Top Scoops

Book Reviews | Gordon Campbell | Scoop News | Wellington Scoop | Community Scoop | Search

 

Megawati's loss shows she lacked tactical grip

While Asian governments were quick to respond positively to the election of Indonesia's new president, Abdurrahman Wahid, Megawati's loss shows she lacked tactical grip. John Howard reports.

Megawati Sukarnoputri proved her own worst enemy when the presidential prize went to her former friend and ally, Abdurrahman Wahid.

It was more a case of her losing than him winning.

"The Sukarno myth may be broken beyond repair," Sarwono Kusumaatmadja, a former environment minister and Megawati adviser said.

"She should show leadership in defeat," he added.

Instead of a new government representing the tradition of secular nationalism in Indonesia, Mr Wahid's win shows the growing strength of politicians who adopt the "Muslim first" stance.

It is the rise of the intellectual ummat (Islamic people), Muhammadiyah, Nahdlatul Ulama (NU) and the Islamic Students' Association (HMI) which are the largest Islamic groupings in Indonesia.

Amien Rais, a former leader of Muhammadiyah, and Mr Wahid (better known as Gus Dur), still the leader of NU, have shown their political skills and broad support since Parliament opened over two weeks ago, making Mr Rais MPR chairman and Mr Wahid president.

"But all of them have developed non-sectarian political parties. They are all santri (deeply religious) but at the same time outward-looking," said Ms Anwar of the Muslim politicians.

But this does not mean the end of the loathed Suharto-era "New Order. " The New Order has many faces and many members of the new Parliament retain links, either through the military or other personal ties, to the Suharto era.

One scholar of Islam in politics, who did not want to be named, was in despair. "We now have a cleric in charge, supported by all the other clerics and the military are in there too," he said.

Unlike Megawati, Wahid has a sharp mind and political experience. Analysts, however, are having trouble deciding to what extent the presidential vote was an exercise in new democracy. Mr Wahid is the one candidate who did not run for office in the June polls. He was only nominated at the last minute, in contrast to Ms Megawati's 34 percent share of the vote in June.

However, the vote in Parliament was clean, open and rigorously watched, and even departing members of Megawati's party said simply: "We lost, but it was democratic."

A key failing of Ms Megawati, apart from her inability to do practical politics when it counts, was her inability to change her image from that of a Christian-influenced, secular politician.

She is a Muslim but also a woman, which counted against her in Islamic politics, and the majority of her party officers and legislators are Christian, while half her family background is Balinese-Hindu.

This finally gave her opponents a stick strong enough to break her.


ends

© Scoop Media

 
 
 
Top Scoops Headlines

 


Philip Temple: Hang On A Minute, Mate
Peter Dunne quietly omits some salient facts when arguing for retention of MMP’s coat-tailing provision that allows a party to add list seats if it wins one electorate and achieves more than 1% or so of the party vote... More>>


Cheap Grace And Climate Change: Australia And COP26

It was not for everybody, but the shock advertising tactics of the Australian comedian Dan Ilic made an appropriate point. Australia’s Prime Minister Scott Morrison, a famed coal hugger, has vacillated about whether to even go to the climate conference in Glasgow. Having himself turned the country’s prime ministerial office into an extended advertising agency, Ilic was speaking his language... More>>


Binoy Kampmark: Funeral Rites For COVID Zero
It was such a noble public health dream, even if rather hazy to begin with. Run down SARS-CoV-2. Suppress it. Crush it. Or just “flatten the curve”, which could have meant versions of all the above. This created a climate of numerical sensitivity: a few case infections here, a few cases there, would warrant immediate, sharp lockdowns, stay-at-home orders, the closure of all non-vital service outlets... More>>


Dunne Speaks: Labour's High Water Mark
If I were still a member of the Labour Party I would be feeling a little concerned after this week’s Colmar Brunton public opinion poll. Not because the poll suggested Labour is going to lose office any time soon – it did not – nor because it showed other parties doing better – they are not... More>>



Our Man In Washington: Morrison’s Tour Of Deception

It was startling and even shocking. Away from the thrust and cut of domestic politics, not to mention noisy discord within his government’s ranks, Australian Prime Minister Scott Morrison could breathe a sign of relief. Perhaps no one would notice in Washington that Australia remains prehistoric in approaching climate change relative to its counterparts... More>>



Binoy Kampmark: Melbourne Quake: Shaken, Not Stirred

It began just after a news interview. Time: a quarter past nine. Morning of September 22, and yet to take a sip from the brewed Turkish coffee, its light thin surface foam inviting. The Australian city of Melbourne in its sixth lockdown, its residents fatigued and ravaged by regulations. Rising COVID-19 numbers, seemingly inexorable... More>>