Resolution for the scandalous, chest-haired king

If these polygamists paired up, that would be a perfect choice. (right side: Aceng Fikri, the deposed regent of Garut Regency, West Java, who flared up widespread controversy after marrying an under-aged girl and divorced her in 4 days, by SMS).


“I’m apprehensive of the fact that there are certain minority groups which are agitating us, Muslim comrades.”

“These minority groups…they domineer not only in economy, but also in politics. See how they’re preparing themselves for the arena.”

“I feel that I’m incapable of answering your questions.”

“Mick Jagger may be proud that he has fans. But I have followers.”

“I’m gonna brush up on the government’s statistics shortly before the election.”

“It’s not me who wants to nominate myself for President. It’s a holy task, by the good will of Allah, that calls me to do so.”

“I feel it’s kafir that Muslims elect non-Muslims to lead and serve them.”

Having the panoply of faith-blinded myrmidons, the ‘herd’ of help-mates, the comrade of dangdutcavalry, and, what’s more inextricably tied to the megalomaniacal Rhoma Irama than all the gains above he had had through all his soap-opera-like pilgrimage of life?


“I’ll promise you I’ll research more on fuel price hike policies, only if you elect me.”


An interview in Metro TV, perhaps, had reduced his likelihood of a presidency he was so inclined that he claimed ‘a banzer of my faithful disciples could help me win the 2014 election’.

Surveys, in fact, have previously recommended politicians, military generals, and/or businesspeople for this paramount seat. Names like Prabowo Subianto, Aburizal Bakrie, Jusuf Kalla, Dahlan Iskan (we won’t wish a president who may act like a clown in tollroads and wears sports shoes in formal ceremonies), Mahfud MD, Sri Mulyani, or Gita Wirjawan were among the top 10 potential nominees. But this pudgy old man all of a sudden? The response bears verisimilitude to that of Balram Halwai in The White Tiger: what a fucking joke! Even it is a plethora of times better to have them, despite their disputation over certain cases, seated in the 5-year post than this megalomaniacal, self-claiming firebrand cleric who thought having led an ‘Islamic solidarity movement’ has been more-than-okay preparation for such sacrosanct position.

Okay, perhaps these public figures’ wrongdoings, except for those of Mahfud MD which are probably either nonexistent or closely concealed, are enormous. Prabowo was indicted in severe human rights abuses in 1990s. Bakrie was found out having conspired with Gayus to conceal his taxes, then denied his responsibility for Lapindo maelstrom and the BakrieLife scandal. Jusuf Kalla is, according to  @TrioMacan2000, a Wikileaks-like anonymous account, brilliant and quick-witted, but his despotic, parochial attitude is just ‘too unbearable’. Dahlan Iskan never ceases from making headlines every time, as though he reeked of his face being posted over the front pages every day. Sri Mulyani finds herself more comfortably working in Washington, D.C. and managing global economic affairs, than catches up herself being protested nearly quotidian in Jakarta (and nationwide) for Bank Century scandal. Gita Wirjawan, a Harvard-educated, Western-minded graduate with TOEFL scores worth 650, is primarily targeted by mass media when his business empire, Ancora Group, was rumored to be ‘a safe haven’ for the assets bailed out from Bank Century. Now this dangdut king, with an iota and even no expertise in playing dirty, wants to pull the gauntlet? Does he have, just like cats do, a dozen of back-up lives in his body? He’s doing another stand-up, I suppose. Or maybe not. He claims Islamist parties are ready to back him up, when Muhammadiyah and Nahdlatul Ulama, Indonesia’s two largest Muslim organizations, strictly recommend their 80-million-strong members not to ever ‘nominate’ this guy as a candidate.


“Mr.Rhoma, let me test you regarding the knowledge you need suppose you were the president. Do you know who Xi Jinping is?”

“Oh, I see. He must be a business partner of Ahok, isn’t he? He’s a danger to our country then!”

*Najwa face-palms.


Well, we know for cock-sure, simon-pure that his chances are slim, but what if, in the funniest-case (rather than worst-case) scenarios, he won it out? What is he gonna do with a nation of 250 million, already perplexed by problems seemingly aeons-old and labyrinthine, given that his finesse is restricted to singing and performing oratory, fiery speeches? Here are a few, among too many, things that he ought to note down: (only if he happens, by accident and by probability of 1 in 1 million, to click my blog after Googling his name)

1. Put up with, or split it up.

Rhoma had no guilt, albeit his reputation was stained (actually it’s been long dirtied) by his racist remarks in a talk he gave in a Jakarta mosque – he said, “It’s malignant to have a Christian lead you!”, obviously referring to Basuki Tjahaja Purnama, or in short, Ahok. If he were, and only if God Himself were so ‘benevolent’ to grant him the golden opportunity, and if he failed to pay respect to other religions and/or any other minorities else, expect yourself to see an independent Papua, Bali, Maluku, and a pantheon of ‘mini-states’, emerging in this country. Up to day, the question remains ‘what if’.

