SBY’s Second Term

President Susilo Bambang Yudhoyono’s landslide win in the presidential ballot on Wednesday augers well for Indonesia’s continued stability, security and growth. People chose Yudhoyono, popularly known simply as SBY, because of his sold track record in office.

Those efforts notably included clamping down on the scourge of terrorism that has struck this country in recent years and, with a string of bombings, from Jakarta to Bali and elsewhere, threatened to turn it into flames.

That there has not been a single terrorist attack outside of Sulawesi and Ambon – where violence is locally generated by communal disturbances – since the 2005 blasts in Bali is testament to the authorities’ endeavours to root out militancy at village level, and recent arrests in Java demonstrate a sustained campaign of intolerance for fanaticism.

Declaring a parallel war on the cancer of corruption is the other firm accolade that Indonesians bestow on SBY. A former general with ties to the Suharto era, the president’s battle against corruptors has commendably not been merely words, but solid action. With walls of staunchly vested interests everywhere, the Corruption Eradication Commission has been fearless in rounding up suspects – legislators, prosecutors, businesspeople – sometimes in their homes, a hotel or a shopping mall. Swift sentencing has followed.

We all know that these remain very early days for this nascent democracy, the election just passed being only the second such democratic ballot since Suharto’s downfall 11 years ago. Gone forever are the parliamentary rubberstamp days of the late leader, who ruled Indonesia for 32 years.

There is a vast platter of ills affecting this nation’s growth: Poverty is widespread; corruption plagues key organs of the state; bureaucracy is dizzyingly overwhelming.

Looking ahead to his second term, SBY, with former central bank chief Boediono by his side, needs to immediately address these issues in order to redress people’s welfare and plummeting investment in Indonesia. His new government needs to start paying civil servants in all sectors a wage that is appropriate to 2009, not 1989: This is the key to tackling graft at all levels.

Indonesia is fortunate with the result of this election. Let us hope the next five years will be filled with advancement in every aspect of Indonesian life, from the most remote villages to the largest cities, to industry of all sizes – and right across the range of officialdom.

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