

    Actually on second thought- we should sue the IMF for cancellation of any and all loans.
    They knew exactly where the money was going.

    The Idnoensian people should not be burdened with them.

  4. avatar PrimaryDrive says:

    Damn, this is probably the best speech I ever heard from our politician! (Well Chris, you are now ONE OF THEM ;)

    I’m sold. I’ll vote for your party. Perhaps you can also start an internet movement. Do you have a webpage, blogs, etc?? If internet could pry east timor loose, perhaps it can repeat its magic again.

    If you need any internet volunteer, I’ll register.

  5. avatar perseus says:

    Nice – though long – letter, Chris. I will give you some advice. If you are going into politics- and I would encourage you to do so – I suggest two things.

    1) Make your fortune before you get into politics.
    2) Return to Indonesia. Politics is not an offshore activity!

    NB. Politics is perpetual jihad. Every day you have struggle…

    It is a difficult job and anyone who thinks it is easy is obviously an ignorant couch potato who believes everything they see on TV. Politics is also narcotic. Once you get into it, it is as addictive as heroin. Seriously.

    What you see on TV is only the surface. What goes on behind the scenes is vastly more interesting.

    Indonesia needs its democrats to stand up and be counted.

    Good luck!

  6. avatar PrimaryDrive says:

    2) Return to Indonesia. Politics is not an offshore activity!

    Why?? If we chosed a blind cleric as a president, I would say that offshore politicians are a huge improvement.

    It is a difficult job and anyone who thinks it is easy is obviously an ignorant couch potato who believes everything they see on TV.

    Why?? I am pretty sure that any of you readers, picked randomly, will do 100 times better job than our blind cleric ;) It’s really a matter of whether you want to spend your effort on it or not. If you’re an integer person, with enough common sense, I really don’t see why politics should be difficult, apart from that you may need some crash course in economics and laws.

    Indonesia needs its democrats to stand up and be counted.

    Yes, but the list is extremely short now, and is unlikely to grow in short term.

    I would not just dismiss the influence of internet. When consistently done, an intelligent internet movement may perhaps stirr enough to unite your democrats, so that they will actually stand up.

  7. avatar Chris Komari says:

    Dear My Fellow Indonesians:

    Thank to all of you who are taking the time to response my 14 pages open letter addressing many critical issues facing Indonesia. I have read all of them. What so critical here is the issue and the issue alone that needs to be resolved and not the messenger or the method used to address the issue.

    It is not critical who is going to be the next President of Indonesia, but it is certainly very critical that all of those depressing issues mentioned in 14 pages document are going to be addressed and resolved by the next President of Indonesia. How do we know that the next President of Indonesia is going to resolve those issues unless we challenge him/her openly and publicly on the issue? That is again the spirit of my 14 pages document.

    To: Andy,
    I don’t disagree with you more. The open and public Presidential debates will force those Presidential candidates to deal with the issues. The Indonesian people at large will gauge their ability to present the comprehensive solution to determine their vote. In other words, these Presidential candidates are truly being challenged to address the interest of the people before taking office and the people continue watching them when they are in office. That is a sealed deal that shall be promoted in Indonesia.

    To: Purba,
    The issues that I presented in 14 pages document does not in any way revolve around democracy. Democracy is just one issue and Indonesia’s massive debt is another. Those two issues alone do not in any way intertwine to each other. Democracy does not fundamentally address around wealth and stability. Nothing within those 11 principles of democracy directly addresses wealth and stability. But at the end, democracy will lead to preserving and guarantee individual’s right as a citizen in their pursuit for happiness, liberty and justice for all within a majority rule of governing society that respect minority right with due process and equality under the rule of law, and not the rule of man. All of those things do revolve around stability and wealth.

    I can say this with degree of certainty that one cannot entertain a notion to know much about politic in Indonesia unless that person lives in Indonesia and experience it himself/herself. Likewise, no one shall entertain any notion to know much about American Democracy when that person has never lived in America nor experience the American democracy. What happen in Iraq and Afghanistan has nothing to do with American Democracy or Democracy in America. To disprove or invalidate American Democracy or Democracy in America with Russia or even China where in both countries, freedom of the press is pretty being controlled and manipulated by the government is just incomparable.

    Being the first Indonesian-American who ever seated and served as City Council and experienced firsthand the American Democracy, I have to admit that American Democracy is one of its kinds that is different, especially, with all of these parliamentary proceeding regulations and rules on political public playing field such as: Robert Rule of Order, The Brown Act and Better Government Ordinances that guide, limit, prohibit and restrict the conduct of the public officials and politicians at large. This is something that many foreign countries who embrace Democracy do not have and lack of.

    As a result, Democracy should be a government of the people, by the people and for the people, in stead it turns out to be government of political party, by political party and for the political party as we see in Indonesia today.

    Democracy does not come in a package, those rules and regulations on political public playing field was a result of ongoing improvement by local politicians to present and preserve the interest of the people all the way after the elction is completed by allowing them to be part of the decision making process in the Government affairs. This is something that we don’t see happening yet in Indonesia. After the election is over, the role of the people seem vanish in the air. See ya, bye, bye and thank you for electing me. That is not the case in the American Democracy. If you ever get a chance to attend any public meeting even at the City Council level that is strictly regulated under the Brown Act, you will see a direct public (people at large) involvement on Government affairs. That is the American Democracy where ordinary people play a critical role in the government affairs.

    What happen in Iraq and Afghanistan has nothing to do with American Democracy. It is a seperate issue that shall be understood. It is American Foreign Policy that was taken by President Bush administration. If those policies proven to be wrong and arrogant, that is the consequences for all American people to accept for choosing President Bush twice in office. Majority American people disapprove President Bush foreign policy. The next President of United States will take responsibility to fix those mistakes around the world. That is the American Democracy.

    I had a one-on-one friendly discussion about American Democracy with a Professor at UC Berkeley, California and also some of my American friends who have the same passion and political science background. Democracy is a complex subject and in America, it has been debated for over 200 years and still continues to be debated. Now is not the time for us to discuss this issue further. The upcoming Presidential election is around the corner. We need to focus on the issue. Let’s focus on the issues.

