Friday, September 09, 2005

The President's Second trip to US; Cosf of Personality!


President Susilo Bambang Yudhoyono decided to cancel his trip to Middle East but move on with his US trip. He flew to US last weekend to speak in front of institutional investor's Indonesia Global Investment Forum to be held September 15-16 at 3 West Club, New York.

This is the first time an Indonesian president visits US twice in less than six months. In his May 2005 trip, he met US President George Bush at White House. This time, no schedule of meeting for the two leaders. But he will meet Condy Rice, US secretary of state and other world leaders.

Saint Louis, Missouri is hist first stop. The Saint Louis trip has been scheduled long before the Katrina as we could see in Webster University's website. On September 12, the university is about to award Yudhoyono an honorary doctor of laws degree.

Popularly known as SBY, Yudhoyono graduated from Webster University's campus in Kansas City in 1991 with a M.A. in management. He received a doctorate in agriculture from the Bogor Agricultural Institute week before the final round of presidential election campaign last year.

SBY attended the Command and General Staff College at Fort Leavenworth, Kansas as a young military officer. Fort Leavenworth will be his second stop in this trip before New York where the College award Yudhoyono an honorary certificate.
It is clear these first two-stops are about SBY's personality. At least 98 aboard with the president including 20 journalists. Well, personality care needs journalists to tell people right?
Yes he will speak before the UN members on restructuring of the world body. But what sounds contradictory is his speech at the Investor Forum.

Rumors said SBY need to speak at the New York forum because the organizer is one of his relatives, a former CEO of US company in Indonesia. Yudhoyono actually is not quite confident to promote Indonesia's invesment opportunities in a disfunctional government as investors had experienced in the last few months.
International investors are surely welcome his efforts to fight corruption (this migh be the reason why Webster University give Yudhoyono a honorary doctor in laws), even though recently the president asked for a cooling down and public started to sense 'politization of police investigation' in some corruption cases when it comes to close aides, friends, and relatives.

But his government is seen incapable to make important decisions, including the fuel price hike needed to ease state budget pressure. Besides, SBY's leadership is very much doubted in handling the economy, especially his cabinet members. Confusing and conflicting statements between the president, vice president, and ministers has put this government under heavy criticism from investors.

Worse, so many disputes with foreign investors left unsettled. Karaha Bodas, Cemex, and ExxonMobil in Cepu are some cases hanging in the air without clear settlement and give negative signal for foreign investors.

The president promised many times to foreign investors, including US president George Bush, to settle those disputes as part of his campaign promises to attract more investment in order to improve the economy.

The president tried to settle those cases. Say in the ExxonMobil versus Pertamina over Cepu oilfield, he asked chief economic minister Aburizal Bakrie to reopen the negotiation. Aburizal then set up a team consisted of government officers and Pertamina board of directors/commissioners. Both parties signed the memmorandum of understanding in June 2005.

But recent statements made by government officers gave signal that the negotiation back to square one as the suspiciousness between government officers is so high. Nobody dare to make decisions, including the president. With such a disfunctional administration, does SBY think that investors really want to hear his nice speech in New York?

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