The Jakarta Post, Indonesia
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 Article (English)   


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).

RealVideo[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.

"Mana 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 RealVideo (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 al-Qaeda member.

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 as kings)"

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 valuable oleh-oleh.

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 visit.

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 reports.

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 here.

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
Siti Nurhaliza.


President Bush doesn't need to talk much during his six-hour stay here. A fanatical fan of Malaysian pop singer Siti Nurhaliza RealVideo 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 hear her."

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