President Susilo Bambang Yudhoyono of Indonesia has been under severe critics for the past week due to his controversial statement over the proposed bill on the special status of Yogyakarta Province. He made his statement at the opening of the cabinet meeting on November 26, and during his remarks he talked about the Yogyakarta Province that is currently under the administration of the local Sultan as governor. This practice shows the unique characteristics of Yogyakarta due to its close association with the monarchy and for honoring the previous Sultan for his decision to become part of the nation after the World War II. The current practice of appointing the Sultan as governor without election is yet to be reviewed and regulated; thus the proposed bill is currently being processed at the legislation. But the President, allegedly ignoring the history, commented that the “monarchy system” is against the Indonesian constitution and our democratic values.
As predicted, this statement sparked mass demonstration and critics and even escalated to demands of holding a referendum at the province. Some people also posted graphical images of “Ngayogyakarto Hadiningrat” passport (it is the Javanese name of the kingdom) on Facebook. After a few days of heated debates over the country, the President finally decided to make another speech yesterday afternoon to clarify the issues. The speech was made from the Presidential Palace and was televised. But public attention quickly switched to something else when the he started the speech. Take a look at this picture: