Monday, December 22, 2008

Problems of Participation

Larry Diamond has noted in one of his works that one paradox of democracy is that in some circumstances a political system can be made more stably democratic by making it somewhat less representative. At the same time, electoral system is the central rule of the game determining who governs in a polity. Its position is so important that careful steps should be taken before taking any decision to adopt any kind of electoral system, be it the proportional representation, the district system or the mixture of the two. This is what has so far been done by the so called political reformers in the post-Suharto Indonesia. In the name of limiting ethnic or regional movements and promoting more stable politics by encouraging broad-based parties, Indonesian political reformers purposely adopted an electoral system that provides necessary means to achieve the agenda of "stable democratic polity" in Indonesia.

Through a combination of spatial registration for political parties, pressures for smaller parties to amalgamate into larger ones, reductions in the electoral system's proportionality requirement, and regional vote-distribution requirements for presidential elections, political reformers in Indonesia have attempted to engineer the development of a few large parties with a national reach. However, the results of both 1999 and 2004 general elections showed the opposite. Instead of resulting in a moderate multi-partism, the general elections further fragmented the already fragmented party system. While the numbers of parties have reduced significantly in the 2004 general elections, on the contrary, parliamentary fragmentation increased. Measures to promote nationally focused parties and limit the enfranchisement of minorities have had some modest successes, but have not fundamentally changed the nature of electoral politics.

So far as the process of political engineering in Indonesia is concerned, it has been focussing more on protecting the incumbents and the continuance of the status quo. It is yet to focus on utilizing the opportunity to engineer substantial political transformation. Even though legislative framework continued to be enhanced through enactment of new laws prior to the successor election with the aim of creating more credible electoral process and achieving more representative results, this incrementalism has resulted in the elections being tightly scheduled creating major logistical complexity with little time for appropriate planning. Moreover, the drastic reduction in the district magnitude in the 2004 general elections has considerably raised the threshold for electoral victory and made it much more difficult for smaller parties to win seats than at previous elections, when districts were based on entire provinces. This electoral arrangement is considerably more advantageous to the large, well-organized, established parties than towards smaller, new parties, and threatens the prospect of wider political representation.

Several observers had suspected that the prolonged last minute preparation may be deliberate to avoid public scrutiny to the internal political process of the parties in putting forward nomination and as a cloak to shift public attention from demanding political accountability. Furthermore, the tight scheduling is believed to have benefited political elites close to the central party boards and deprived regional candidates. Political oligarchy has been holding captive the efforts to achieve the common good and to improve the process of political representation.

Friday, December 12, 2008

Travails of Indonesian Democracy

Since the ending of President Suharto’s New Order regime in 1998, Indonesia has been undergoing a systemic transition towards full-fledged democracy encompassing the economy, the political system, the judiciary and societal life. Some of the primary institutional choices pertaining to the structure of government, most notably the relationship between the executive branch and the legislature, have, at least for now, been resolved. Two successfully administered democratic elections in 1999 and 2004, four constitutional amendments and the reform of basic political laws, have also introduced democratic practices and the principles of good governance. New political parties have been allowed to form and contest general elections and the president has been directly elected.

In a huge effort, the country is undergoing the decentralisation of government and services, delegating power from the centre to hundreds of districts and municipalities. The process of Indonesia's transition to democracy is substantially real and the pace in which it tries to absorb and instil democratic practices and the principles of good governance is remarkably impressive.

Despite all the progress on democratisation that has been made, however, the transition is still fragile. Indonesia's economy is struggling to absorb the huge numbers of unemployed and new graduates annually, and poverty, rampant corruption and occasional outbreaks of ethnic violence create a sentiment of mistrust in the government and its institutions. The country’s leaders are forced to redefine the role of government and the relationship with its citizens. The direct election of regional government heads has brought government closer to the people and thereby increases the demand for better services and greater accountability.

Furthermore, in young democracy, the performance of governments in terms of delivering social and economic advancement is critical for legitimacy and political survival. Prolonged failure to meet minimal public expectations invites the possibility of not just the fall of a particular government, or even a series of particular governments, but the breakdowan of democracy. Chronic and severe undeperformance not only begets mounting public dissatisfaction, but opens the door to ambitious political actors who may seek to take advantage of the situation and seize power themselves. Thus it would be dangerous to be complacent about governance in a young democracy such as Indonesia. The reformasi movement which was marked by the downfall of Suharto's regime has not yet been able to achieve the ultimate goal of entrenching the principles of good governance and substantial democracy in Indonesia.

Thursday, July 31, 2008

De-radicalizing the Radicals: A Proposal

Bahtiar Effendy recently wrote an interesting article about the problems of combating terrorism in Indonesia (The Jakarta Post, 21/07/2008). He has rightly pointed out that one of the most important problems in combating terrorism is the lack of any serious efforts by the government to address the theological or doctrinal basis for terrorism.