    I have identified the top 10 critical issues facing Indonesia and I have presented those issues to at least 2 Presidential candidates, which one of them was a former President of Indonesia. If the top 3 issues alone are addressed and resolved, it certainly will make a significant and dramatic change in Indonesia. Those issues are:

    1. How long are we going to pay off Indonesia’s massive debts and how? Where the money comes from?

    2. What actions and policy shall be taken to address the weakening rupiah (currency)? For the last 28 years, it has been weakening 9 times worse compared to USD (US Dollar)

    3. What actions and policy shall be taken by the Indonesian government to minimize central government wasteful spending and maximize revenue? Currently, the central government sucks up 66% of the entire expenditures.

    Am I the kind of person or politician who only loves to point out the problems? No, I am not. I have prepared to come up with proposed solutions to resolve those top 10 issues that I brought up comprehensively. In fact, I have shared some of these with a Presidential candidate and his Presidential team members. I have been reserved and I am on my way to discuss those issues with prominent politicians and current members of national Parliament from one of the top 5 political parties in Indonesia in the coming month. So, those are the issues and if you would like to share your view on how to resolve those critical issues facing Indonesia, be my guest. I will read and carefully asses your ideas with my full attention.

    To: PrimaryDrive,
    With great gratitude and humility, I accept your offer to be part of this effort and to start an internet movement and/or other feasible means necessary to raise these issues to the Indonesian people at large. We can discuss the details as we go. Your passion and care about resolving the issue drew much of my attention and I am very grateful with your offer and expertise on the subject. We do what we can and your offer to voluntarily be part of this movement is just a great start. Please, email me at: futureindonesia@yahoo.com to discuss further details. Thank you.

    To: Perseus,
    Thank you for your encouragement and I have noted your suggestions. I am grateful with those suggestions. It emphasizes my own understanding about politic in Indonesia. Democracy in Indonesia is a new phenomenon and coupled with the lack of rules and regulations on political public playing field making it very difficult and complicated. It is not a secret any more that at local election for Lurah or Kepala Desa, many votes are bought in exchange for cash. It is surprisingly amazing that not a single Member of Parliament or KPU addressing this issue and prohibiting such a practice. Politic can be dangerous, it can be additive but also can be used to turn the unthinkable thinkable and the impossible possible. That is the politic that I want to pursuit.

  8. avatar Rob says:

    Chris…

    Are you an American citizen? Do you have to be to be elected or appointed to a city council in CA? If you are how does that effect your Indonesian citizenship? My understanding is that dual citizenship is not possible for adults. If it is or was, after 15 years in Indonesia, I would have dual citizenship as it would make my life a whole lot easier.

    My understanding is that foreign involvement in local political parties is also something that is not favourably looked upon :D

    The letter was an interesting read and it is always nice to see how expat Indonesians see how the process of reform and democratization should proceed. I agree that democracy and debt in the Indonesian context are separate and different issues.

    Perhaps Indonesia needs some alternative presidential candidates in order to really move the process forward. Younger candidates maybe?

  9. avatar PrimaryDrive says:

    Hmm….

  10. avatar Chris Komari says:

    Hi Rob:

    Thanks for taking the time to response my 14 pages open letter and posting the questions. For the benefit of the Indonesian people at large, let me explain and response your questions in the following manner.

    Indonesia has 33 different provinces and there are several layers in the system of Government in Indonesia in the following order:

    1. The Central Government with its President and MPR/DPR +DPD (with 700+128 DPD members)
    2. Then the Provincial Government with its Governor and DPRD at provincial level
    3. Then the Regional Government with its Bupati or Wali Kota and its DPRD at City level
    4. Then the District Government (Kecamatan) level with its Camat as the head of the District.
    5. Then the Village Government (Kelurahan) level with its Lurah or Kepala Desa as the head of the Village supported by variety councils and committees.

    In United States of America, there are 50 different States and the system of government is broken down into the following:

    1. The Federal Government with its President and the US Congress, which includes 100 Senators (435 Congressmen and women representing 435 Districts and 100 Senators which is 2 Senators from each States).
    2. Then each States headed by a Governor and State Assembly and Senate (Assemblymen and women and State Senators)
    3. Then down to County level of Government, which is headed by Board of Supervisor, which is consist s of 5, 7 or 9 different Supervisors. In my county; Contra Costa County, there are 5 different Supervisors, and one of them represent District V where I live.
    4. Then City level of Government headed by a Mayor and City Councils, which consist of 5 or 7 City Council Members.

    Keep in mind that in the great State of California, there are 2 different kind of cities in terms of being a governing body, which are the one that has been incorporated and called “a City” and the one that has not been incorporated called “unincorporated areas” or known as towns.

    Now being a City, the entire decision making process and activities are governed by the Mayor and its City Council members. All tax revenues and expenses are directly received and paid by the City. The City Council as a whole will also act in many different capacities to address the city, such as: Redevelopment Agency, etc. The City pretty much stands alone to serve its citizens.

    Now in unincorporated area, there is no Mayor being the head of the town but each unincorporated area has its City Council called “Municipal Advisory Council” or MAC, which is consist of 5, 7 or 9 members. In many capacities the Municipal Advisory Council and the City Council are the same body. Both are strictly regulated under the Brown Act, and Better Government Ordinances. The Robert Rule of Order is adopted as the parliamentary proceeding at any given public meeting.

    This is where I served in 2002. This Municipal Advisory Council (MAC) in a sense is also acting as a Mayor in cooperation with the Office of Supervisor at the County level. All tax revenues and spending are sent and recorded directly at the County Office of Supervisor. One Supervisor is responsible to oversee these unincorporated areas for each district. However, any appointment for its members in any governing bodies or plans submitted from unincorporated areas must be approved by the Board of Supervisor as a whole at the County Level. In terms of redevelopment in unincorporated areas, there is another advisory body called: Project Area Committee or PAC that is established to work hand in hand with Redevelopment Agency at the County level to approve or deny any new developments in the area. This is a governing body where I serve since 2007 till today. There are many other governing bodies availbale to be established for unincorporated areas based on its needs, such as: Traffic Advisory Committee (TAC), Housing Advisory Committee (HAC), Community Advisory Committee (CAC), etc.

