Two clouds with silver linings, Tommy Suharto's bid for Golkar, and sharia stoning laws in Aceh.
Two news items this month which have stimulated discussion, to say the least, may seem unrelated, but it seems to me that:
This may surprise those of you who have sat near me in the favoured watering-holes but in retrospect our initial reactions may have been too sanguine.
First of all, Aceh.
While many of us would delight at the application of capital punishment in cases like Sheikh Puji and indeed Pak Suharto's Wee Lad (Tommy Suharto), the whole idea of stoning people is both unpleasant in itself and inappropriate to the crime. Adultery usually imposes enough problems on the participants therein, without the law getting involved. But that's not the issue.
What was really refreshing was the forthright response of the ex-GAM Governor, who dissociated himself from the mush-noggins in his mini-parliament. His Administration will not execute the decree nor the people it's aimed at. And this breath of fresh air was given additional impact by the fact that the said mush-noggins are lame-ducks. Their electoral mandate is due to expire more or less in tandem with our post-Ramadan hang-overs. They may once have represented Acehnese citizens but have been replaced by members-elect who are overwhelmingly of the Governor's movement and hopefully of his way of thinking.
So unless I am reading it wrong, no stonings are likely and the next crop of legislators will chuck out the nonsense, a slap in the gob for the cretins, one of whom had the nerve to justify his vote by saying that they had to change the law to stop Islamist rabble taking the law into their own hands. Can't quite figure the internal consistency there, but anyway...seems said cretin thought selingkuh couples might be molested by religious bigots if the local regime didn't stone them to death for their own protection...logic, ya?
So the Aceh matter is actually a good sign.
And Tommy Suharto the Homicidal Mastermind?
Well, yes, it is appalling that any party with pretensions to government would soil itself by even considering the thug as leadership material, and those magnates who have allegedly held meetings with Suharto Junior ought to be ashamed of themselves. The absurd spokespersons for Golkar who suggest his lack of experience as the reason for rejecting his candidacy are a bad joke, and most Indonesians I've heard discussing that aspect just laugh.
But again, this is a positive development, for it should do for Golkar what the ice-berg did for the Titanic. The dictatorship's party has been shooting itself in the foot for a while now, and unless SBY shows quite masterful ineptitude, he should be able to watch Golkar disintegrate. Not that Tommy Suharto has any real chance of taking it over, but the very fact that somebody of his foul character could present himself and be treated as something other than a leper makes it clear that Golkar's upper levels are totally out-of-touch with the people of this country. Yeah, some voters do undoubtedly miss the Orde Baru, but only the good bits, which of course did exist, but did emphatically not include gluttonous corruption and cronyism.
Aceh's sensible government and Golkar's self-destructive blindness are sign-posts pointing to a better Indonesia round the corner - quite a big corner, maybe, but it can and will be turned.