Recent project by the Partnership for Governance Reform and Crime Prevention Foundation in Indonesia (LCKI) from May to December 2007 which focused on finding alternative mechanism of managing terror prevention efforts in Indonesia arrived at three broad suggestions. First, structurally, it suggests the establishment of a national coordinating body for countering terrorism under the control of the president. It is responsible for effectively coordinating cross-sector activities by different anti-terrorism agencies in the prevention and management of terrorism. Planning, organizing, implementing, monitoring, controlling as well as providing financial support for joint programs to prevent and tackle terrorism will become the main focus of this body. It will not take over the specific functions attached to the existing agencies but instead it will harmonize these functions, to make them efficient, more effective and focused on the common objectives.

Second, instrumentally, there is a need to re-arrange an umbrella law on the prevention and management of terrorism in Indonesia that will consist of: (a) formulation of an umbrella law for the establishment of a national counter terrorism agency, (b) strengthening of the existing umbrella law, particularly the refinement of Law No. 15/2003 on Terrorism Crime, (c) formulation of laws related to radical and anarchic organizations, (d) policy formulation on the effectiveness of intelligence reports, (e) socialization of national policies and strategies on terrorism eradication, and (f) adjustment of the national laws to relevant international laws, particularly international conventions which so far have been ratified by Indonesia.

Third, culturally, there is a need to engage various religious bodies and figures to create better awareness of the community on legal issues and different aspects of terrorism. This so-called soft-power approach or de-radicalization process through intensive direct engagement and dialogue will become an important entry point to achieve what Bahtiar has mentioned as addressing the theological or doctrinal basis for terrorism.

The three suggestions or objectives above are not easy to achieve. Theoretically, the first two (structural and instrumental objectives) could successfully be achieved through the use of intensive public pressure to the executive and legislative bodies to conduct and formulate necessary strategies on this matter. Legal-formal approach through existing democratic channels should maximally be utilized as a strategy to achieve the objectives.

On the other hand, the third objective is more delicate to achieve than the first two objectives. Altering or making a change to one’s mindset is not an easy task to do. Brainwashing strategies are not the best known and appropriate activities to achieve this objective in a democratic society. Instead intensive dialogue and communication would be deemed more acceptable and appropriate approach to achieve this objective.

Politics is about managing problems and democracy allows this process. Different views and opinions should be allowed to emerge and solutions are achieved through discussions and consultations.

One possible, tangible step that can be proposed as an entry point to arrive at this target of altering the mind of radical groups is through the introduction and dissemination of human right values. The fact that all religions teach human rights and that respect of human life and all living beings is an integral part of religious teachings should provide an opening for an intensive discussion and communication with these groups. This process should lead to a common ground that all acts of terrorism and radicalism are contrary to human right values.

Better understanding of human rights and respect of human life and living beings would, in my view, help radical groups to understand better about the differences of various elements in the society they are a part of. It would help them in exercising and practicing their religious teachings better. Fateful incident such as Monument National incident on 1 June 2008 would be avoidable in future.

It should be noted here that this proposal is not easy to achieve. Any absence of goodwill or willingness from the groups to learn about the subject such as human rights could become a huge stumbling block. The nature of exclusivity in such groups should become matter of concern before embarking on this proposal.

However, to be optimist, this proposal should be tried and tested. Thus, the role of civil society organizations in this matter is so important, especially in the current context of democratization in Indonesia. For de-radicalization process of radical Muslim groups in Indonesia, the role of NU and Muhammadiyah as two leading civil society organizations in Indonesia should be accounted for. They must play a vanguard position to ensure that Islam is really a religion that is rahmatan lil ‘alamin.

At the same time, the media as the fourth pillar of republic should also play important role in providing information, education and bringing up discourses related to this issue so that an integrated effort could be established to achieve this objective.

It will be a long process though but worth to try.

Monday, July 28, 2008

Capital Punishment: Yes or No?

In the past one week, debate over the implementation of capital punishment in Indonesia has become the headlines in several TV stations. Two opposite camps have been pitched against each other, debating the pro and con on the issue. The executions of five convicts who have been found guilty of drug trafficking and planned murder in July 2008 alone have triggered the debate: “Should capital punishment (death penalty) be retained or be abolished altogether in Indonesia?”

The abolitionist, the group who opposes capital punishment, argues that, first, the right to life cannot be abrogated at any cost by anyone and the state is held responsible in ensuring this situation. Thus a convict who has been proven guilty for serious crime cannot be punished with capital punishment instead he/she should be put in jail for the longest term possible.

