Year 2009 mark the last chapter of President Susilo Bambang Yudhoyono (SBY) administration that has lasted four years. Indonesia will held general and presidential election to choose their next parliament representatives and leaders.
People still remember years of SBY administration which darkened by so many disasters, either natural or man made. Tsunami struck Aceh and Nias in the end of 2004 took hundred thousand lives, earthquake in Yogyakarta May 2006 with dead toll amount 5,000 and many more left homeless, then followed by mudflow in Sidoarjo that drove thousands of people out of their village. The disaster caused by careless natural gas drilling activities of PT Lapindo Brantas which partly owned by Bakrie Group, known as SBY close ally and his biggest financier during 2004 election campaign.
In Yogyakarta, city where SBY spend years as regional military commander, SBY directly lead the earthquake relief mission. He even move his office to Yogyakarta for five days. But only after Jusuf Kalla, the vice president, who later took over the job and bring relief mission in Yogyakarta on the fast right track. At least at the moment.
It was Javanese people, the same ethnic as SBY, who made fun on SBY’s name. SBY, in Javanese joke stands for Susilo Bambang nYudonyowo, the last word meaning ‘took lives’ for so many disaster during his government.
People getting more upset when SBY administration decided to raise the fuel price in October 2005 with almost 100 percent due to sharp hike in world oil price. Indeed it makes inflation in 2005 rose to 17 percent. Despite Indonesian economic engine still running normal, it weaken people purchasing power dearly. It was the second hike after March 2005 when SBY adjusted fuel price up to 50 percent.
The fuel price hike effectively hampered the government poverty aleviation program wich targeted to bring head count poverty from 14.9 percent down to 8.9 percent of population in 2009. Since fuel price directly affect the transportation cost, it almost automatically boost basic needs commodities price such rice, meat, fish and palm oil. More people can’t afford to fulfill their daily basic needs and the numbers who live under poverty line rose from 31 to 39 million of 220 million population.
Again in the end of May 2008, SBY administration gave up when world oil price keep going crazy, breaking all time price record above $100 a barrel. Avoid to increase fuel subsidy, SBY gave the last blow to people by raising fuel price for the third time by 30 percent. More people feel upset to the ruling party and the opposition become more confident to face the coming 2009 election.
But life was not always predictable as it was before. Then came the world financial crisis to bring oil price went down rapidly to $40 a barrel as if it was never touched $140 a barrel before. Hot debate in Indonesian parliament as to whether government be granted or not with a full authority to lift fuel subsidy at will in case world oil price touch unbearable level, soon become outdated. In only matter of days, Indonesian government gain first time profit from subsidized fuel distribution
In fact, Indonesian are no longer enjoying fuel subsidy because the fuel they bought in gas station belongs to Pertamina (government oil enterprise) are more expensive than fuel sold in America. And SBY exploit this momentum to bring the fuel price back before May 2008 hike, but this time by three times cut.
SBY’s Democrat Party (PD) put political advertisement in television to proclaim that SBY cabinet is the first Indonesian administration to cut the fuel price ever, and they boasted that SBY did it three times. SBY may hope Indonesian already forget about what his administration had been done with three times fuel price hike from 2004 to 2008 with an enormous 200 percent of rise. We all know fuel price goes down was not the merit of SBY administration’s good policy. It mere from the world economic crisis that bring deflation wave which SBY ride on.
SBY enter the 2009 with big confidence as Indonesian economy is not so badly affected by global economic meltdown as did happen to neighbouring countries such Singapore which has suffer two quarters in row of recession. SBY can smile broadly knowing the agriculture development gain success. As of 2008 Indonesian bring back its proud of 1984 rice self sufficiency under Soeharto regime who brought (and forced) green revolution to Indonesian peasant farmer. Despite some troubles in farm fertilizer distribution system, Indonesia ready to become rice and sugar exporter in 2009.
According to Chinese calendar, SBY born in ‘Bull Year’ the same Chinese year of 2009. In free market economic term, bullish year means everybody will be happy as stock price going up and up, although no one in stock market will consider 2009 as such.
Without trying to practise astrology or any supranatural believe, it seems SBY has found his rhyme in 2009. Four years against all odd, but in the last year of his administration everything seems to get better and even easier. At least for SBY and his political pundits.
No doubt, SBY is ready for second victory in 2009 election. But, will it as unpredictable as 2004? Maybe his fate will be destined by what occur in the outside world, as it was before.