2. You can’t end the dominance of the ‘slant-eyeds’ simply by expelling them.

As in the verbatim above, it can be inferred that he disrelishes the Christians, and regards the ethnic Chinese in disesteem. “These groups….domineering not only in economics,”, and this catchphrase is clearly referred to ‘us’! You must have remembered, only if you watched, when Najwa Shihab enquired him whether he’s actually mentioning Ahok for this disadage and he replied with a big ‘yes’. Matter-of-factly speaking, as much as two-thirds of our economy remains under the control of the politely so-called ‘Tionghoa’, whose existence represents no more than 5% of Indonesia’s population, and whose dominance largely affects Indonesia’s long-term economic development. So, if you would like to implement ‘active and drastic measures’, you might be no different from 20th-century dictators. Why not just persuade them to be entrepreneurs?

3. You say you let the Cabinet do all the jobs, and…

You go on with your Soneta business? Do a sing-a-long at Presidential Palace with your personnel, entertain 250 million people, and ensure ‘everything is solvable with music’? And that means while you’re at the helmet to do Koontz and o’Donnell stuff, that you plan, organize, direct, and supervise your staff, and because you have no expertise in handling national and international issues, you just let them do what they are supposed to do, like as you told Najwa? Even a vision-impaired Gus Dur knows more about the world than you do. For such possible occurring, there is nothing more I can recommend but to……

4. Return to your old dormitory.

You told Najwa you dropped out of university, but which one? Which academic year? You also highlighted your experience as a parliament member in 1990s, but what’s your contribution? More complicitly, other than singing and showing off that chest in your hair? Meanwhile, regarding your once ‘being in the institution’, I pull out 2 conclusions: you either got admitted to that ‘university’, in your subconscious mind, or you really got ‘admitted’ to that ‘university’, but only as a visitor. I strongly recommend that this guy had better enroll in admission exams next year, and see how far his ‘expertise’ could go on.

5. Beware of ‘America’.

Your vision, and all the subliminal messages you transmit to your disciples, do echo like those of a pan-Islamist. America, on the other hand, to ensure ‘world peace’ and to make sure ‘American interests’ are not in harbinger, have always had many of its CIA agents stationed up from North to the South Pole. Did you remind yourself to consider how many megalomaniacs like you have been deposed by the so-called ‘Western-bribed’ mercenaries? Or are you oblivious, or even negligent, on the fact that people could be anytime angered by your leadership, and Uncle Sam would have possibly made use of that chance to brainwash them to revolt against you? Ah, forget that. I only realize that ‘your singing’ can bring a predicament to the masses, like an ointment.

6. Memorize the list of member states in United Nations.

As a leader, you should learn to identify which countries have tremendous mutual benefits for Indonesia, and which ones would bring more maladies. Don’t make us dumbfounded that you announce ‘arms-dealing treaty’ with the al-Shabaab gendarmerie, or ratify ‘nuclear research treaty’ with Kim Jong-un, or offer ‘scholarship programs’ in Chad, or even ask Julia Gillard for a proposal. I’m afraid your first priority in foreign-policy objectives is to ‘arm every viable Palestinian to turn Israel into an ocean of fire’. Or you maybe think that Park Jae-sang is UN Secretary General, and Ban Ki-moon popularizes Gangnam-style hysteria.

7. Eliminate ‘family planning’?

So, basically, only because Koran permits every man to engage with, in maximum, 4 women, and you would exert authority on the Parliament to pass legislation to persuade every Indonesian man to unite 4 women in the holy wedlock at the same time? It might only be a stone’s throw away from seeing Indonesian population eclipse that of China within 4 decades.

8. Now it’s your job to fill the rest.

Well, it’s only 3 days left before 2013 commences. Given that all of us had survived the procrastinated-to-time-immemorial apocalypse, fortunately I had this splendid chance to utter such meaningful words to you. Read it or not, I even bet you won’t understand half the context of the words I’ve been writing below.




How many Dahlan Iskan does Indonesia need?


