Saturday, June 17, 2006

Indonesian VP Protects JI Spiritual Leader

What did I tell you about Indonesia's Vice President Jusuf Kalla being a hardcore conservative Muslim leader?

In the international fight against terrorism - of all denominations, not only those with an Islamist label - the international community has agreed to freeze and seize terrorists’ assets. The anti-terrorist strategy has been passed as UN Resolution 1267.

Controversial Jemaah Islamiah (JI) cleric Abu Bakar Ba’asyir, recently released after a 26-month imprisonment for approving the Bali suicide bombing that slaughtered more than 200 people, has obviously been linked with the terrorists who committed the evil crime, or he wouldn’t have been jailed.

So, accordingly his assets should be frozen and seized by the Indonesian government. The Indonesian Foreign Ministry supported the approach, stating it has an obligation to freeze Ba’asyir’s asesets. Well, it has to, if it wants to continue being a member of the international community and enjoy the benefits, or even avoid possible sanctions.

But Kalla dismissed the Foreign Ministry's promise. This means that the VP is virtually telling the world that Indonesia doesn’t want to comply with UN Resolution 1267. Kalla said that Ba’asyir's assets could not be frozen because they belong to a religious community. As mentioned, Kalla has very intimate relationship with Muslim organisations, and JI could possibly be one of them.

During the post-Boxing Day tsunami international relief effort in Aceh, Kalla was the Indonesian leader who issued a sudden order for all foreign aid workers to leave Aceh by a date that was extraordinarily premature given the amount of relief still needed then.

There was strong pressure from Indonesian rightwing Islamic organisations for the expeditious expulsion of western aid workers because of fear of Christian charities setting a foothold in that region. He was so paranoiac that he was willing to see the devastated region and its inhabitants live under appalling conditions than to permit the relief work to continue.

But eventually President Susilo Bambang Yudhoyono, without the obvious act of veto-ing his VP’s xenophobic order for foreigners to bugger off, allowed the foreign aid workers to continue their work through a series of ‘extensions’ (to save Kalla’s face), for the plain logical reason that Indonesia didn’t have the resources to do the urgent needful. Hundreds of thousands would have suffered intolerable conditions of non-existent medical, water, food, housing, etc amenities, if Kalla had his way.

What had triggered off the current Kalla recalcitrancy with regards to Indonesian obligations to UN resolution 1267, has been the Indonesian Foreign Ministry’s correct response to Aussie PM John Howard’s letter to President Susilo Bambang Yudhoyono. Howard reminded the President of Indonesia's obligations to freeze the assets, restrict the movements of and ensure an arms embargo imposed on Ba’ssyir.

The JI spiritual leader’s name is actually on the UN's terrorist list, so I am just wondering how Indonesia is handling this inconsistency, that of claiming it is a nation committed toanti-terrorism yet allowing an internationally-named terrorist to walk around free?

Australia has been absolutely pissed off with Indonesia's release of a man who approved the terrorist murder of many of its citizens including many women and children. Since his release, Ba'asyir has been making outrageous comments such as asking the families of Bali bombing victims to convert to Islam, praising one of the chief culprits Noordin Top as an Islamic warrior. and attempting to partially mitigate the evil of the bombers.

So far, the Indonesian president has remained silent a la the latest SE Asian fashion of being an ‘elegant’ leader. But in all fairness, working behind the scene has always been the Indonesian or Javanese way of sorting out differences among compatriots. He’s probably wondering how he can now undo his ultra conservative VP’s defiant statement, that has now placed Indonesia in an embarrassing position of being seen as a terrorist haven.

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