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Tuesday, July 22, 2014

Selamat Jokowi

I'm wondering how UK voters would take to being told that, in a run off between The Tory and Labour parties, there would be a thirteen day wait to announce the winner of that election......And then, after waiting the prerequisite thirteen days, be told that the leader of one or the other party was dropping out due to 'irregularities' in vote counting, purely as a way to save face in a tightly fought campaign.

Such is the situation in which the relatively fledgling democracy of Indonesia finds itself today.

I arrived in this amazing country five years ago, deep in the middle of a Presidential election that I didn't understand. As it turned out, many Indonesians didn't understand it that well either. The reason for this is that you only have to travel back in time a relatively few number of years to find Indonesia deep in the grip of one empire or another. But the 17th August 1945 was the day that Indonesia spread is wings.

Without wishing to gloss over the details, the ensuing years have been mixed. The turmoil that obviously surrounds any country trying to find its identity was exactly the situation in which Indonesia was born into. The idealistic Soekarno was replaced by decades of dictatorial abuse at the hands of Suharto. Relatively insignificant Presidents followed quickly in the post 1998 rioting in the form of the likeable Habibe, the blind President Gusdur, who was replaced fairly quickly by his deputy Megawati on the realisation that he didn't quite have the skills to cut the mustard, before the two-time president and (unbelievably) lauded Susilo Bambang Yodoyono.

Today Indonesia takes its first tentative steps towards proving that the worlds third most populous country and biggest Muslim democracy has the stones to show the world that it has learned how to accept the failings of previous governments and move forward with the peoples' best interests at heart.

The world, but most importantly the Indonesian people, is watching.