Indonesian president Abdur Rahman Wahid raised eyebrows on December 4 when he told his new economic affairs commission that Israel had agreed to invest $200 million in Indonesia.
He was quoted in the Jakarta Post as saying: “I told them, and they themselves agreed, not to directly invest but rather do it through a third party. They agreed to do it through a Dutch or US company.”
Wahid had previously expressed support for commercial links with the zionist state, although not diplomatic relations, but no-one had expected that an agreement would be reached so quickly. It was probably done when he visited Washington last month.
However, Wahid got in trouble for telling the Far Eastern Economic Review that Malaysian prime minister Mahathir Mohamad had asked him to foster closer ties with Israel. The Malaysian government strongly denied the report, saying that “Malaysia’s position is clear: we have no intention of establioshing diplomatic or commercial ties with Israel.”
However, a Malaysian commentator said that the allegation rang true. “Malaysia has encouraged sporting and other links with Israel. Probably the only difference is that Wahid is naive enough to admit his plans, despite the precaution of routing the funds through a US or Dutch company.”
Abdur Rahman Wahid has long been regarded by some as a opportunist, whose Islamic credentials are largely sham. He failed to graduate from Al-Azhar, where he was known for his fondness for western films, particularly French ones.
He also likes western music, dancing and night-life; he celebrated his election as head of Indonesia’s Nahdhatul Ulama with a party at Casablanca, a well-known Jakarta nightclub; some of his guests were so shocked that they left early. Muslims should expect little from him; even then they might be disappointed.
Muslimedia: December 16-31, 1999