Friday’s commemoration of the 10th anniversary of the first Bali bombings at Garuda Wisnu Kencana cultural park in Jimbaran was a fresh reminder for the nation, and the international community, of the evil called extremism which remains a threat to world peace.
Indonesian Foreign Minister Marty Natalegawa said the event should serve as an imperative for various communities across the world to strengthen mutual understanding, tolerance and cooperation in the fight against extremism that is responsible for acts of terrorism across the globe.
Marty represented the Indonesian government in place of President Susilo Bambang Yudhoyono who was having a routine medical check-up. Mingling with the crowd of over 1,000 people who gathered for the emotional commemoration were Australian prime minister Julia Gillard, John Howard, the Australian prime minister when the attacks occurred and opposition leader Tony Abbot.
But Yudhoyono did not actually give the landmark event a miss. His message to Australia, which lost 88 citizens in the first major attack since al-Qaeda came to global prominence in the 9/11 nightmare, appeared on the opinion page of The Sydney Morning Herald.
“Whatever the motivation and calculation of the terrorists, the Bali bomb attack did not produce its desired effects. In fact, it resulted in just the opposite. Throughout Indonesia, Muslims, Hindus, Christians and Buddhists overwhelmingly condemned the attack and repudiated those who misused religion to carry out acts of violence. The entire nation galvanized to defend freedom, democracy and tolerance,” Yudhoyono said.
He maintained that the Bali carnage prompted Indonesia to take part in, and contribute a lot to, the global fight against terrorism and its root causes either through law enforcement or interfaith dialogue to promote peace.
Indeed the Yudhoyono administration, which came to office in October 2004, has been marked by deadly terror attacks. Counterterrorism operations and strict law enforcement have ensued to make sure justice is served without sacrificing democracy and human rights. The trial of several terror suspects later uncovered that Yudhoyono himself was a chief target of the terrorists.
That a string of attacks has rocked Indonesia since the first Bali bombings only demonstrates that terrorism remains a clear and present danger here, despite Yudhoyono’s claims about the country’s successful counter-terrorism efforts.
The devastating damage from acts of terrorism has prompted Indonesia to declare terrorism an extraordinary crime, which to some extent has inspired the government to push for deliberation of a draconian bill on national security. Politicians at the House of Representatives have objected to the draft not only because of the risk that the bill would infringe human rights, but also of possible conflicts with the existing police law.
Deputy defense minister Sjafrie Sjamsoeddin says, however, adjustments have been made to the draft before it is handed back to the House next week.
If Indonesia stands united in the war on terrorism, billed as the common enemy, the nation is apparently divided in its fight against another extraordinary crime: corruption. The confusion that followed the speech the President delivered on Monday night in response to the latest stand-off between the National Police and the Corruption Eradication Commission ( KPK ) has cast gloom over the anticorruption drive here.
In his speech, which drew applause even from his critics, the President ordered the police to allow the KPK to proceed with its investigation into the driving simulator graft saga that has implicated two police generals and to reconsider the arrest of the KPK investigator who has led the probe into the case, Comr. Novel Baswedan.
Dozens of officers from the Bengkulu and Jakarta Police stormed the KPK headquarters last Friday night in an attempt to arrest Novel for his alleged role in the shooting of six theft suspects when he headed the Bengkulu police crime unit in 2004.
Popular support for the KPK, as it did in an earlier episode of its dispute with the police known as “gecko versus crocodile” back in 2009, was a clear signal for the President to act against the corruption-tainted police force. But the fact that deputy National Police chief Comr. Nanan Sukarna insisted that the plan to arrest Novel remained unchanged indicated that rivalry between the two law enforcement agencies is not yet over.
Last week’s incident, as well as a myriad of pitfalls that have prevented the KPK from ensnaring big fish such as the “big boss” and “big chief” in the bribery cases implicating executives of the ruling Democratic Party, will continue to disrupt the national campaign against graft unless the KPK enjoys full political support to act independently, effectively and accountably.
The government’s plan to issue a regulation that will allow the KPK to extend the four-year tenure of police officers seconded to the antigraft body for another term is indeed a relief, given the fact that the KPK is short of competent investigators. However, such a regulation may do more harm than good to the officers’ careers.
Sooner or later the KPK needs to end its heavy dependence on the police by recruiting its own investigators. Therefore any revision to the KPK Law needs to address the matter and ensure KPK empowerment.
Without full support, the KPK will continue to fall prey to the harassment of those who do not hesitate to abuse their power to escape the KPK’s scythe.
If the phrase “Save the KPK” became the most popular hashtag on Twitter following last Friday’s incident, “Save Indonesia” should follow.
— Dwi Atmanta