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Resolutions Resolutions

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With the New Year normally brings new resolutions – all the stuff that we promise ourselves we will commit to in the coming year that would make us happier, healthier and be better persons in general. Resolutions that we invariable abandon along the way or even break even before they are implemented. If the list is long enough however, there might be a good chance that some of them will see the light of day. After all, the prelude to action is intention and some intention is better than none if the action had any chance to take place at all.

By the same token, inaction, or not doing anything too involves a good degree of intention especially when action is the expected and correct thing to do: in this case, an intention not to produce a particular result. As they say, when we want something done, we can think of a million reasons. On the contrary, if we don’t want to do something, we can come up with a million excuses. When we’re inspired, for example, we can think of plenty of reasons why we should take up a healthier lifestyle, give up smoking and start exercising. The end of year indulgence together with the much needed annual break for reflection, plus the significant marking of the new year, invariably make one feel suitably charged and resolute. Until that is the reality of our daily lives catch up with us and then our list of excuses soon make history of our admirable resolutions. (Too tired, too stressed out, not enough time, can’t be bothered etc.)

Which brings us to the rather farcical if not somewhat tragic resolution of bringing former president Soeharto to trial and the promise of justice to the Indonesian people - a resolution made almost exactly a decade ago when this country gave birth to democracy and promised reforms and which until today never managed to come to light.

To be sure the intention was there alright, together with the spirit of reform and other morally righteous resolves including fighting corruption, upholding human rights and creating a good, clean government that reflects the people’s aspirations. But as the road to hell is indeed filled with good intentions, those laudable resolutions still remain resolutions until now – hollow intentions made by those who find it easier to come up with a million excuses not to carry them out rather than put in a little effort to get them done.

For the last ten years the perennial excuse for not actually dragging the former dictator to the court room was that he was too sick or not mentally fit to be tried. The resolve was to wait until the doctor said he was better so that a proper trial could be held and justice would be upheld. After all, the country had resolved that no one was above the law and Soeharto did have a long list of sins to account for.

And if Soeharto were to be brought to trial and proven guilty, he would of course be forgiven. After all he was the former president and not without significant merits. He might need not even spend a second in jail but enjoy a royal pardon and a peaceful old age as he prepares to meet his maker. The important thing is that the law is allowed to run its course, justice carried out and an admission of guilt is noted. The country can then move on with the future and perhaps historians will even set aside a glowing chapter on the success of the New Order.

Instead, like the smoker who is always on the verge of quitting but never got round to it until he is dying of lung cancer, we are faced with a resolution that we never intended to keep in the first place. In other words a lie that holds back a dying old man from a peaceful passing – an excuse that will cost us our future and the ability to move on without guilt, free from the baggage of our own self deception.

After ten years of excuses and procrastinations the country can no longer escape this truth. Soeharto is already at death’s door and any talk of dragging him to trial now or even praying that he would recover so that the law could be upheld is pathetic to the point of tragic. We have denied him his admission of guilt, his atonement and robbed him of the opportunity for him to regain his dignity in redemption.

On the contrary for the last ten years we have suffocated him in a shroud of falsehood and fabrication as if he were an imbecile, perhaps out of cowardice but more likely out of sheer laziness and cynical convenience. As the truth is keeping one’s resolutions require commitment and courage that translate into real action, neither of which alas, this country has.