He’s all the man that you never imagine in context of any seated in ministry, something never be small-beer. Once he slammed the chairs in a toll booth in Jakarta, all by his own, after finding out the seats prevailed vacanted while traffic had approached its zenith – exactly in a supposedly traffic-free highway. He confronted security guards, all by himself, while trying to inspect, impromptu and unexpectedly, an ATC terminal in Soekarno-Hatta International Airport. He once slept in a farmer’s dwelling. He prefers driving Toyota Alphard by his own to getting on a red-plate vehicle. He refuses to take a salary worth up to 100 million rupiah a month. He burned the midnight oil to board the KRL train, one thing that never came to the passengers’ minds. He boomerang-ed his old sneakers and wore the new, branded DI 19, before the public.

Often, his ‘misdeeds’ are interpreted as being plebeian, or to a further extent, ‘Animashaun’. A few even misdoubt him, suspecting that he’s girding up his loins for ‘hidden agenda’ he may have it done in the near future (some surreptitious sources indicate that President SBY is currently preparing him as his next successor). Being RI-1, the great potentate? So far, he only offers an answer on a postcard, explicitly replying that he ‘is deliberately displeased with this question, and would like to proceed focusing on his main job: revitalizing and making Indonesia’s state-owned enterprises into world-class multinational corporations’. Or is he implicitly having a cache? He’s the only one to know how to hit the nail right on the head.

But then, almost everybody will always look up to every nutty-as-a-fruitcake ‘misdeed’ Dahlan Iskan has so far done, in full adoration.

I think there is something I may hypothetize to help explaining about his ‘misdeeds’. Being born in Magetan, East Java, to a not simply necessitous family, but of a dog-poor one, to miserably speak, this might have helped shaping his characteristics (he could only afford to buy shoes, second-hand, exactly, while he was almost ready to graduate from senior high school). Both his parents were illiterate, and his mother had passed away while he was a toddler. In order to ensure he and his brother obtain better education, his sister willingly replaced their mother’s position, working hard in paddy fields (I’m sorry if there’s any mistake here) to secure some bits of money to pay for their fees. Alas, I forgot to mention his date of birth. But, no, even he hadn’t the foggiest idea of exactly what date he came into the world. The only thing he recalled, during an interview in Kick Andy, Metro TV, was that ‘he had learnt to walk at the same time Mount Kelud exploded’. After some consideration, he decided to make one for his own: 17 August, 1951, exactly 6 years after the Independence Day was proclaimed.

He once spent 2 years in a journalism school in Samarinda, East Kalimantan, before he dropped out due to financial constraints. Afterwards, he found employment in Tempo by 1976, and later on, Jawa Pos company.

Originally a journalist, his tipping point commenced in 1982 while his boss passed away, inheriting him a decrepit media company, readying for bankruptcy anytime. But, just, after 3 decades, thanks to a combination of hard work, luck (motivators do not, and never want to believe this EVT-ed factor), and determination, the supposedly out-of-whack Jawa Pos was converted into a national media empire, similarly equivalent to News Corp., with 140 chains of newspapers, radio, and TV stations under their full control (excluding an optic-cable company, two skyscrapers in Jakarta and Surabaya, and two power-plant operators).

Given his solid – but flexible – leadership in Jawa Pos Group, he was entrusted by the end of 2009 to fill the position as chairman of PLN, Indonesia’s public-owned power company notoriously known for frequent blackouts and inadequate power supply. Throughout his chairmanship, there were still blackouts, to be honest, but just the rate had been greatly reduced, compared to that of the others. I think that we were already fortunate enough having an individual so enticed with his commitments to make Indonesia ‘blackout-free’ nation, albeit some places, particularly the isolated and borderline territories, haven’t been exposed to sufficient electrification. Nevertheless, no more than 2 years later, he reluctantly waved his hand at PLN, the company he believes to have ‘abundant potential to grow’. The reason was nothing but this: he had been appointed by President SBY to fill in the position of Ministry of SOEs, indicating that his tasks grew more arduous than ever. But that didn’t mean he totally gave up PLN. The difference is that he would have to handle approximately 150 state-owned enterprises, and more than 400 subsidiaries, whose all combined assets amounted to over Rp 3000 trillion (320 billion US$, more or less equivalent to one-third of Indonesia’s total GDP, which is forecast to surpass the 1-trillion-dollar mark by end of 2012).

Being a minister is in manifold more outdaring than being a chairman he used to be. First, he had been mandated by the President to revitalize the businesses, minimize corruption, eliminate bureaucracy, and most challenging one, to execute SBY’s long-term megaproject: Masterplan Percepatan dan Perluasan Pembangunan Ekonomi Indonesia (MP3EI), translated in English as ‘Masterplan for the Acceleration and Expansion of Economic Development in Indonesia’. Passed in 2011, the megaproject, worth more than Rp 4000 trillion (430 billion US$) and scattered in thousands of growth-spurring projects, will remain in place until 2025, the time the government has expected to achieve GDP-per-capita rate as high as 15,000 US$. At the same time, central government has targeted by 2014, nearly Rp 1000 trillion (108 billion US$) has been invested in nation-wide infrastructure projects, two-thirds of which are submitted to the SOEs for the completion. This may have been Dahlan Iskan’s largest, and longest, homework to finish.

