So, Sri Sultan Hamengku Buwono will – probably – be running for the Indonesian presidency next year:
Promising candidature. He seems to have a number of assets going for him. First of all a reputation of being a relatively able and modern administrator as the governor of his special province, the intangible but powerful radiation of royalty and the advantage of belonging to the real elite ( which is not open to upstarts).Â If he ultimately would be chosen as the next President, some comedian might say that at long last a representative of a minority would be in charge.
Anyhow, though he may not haveÂ a very tempting political program on offer yet (not one which I know of, I mean), he may be seen by a number of voters as the best combination of modernity (which, according to one of his fans, seems to be indicated by the fact he married only one wife and was in favor of an underground parking area in theÂ city) and tradition.
As for now he will run as an independent.Â So far, so good. But insiders’ speculations are he will seek the backing of Golkar. Here I begin to lose track.
Of the many enigma’s Indonesia presents to me, politics is among the most incomprehensible ones. Golkar was the political vehicle for the late president, general Suharto. The one who was in power for over thirty years. And who could claim serious economic growth, can be held responsible for genocidal crimes, presided over a centralized system of corruption and ultimately was pushed out of his job ten years ago during the previous mismanaged economic crisis.
One would expect the political party of this expelled dictator to crumble after his fall, like the communist parties in the Sovjet Union and former “socialist” countriesÂ in Eastern Europe did. But no, unlike the political vehicle of, for instance, Chile’s former dictator general Pinochet ( who also had been economically successful), Golkar survived.Â And is alive and kicking now. Omnipresent Vice President Kalla for instance is one of it’s prominent members.
So why,Â I wonder, should intellectuals and artists support a politician who may be alright him- or herself, but has wrong, well, at least dubious political friends? Is he really worth the help of the left leaning cultural elite?
Because Garin Nugroho who I admire for his movie Opera Jawa, announced that he joined the “Rainbow of Change” (does ring a familiar bell, doesn’t it?). The movie director as well as singer Franky Sahilatua and publicistÂ Sukardi Rinakit, are campaigning for the aristocrat.Â And right, Sukardit for instance seem to have defended social democratic policies. Perfect.Â They may make aÂ strong and sympathetic trio for a worthy cause.Â For more equal distribution of income, education and power. On first sight it is like Bruce Springsteen campaigning for Obama or, in my days, the German Nobel Prize winner GÃ¼nther Grass campaigning for Willy Brandt.Â Of course it’s okay if they engage themselves – not for own political careers, but for ideals.
But shouldn’t they explain first what exact the ideals areÂ that they are backing in this campaign? And make convincingly clear that Sri Sultan HB X shares them all the way. Shouldn’t the aristocrat be more transparent on his stands first? And shouldn’t he and his intellectuals guarantee first that there will be no alliance with political parties like Golkar which can not be suspected of any left leaning tendency?
As long as that has not happened the remarkable relationship between the director and the aristocrat is just amazing me.Â Indeed, I’m an outsider and I’m puzzled.