An Open Letter to Aceh Leader: The Voice of Ordinary Citizen


THESE are trying times for the Acehnese’s souls. It seems that Aceh is facing endless problems ranging from natural to man-made disasters, from the smallest to the biggest catastrophes the human memory can recollect. Ineffective and corrupt government is the last thing the Acehnese wanted to have in this situation. This is not making an accusation or finding a scapegoat for the burden facing the society. After all, one of the former Aceh Governors was in jail for corruption.

The Acehnese are used to hear that a lot of money is available for development, eradicating poverty, job creations and other wonderful programmes which will bring prosperity to the people. However, it appears to be only wishful thinking. In fact, the situation becomes worse as the number of people living in poverty increases to nearly half of the Acehnese population. Corruption and abuse of power are still rampant at every level of society; the future looks gloom for the suffering province. We wonder as for how long the Acehnese can resist and bounce back in style?

The upcoming gubernatorial election gives something to ponder. People must clearly send the message to the leader that they want change. They have to be very careful in choosing a leader at provincial and districts level in order to rectify the current wrongdoing and put a stop to bad governance.

As far as the situation in Aceh is concerned, the new governor will face a huge challenge to bring prosperity and justice to the Acehnese. He must be able to unite all the available resources to work hand in hand to develop Aceh. Thus, we call on those candidates who lost in the upcoming election to work together towards the development of Aceh. After all, you promise to do so in your campaign. So, the time will come for you to show your commitment even though you will be beaten in the election.

We want you to follow what Matshushita of National Electric said regarding democracy, as we believe that Aceh had gone through democracy. He said that for democracy to survive, it has to have two characteristics. One is called sushi and the other is sunao.

Sushi means the recognition of a victory even by one vote as if the entire votes had gone to the winner. The loser may not forever think that he lost only by one vote; he should regard his lost to be of the entire votes. Then you do not have people going around, censoring that in this district we win, and in that district we lost, here we win by single majority, and there we lost by single majority. If so, the debate will go on. Thus Aceh will not stop talking, Aceh will never start working.

Number two, sunao i.e. the ability of a man to see goodness even in the people whom he hates. If in the election the winners and the losers hate each other they must be able to see goodness in the other.

Recognizing and accepting the existence of differences, identifying and highlighting common values adhered to, and common aspirations craved for, by all Acehnese, without                                                                                                               the differences becoming reasons for conflicts, in order that unity can be fostered, is the crucial role that must be effectively executed by all of you.

You must differentiate between your differences with each other and the common values and aspirations that would hold you together. That is what we want you to do in order to develop our beloved province.

So, the Aceh leaders and Acehnese must decide, and decide to unite, as French thinker La Bayonne said that in order to unite number one there must be a decision and a will to unite. Number two you must go through common experiences. Number three we go through common sufferings. It is that ‘will to unite’ that must be marshalled by our leaders. It is that ‘common experience’ in different areas of specialization and at different levels of achievements or attainments that must be cultivated by our managers. The war, poverty and tsunami have brought us enough ‘common sufferings’. As leaders of Aceh and the Acehnese, you have a great responsibility before you.

For the winner in the next year election, it is the time to change as Rhenald Kasali in his book recommends that no matter how far we have gone through in the wrong way, we must turn back and start something anew. We believe that the practice of corruption must come to an end. You have to work very hard to wipe out the injustices at all levels of societies. You have to act without fear or favour.

It is because our choice, of course; you become our leader. We believe that you can change the situation because you know our suffering as you have gone through it yourself. We also believe that you understand the values and local wisdoms that were the key to Aceh’s prosperity in the past.

We would like to remind you to put emphasis on education and economy, because the combination of knowledge and wealth are the two components that will sustain the peace and prosper Aceh in the future. As proof of the importance of education and economy, let us look back at the story of Thomas Edison. Before Thomas Edison discovered the filament, there was a Russian who discovered the filament, Jabloski. But, nobody knows Jabloski because what he discovered was not funded into certain project or development. J. P. Morgan funded what Thomas Edison discovered and the enterprise grows into what it is now called General Electric Company, which is one of the biggest companies in the world.

So, we do hope that you never let us down. We hope that you can lead us into prosperity. We know it is not easy, but if you show us the right way, we will work it out together and with the right commitment we will eventually succeed. Or, if there must be trouble, let it be in our time, that future generations may reap the reward of our hard work and thank us for our wisdom.