Second, decision by the Indonesian government to ratify the ICCPR (International Covenant on Civil and Political Rights) into Law No. 12/2005 should make it mandatory for Indonesia to abolish capital punishment. Life imprisonment is the only alternative to punish any serious criminal offence, and not capital punishment if Indonesia wants to move forward in this globalized world.

Third, Article 28I (1) of 1945 Constitution guarantees the right to life of each and every Indonesian citizen. It is inline with the ICCPR and Law No. 12/2005. Retaining death penalty in Indonesian penal code (KUHP) is a contradiction and a proof of inconsistency in Indonesian constitutional law system.

Finally, on the question of justice for the victim, the group argues that by punishing the perpetrator with death penalty, it does not do justice to the suffering being inflicted by the crime that has been committed. Life imprisonment will, in their opinion, bring more justice to the victim since it will amount to multiple miseries, both mentally and physically, to the perpetrator.

On the contrary, the retentionists who support the implementation of capital punishment in Indonesia argue that Indonesia is a sovereign, independent state which, even though it ratified the ICCPR, but it has the constitutional right to define what serious crimes are and the type of punishment to these crimes. ICCPR gives this options and it has nothing to do with Indonesia’s future in this globalized world.

Besides, even though the Indonesian Constitution guarantees the right to life of each and every Indonesian citizen, but in the same Constitution, the right to life can still be taken by the state for certain reasons restricted by law for the sole purposes of guaranteeing the recognition and respect of the rights and freedoms of others.

Moreover, argument of inconsistency in the Constitution has been ruled out by recent ruling issued by Indonesian Constitutional Court on Decision No. 2-3/PUU-V/2007. The ruling says that there is no inconsistency on this matter and at present, Indonesia still needs the application of capital punishment for serious crimes categorized under the international laws.

On the question of justice, capital punishment still holds justice to any serious crimes committed by a perpetrator. However, there is a necessity to look into the legal process in order to arrive at a justifiable final conclusion of applying capital punishment to such crimes. Competent judges and legal system in a country holds the most prominent position in this matter.

In our view, since it has been officially interpreted as constitutional, therefore capital punishment should still be applicable in Indonesia. Apart from being utilized as a deterrent for the perpetrators of serious crimes, ratification of ICCPR does not mean that Indonesia cannot decide what is applicable and what is not, especially in relation to capital punishment.

Even though majority of nations in the world has approved the abolition of capital punishment (129 of 196 countries), but being the minority in this matter shall not make Indonesia incapable of fitting into the new world. As a sovereign nation, Indonesia has all the rights to decide its own future.

The right to live is for everyone, both for the perpetrators and the victims alike. The Constitution guarantees that right and, in our opinion, it is both for the state and the citizens to respect and uphold this basic human right.

With democracy that allows transparency and by revamping and improving Indonesian legal system, the question of justice and the application of capital punishment should not be a problem in Indonesia. Instead, it will bring better future for Indonesia as a democratic society.

Note: Pan Mohammad Faiz, S.H., M.C.L. from Faculty of Law, University of Delhi, India who is currently working at Indonesian Constitutional Court, has added his views in this article.

Friday, July 11, 2008

It is Time to Party

Finally, the long awaited list has been announced. The Indonesian Elections Commission (Komisi Pemilihan Umum – General Elections Commission, KPU) has just announced the prospective political parties that will be eligible for April 2009 general elections. If the 2004 general elections had 21 contestants, the 2009 elections will have 34 political parties that will fight for seats in the Indonesian parliament and the nomination of the next Indonesian president. 16 of them are political parties that won at least a seat in the Indonesian parliament in 2004 elections while the remaining parties are new parties that have passed the long verification process conducted by the KPU.

It should be noted here that only party or coalition of parties that have at least 15 percent of the seats in the parliament can field a candidate for presidency. Thus the competition for 2009 elections will be tight.

Even though big names like Indonesian Democratic Party-Struggle (PDI-P) and Golkar Party will dominate the contest, but there are resurgent players that might disrupt the party. The Islamist party, Welfare and Justice Party (PKS), the most successful cadre party in Indonesia, continues its good showing in local elections and will likely to continue the trend up until 2009 general elections. Their latest achievement in local elections was by beating candidates fielded by PDI-P as well as Golkar Party by a good margin in West Nusa Tenggara gubernatorial elections. Tracking poll conducted by different pollsters support this trend.

Besides, new players like Partai Hanura, led by ex-army chief of staff, retired general Wiranto, and Gerindra Party, led by another ex-army general Prabowo Soebijanto, should be players to watch. Their vigorous campaign and abundant source of fund should become a matter of concern by other parties.

