The bombing of the Ritz-Carlton and the JW Marriot in Jakarta on July 17th reminded us again of the endless obsession of certain would-be-players in Indonesian politics for lurking in the shadows. As in the Javanese or Balinese tradition of Wayang/showplay, the pupeteer is never seen by most of the audience. But we know he is there, fanning the flames of his torch, manipulating the puppets to his will. The similarity ends there.

In traditional shadow play the pupeteer plays a constructive role of reminding the community of their common values: in fact he (or she in some cases) is openly educated, initiated and ordained to do so. The flames and shadows reveal a resolution for all.

The political puppeteer is only interested in his own gain, and uses shadows to create fear and confusion. Terror is his weapon, but it’s also an expression of his own inadequacy. The flames he fans in truth have no sacred or noble end, no matter what god or political ideal he claims to serve.

It isn’t yet clear just who did this, though certain foreign media have barely stopped short of foregone conclusions pointing to Al Qaeda or Jemaah Islamiyah. In the shadow world of Indonesian politics deception is the underlying modus operandi, yet within an hour or so of the bombings we were being told by a CNN “terror” expert that this was “almost certainly” Al Qaeda/JI – with no evidence beyond speculation. Perhaps he had read a recent article in Australian media which seemed to be self fulfilling. Who knows, because hardly anybody in Indonesia including those at the scene did.To me it looked much more like this so-called expert and the anchor had taken the shadow-man’s bait.

At this point in time it is difficult to speculate with any clarity as to who exactly did this. It could be certain political disaffected people copying JI’s style, it could be JI allowing it to look like a political faction doing it, it could be rogue military – and on and on. President SBY’s speech yesterday alluded to certain possibilities but from my uninformed point of view why bother stirring up the mud? You can point or beckon in the direction of various factions all day long but that proves nothing. Go that way and you end up being another player in the shadows.

All that is clear is somebody wants Indonesia to look unstable and economically unviable. That I am afraid that’s the only thing I am really interested in. A stable, peaceful and economically viable Indonesia. We should not and will not succumb to fear because we have already proven that we are ready to move out of the shadows.

Indonesia has made significant progress in the last 5 years. This last presidential election proved that. People voted directly for what they want in governance, and not along party or religious lines. People can yell all they want about election fraud, but it was overall a fair event. Sure there were questionable instances and practices, but this was only our second direct presidential election. It’s a huge country with 13000 inhabited islands. (And it wasn’t anything like Zimbabwe for goodness sakes!)

So come out of the shadows already. Enough with the “read-between-the-lines” New Order stuff. Turn on the light, join in, build a better place. If you have a gripe, bring it out into the open, use the legitimate tools that are available. Lurking in the darkness just proves that you have nothing to offer. Indonesia is moving forward. There will be no hero’s welcome for anyone trying to bring it down, no place in the sun.

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