The Indonesian president likes to show off the country’s good reputation in the world. Indeed he got overwhelming positive international feedback in the course of his administration. I’m sure that also during his imminent visit to Berlin and Budapest, Chancellor Angela Merkel and prime minister Viktor Orban ( who himself by the way is very ill at ease with human rights) will praise Indonesia as the economically flourishing democracy with world’s largest Muslim population.
But perhaps they will do so with notable less conviction and less enthusiasm than on previous occasions. RI’s image has been slightly tarnished lately. It’s human rights record is being frowned upon. Last Friday my own paper, NRC, wrote “Religious violence in Indonesia increases each year“. And -more importantly- Thursday the Huffington Post “World”-section headed :”Indonesia:Religious Minorities Target of Rising Violence“. The report Human Rights Watch published last Wednesday has significant publicity impact apparently.
The EU ambassador in Jakarta wrote a love letter to Indonesia on February the 14th. He apparently went cruising. Or perhaps he’s already courting the Garuda bird. He praises the great Indonesian people, the fascinating Indonesian diversity, the wonderful Indonesian products, the beautiful Indonesian landscapes and the ever improving Indonesian tourist infrastructure, including more and more golf courses. Except for golf courses I actually agree wholeheartedly with him :).
However I think true love shouldn’t be blind. Julian Wilson is a diplomat and as a diplomat he can’t publicly criticise Indonesia’s characteristics, developments or incidents. But I can. So let me add my love and complete his sunny Valentine appraisal with a critical note.
Would have loved to be the fly on the wall.
A hotel room, stacks of banknotes, a cheating polygamous aide to a prominent pious politician, a beautiful naked young woman, lots of animal beef in slaughterhouses, two well-known business men disappearing in the wings after delivery and a greedy Godfather himself eagerly waiting in his residential home for the thank-you-money.
Scenes of vice and crime.
They are not from a Tarantino film or The Sopranos though. It’s not an image of the wheeling and dealing of Camorra in Naples, Italy, either. No, it’s a symbol of the crumbling morals of the religious inspired part of Jakarta’s political elite.
Who wouldn’t want to agree with president Susilo Bambang Yushoyono when he said the Prophet demanded a practice of harmony and tolerance in a diverse society.
Unfortunately there often is a gap between idealistic theory and muddy reality.
Pushed by the WHO the UN recently called on member states to abolish practices of genital mutilation. Yet in Indonesia female circumcision ( and male circumcision) is still legal. A 2010 Ministerial Regulation stipulates it’s permitted if religious laws and health standards have been observed.