    Being unincorporated area, there are advantages and disadvantages. The disadvantages are that every thing we do have to be consulted with and must be approved by the Board of Supervisor in the County level as a whole. But often time if not most of the time, when the MAC disapprove certain issue, most likely the Board of Supervisor will agree to disapprove. When they override our reccommendations, that is where the problem starts and drags on for further public hearings. But that is the American Democracy that preserve the interest of the people. The Board of Supervisor in away is our boss for unincoprated areas. It is within the discretion of these Supervisors how the advisory bodies’ membership is to be carried out, either through an election or an appointment. One of the considerations is because our budget linked directly with the budget at the County level. If the County has deficit or low on budget, having an election for the MAC members for unincorporated areas will cost money. Appointing members through selection and nomination may serve better.

    One of the advantages is that we don’t have to worry too much about day to day operation in the city and whether our income tax revenues are enough or not to pay our cost and expenses for the city. The County has projected and calculated all of those in their budget.

    I came to Unites States in 1992 and have been living in California Since. During his last 15 years living in United States, I have been serving my adopted American community from being the 1st President of Chamber of Commerce, the 1st Indonesian-American who ever served in Governing bodies in the States of California from City Council member to being Board member of the Project Area Committee (PAC) for the City of Bay Point, Contra Costa County, State of California, USA.

    My 1st public appearance to run for a public office was in 2000. I ran for Board member for Ambrose Recreation and Park District in the City of Bay Point, California. I had public debate for the first time against someone who was 25 years older than me. I lost the contest. Subsequently, I was started being known and recognized by the local politicians through these engagements. In 2002, I was appointed by Supervisor District V, Contra Costa County Board of Supervisors, State of California to serve as a City Council Member for the City of Bay Point in 2002. He served one term. There was a vacancy seat as a result of one member resigned. I filled up and submitted a form needed for that position competing with other local politicians. I won the nomination and then, my appointment was approved by the Contra Costa County Board of Supervisor. I served on term.

    In June 2007, I was again appointed by Supervisor District V to serve in a different governing body as a Board member of the Project Area Committee (PAC). A local Governing body that oversees any new redevelopment project in the City of Bay Point and I have been serving in this body up to present time. Even though I have met the needed requirements to be an American citizen, I still maintain my Indonesian citizenship. One of the reasons is I hope that someday I will have the opportunity to serve my beloved home country, Indonesia as much as I did in United States.

    There are myths or misunderstanding about being a non register voter living in United States and wanting to serve the public or involved in politics. There are many government positions available through appointment. But to be appointed by these politicians, you have to be something that warrant or deserved to be appointed to serve the American public.

    Indonesia does recognize dual citizenship only for minors before they reach 18 year of age. Once they reach 18 years of age, they have to decide which citizenship they choose. They can no longer holding dual citizenship.

    I agree! Indonesian needs a new President who understands the issues facing the country and capable of presenting a comprehensive solution to the Indonesian people with clarity that is measurable and attainable to generate tangible results to resolve those issues once and for all. Otherwise, it will be S.O.S (Same Old Story).

    I hope my explanations answer your questions. Thank you.

  11. avatar Purba Negoro says:

    As someone affiliated so closely with American you are extremely suspicious.

    You do not seem Muslim, you apparently have not served your nation and not even seem a Javanese: so honestly, – you have no chance and be a very easy target.

    I would argue your loyalty is not 200% Indonesian- in consideration of you having been a keen servant of the Imperialist Yankee.
    Americans haver very little t offer anyone.
    American poltics is far from being a democracy- it is aggressive corporate statism.

    Therefore, you are very from trustworthy too.

    Kosmari- does not fit Nota negara either= so there goes your majority voting block- although maybe nota negri- are you Sunda?

    Still you have very good intentions.
    Better the devil we know, than the ‘angel’ we don’t?

  12. avatar PrimaryDrive says:

    Chris,

    Ok, so you’re an Indonesia citizen, correct?

    You need to get a website for your movement asap, so that people can see your mission statement, the people around you, and your refereces. I will still withhold my contribution until I’m sure that your motivation is sincere; which is why I think such a website is important. I think I speak for many others too —e.g. I notice that you have been spreading your case to multiple mailing lists.

    The next question is a million dollars question. Ok so you have identified our priority problems. That is an important beginning, but people will then also look up to you for a solution. We really should have one. Else concretely we’re just as useless as the others. So, mind sharing with us what your solution is?

  13. avatar Chris Komari says:

    To: Purba,

    Why don’t you stay focus on the issue, instead of addressing the messenger?

    What so critical to be resolved is the issue, and not the messenger? Attacking the messenger does not do any good to impact the millions and millions Indonesian people and children who are now living under poverty. Addressing the messenger will do nothing to change the status quo and help Indonesia from her massive debt trap and/or minimizing the central government wasteful spending.

    The legacy of older generation shall be liberty for the newer generation and not a massive debt burden many generations to come. Those are the issues. I am very grateful to be where I am, who I am and what I am. I am not running for public office, so I am not concerned with getting any vote. I care with the issue and that is why I drafted 14 pages document to challenge anyone, especially, those Presidential candidates to deal with the issues. I recognize there are millions and millions unfortunate children of Indonesia who deserve equal opportunity and a better future.

    I have brought those issues before you and if you care, you shall focus and raise those issues to those who want to be the future President of Indonesia. That is the very least role you play to help those millions and millions unfortunate children in Indonesia.

    To: PrimaryDrive,

    I have noted your points and the suggestions. I don’t disagree with your comments and the position you are taking. Do things because you want to and not because you have to.

    At this point, my primary focus is on the issue since the Presidential election in Indonesia and also in the USA as a matter of fact is approaching very rapidly. I am focusing on the issue. That is exactly why I drafted those 14 pages document in order for you guys at large understand the issues and held your current and future leaders accountable to deal with the issues. Do I have the solution?

