Gus Dur criticised for ‘erratic policies’


National Assembly chairman attacks the President for what he calls his poor performance and failure to settle the real problems of the country.

National Assembly (MPR) chairman Dr Amien Rais attacked the government for its “lacklustre performance” yesterday, saying that President Abdurrahman Wahid was undermining his position with erratic policies.

The war of words between the two leaders reached new heights when Dr Amien charged that Indonesia’s highest legislative body would not hesitate to oust the 59-year-old Islamic cleric if he supported policies that deviated from the Constitution and MPR guidelines.

Giving his verdict of Mr Abdurrahman and his six-month-old administration in an interview with The Straits Times, he said that he received the “lowest passing mark of 5.7 for a performance that so far has not been convincing at all”.

And sending a message to his longtime rival that he could decide his political fate at the MPR session this August, he said: “It is clear to everyone that Amien Rais is the most important politician that handed Abdurrahman Wahid the presidency by mobilising support from the Central Axis parties.

“I did not give him a blank cheque to do whatever he wanted after taking over office. I hold the gavel and have the right to criticise him anytime even when it sounds offensive to him.”

Why the scathing criticism of the Indonesian leader who has the backing of the international community?

Dr Amien’s case revolved around Mr Abdurrahman’s failure to resolve several issues since taking over the reigns of power from Dr B.J. Habibie in October last year.

Instead of coming to grips with real problems in the country, he was intent on “just doing nothing but travelling and travelling”.

He gave four marks for the President’s economic management, saying that there was “so much confusion” with the proliferation of new advisory councils and persistent rumours of a Cabinet reshuffle.

Also receiving a low score – five – was the President’s handling of the Suharto probe. He said that Mr Abdurrahman was sending “confused signals” to the Attorney General’s Office by making several personal visits to the former leader. “Does he want the A-G to step up the pressure or reduce it? He is not sending the right signals.”

He reserved his biggest criticism, however, for the President’s idea to repeal the communist ban that has seen radical Muslims taking to the streets in the capital to oppose the plan.

Dr Amien said: “We elected him because we thought he was the best bet for national reconciliation. He has shattered our dreams and is digging his own grave.

“By making the communist party legitimate, he is opening doors for a possible civil war between communists and non-communists.”

Dr Amien said that was enough for the 1,000 MPR members in August – especially from the Islamic-led Central Axis, Golkar, PDI-P and military factions – to deliver a verdict of no confidence when the President presents his progress report.

“Let me be blunt. If I exploit the political sentiment of politicians in the MPR, it is easy to make him resign.”

However, he pointed out that the assembly was likely to give him one more year, given that 10 months in office was not enough to bring changes to three decades of Suharto rule.

State of utter confusion

‘Gus Dur cannot play the role of a rallying figure in his Cabinet because he is never around to play that role. He is travelling too much. The President’s role is like that of an orchestra conductor. But the conductor must always be around. If there is no conductor, the cellist plays song A, the pianist plays song B, and the violinist song C. The orchestra will be noisy. That is what is happening to Cabinet these days. It is utter confusion.’
– National Assembly chairman Amien Rais

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