Waiting for SBY

The most common activity for any traveller in Indonesia is, without question, waiting around. One of the next most common activities is guessing WHY we’re waiting around. Sometimes, the ferry captain forgets the waters are tidal and a ferry will get stranded on its belly for six or eight hours. Sometimes, one has to wait until the bus driver’s mother-in-law has finished her dinner. This weekend, I spent several hours waiting for The President.

Me, I just had to wait until Bali aiport opened again after President Susilo Banbang Yudhoyono’s plane had landed. But the rest of the country seems to be waiting for him to do something, anything, even vaguely presidential. Besides handing out cabinet seats to soothe all the political parties that are getting itchy ahead of elections which aren’t even due until 2014.

Even after shuffling friends and relatives into his final cabinet, Suharto topped out at 36 cabinet level posts. The ranks have since been swelled by 18 deputy ministers, each with their offical car, squads of flunkies, time at the trough. The older denizens of Jakarta roll their eyes at the bloating in an “it was ever thus” sort of way and note that SBY is only half way to the high-water mark set by Indonesia’s first president, Sukarno, who at one point stuffed 111 people into his cabinet.

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