    I have proposed options and solutions to resolve those issues comprehensively. In the coming months, I am going to Indonesia to address all of these issues with prominent members of major political parties as well as members of Indonesia’s National Parliament. I have presented these issues to a Presidential candidate and his Presidential team members in Jakarta as well as a former President of Indonesia. I am looking forward to discussing all of those issues privately or publicly. However, addressing those issues in this blog is just time consuming.

    Here is a hint of my proposed solution on how to minimize Indonesia’s central government spending. I will give you the data and you will see the picture.
    Look at this data.

    Indonesia has 33 small provinces. Its 2007 GDP was $837.8 billion with territory as big as 1.919.440(km2) or 735.355 Sq mile. Now compare that data with this.

    USA has 50 different States with its territory as big as 9,826,630 (km2) or, 3,794,066 Sq mile. So territory wise, USA is 9 times bigger than Indonesia. Now in 2007, USA GDP was 13,543 trillion (it is in trillion and not in billion). GDP wise, USA has over 12 times bigger in terms of its GDP size compared to Indonesia. Now look at the total member of the Legislative.

    US Congress consists of 535 representatives, which are 436 congressmen and congresswomen + 100 Senators.

    Now Indonesia where territory wise is 9 times smaller and GDP size is 12 times smaller have 700 members of MPR/DPR and plus another 128 members of DPD, which equal to 828 members.

    Indonesia being much smaller country in territory and GDP size than USA has 293 more legislative members. What is wrong with this picture?

    Now that is only member of the Legislative, how about members of the Executive and Judicative branch? On top of this, now we have KPU at central government level, provincial level, regency and city level? How about KPK? Do you surprise that SBY 2007 budget where 66% of total expenditures was sucked up by the central government? Do you get the picture here? I hope you do.

    That is how I come up with proposed solutions and option on how to resolve all of those top 10 issues that I brought up.

  14. avatar Chris Komari says:

    Little correction…

    US Congress consists of 535 representatives, which are 435 congressmen and congresswomen + 100 Senators.

  15. avatar PrimaryDrive says:

    Chris,

    So your solution is “effective administration”. You see this as a pre-condition as well as the engine that will give us that promised future of adil & makmur.

    I suppose that may work, if people are really commited to it, and are willing to take the innitial pain. You should not however tell people that you plan to lay off half of our pegawai negri (though eventually we may have to). You should come with a realistic master plan that would transform our worthless system into a productive, lean, mean machine in, say, 20 years.

    As a side note is the following. I come from IT. In this sector projects that try to transform old software system into a new supposedly ultra hi-tech system often end up in failures. I suppose the complexity of transforming an administration system of an entire nation is at least comparable, if not more complicated. So, the risk of ending up in disaster is not small. So, such a transformation is not an issue that one should look at from purely a political point of view, but one should really treat it as a technical problem as well.

  16. avatar Chris Komari says:

    To: PrimaryDrive,

    That is the most brilliant assessment from your end about the situation in Indonesia in connection with the issue that I presented. This is the kind of discussion that benefits us because we focus on the issue and not the messenger.

    In fact, many stated owned companies in Indonesia, such as: Garuda Indonesia Airlines have the same problem. They have too many people or employees in their payroll and they can’t get rid of them because of some many social and political reasons. It is becoming a dilemma for the government and the company itself. Keeping them all in the company is becoming a burden and getting rid of them is also a big headache, if not possible.

    That is why it is so challenging for Garuda Indonesia Airlines to make any sound profits. Do you surprise that most of Indonesia’s State Owned Companies are losing money? Some of them have a humongous loses because of mismanagements and lousy contract with foreign contractors. Being a stated owned company is an issue for itself. Do you see any significant attempt by the current and previous administrations to fix this issue?

    This is the same situation in the current Indonesia’s administration at the Executive, Legislative and Judicial system of Government. During the 35 years reign of old regime, they have created a massive, literally massive government in their attempt to control and silence every adversary, even at the national parliament by asserting the membership of the Indonesian Arm Forces.

    The government is becoming so big, it is even BIGGER during this era of reformation because of new offices and commissions established, such as: KPU and KPK, and tripled that with the new autonomy policy where the regional government will have to assume a bigger role and thus they will need a bigger government and additional staff. There are too many bureaucrats layer after layers and becoming so ineffective and inefficient. I have pointed out this issue loud and clear in my 14 pages document. Now what is the solution? Do we need to lay them off all at once? The answer is certainly no.

    That is where the master plan comes into play to address this issue. Just like having many debts with Credit Card Companies per say and can no longer afford to pay monthly payment, what action shall be taken to remedy the problem? Filling bankruptcy? Taking abrupt step to file bankruptcy without preparing for other consequences can be disastrous and fatal. We need to carefully draw a plan by providing them employment alternative rather than simply laying them off. This is where the issue number #2; fixing the Indonesia’s weakening currency that I mentioned before comes to play.

    Before we try to come up with any plan, we must first recognize the issue. The problem is many of our current and previous leaders in Indonesia do not recognize those issues being critical issues that must be resolved. Even a former President of Indonesia did not recognize this issue when I confronted it publicly. Does it surprise you?

    I made a counter statement that unless those top 10 issues that I brought up are resolved, there is not much that any new President of Indonesia can do regardless how brilliant and genius this person might be to make any significant change. The issues are that critical to Indonesia. That is why I drafted those 14 pages documents in my attempts to openly and publicly address the issues with political party leaders, members of the Parliament and the current Presidential candidates.

    People can question me and have suspicion about my intention. That is fine and everyone has every right to do that. It takes time for other people to know me and it takes time for anything good to happen. As long as we focus and address the issue, we will end up in the right destination that benefits the Indonesian people at large. That shall be our focus.

    So, I wholeheartedly agree with your brilliant assessment. Social and political transformation is not easy, if not messy and complicated. This where a charismatic and brilliant politician is needed! If we continue to raise these issues, we are at least in the same journey to find that person. Only time will tell.

  17. avatar PrimaryDrive says:

    Chris,

    So we have identified that such a transformation is the key. But Indonesia simply do not have the will, the brown, nor the wit to implement it. Let’s take a look at a similar attemp. After Reformation we had the political space to do major transformations. One big issue was corruption. Any administration after Reformation promised transformation to deal with corruption. Now, 10 years further down the road, we are still ranked in top 10 of the most corrupt countries.

