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Subject: An open letter to Habibie from Father Mangunwijaya
Date: Fri, 14 Aug 1998 12:23:28 +0000
From: "East Timor International Support Center" <> Organization: East Timor International Support Center

An open Letter to Prof Dr BJ Habibie from Father YB Mangunwijaya (English translation)

Dear Rudy

In these trying days for you, when you are facing responsibilities that affect the destiny of 208 million of our beloved country's citizens, I address my sincere prayer to God, the source of all Wisdom, that the light of His Wisdom may enlighten the decisions you have to make in the interest of our people, especially the weak and the poor who have been suffering for a long time and will continue to suffer spiritual, mental and physical trials. I also pray [that God may give] strength and serenity to your wife Ainun and your children.

This is the first time in our acquaintance that I am writing a political letter to you. I am writing as a friend to a friend although, politically, we are on opposite sides. But even so we can respect our respective positions and political opinions because friendship transcends politics.

You will agree that a good friend is not just one who will always say "yes" to his friend. This is why I feel free to write this political letter in full sincerity. You do not have to agree with me, I am only writing just so that you will know and consider it just as a sign of concern from a friend who does not wish to ignore the trials of a friend who although, politically distant, will always be close when sharing common concerns.

Dear Rudy,

Let me tell you directly that, from a moral standpoint, I never accepted the validity of the last elections. Mine are the politics of conscience, not the politics of power, Machiavellian or pseudo-formal. Politics too must be subordinate to the Law of God and therefore the end does not justify the means. That is why for me elections - especially the last one - have not been legal because they were run under the banner of deceit, falsehood and terror. And the same applies to the MPR/DPR RI - the fruit off the tree too is rotten -so are its decisions and its mandates.

Whichever way we look at it, be it from a humane or just and civilised standpoint, none of this is legal and you are a civilian who has, de-facto, gained great influence over this country. I was very happy and felt respect for you when you humbly said in public: "just call me Rudy" because, in all conscience, it is very difficult for me to address you as "Your excellency, Mr President".

Mas* Rudy

Because myself and, most importantly, the youth of Indonesia from the beginning did not believe in the legality of the last elections, I am asking you:

1. to be prepared to use your influence so that honest, fair, open, free and secret elections can be held.....not by your cabinet but by an independent body who has never collaborated with Soeharto in the past. Or at least by community leaders who are still considered relatively clean and acceptable by the students and the youth (and also by their older supporters). For example, the legal experts from the Human Rights Commission and other experts or public figures who were consistently critical of the New Order, always acted in true opposition and are still relatively clean and independent.

2. In addition, the next election should not focus on the choice of a new president and vice-president but should select the people's representative in a Constitutional Commission who shall have to determine first the final Constitution of the Republic of Indonesia -not only the provisional one deliberately made by the founding fathers of the Republic of Indonesia. You are a good Muslim and certainly you do not sanctify the 1945 Constitution as if it came directly from God Almighty.

Of course, the Preamble can be retained and if the people so decide, its meaning can still enshrine the identity of the Republic of Indonesia as at 17 August 1945; as the wise legacy of the pioneers and founding fathers of this Republic of Indonesia; as a valuable document still capable to provide leadership to the people and the government of our country; more objectively the Preamble, it still represents the best guarantee of unification for all diversities in our beloved country.

However, the Constitution in its entirety really needs a revision -- it needs to be widened and updated to effectively guarantee the fundamental rights of the people of this country.

3. Only then, Mas Rudy, the first executive of the Republic of Indonesia may be selected. However, the people's representatives too shall have to select directly the President of the High Court and the Attorney General as well as the leaders of other high institutions (whatever the Constitutional Commission may decide) in structure capable of providing balance between the powers of the legislative, executive, juridical and other components which are part of the political mosaic of a national and global new 21st century constellation.

4. There is something else I also want to tell you, and it is related to the sad political legacy of the previous government that for many years has blackened the good name of this country in the eyes of the international community; it is a black page in the history of this country and of the world. I am, of course, referring to East Timor.

Are you prepared to enlighten your mind and show the nobility of heart to carry the mandate in the first sentence of the Preamble of the 1945 Constitution? From its beginning, the Republic of Indonesia only desired the former Dutch Indies and nothing more than that. And that was accepted by the United Nations. (Translator's Note: The first sentence of the Preamble to the 1945 Constitution reads as follows: "That true freedom is the right of all nations and that therefore colonisation as an inhuman and unjust practice must be eradicated throughout the world")

I was not a great hero during the 1945-50 struggle but myself and all those freedom fighters of the time who have remained honest do not like to see the disease of colonialism we fought against spread and disgrace the Republic of Indonesia [born on] 17 August 1945.

For the past 23 years censorship has blocked all objective reporting on the true situation in East Timor. However, lies cannot shut away the truth forever. Especially when it is about the killing and disappearance of some 120,000 East Timorese -, this figure represents one fifth of its population at the time Indonesia attacked East Timor. And let us not forget the tens of thousands Indonesia soldiers who have become the victims of the expansionistic politics of the former Commander in Chief of the Indonesian Army.

Just imagine Mas Rudy, without exaggerating, what has been happening in east Timor for the past 23 in the name of the Republic of Indonesia and Pancasila is nothing short of the atrocities perpetrated by the Serbs against the Bosnians. Can we God-fearing people justify it and 'enjoy' it?

Thank God at that time you were not part of the fatal decision-makings of the Suharto cabinet against East Timor. And because of that, [I ask you] as the most influential person in Indonesia at this point in time, is the Republic of Indonesia based on Pancasila prepared to act with nobility and take the path of atonement, reconciliation and rehabilitation of the peaceful people of East Timor? You are not Soeharto!

If in the near future, just as for the Bosnian experience, the East Timorese demand a referendum under the auspices of the United Nations to determine whether they want integration with Indonesia or total freedom, will you be prepared to grant them this wish in the spirit of the first sentence of the Preamble of the 1945 Constitution? Could you show more nobility of heart than the Netherlands and the Dutch Indies showed in their time towards the Republic of Indonesia?

However, how much more honourable and less shameful for us in the eyes of the world if by its own initiative and by Decree the Republic of Indonesia in all sincerity returned to the East Timorese the freedom they had attained for themselves before Indonesian troops attacked so that their freedom could, de jure, be guaranteed before the United Nations. Because from the beginning Indonesia only fought for sovereignty over the former Dutch Indies.

Are you prepared to save our country from the shame of this history because you were not responsible for this country at the time all this was happening.

My friend Rudy,

I know that as an individual, although with a good heart, it would be impossible for you to accede to my request or accept my suggestions. You have to consult with many parties and perhaps you too might not agree with what I have just asked you.

However you are an influential person, a God-fearing man and we are living in historical times.

At this great moment in our history are you prepared to show to the world that we are a generous and sincere nation and that you, my friend, are a wise statesman, a humanitarian, just and civilised, especially because your hands are clean of the blood and the tears of East Timor. Seize the moment to do something great and you will go down in the annals of history as a great statesman.

May God always be with you in these historical moments. For Ainun and your children I pray that God may grant them endurance and serenity of heart.

From a long time friend, and always a friend

YB Mangungwijaya (Father)

*form of address to a Javanese male

(This letter was sent to the private address of Prof Dr Ing BJ Habibie and only later (only) to the Jakarta-based Kompass -- which published it on August 11, 1998).

'EAST TIMOR ON THE NET' For the latest updates, news and views on East Timor and Indonesia Visit maintained by the East Timor International Support Center Hon Chairman: Jose Ramos-Horta Nobel Peace Laureate 1996

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