“My campaign themes in the 2004 presidential election were peace, justice and prosperity,” said President Susilo Bambang Yudhoyono during the launch of his autobiographical book Selalu Ada Pilihan (There is Always a Choice).
In chapter five of the book, which details his campaigns in the 2004 and 2009 presidential election, Yudhoyono fails to mention some of the promises that he has yet to fulfil, only eight months before his term expires in September.
In 2004, Yudhoyono pledged that he would bring closure to the murder case of Munir Said Thalib, one of the country’s most prominent human rights defenders, and said that it would be a “test of our history”.
More than nine years later, not only has his government failed to uncover the mastermind behind Munir’s murder, but it did nothing when Munir’s convicted murderer, Pollycarpus Budihari Prijanto, was given a sentence reduction by the Supreme Court in October last year.
Also in 2004, Yudhoyono promised that he would resolve cases of past human rights abuses and take measures to prevent similar incidents from reoccurring, a promise that he repeated during his reelection campaign.
None of the rights abuses have been resolved and this put Indonesia in a difficult position during the international human rights session at the United Nations Human Rights Council last year.
None of these issues are discussed in the book.
If anything, Yudhoyono in fact claims his two terms have been a success and goes on to give a piece of advice to his successor.
“Don’t make campaign promises that you can’t keep,” Yudhoyono says in chapter 12.
“I believe promises that a presidential candidate makes must be measurable. Getting a little bit ambitious is fine. But, [a promise] must be reasonable and achievable through hard work,” Yudhoyono states.
Yudhoyono also provides “do’s” and “don’ts” for candidates contesting the 2014 presidential election.
Not everyone is happy with what Yudhoyono has said in his book.
Political analyst Boni Hargens slammed the President for what he regarded as his arrogance.
“He is so arrogant [by making such suggestions]. What has he done [as a basis for the suggestions]? Nothing,” Boni told reporters on the sidelines of a discussion in Jakarta on Sunday.
Boni said that the book released by Yudhoyono was merely an attempt to patch up his battered image.
“What he [Yudhoyono] cares about is only his image,” he added.
Separately, political observer Arie Sudjito of Gadjah Mada University said that although Yudhoyono had the right to defend himself and members of his family, the public only cared about his actions and policies.
He said that Yudhoyono’s two terms had been emotionally taxing for the public, given Yudhoyono’s penchant for speaking his mind.
“This is an era when politics is often marked by the expression of feelings and burdens, instead of quality debates,” he said. “But this shall pass eventually.”
Meanwhile, Yudhoyono’s advisor on political communications, Daniel Sparingga, defended the President saying that the latter had only the best intentions in writing his book.
“The book was written with humility. There is no vanity expressed in it as alleged [by his critics]. The book is also not aimed at taking advantage of the political situation. It is not meant to win or to lose something,” Daniel said in a statement made available to The Jakarta Post on Sunday.
“The book is simply written by someone who loves books and celebrates knowledge. […] It offers opinions and thoughts based on what Pak SBY has gone through,” he added. The Jakarta Post