    The thing is, you and I cannot single handedly execute such a transformation. Four hands are too little. Neither can a president do it on her own. So, to transform we will be forced to rely on the current system and current personels to carry it out. And these two beasts simply have too much vested interest to resist any form of transformation.

    But perhaps I am being too sceptical. I welcome your more positive position, and hope that you are right.

    Anyway, I agree wholeheartedly that raising nation wide awareness of this issue is a very important beginning.

    If you seek to talk to our top politicians, you should talk to Sri Mulyani. She is the brigthest that we currently have. And she has fire. It’s just that she need to be drawn from SBY’s shadow.

  18. avatar PrimaryDrive says:

    blah … I mean of course: “the brawn”

  19. avatar Purba Negoro says:

    Firstly- I point to the fundamental flaw in your entire argument.

    You use as basis of comparatvie argument the USA.
    The USA eclipses the Nazis of Germany for wanton brutality, murder and war for profit and corpoarte vested interst greed.

    It is a very poor model for any for of governance and can be very easily deconstructed.
    Please ask me- I can write theses on how pathetic American political system is.

    One point you allude to is wastage of funds.
    Exactly what % of US GDP is spent on Defence- and how does that compare to other G8 nations?
    What % of revenue is spent on health and education- compared to other G8 nations?

    Furthermore- you have not touched on the issue of WHY Indonesian society must be burdened with the POLITICAL CHOICES of America during its’ Cold War.

    The IMF and World Bank knew exactly what kind government bureaucracy their CIA had (well-documented by even the British Mi6) INSTALLED in Indonesia.

    The “democratic” process thus did not exist- the people were DENIED the choice of leader- yet the greedy Yankee still wants his money- with interest.

    And what “choice” did Suharto have? Face assasination like all the other leadesr te CIA tired of- including the late Saddam Hussein al Tikir\it- former best sex partner with the USA?

    This is repulsively offensive.

    How dare you arrogantly imply the USA is somehow superior or sinless in this instance and should not bear the consequences of US choices and actions.

    And this is precisely why no one will ever listen to a word that comes out of your Mouth Pak Kosmari- you have betrayed your nation by snuggling up to the USA- a nation worse than Hitler’s Third Reich and a higher body count to prove it.

    Your beloved USA has impoverished Indonesia- for its’ corporate butt-sex partners Freeport, Dupont and all the other incestuous Skull and Bones men.
    Not Suharto. Not Sukarno. Not any Indonesian.

  20. avatar Chris Komari says:

    To: PrimaryDrive,

    Change and transformation do not come from Parliament or Istana Negara. Why do they want a change? They are already in a good place and maintaning status quo is better for them. They do not need a change. Initiating a change means changing their position and it can be very detrimental for them.

    Change comes from the ordinary people like you and me to Istana Negara and Parliament. It takes one vote to form a majority and it takes one man to trigger a social and political transformation. That is politic, the art of doing unthinkable thinkable and turning the impossible possible. cfk

  21. avatar Lairedion says:

    Pak Chris,

    Politicians trade punches ahead of live TV debate

    Can you imagine presidential candidates follow the example of these fine MP’s? Would be fun, wouldn’t it?

  22. avatar Chris Komari says:

    To: Lairedion,

    Thank you and appreciate for sharing the info. That is certainly pretty hilarious. What so obvious is this. If Mr. Djoko Edhi Abdulrahman has nothing to hide and did nothing wrong, why did he have to attack Mr. Bahrudin? That even confirmed the allegation and shows he has something to hide.

    In a country where democracy exists, all what he needs to do is to challenge Mr. Bahrudin in the court of law to set the record straight. Anyone can present all kind of allegations against anybody, but nothing is going to happen unless a conviction is reached under the court of law. All citizens shall be assumed innocent until proven guilty. That shall be a guiding principle in a democratic country against such an allegation.

    One of the top 10 issues facing Indonesia is an issue surrounding the election and membership for national Parliament. It is time to reform the election process and proceeding for members of the Parliament. The membership of Parliament shall not be heavily based on political party affiliation, but it shall be tailored and heavily emphasized to represent the interest of the district or regency where he/she lives.

    In other words, these members of Parliament shall be voted directly by constituents where he/she will represent and not chosen or selected by political party to be on the ballot as CALEG (Calon Legislative). This process and proceeding will eliminate this kind of broker deal or other attempts by senior members of political party to ask for money in exchange for these legislative candidate’s names to be listed on the ballot. Most importantly, these CALEG will work hard to represent their constituents and not the interest of political party where he/she is affiliated with. KPU shall prohibit such a practice. This is where the role of political public playing field is so critical and badly needed in Indonesia.

    The positive side from this event though, that now we can see the spirit of open competition in Indonesia where members of parliament are starting raising issues against each other. That is a positive development. Unfortunately, the issues being debated are still heavily related to the survival of the political party and not the survival of their constituents. That is why I have been advocating since the last 2004 election, the general election for the members of Parliament need to be reformed and tailored heavily to address the interest of the constituents and not the interest of political party because of their direct affiliation with that party.

    As I mentioned before, Democracy does not come in a package. This is something that Indonesia’s politicians need to improve their public conducts and engagements every step of the way to regulate, restrict and guide their fellow members at the Parliament and other public officials.

    Again, terima kasih for sharing the info.

  23. avatar Chris Komari says:

    To: Purba,

    I respect opinions and differences. However, after reading your last response I came to a point that your arguments are getting ridiculous. Not even a single line in your response addressing the issues facing Indonesia at this very moment and how to resolve it. So, it does do any good for me to response your arguments. You continue attacking the messenger instead of the message!

    So, it’s America’s faults for what is happening in Indonesia now. I get it! It is a classic way of avoiding responsibility by shifting the blame.

    But here is one fact that I can share. For any reasonable person, it is just pretty silly to even comprehend the notion for someone who wants to preach about American Democracy to a person who has been living in America for all of these years and has experienced firsthand about the American Democracy. Meanwhile, that person himself who wants to preach about American Democracy has never lived in America nor, experienced the American Democracy. What is the justification?

