Jakarta. Petrus Selestinus, coordinator of a group of lawyers known as the Team of Defenders of Indonesian Democracy, or TPDI, said former President Susilo Bambang Yudhoyono has needlessly raised the political temperature ahead of this month's Jakarta gubernatorial election.
He said Yudhoyono took advantage of the polemic between Indonesian Ulema Council (MUI) chairman Ma'ruf Amin and incumbent Governor Basuki "Ahok" Tjahaja Purnama.
"SBY has caused the situation to heat up when he joined the debate on legal technicalities [in Ahok's trial] and drew these technicalities into the political arena," Petrus said in Jakarta on Thursday (02/02), referring to the former president by his initials.
"Then, he demanded a political resolution through his wish to meet directly with President Jokowi in a straight discussion," Petrus added, referring to President Joko Widodo by his popular nickname.
Ahok has meanwhile apologized to Ma'ruf – whom he considers a respected elder of the Nahdlatul Ulama (NU). The MUI chairman and all NU members have accepted the apology.
Ma'ruf even called on his supporters to remain calm and not to be provoked, which Petrus said should be appreciated.
"From an ethical perspective, SBY should first have discussed the matter personally with Ma'ruf to cool down the situation. Instead he tried to take advantage of the momentum by dramatizing the heated situation, as if he was the victim of a crime by the state, which intercepted his private phone conversations," he said.
Petrus said the former president was not sincere and honest in the matter, because he intentionally directed the attention to the alleged wiretapping and defamation against him, while calling for a resolution through a direct meeting with Jokowi.
Petrus said Yudhoyono should not have revealed the information publicly if he intended to discuss it in private with Jokowi.
He said the correct move would have been to report the alleged wiretapping to the police.
Moreover, Yudhoyono should also have been modest by requesting prosecutors in Ahok's blasphemy case to clarify the truth about his conversations with Ma'ruf on Oct. 7 last year.
"This is the approach SBY should have taken; not just call a press conference and heat up the situation. What is more, is that he actually confirmed that the phone call [between himself and Ma'ruf] took place," Petrus said.
The lawyer called on President Jokowi not to accommodate Yudhoyono's request for an audience if he only wants to complain about the wiretapping or allegations that he funded the Nov. 4 and Dec. 2 mass rallies in Jakarta.
"The palace is not a place for citizens to demand resolutions of criminal and civil cases. If the palace accommodates Yudhoyono's request to meet Jokowi only to receive complaints and a request for legal protection, then the palace and Jokowi may be seen as biased," Petrus said.