For sure he needs countless brainchildren to help accomplishing all his fatiguesome assignments. He often itinerates from universities to universities – aside of his daily visits to factories spread nation-wide – to know more about unusual inventions and novel ideas presented by students. Sometimes he also triggers the idea exchanges himself: he once challenged students to invent a machine able to convert sago into rice.

In my viewpoint, there has never been a minister of this decade here as trail-blazing, and highly sensation-making  – well, perhaps actually there are some, but are not that ‘showy’ – as he is. Isn’t that ‘cool’ when you see a minister comes to presidential palace, but wears sneakers? Or it may have been his own style, without any hyperboles or exaggeration, given his experience that he once lived in extreme poverty?

But one fact that makes the public even adore him more is that his ability to stay down-to-earth, and open to ideas. He dismisses himself as being a minister, and instead refers himself as a ‘CEO’ (because he hates bureaucracy). He even dismisses himself as being humble, further claiming that he still wears costly sneakers, and drives a sedan car as exorbitantly priced as Alphard. He has visions that Indonesia must cease being dependent on imports, a case he heavily emphasizes particularly in vital and strategic industries (for instance, armament, logistic, shipping, and aerospace, which have remained stagnant till the cows come home). He aims to eliminate red-tape culture, the source of corruption and graft, having been instilled in the SOEs for decades, and instead converts them into something more of a corporate, and highly competitive, one. One controversial decision he has made is the privatization of more SOEs by means of initial public offering (IPO). But, he added, the privileged rights to own these companies must be prioritized mainly for local businesses.

His self-titled ‘cowboy’-like action doesn’t cease here. Before telling the press 70% of the SOEs are corrupt, he implemented a policy – without consent from House of Representatives – in which he has the sole rights to appoint all the boards, in order to minimize the probability of party insiders getting seats, who may have plundered their assets solely for the political parties’ sake. Thus, it puts the parties, and himself, in jeopardy. The parliament even threatened him with interpelation, the former’s rights to conduct interrogative queries, which make him vulnerable to dismissal from his current position. But, as he’d said in an interview, “I’m okay being called a cowboy. So, why should I fear about it?”

His most ambitious dream currently undergoing progress is a national electric car megaproject. He has set goal that by 2013, as many as 100,000 electric cars must have been manufactured en masse. Others include massive investment in solar power plants (he once said that investment in solar energy worth Rp 120 trillion is better than oil subsidies worth Rp 240 trillion, because the former can afford to electrify the whole Indonesia for a very long term, given its enormous potential: 4.8 kWh / sq m / day), and his efforts to make SOEs world-class companies.

Back then, no one is ever a pure superhuman. Particularly for Dahlan himself. Reminiscing a few years prior, he suffered chronic, final-stage liver cancer, blurring further the real line between life and death. The disease resulted as the outcome of his uncontrolled overwork. The main factor contributing to his recovery was more of a lucky coincidence: a Chinese male teenager decided to donate his liver. He then underwent liver transplantation in China by 2007, and subsequently recovered almost half a year later. To maintain his well-being, and his brand-new liver as well, he is summoned to take pills for the rest of his life. But, the seemingly ‘bad’ habit maintains the same: he sleeps no more than 4 hours a day, having dealt with problems in the ministry, and exchanged tweets with his followers.

Let me end this by rehearsing back the main question: how many individuals like Dahlan Iskan does Indonesia actually need? I suppose, as of my opinion, it takes 5 persons like him, with similar unwavering integrity, far-stretching visions, and flaming optimism to make this country thrive better, anytime he has retired, or passed out.

To get closer with the public, he’s recently set up @iskan_dahlan in Twitter by mid-April this year, and you won’t believe this is his real account (and even never writes his own profile). Feel free to ask, even the silliest questions (like: how handsome are you?, or, why don’t you respond to my tweets?), and he sometimes replies you (if possible) with emoticons that remind you of a narcissistic user, or in Mandarin (he masters fluent Chinese as well). It is his tweets that never make you believe the person replying you is actually a minister, and who knows, a presidential-nominee-to-be.




To get to know his track record further, please access his personal blog, Manufacturing Hope (only available in Bahasa Indonesia).