Saturday 24 Oct 2020 | 02:11 | SYDNEY
Saturday 24 Oct 2020 | 02:11 | SYDNEY

SBY responds quickly to Solo bombing

26 September 2011 10:52

Peter McCawley, currently based in Jakarta, is a Visiting Fellow at the Indonesia Project, ANU, and former Dean of the ADB Institute, Tokyo.

The response of the Indonesian Government to the explosion of a bomb outside a Christian church in Solo on Sunday has been swift. The latest news is that two people died in the bombing in Solo (the town is often known as Surakarta) and up to 15 people were injured.

On national TV on Sunday night, President Susilo Bambang Yudhoyono made an impressive statement. Flanked by Vice President Boediono and Coordinating Minister for Security Djoko Suyanto, the President denounced the bombing in unambiguous terms and explained in detail the Government's response. Speaking confidently and with only very occasional reference to notes, he made three main points.

First, he said terrorist actions of any kind are entirely unacceptable in Indonesia. The issue of 'pandang bulu' ('whatever the "feathers" you have') is not the issue, he said. Whatever your views were, he hoped and expected that tolerance would prevail.

Second, he said early indications were that there were some links with a serious bombing incident in the West Java town of Cirebon several months ago. He mentioned this possible link a number of times, saying that Indonesia's intelligence agencies would look closely at any relevant links.

Third, he noted that there had recently been quite serious social conflict in Ambon, in eastern Indonesia. He emphasised that local communities across Indonesia need to work together to overcome local disagreements because there are limits to what the national government can do in responding to local issues.

The rapid response from the President is significant. There has been much criticism in Indonesia in recent months about the apparent reticence of the President to speak out on issues of national importance. On this occasion, the response to a difficult issue has been delivered quickly and effectively. 

Photo courtesy of Wikimedia Commons.