    This notion alone is just too ridiculous to comprehend, how do you expect others to believe the validity of your arguments?

    If you want me to tell you what is so great about a country called United States of America (USA) despites all of the recent mistakes the Bush Administration did with his foreign policy around the world compared to any other countries in this planet is this. You can prove me wrong on this if you have any valid arguments.

    Here is what makes United States of America is a great country and why many foreign nations across the globe want to migrate to United States.

    * You can live in Germany for 10, 15 or 20 years and pay tax, bought a house and have a family there and they never call you ‘A GERMAN’.

    * You can go to Australia and live there for 10, 15 or 20 years and pay tax, got a job, bought a house and have a family there. They can never call you “AN AUSTRALIAN”

    * You can go to China and live there and pay tax, owned a house and have a family there for over 40, or 50 years, they can never call you “a Chinese”….

    * BUT…, you can come to United Stated of America and live here even for 5 years, applied for citizenship, works and pay taxes like everybody else, have a family and do whatever you want to do, the American people will call you “AN AMERICAN” – They embrace with an one nation regardless of your past background and education.

    That is what so great about United Stated of America. Can you treat the same way with those immigrants in Indonesia, Purba?

    I hope that someday Indonesia will do the same and treat all citizens equally regardless their background, sex, race, education and religion.

  24. avatar purba negoro says:

    Pak Kosmari,

    you presume too much and indeed insult by inference of my infantile tactics to assuade wholly substantiatable logical argument of total American guilt in IMF and WB loans.

    We see proof of insatiable Semitic-American greed again today- Bear Sterns, Goldman Sachs, Citi Group, US private hedge funds, and near bankruptcy caused by American predatory institutional lending and leverage high risk NINJA loans (no income, no job applicant) to those marginally credit worthy.

    It is precisely the tactic they used on Suharto. They have only themselves to blame- what sane man lends money to those who obviously cannot repay?
    Unless of course there was something greater to be gained.

    Indeed I have lived in Western democracies and thus I can with full and total authority and sincerity, from an educated perspective lecture you that they have fallen very far indeed from the days of Roosevelt, Churchill and Calwell.

    Lyndon Johnson was bought out in the 1930’s by Kellogg Brown Root for construction of a Texas dam.
    The Gulf of Tonkin was merely the beginning of the payback due for LBJ for reimburse his true puppet masters.
    Nixon and Ford cemented the corporate Military Industrial Congressional “Iron Triangle (ref: Eisenhower’s departure speech terminology)

    Carter was but a brief respite before the lunacy of Reagan and his attempts to insert corporate backers into “free nations around the world under the guise of fighting communism.

    We students of History clearly see the economic motivation behind the Cold War- it had nothing to do with ideology- it was denial of strategic economic resources to the nearest market competitor- end game- monopolization.
    Proof yet again is American corporate history of monopolistaion- Pan Am, Enron, Standard Oil, MA Bell, the list is endless.

    Proof again in American Middle East policy- now target Iran 3rd greatest deposit of oil in the world, after Iraq (no 2) and running dry Saudi Arabia (fast drying up number 1).
    Monopolisation of nett world crude oil supply.

    Perpetual conflict between Israel et al is classic didide et impera- in a state of peace- pan Arabic solidarity would rebuff American interference- but worse yet for for Greedy Yank: the Israel and Arabs would no longer need lucrative arms sales in a state of peace and mutual recognition. There goes USA’s largest arms market.

    The Russians themselves for years openly stated they were no threat, they were many eyars behind the US and their military was nothing but clever barrage balloons, rusty decoys and paint.
    But by your own definition- everything has a price to Yankee. Property= citizen.

    See- your blindyet somewhat ignorant love of America has defined you perhaps unwittingly as an enemy of the Indonesian rakyat.

    In finality I rebut you with our Hero Sukarno:
    1958:
    “Indonesia’s democracy is not liberal democracy. Indonesian democracy is not the democracy of the world of Montaigne or Voltaire. Indonesian democracy is not à la America, Indonesia’s democracy is not the Soviet—No!
    Indonesia’s democracy is the democracy which is implanted in the breasts of the Indonesian peoples…. Democracy is only a means. It is not an end. The end is a just and prosperous society.”

    Pak Kosmari- your heart is in the right place- but it is not in Indonesia’s best interests.
    Your fight should be AGAINST the US on behalf of Indonesia. We are the underdog.

    Bung Kosmari- I beg you join our perpetual revolution Brother against the krebo bule- Uncle Sam for Merdeka.
    Do not let the Yankee bastards win by snuffing our heroes Suharto and Sukarno.

  25. avatar purba negoro says:

    Bung Kosmari- read and learn of Uncle Sam’s well prven guilt.
    LaRouche errantly alleges British as the greater evil but what had they to gain?
    The USA had far more- the bibliography alone is worth reading:

    http://www.larouchepub.com/other/2001/2822_indonesia_history.html

    and http://www.larouchepub.com/lar/2000/2721_asian_mon_fund.html

  26. avatar Chris Komari says:

    To: Purba,

    I have noted the points that you are trying so hard to prove. But if you carefully asses your own statements are actually confirm the very notion I presented in my earlier responses. You consistently argue that what happening in Indonesia now are America’s faults. There you go again! So, when are you (we) going to take responsibility for own mistakes? When are you (we) going to stop blaming others?

    IMF and World Bank are financial institutions; they are there to make profits and of course, they will loan money with string attached. If Indonesia was offered bad loans with bad terms by these institutions, why didn’t Indonesia’s leaders at that time reject the loans? If Indonesia’s leaders knew that the country will not be able to afford to pay it back, why didn’t they do that?

    The IMF ordered Indonesia to shut down 16 banks and if our leaders were so courageous and understood the ramification for taking such a crazy measure, why didn’t they reject and stump their nose to IMF? Why then they followed order by accepting $ 43 billion dollar IMF Emergency Package and in doing so, Indonesia had to swallow a new domestic debt as big as $80 billion dollar. That was not the only debacle, there are many more. And all your arguments is only this, it is America’s faults for loaning money to a country who can afford to pay it back. What a silly argument! But you are dead wrong, Purba.

