Simple thoughts in a complex life
Interesting Books : The Can Do Leadership
I spent this Lebaran vacation reading a good book my father bought a few days ago. It is a book about the leadership of the sixth president of Indonesia, Susilo Bambang Yudhoyono. It is written by his Presidential Spokesperson, Dr. Dino Patti Djalal in a diary / work notes format. The complete title is : The Can Do Leadership, Inspiring Stories from SBY Presidency. The book also has an Indonesian version, entitled : Harus Bisa, Seni Kepemimpinan SBY. The books tells us stories about things that happened behind the scene during President SBY’s leadership in 2004-2008.
There are some particular interesting points that attracted my attention. One of them is how complex managing Indonesia is. One example mentioned in the book is the selection of Governor of Central Bank of Indonesia in March 2008 . The President had to do a lengthy political maneuver to finally be able to complete it due to the rejection of the first candidates by the House of Representatives. The book said it was probably due to vested interest in the bureaucracy. Another example is about the Electrolux story, when a group of people tried to help the people of Aceh by supplying thousands of Electrolux gas stoves. The stoves end up held in Indonesian Customs for almost nine months. The president had to intervene directly for this matter to be resolved. An example of how corrupt the bureaucracy was at that time.
Another one is the story about how the government responded to the Tsunami crisis in Aceh. By “thinking outside the box” the government had successfully contained the crisis and even turned it into an opportunity to made lasting peace in Aceh, something that has been long overdue. It is also interesting to note that the tsunami relief program in Aceh is the largest non-war joint military operation ever commenced.
Another interesting point is a lesson about a about our nation’s high ethics standard. Since 1998, Indonesia has experienced a revolutionary change in the form of Reformation Era. In Indonesia we can see nowadays how the media has gone wild, how life have become more chaotic, the Democracy Euphoria. My parents often complained about how our culture have changed, people, particularly the younger generation, does not respect others as much as they do in the past. In this book we are told that the President is aware of this trend, and he set out to revert our national ethics. In the first time in the history of Indonesia the photos of all of the past leaders of Indonesia is displayed in he halls of Merdeka Palace, in contrast with the previous leaders where usually when a leader step up to power, all of the things related to the previous President is removed from sight. This is especially true for the case of Pak Harto and Ibu Megawati. He is also determined to practice good politics ethics, by not using all means to achieve an objective, and to treat opponents elegantly. I think this is a very good example to follow by us young generations, reformation does not mean that we have to disrespect our elders. It is also a good reminder that we have a very high moral standard in our culture that we should try to adhere to.
Another one is about how our country’s stance on international relations have changed during his leadership. Indonesia now is no longer closed to the outside world. Quoted from the book : President SBY believes that international intercourse can help make this country stronger and more progressive. He believes that nationalism and internationalism do not contradict and actually complement each other. The implementation of this principle can be seen in some events that have taken place during his leadership : the decision to open Aceh territory for international support (open-skies policy) during the tsunami disaster aftermath, the number of international conference that Indonesia hosted; the COP-13, The Second Asian African Conference, the Global Inter-Media Dialogue Indonesia initiated in response to Danish Prophet Muhammad SAW Cartoon Problem, the F-11, and many more.
Inline with the statements in the book, President SBY stated in his last campaign speech in Stadion Merdeka, that he really wanted Indonesia to be a part of the international citizen. This explains why he looked so angry when the JW Marriott Hotel was bombed for the second time, effectively canceling the MU-Indonesia soccer game. It was probably a step way back for Indonesian image that has been carefully built.
After reading this book, I have come to a point in thinking that politics is indeed interesting, as what my close friend once told me. Well, as a spectator at least. The stories also reminds me that how easy it is to become a government critic, as what we common people like to do. Being in charge is an entirely different story.
All in all, I think this book is a good read. It is light, rich in content, definitely recommended for all Indonesians and foreigner alike. Some critics might argue that this book is biased. It probably is for a number of reasons, it doesn’t say much about President SBY’s shortcomings, there are (well-placed) refutals on allegations directed to the President, such as his being slow, indecisive, etc. It is written by someone inside his inner circle. My cousin also told me that this book was handed out freely in IPB campus when SBY was running for president in the last election. But I think if we set aside our prejudices, and try think clearly, there is a lot of to be learned from the book.