Monday, December 05, 2005

Second wind: Habibie & ICMI

Indonesian Moslem Intellectuals Association (ICMI) was one of the strongest political groups during the last years of Soeharto admnistration. His downfall in 1998 that followed by BJ Habibie's elevation to replace Soeharto only to be replaced in 1999 after a humiliating defeat in People's Consultative Assembly marked the downturn of ICMI's role in Indonesian politics.
After five years, with two presidents who were not friendly to ICMI, the organization slowly resume its influence when Susilo Bambang Yudhoyono (SBY) and Jusuf Kalla won the presidency last year. Yesterday SBY officially opened ICMI's conference in Makassar, South Sulawesi, to select new leaders.
While ICMI never formally endorsed the pair, Vice President Kalla (member of ICMI executive) soon become its new patron. Kalla, born in Sulawesi like Habibie, managed to promote some ICMI executives to top jobs in the administration. Muhammad Said Didu, one of top executive at ICMI, has been appointed secretary of the powerful ministry for state-owned enterprises (MSOE). The current coordinating minister for economy Aburizal Bakrie is also member of expert council of ICMI.
Here we go. Some of cabinet members reportedly vying for ICMI's presidency. Transportation minister Hatta Radjasa and MSOE Sugiharto (ICMI treasurer) are among cabinet members tipped to replace Muslimin Nasution as ICMI chairman. Muslimin is former minister of forestry under Habibie administration. Muslimin and Jimmly Assidiqie (chairman of Constitutional Court) are strong candidates as well.
As for Habibie, who spent most of his time in Germany after 1999 defeat, he regularly attend formal and informal gatherings. Late last week, he even secured support from SBY administration to revive the ailing aircraft manufacturer PT Dirgantara Indonesia which went bankrupt due to huge debts made during Habibie's leadership at the company.
Yes, he cried for help to revive the company he found with huge support from Soeharto. SBY gave the answer late last week that Habibie may rebuild Dirgantara (formerly known as PT IPTN, dubbed by journalists as Industri Penerima Tamu Negara or Industry to Receive State Guests as during Soeharto years important guests were asked or directed to visit the aircraft manufacturer in Bandung, West Java).
Abdurrahman Wahid and Megawati Soekarnoputri administrations decided to streamline Dirgantara and cut heavily the staffs from 16,000 to 3,500. No details of Habibie's plan to return to Dirgantara. But any plan to revive Dirgantara with state budget might be rejected by the incoming new cabinet member Dr Boediono who is tipped as coordinating minister for economy or minister of finance.
But Dirgantara is one small thing on ICMI and Habibie. It is worth to read Zaim Uhrowi's (he is member of the ICMI revitalization team) article about revitalization of ICMI. He raised the question on ICMI's future, whether it should be close to the power holders or representing pure intellectuals face? The conference in Makassar deserved our attention, that's for sure.

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