Lacklustre televised presidential debates are a ruling class ruse, rails Ross.
While IM is giving plenty of attention to the presidential election, it seems useful to start a serious (!) discussion on the so-called 'debates' which the Electoral Commission/Komisi Pemilihan Umum (KPU) is 'organising' - some would say reducing to farce with a view to not having any more ever again.
While this week's televised debate at least had a spark of life to it, when SBY and JK locked horns on the choice of a noodle advert melody as the former's campaign tune, there would probably be more heated and incisive differences at a temperance league's discussion of the evils of strong drink. At VP level, Wiranto's creaky rendering of the national anthem summed up quite well the meaningful and persuasive character of these sessions.
If the candidates were truly as devoid of passion and policies as the 'debates' suggest, Indonesia would be well and truly up the creek, but of course they aren't. I don't have a vote and am no great fan of any of them, but when they are out on the campaign trail, they show distinct signs of life, so why the stodgy tv stuff?
The media report that it's all the doing of the KPU, which apparently doesn't think that confrontation is acceptable to 'local culture'. This is the 'submissive native' drivel, which continues to be a kind of urban legend, despite being disproven in routine activities everywhere, demos, strikes, protests and sundry less dramatic phenomena. It's hogwash!
If you take angkot public transport daily, you will find that the slightest underpayment of fare by any passenger induces most impressive and stentorian debate; more seriously, the history of these islands is studded with episodes of confrontation and clashes, of which the Balinese - a delightful and friendly folk, mostly, in my experience - provide perhaps the most stunning examples, with their rajas leading their courts into certain death, armed only with ceremonial krises, against Dutch guns. This is 'submissive'?
My view is that the KPU, and those whose odd thinking they reflect, don't like the ruling class being criticised, and therefore they discourage that ruling class from being openly at odds, just in case all the people all over Indonesia who are ripped off on a daily basis by the blood-sucking parasites who expect free overseas trips and free cars and free housing and free lap-tops (budgeted at over 30 million rupiah per machine, instead of the 8 million you'd pay in Ratu Plaza) get in on the act.
Once you unleash real and telling critiques on the upper levels, the reverberations all the way down to the peasantry in the fields might just shake the edifice and bring it down.