Wednesday, May 30, 2007

Who Loses in Amien-SBY Feud?

Mudslinging. Brouhaha. Handbags. Love story? Cheap comedy? Whatever you want to call it, the spectacle we were treated with last week is dissected by MT in his third dispatch for us. - Manager

Who Loses in Amien-SBY Feud?

by MT

We all know how it ends. After more than two weeks of a high-profile mudslinging, the ending could not be more baffling. It took only less than 15 minutes for one presidential candidate (who later won the top position) to subdue another, less fortunate, presidential candidate (who came third in the race) and all came to an abrupt end. After all, Amien Rais is not known as a consistent politician. The most glaring example of his being a flip-flop is when he backed down from leading a massive rally at the Merdeka square on the eve of Soeharto’s resignation. It was Lt. Gen. Prabowo Subijanto, who threatened another Tiananmen, if Amien pressed ahead.

Now another general managed to outdo him. Amien’s supporters will definitely say in unison that his capitulating to Yudhoyono was for the sake of the political stability. But, what could have inspired Amien to say that a ploy was in the work to unseat Yudhoyono by taking advantage of his feud with Yudhoyono. (Later when the dust finally settled we know that Yudhoyono took the prospect of another drawn-out mudslinging seriously. Andi Mallarangeng told us again yesterday, echoing Amien that the prospect of third party taking advantages from Yudhoyono-Amien feud to create instability is serious).

Until Friday last week, when Yudhoyono made his carefully-staged speech to counter Amien’s allegation (at the State palace under the majestic Banyan tree with the afternoon sun on the backdrop—I like the setting, as if it was a stately function and to conceal the brewing tension) Amien was still gaining the upper hand. If he pressed ahead and came up with evidence, he could put the President into trouble. (Whether or not Wolfowitz offered money to him and Yudhoyono at least two people, he said it was Bambang Sudibyo and Christianto Wibisono could serve as witnesses). The fact that Yudhoyono offered to have a meeting and proposed a truce is proof that if Amein went further he could put him in dire strait.

The likelihood of an impeachment on Yudhoyono may be small, but the first brick has been laid by Amien on the road to it. What Yudhoyono offered in the meeting is anybody’s guess (later I got this yet-to-be-confirmed information and will likely be difficult to confirm that a huge financial deal was involved and a certain minister help arranged it), but all the commotion, in spite of the ending, has worked in favor of Amien. He is now back in the political limelight and it was a telling evidence that Yudhoyono’s plan (not always of his own making) does not always succeed as he wished. It may have worked on Yusril –and a plot against men around Megawati is in the work—but it failed on Amien. And it is also a good thing that in spite of his executive power, the President is just one of players in Jakarta politics, one who has to haggle and bargain his way to survival. Negotiation, however uninspired, is the order of the day.

See also Aco's three-part post about a game played by hypothetical but eerily similar characters. - Manager


  1. It is a displeasure to see the cafe salemba is being tainted by cheap political gossip such as this post.

    MT's posts have made the cafe from the cafe of un-common sense to the cafe of too-common sense.

  2. We appreciate your concern, Anon. Honestly, I like MT's posts.

    But, just out of curiosity, let me ask Dear Readers: If we were to recruit guest blogger(s), who would you suggest? Or, what kind of pieces you would want to see appear in the Cafe (of course in addition to the hosts wild ideas, as usual)?


  3. My greatest salute to cafe salemba which dared itself to touch politics. Anyhow, economics and politics are two sides of a coin.

    Economist without politics conscience is useless. Alfred marshall was a social scientist. Adam smith was a moralist. And i think the economists in cafe salemba are also comprehensive thinkers, or at least opinion-makers.

    Keep up the good work, people!

    Btw, who loses in Amien-SBY feud? It's 3-2.

    Amien's first goal was to launch the attack on SBY. SBY's first goal was the friday's conference press.

    Amien's second goal was to insist that he would not run from any allegation made by SBY. SBY's second goal was the Halim meeting.

    But this goal is in fact also Amien's one more goal. Why? Because leaving the case to the legal process is exactly the same that now SBY has to be in charge of it.

    Doing nothing or hanging the case means SBY putting himself in a jeopardy. Legal environment then means again a dark or at least dim area, which means not a good sign for economic growth.

    And yet, SBY is hanging the case and will hang the case.

  4. Well put, anonymous, I totally second your opinion!I've enjoyed reading Cafe Salemba more these days.

    puspini,an aspiring political economist ;-)

  5. Hell yeah..
    Amien will fight on. He might be not any longer a Mike Tyson. But he is now a Muhammad Ali, fighting with art to please the audience and make them suspense their breaths. Cool isn't it?

  6. Agree with anonymous at 02:23AM. Political (or political-economic) analysis supported by hard facts is one thing; political gossiping in another.

    Cafe Salemba has a niche in theoretical/empirical economic analyses -- which is very refreshing. I suggest it sticks to what it's good at.

  7. wowwow.. relax people.
    economics-polics, politics-economics ooold debate and ever lasting one, yo. i myself like the cafe. lets not differentiate politics as gossip, analysis, or whatever. economic crisis was caused by speculation. aint it like gossip (becoming true), baby? relax.. keep the good job salembas.

  8. To a certain extent I agree with Arya re the difference between political analysis and political 'scoops' if you will.

    But in this case,MT's pieces, in my view, complements Aco's three-part game-theory analysis. So the lighter tone of MT's piece actually provides a nice balance to Aco's rather-heavy-to-digest (especially without coffee in the morning:p)-but-still brilliant piece...

    just my twocents.