Jumat, 02 Januari 2009

What is really "New" in this "New Year"?

Anand Krishna , Jakarta | Fri, 01/02/2009 10:29 AM | Opinion

"Old habits," they say, "die hard". We talk about change, but we dread change. We are comfortable with the old and known patterns of life and living.

It should not surprise us therefore, if the "new"-ly elected chairman of our chamber of commerce follows the same "old" pattern. True to tradition, he has indicated his support for President Susilo Bambang Yudhoyono's rerun for presidency next year well ahead of time (The Jakarta Post, Dec. 23, 2008). Good start, bravo!

Deja* vu, this has happened before!

Not once, not twice but several times. When the late president Soeharto was in office, individuals, institutions and even clergy did the same. The supremo of our chamber of commerce (KADIN) continues the tradition, topped with some democracy though. His support is not unconditional. There are strings attached -- some visible, others invisible.

Visible strings are that the President must have a team of professional "economic" ministers in his cabinet, that he does not appoint someone just to please the political parties supporting him. Invisible strings are plenty; one of them may have resulted in the "blessings" for some of our shrewd businessmen.

I must congratulate KADIN Chairman Hidayat for that. But, please, Sir; do not stop at "economic" ministers only. The economy can no longer be separated from social and security issues, nor from our foreign as well as domestic policies. Not only the "economic", but also all other ministers must be professional. We have had enough of unprofessional party cadres in our cabinet.

What remains to be seen now is how our President will respond to this. Unlike the 2004 elections, the support he is getting this time is not unconditional. Earlier, an overwhelming majority of people elected him almost unconditionally, now conditions and expectations are applicable.

If he is re-elected this time, than he must decide whether he wants to remain a politician and remembered by history only as one of several of our presidents -- or as a true statesman working for the nation.

Politics ensures power and authority, but it is not enduring. Working in the interests of the people, dedicating oneself to the welfare of an entire nation ensures love. And, love is enduring. A time comes when a politician must decide, whether he wants to be honored and respected or loved by his people.

Our beloved President is a seasoned politician, no doubt about that. But, even politicians are human. All of them have the seeds of love within them. These seeds are ready to sprout anytime -- just a bit of tending and caring is required. But, one must attend to this immediately, since seeds can die. The fountain of love within us can dry up.

If you are elected for the second term, Mr. President -- let us forget politics without principles. Let us stop being goody-goody and try to be good instead. Let us not worry about popularity. Let us risk being unpopular instead, for the sake of truth. Let us not sacrifice our soul for the sake of material gain. Let us not honor the traitors and those who are against the very principles binding us all as "a" nation. Let us clearly identify "our" friends and foes. And, "our" friends are those who are fully committed to the integration of our nation, those who are not dreaming of changing our constitution and state ideology.

We do not have to hate anyone, not even our foes. But, in the interest of this nation, we must guard our nation and ourselves from their attacks, no matter how mild they are.

Whoever is elected as our next president, must first preside over his or her senses and petty preferences.

Recently I had the rare opportunity of meeting with a very senior politician for our region. He told me about the meeting he had had with one of our presidential candidates, who he warned about the role the candidate's spouse had played, or rather had overplayed.

The candidate agreed and regretted it, "but, he/she stood by me when I was being attacked and humiliated, and ...."

Hmm, the senior politician asked me, "As a spiritualist what would you say?" What would I say? What would Krishna say to Arjuna on the battlefield of Kurukshetra, when he was facing a similar dilemma? He had to raise his arms against his cousins, relatives, friends and even mentors.

Krishna was very clear, "You are not fighting for your own sake, and you are not fighting for the sake of your country alone. You are fighting for the sake of righteousness."

Forget righteousness, even for the sake of nation and country, our petty relations and family businesses must take the back seat. Nation first.

Whoever is elected as our next president, you, Sir, or whoever, must always remember that it is only those who "serve" the nation wholeheartedly who are remembered by history. Others are forgotten. They may fare well in the media, but don't you forget, Sir, Madam, that today's newspaper is tomorrow's waste paper. It is good for the day only.

Soeharto was made to believe by the coterie around him -- including the financial institutions and heads of state -- that everything was fine with his governance. He listened to them, and he paid the price. Don't you, Mr. President, Madam President, repeat the same mistake.

Let us add something new, something fresh to the coming year -- let us make it really a new year. We can, if we stand together and work hand in hand .... Insya Allah, God help us.

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