The Jakarta Post
The ridiculous, if amusing, claims of the self-appointed Grand Prime Minister of the Sunda Empire-Earth Empire in Bandung, West Java, and the King of the Keraton Agung Sejagat (world empire) in Purworejo, Central Java, have led them to becoming laughing stocks over the past few weeks.
But compare these members of “royalty” to President Joko “Jokowi” Widodo, who has seriously promised the nation that Indonesia will become the world’s fourth-largest economy in 2045. While many Indonesians might be extremely skeptical, they will also view it simply as a politician’s pledge. However, a leading global institution has wholeheartedly supported Jokowi’s confidence.
Please don’t get mad at me when I say that the newly emerging “emperors” are possibly not very different from Jokowi. The President is just luckier because many of us will unlikely be able to wait for the pledge to materialize in 2045, while the two other men have clearly been ludicrous from the start. I have no academic arguments. But as a victim of the false promises of a beautiful death and peace of mind made by one of the country’s now practically defunct insurance firms, I prefer nonsense from the very beginning.
The prospect of death hovers amid reports about the new coronavirus. The virus, which has spread from China, has sparked global fear, including in Indonesia, as there is still no vaccine available to stop its spread. Having just recently returned from Tokyo, and having met many Chinese tourists, I felt nervous when I felt signs of influenza upon my return. What if I die from this disease? I cursed the life insurance company Bumiputera 1912.
As an Indonesian of Batak ethnicity, I hope my funeral service will follow our strict traditions, as well as those of my Catholic faith. That would be costly, but Bumiputera had promised to guarantee that my wishes would be met. I settled my premium obligations a few years ago. The firm guaranteed that my wife or my three children would get Rp 200 million (US$14,500) as soon I stopped breathing. But my insurance firm committed virtual suicide not long after my premium settlement. It is still alive, but it could easily evade its obligations to me, maybe by citing bankruptcy.
Millions of customers may feel depressed as the government has said almost nothing meaningful about the fate of their insurance policies with state-owned Jiwasraya Life Insurance, privately owned Bumiputera and Asabri, the insurance agency that administers the pensions and life insurance of military and police personnel. They were victims of amazing insurance promises, although the companies apparently knew early on that it would be impossible for them to meet their financial commitments.
Back to Grand Prime Minister Nasri Banks, his aide Rangga Sasana, King Toto Santoso and Queen Fanni Aminadia. The Bandung and Earth Empire leaders claim at least four unbelievable things.
First, many countries will meet the 2020 deadline for membership registration. So far, 54 countries have registered, including the United States, they say. And defiant states will be condemned to endless trouble!
Second, the United Nations and the North Atlantic Treaty Organization were born in Bandung, West Java’s capital.
Third, the Empire has the capacity to control any nuclear weapons, clearly including the nuclear threat of North Korea’s King Jong-un.
Fourth, world class billionaires Jack Ma and Bill Gates will join the empire. Jokowi had earlier expressed an interest in appointing Ma and Gates as his personal advisers.
Meanwhile, King Toto and Queen Fanni claim their kingdom is the successor of the Majapahit Kingdom that ruled Java, many parts of Indonesia and neighboring territories such as Singapore and Malaysia.
They have collected money from people who want to be registered as members of the supposed royal family — for which they have been arrested for fraud.
In March 2017, President Joko “Jokowi” Widodo assured us that Indonesia, according to experts, would become the world’s fourth-largest economy by 2045, when the country celebrates its centenary. With a population of 309 million people, economic growth of 6 percent and gross domestic product of US$9.1 trillion, income per capita will be no less than $29,000.
One month earlier, in its report titled “The long view: How will the global economic order change by 2050?”, one of the world’s largest professional services firms, PricewaterhouseCooper (PwC), predicted Indonesia would rank fourth after China, India and the US by 2050.
In achieving this goal, PwC said structural reforms were needed “to improve macroeconomic stability, diversify [the economy] away from undue reliance on natural resources […] and develop more effective political and legal institutions”.
I fear the promises of the three insurance companies will be no different from Jokowi’s pledge. But we must wait 25 years for concrete evidence. By 2045, my granddaughter may visit my cemetery to tell me, “You were absolutely right Opung [Grandpa].”
The royal rulers have provided us with some light relief. But they have been followed by thousands of Indonesians, who have high expectations from their new “messiahs”. You can laugh at them, but they may also laugh at you!
They are at least more honest than the insurance firms,. To me they are all equally sensible, but please don’t demand any arguments from me!