    Indonesia is very rich country with its natural resources. Those previous administrations, especially, during the 35 years of Suharto’s reign; his administration has squandered the wealth of the Indonesia people. But, there are still options and solutions that Indonesia can take to repay and deal with its massive debts. This is where brilliant leadership is needed in Indonesia today. That is why I drafted those 14 pages document to start addressing those critical issues by scrutinize these future President of Indonesia. Indonesia needs a leader who content about himself/herself and eager to address what matter the most to its million people who are now living under poverty.

    Average American knows what American stands for and what America is all about. If you cannot separate and differentiate between Democracy in America or American Democracy, America’s Foreign Policy, Democracy itself and America’s capitalism, then that is not my problem. There is no such thing is being liberal democracy, conservative democracy or, dictatorship democracy or even guiding Democracy that was introduced in Indonesia by President Sukarno in the past. Democracy is democracy with its principles that attached to it. Any country that claims to embrace democracy but setting aside its principles, then it is not a democratic country.

    As President Lincoln called it as “Government of the people, by the people and for the people”. If this principle changed or abrogated to a different names such as: guiding democracy, liberal democracy or conservative democracy where the Executive branch has un-equal power with its legislative and judicial branch, then the spirit of democracy does not exist. Regardless of any new name and any kind of democracy Indonesia is going to embrace, Indonesia cannot stay away from the framework of Democracy and ignore its principles.

    The very 1st principle of Democracy called: “INDIVIDUAL SOVEREIGNTY.” Does Indonesia recognize individual sovereignty? If this 1st principle alone has not yet being implemented in Indonesia, how did you justify that Indonesian Democracy is better than American Democracy? This is the kind of reasoning and argument you are presenting to me. Average American will laugh at it. If Indonesian Democracy is so good like you suggested, why then not all Indonesian people at large have equal opportunity and freedom that Democracy should guarantee.

    I do not suggest that Indonesian Democracy is not good or bad. No, not at all. I am very proud with what is happening now in Indonesia. That is why I dared to send out those 14 pages document. I see the wind of change breezes throughout the country. That is great. But the change that is happening now shall be tailored and directed to address the interest of the people at large and not certain elite, political party or group of people. So, there are many things that Indonesian politicians have to do to improve its political public playing fields.

    Many people across the globe want to migrate to America and love America is not because of what you stated as lack of your understanding about America. I think your hatred toward America blindsided your rational. America is great because of many things such as equality, freedom and the opportunity to be all you can be if you strive and work hard. That kind of opportunity does not exist everywhere else.

    Yes, America is just like my step mother who educated me, raised me and thought to be who I am today where my own mother land was unable to give me that opportunity. Now that I am somebody, I remember and recognize my motherland and the million children who are now living under poverty who deserve opportunity and better future. That is the reason I drafted those 14 pages document.

    I can response and address the many things you presented in your response. But it is just a waste of time; it does not do any good because none of them is addressing the issue. You love to blame others for the mistakes our past leaders made. Instead of addressing the message, you keep attacking the messenger. So, that is it. You have developed that pattern and I don’t have to elaborate further. That is sufficient for me to understand who you are and what you stand for.

    Now if you want me to continue this discussion, I challenge you to stick on addressing the 3 issues that presented before. Those issues are:

    1. How long are we going to pay off Indonesia’s massive debts and how? Where the money comes from?

    2. What actions and policy shall be taken to address the weakening rupiah (currency)? For the last 28 years, it has been weakening 9 times worse compared to USD (US Dollar)

    3. What actions and policy shall be taken by the Indonesian government to minimize central government wasteful spending and maximize revenue? Currently, the central government sucks up 66% of the entire expenditures.

    I will be more than happy to assess your response with my full attention if you have any opinions or ideas how to resolve the above issues.

  27. avatar Evan says:

    To Chris,

    Thank you for a very comprehensive and enlightening debate that you sparked through your 14-page letter.

    Regardless of what some might think, it’s nice too know that someone who has experienced ‘the good life’ in the US still cares about the country. I for one don’t think that your motives are sinister. I find it difficult that someone with a sinister motive could lay out detailed plan and willing to entertain and debate people from all walks of life. So, that’s what i think about the ‘messenger’.

    Now, about the message. I can clearly see your point in terms of the significance of the presidential debates, acknowledging the problems, as well as some of its possible solutions. In fact, if one were to take a pragmatic and technocratic approach to problems, the list you made pretty much hit the mark.

    Unfortunately, I can also see the point made by Purba regarding the ‘packaging’ of your ideas that may not be so ‘acceptable’ to the Indonesian public. Purba’s rebuttal and citation of perceived facts might not seem very intellectually rigorous and tend to shift the blame to others. However, his viewpoints are an indication of how difficult it is to sell a pragmatic and technocratic approach (no matter how true) if the public could play the issue of ‘American’ approach. in this regard, the messenger does matter, that is if you want to sell your idea and actually have people buy it. Like it or not, perceived or otherwise, Indonesia is going through a period of learning how to walk, and during these period of ‘pre-puberty’, everything becomes a ‘sensitive’ issue. This is what IR scholars call, ‘adolescence’ states.

    That being said, I don’t really think that the main problem is that Indonesians or Indonesian leaders for that matter do not know what the problem is or they won’t acknowledge it. We know what the problem is, we acknowledge the problem, but we just won’t say so publicly. There is ‘cultural’ argument to be made here. I hate to say this but great ideas will fall on deaf ears if the time is not ripe.

    I don’t dare to say who have you talked to in Indonesia, or how long have you been involved in Indonesian politics, or even to assign motives. My take is this, i think it’s a nice thing that somebody still cares about Indonesia (which means there is ample reason to be optimistic about the future), and i think you need to take a different approach in selling your ideas to Indonesia, if not to get them to buy it, at least to have them listen to it.

    All the best Chris,

    cheers,

    Evan

  28. avatar Chris Komari says:

    To: Evan

    Thank you and I certainly appreciate for taking the time to read those long documents and sent me a comment. I have read your response with a great deal of attention.

