gontha.com

Review Of The Month

Writer :Bill Guerin
Publisher :The Indovision TV Guide
Updated :30.08.2001 00:00

The Indovision TV Guide
As if Indovision subscribers needed any proof that they get extremely good
value for their money, Quick Channel delivered its best ever scoop in a new
Impact program. Peter Gontha interviewed Indonesia's fourth president, the
diminutive and clinically blind Abdurrahman Wahid, for an exclusive half
hour interview dubbed 'My Side of the Story'. And what a story it was.
Taking Gus Dur, as he prefers to be known, through his early childhood in
Jombang, East Java and his formative years as a student, Gontha coaxed the
ex president gently towards the real essence of the interview, the events
prior to and on, July 23, 2001. On that day, of course, the Special Session
of the People's Consultative Assembly (MPR), Indonesia's top legislative
body, almost unanimously voted to oust Wahid and elect his deputy, Megawati
Soekarnoputri to the hot seat.

We learned that Megawati's father, 'Bung Karno' the founding president of
Indonesia had always been a close friend of, and greatly respected, Wahid's
father, Wahid Hasyim, who later in 1945 was minister of religious affairs.
Unfortunately, the inherent solid relationship between the two families has
been dramatically severed, and pronounced dead with the ringing words of
Wahid to Gontha - 'Megawati violated the Constitution'. This is the first
time Gus Dur has ever said these actual words, and he was quick to explain
why. He said the meeting that finally decided to go ahead with the Sidang
Istimewah, the Special Session, which impeached him, was held at Megawati's
house.

Gus Dur emphasized throughout that Indonesia has for long lost its way
through being trapped in a Parliamentary system rather than a straight
democracy, with, for example, direct elections of a president.

Very few issues remained untouched throughout what was clearly a marathon
session for both men, with the English language short interview being
preceded by two straight hours in Bahasa Indonesia! The Indonesian media,
the Police, qualities of diplomacy, slander, the differences between the
visions and goals of Wahid's NU, the largest Islamic organization in the
world and Amien Rais's Muhammadiyah, the importance of the Chinese in Asia
and so on.

The interest level reached its peak near the end of the interview when Gus
said that he would never again speak to the current Ambassadors of five
countries which he named (no watch the show to find out if your country is
among them!). He said that following his ouster these 'famous five' went
straight to Megawati to congratulate her, without any attempt to ask Wahid
himself what he thought of the dramatic events. Wahid neatly highlighted the
fundamental requirement of would be diplomats - courtesy.

Finally, asked about his recent accusation that former U.S. presidential
candidate Bob Dole and President Megawati Soekarnoputri`s husband Taufik
Kiemas were involved "in raising funds" amounting to $4 billion for the
holding of the special session which unseated him from the presidency, Wahid
said ' Wait and see what happens when the IRS (The US tax authorities) ask
Dole who pays him'.

A marvelous experience - whatever you think of Gus Dur, you probably agree
he is an interesting and sincere man, controversial at the same time as
being sophisticated. Not for the first time Gontha hit the right notes with
his guest and thereby achieved an absolute classic of its genre.

You think this review is OTP (Over the Top)? Well, judge for yourself! It
will cost you nothing. See the screening schedules inside the magazine. If
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mould.

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