The Jakarta Post,
The Bush Couple 'Need Not Worry;' Indonesian Forces Will Protect Them
“Indonesian Military personnel trained during the Suharto era to oppress - not foreign enemies but the Indonesian people - will guard the area.”
By Kornelius Purba
November 20, 2006
Indonesia - The Jakarta Post - Original
President Bush and first lady Laura, shake hands with Indonesia's
President Susilo Bambang Yudhoyono and wife Kristiani Herawati,
as they arrive at Bogor Palace in Bogor, Nov. 20. (above).
[LATEST NEWS PHOTOS: Bush in Indonesia].
President Bush meets sixth grade students,
at an 'educational event' at the palace. (below).
President Bush's planned six-hour visit to Indonesia, the
country with the largest Muslim population, has prompted
protests across the country. Above and below is a sampling
of some of the protesting that took place on Saturday and
Protecting the Bush couple: Indonesian police and security
forces prepare for the onslaught of protest. (above and below).
Jakarta: To avoid any possible
embarrassment, U.S. Ambassador to Indonesia B. Lynn Pascoe needs to brief
President George W. Bush on what Indonesians usually expect from their much-awaited
(of course, usually not much hated) guests.
oleh-olehnya?" (What gifts did you bring us?) is one of the favorite welcoming remarks to guests in
Indonesia, especially affluent guests who come from afar.
When President Susilo Bambang Yudhoyono
asks Bush that question in Bogor on Monday, Bush is expected to answer that he
has brought pleasant gifts - or at least promises of them - for his host and,
if possible, for the entire nation.
One response that would not be welcomed
from the U.S. president is, "How about Hambali (the
alleged terrorist)?" The Indonesian has been detained for years at the
U.S. military base in Guantanamo, Cuba, for his alleged role as a leading
Publicly of course, the government
should continue to demand that the United States return Hambali to Indonesia. Privately,
however, many government officials say Hambali's return to Indonesia would be
disastrous for the nation's security.
To be honest I don't know what oleh-oleh [gifts] Indonesians expect from Bush. But when most Indonesian children are asked
what oleh-oleh they want from a guest, they reply, "Mentahnya
saja" (cash money, please).
We hope Bush doesn't misunderstand and
get the impression that we have a beggar's mentality. It's just a courtesy, an
expression of appreciation (and also, of course, an expectation) for the leader
of the world's most powerful country. But we Indonesians also go out of our way
to offer something to our guests besides warm smiles. We like to make sure that
our guests are taken care of and are comfortable.
During Bush's stay, thousands of
vendors in Bogor will be prohibited from opening their businesses. Students in
the "city of rain" are pleased, however, because they'll get the day
off on Monday. Bogor residents are sacrificing their comfort for their guest.
Commenting on the surprising attitude
of many Indonesians who wanted foreign volunteers expelled from Aceh because of
fears they would "Christianize" Muslims there, a journalist colleague
wrote in Time magazine in January 2005, "Indonesians are taught to
treat guests with respect and honor. (Islam says you should treat your guests
Former president Suharto was a genius
at manipulating his guests. When he received Bill Clinton during the Asia
Pacific Economic Cooperation (APEC) summit in Bogor in 1994, before Clinton could
open his mouth to protest the closure of Tempo magazine a few months
before and human rights abuses in the country, Suharto offered his guest a
Suharto awarded a $35 billion natural
gas liquefaction project in Natuna Island, Riau, to Exxon Corp. Suharto also
agreed to award General Electric a $500 million contract for the construction
of a 1,230 megawatt coal-fired power plant in Paiton, East Java.
Other American companies, like Unocal
Corp. and AT&T also obtained lucrative contracts from Suharto (the American
companies also knew to be generous to Suharto's children and cronies).
"Today's event also shows the
vitality and tremendous opportunity that Indonesia has offered to us,"
then U.S. secretary of commerce Ronald Brown commented in 1994.
Many of the projects, including the
Paiton power plant, were in the end problematic, with the American companies
insisting that Indonesia honor the contracts after Suharto's downfall and consequent
economic crisis. (Of course, the U.S. multinationals erased the role of Suharto's
children and cronies from their memories.)
President Yudhoyono, however, blundered
when his government announced Thursday that Jakarta planned to purchase $1billion
in weaponry from Russia. He probably thought Bush would be startled into
providing Indonesia with cheap weapons before allowing Russia's Putin to
receive such a large hunk of change from Indonesia.
"Huhahahaha," Bush might
burst into laughter if his host made such a threat. He knows quite well that
both Yudhoyono and Putin lead cash-strapped governments.
Back to the oleh-oleh [gift]
issue. Thousands of Indonesian workers would
applaud him if President Bush announced that he would offer special arrangements
for ailing Indonesian exports like footwear, textiles and shrimp. In the end, before
the only thing Indonesia "exports" to the U.S. are terrorists, it
would be far cheaper for Bush to help with the country's less lethal exports.
President Yudhoyono and First Lady
Kristiani will act as the perfect hosts for Bush and First Lady Laura Bush.
When touring the Presidential Palace in Bogor, the Bush couple shouldn't miss
the paintings by the late Basuki Abdullah, before they disappear. Since
many of the paintings are female nudes, when Bogor adopts sharia law, such
paintings could be eliminated.
Inside the Bogor Botanical Garden, Bush
can also channel his inner-cowboy and become a deer hunter. While hunting deer,
he might be able to hear the distant cries of demonstrators protesting his
But the Bushes need not worry. Many of
the demonstrators will be unemployed people just frustrated with their living
conditions. It's easy to provoke anger in the face of economic hardship. While
many of the demonstrators may actually hate Bush, most are just expressing
their desperation. Many young demonstrators feel pride when their girlfriends
see them shouting anti-American slogans in TV news
They shout loudly when TV cameramen
approach and then call their girlfriends to watch the news on television to see
their heroes acting bravely against one of the world's most powerful men --
although all they can do is scream.
There will be huge demonstrations in
cities across the country to protest Bush's visit. On the positive side, this
means that many Indonesians are keeping up with current events and know Bush is
But the Bush couple need not worry.
Apart from the U.S. Secret Service, Indonesian Military personnel - who were
trained during the Suharto era to oppress not foreign enemies but the Indonesian
people but - will also be deployed to guard Bogor and the surrounding areas.
Bush no match for
Malaysian Pop Idol
President Bush doesn't need to talk
much during his six-hour stay here. A fanatical fan of Malaysian pop singer
Siti Nurhaliza described the difference between politicians
and his idol.
"When politicians open their mouths,
not everyone listens. When Siti speaks, everybody climbs over each other to
And how about Bush? "When Bush speaks, everyone climbs over one another to ask
him to 'shut up.'"
The author is a staff writer at The Jakarta Post. He can be reached at firstname.lastname@example.org