    Many great messengers like Prophet Jesus Christ or Prophet Isa (as) and Prophet Muhammad (saw) were also being attacked, mocked and ridiculed by their own people for conveying the message. These two figures were known in history to be the most loving human being on Earth toward mankind. If those loving and kind individuals were still being attacked, mocked and ridiculed for conveying good messages, I as ordinary person that is full of shortcomings and weakness will have to accept the fact that people will attack me for ding the same thing, confronting issues facing the nation publicly. In politic, it is just part of the game and I am fully aware of it.

    As far as Mr. Purba’s responses are concerned, I respect his point of view and opinions on the subject. To me, he is nothing but the defender of the old establishment that has proven to be a disaster for Indonesia.

    There are many things that I agree with your assessments. But there is one thing in your response that fascinates me. It fascinates me because your answer is the same exact answer I received from many defenders of the old establishment.

    According to your assessment, you stated that you don’t really think that the main problem is that Indonesians or Indonesian leaders for that matter do not know what the problem is or they won’t acknowledge it. We know what the problem is, we acknowledge the problem, but we just won’t say so publicly. There is ‘cultural’ argument to be made here……that is very interesting statement in many ways.

    The question I have is, if those leaders truly knew what the problems are, why didn’t they confront and resolve those issues for all of these years? What was the reason and why left in the back burner unresolved making Indonesia in such a debt trapped as well as in poverty as today? How long have we given the old establishment to address those issues? It was over 35 years, wasn’t it? What make them deserved to be given more time to address those issues after 35 years? In fact, I have confronted these issues openly and publicly in front of hundreds Indonesian folks with former President of Indonesia III and also former Coordinating Minister of Economic Affairs, which was also a former professor at University of Indonesia. They response were pretty disappointing.

    No, I don’t think that the case. They probably knew the problems but they did not have the ability and the courage to confront the issues openly and publicly. Or perhaps, it was simply self-centeredness and convenience for maintaining status quo. Why bother issues that won’t give them (politicians) money for their family, right? This is in fact one of the things that motivates me to form my own political party to confront those self-centered politicians.

    ….but we just won’t say so publicly. There is ‘cultural’ argument to be made here….. This is the core disagreement I have.

    I don’t think it is a matter of cultural argument to be made when it comes to government affairs. If it is a public affair, it must be said and confronted openly and publicly. For any politicians who keep government affairs for themselves are disservice to the very people they represents as well as contravene to the very principle of Democratic society and government where the people have the right to know and to be informed. In California, this right is embedded and protected under the BROWN ACT that mandates every politician to report government affairs, especially, government bad public conduct to the people. Below is a quote of some provisions in the BROWN ACT.

    “The people of this State do not yield their sovereignty to the agencies which serve them. The people, in delegating authority, do not give their public servants the right to decide what is good for the people to know and what is not good for them to know. The people insist on remaining informed so that they may retain control over the instruments they have created.”

    If those politicians or Government leaders won’t say publicly and keeping it secret and thus the government is run in secrecy, those are compounding recipe for corruption. If this is how Indonesia government was run and based upon for the last 35 years, it does not surprise me and answer the question why Indonesia is labeled as the most corrupt country in the world after the Philippines. This has to end.

    That is why I have been advocating and suggesting many members of the national Parliament to come up with their own BROWN ACT version to prohibit, guide and limit the politician public conduct for all Indonesian representatives and officials. The newly adopted or drafted codes must be tailored to address the people interest as the 1st priority with one key element that the PEOPLE HAVE THE RIGHT TO KNOW and TO BE INFORMED.

    Government affairs are not about cultural debates or blind trust. It is about transparency, check and balance through an oversight. Public oversight can only be undertaken if those politicians and government leaders speak up openly and publicly for the people to know and to be informed. This is the essence of democracy where the ordinary people are involved in the government affairs.

    I wholeheartedly agree with your suggestion to take a different approach. That is why I am forming a political party. I am hoping that by 2014, I will have enough branch offices in 33 provinces and at least one branch office in each District or Kabupaten. I have concluded that I need my own political platform to enable me to confront those self-centered politicians openly and publicly and to confront those future Presidential candidates to address those critical issues within the contest of democracy.

    This is a very difficult task but an exciting adventure that I am willing to take on for the shake of those millions and millions Indonesian who are now living in poverty and the newer generation that deserve a better future and opportunity to compete globally. It takes one vote to form majority, it takes one man to trigger a transformation. I hope God will always be with me, protects me and guides me every step of the way to initiate that transformation. Only time will tell. Let’s be part of the solution and play our role to be part of that transformation in whatever capacity we can.

    Thank you for sharing your thoughts and good luck with your seminar. I wish you and the presenters all the best at the seminar to come up with something useful for Indonesia to move forward, free from a debt trap and poverty. I hope.

  29. avatar lomboksurfer says:

    Hey Chris dude,

    My mates tell me that your living in Northern California and your from bloody Indonesia? If this is bloody true I want to ask you about the surf spots up there? Are Big Sur and Half Moon Bay as good as that bloody say? Me and the boys are thinking of having our own bloody invasion of Beach Boys Land so to speak. We hear that the bloody surf is great toward this time of year. Dude the favour we are bleedin requesting is that you provide us with regular bloody updates on surf conditions. Do you think a smart dude like yourself could handle that for the boys from down under and Kiwi land? Oh ya, we are going to need bloody bikini clad woman when we arrive coz we hear the bleedin surf is great but so bloody cold that we may need reviving. Do you know where we can get some bleedin Indonesian Brown sugarbabies since your so bloody connected into the Indonesian community there? Illegal beach bunnies will do bloody well fine for us. Also, make sure they are bloody hot babes coz any rejects get thrown back into the bloody ocean. ha ha ha! Hey dude if you bleedin surf your welcome to join with me and the boys! Cheers!

    Lomboksurfer

  30. avatar Achmad Sudarsono says:

    Lomboksurfer,

    Try to keep things half-intelligent. Otherwise, there are plenty of places for you.

    Achmad.

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