Indonesian transition to democracy has been an up and down journey. Scenes like impeachment of a president, arrests of corrupt lawmakers, riots over fuel price hike, problems of electricity supply have endlessly marked this process. Health problems like malnutrition and suspected bird flu infection in several regions are other matters of concern that needs to be addressed. In addition, unemployment and lack of employment opportunities need be sorted out by the government.

But one thing should be noted here that Indonesia’s transition process to democracy is something inevitable. Indonesian people understand that their future lies in the working of a democracy. Ten years is such a short period to build a real democracy in such a diverse country like Indonesia. However, with the increasing maturity of Indonesian young guns, this transition process will surely find its way to its destination. The next general elections will be crucial for the future of Indonesian democracy and Indonesia as a nation. The world is watching closely, how democracy and Islam, the second largest religion in the world and the religion of the majority population in Indonesia, work hand in hand in Indonesia to achieve a common goal of creating a welfare society.

Thursday, April 03, 2008

Do We Need To Boycott Beijing?

Ever since the riot in Lasha early last month after the arrest of some 60 monks dominated the headlines of newspapers across the globe, there is a mounting pressure from different quarters to boycott the upcoming Olympics to be held in Beijing in October. From France, the French President, Nicholas Sarkozy called for a boycott to the Games and it was echoed by his Foreign Minister, Bernard Kouchner, who has said that the European Union should consider punishing China with a boycott of the opening ceremony of the Beijing Olympics.

Robert Meynard, the head of the Reporters without Borders, called for the same action and has urged the “world’s big democracies to find the courage” to boycott the Olympics.

On earlier occasions, too, there have been attempts to sabotage the Olympics. The boycott by many Western countries of the 1980 Moscow Olympics when the Cold War was at its height is a notable example.

Earlier, a conference held in Delhi in June last year by a group that calls itself “Friends of Tibet” focused on ways to use the upcoming Olympics to highlight the issue of “free Tibet” globally. The Beijing Olympics, many participants of the conference emphasized, was the “one chance” for the Tibetans to come out and protest. A call was issued for worldwide protests and a march of Tibetan exiles in India and Nepal to Lhasa was also announced to coincide with the opening of the Games.

Across the Atlantic, some members of the American House of Representatives submitted their formal objection to the plan by President Bush to attend the opening ceremony of the Games in Beijing.

But, do we really need to boycott the Games?

I still remember in July 2006 when the Indonesian Tennis Association (Pelti) decided not to send the Indonesian Fed Cup Tennis Team to play against Israel in Tel Aviv in a protest to the Israeli government's continuing occupation of Palestine. This protest let the Israeli team to advance to the next stage of championship while the Indonesian team must suffer from the penalty by the ITF for its failure to play. Apart from the administrative penalty, the Indonesian Fed Cup team was also suspended for the whole one year from the competition. It was only last year that the Indonesian Fed Cup team could re-join the competition.

As a tennis lover, I was disappointed by the incident because the valiant effort by the Indonesian Fed Cup team to win a position in the play-off in New Delhi in 2005 had gone in vain. Politics has taken over the beauty of the game of tennis.

However, personally, I firmly understood the decision to boycott the game. Indonesians and the Indonesian government are known for their long history of support towards the Palestinian cause. Thus the atrocities conducted by the Israeli government towards the Palestinians are undeniably irresponsible and should be stopped.

A similar decision was once taken by the Indian Davis Cup team in the 1974 when they refused to play against South Africa in protest of the apartheid policy in South Africa.

But, I do not think that we have to boycott the Games. The Games is about sport and sportsmanship, no politics is allowed.

I do sympathize with the Tibetans and give my full support to their cause. But I also want to see the successful celebration of sports in the form of the Olympics. The Games must go on and we have to support the Chinese government's effort to guarantee its successful organization.

If we have to boycott the Games, we should have done it in the first place when Beijing was chosen as the host of this year's Olympics. Trying to obstruct the successful organization of the Games now is like a hypocrite who is afraid to say no when the announcement about Beijing was done and now is trying to steal the world's attention as a show of sympathy towards the Tibetans.

What about human right abuses in Iraq, in Afghanistan or in Guantanmo Bay?

I believe that Tibet is the domestic problem of China and the Chinese government is trying to solve it. As a suggestion, it is only through dialogue that the problem of Tibet could be resolved. The use of force will only heightened the hatred and rebellious attitude of the oppressed while dialogue will pave the way for peaceful solution to the problem. Putting Dalai Lama in an equal position and making him as a partner in the dialogue, I believe, will be the best way to solve the problem and the Olympics must go on.

Wednesday, April 02, 2008

Threat of Transnational Crime

In 2001, Osama bin Laden filled the headlines of newspapers across the globe. His sin was being accused as the man behind the WTC tragedy in September 11, 2001 in New York. In late March 2008, Geert Wilders, a Dutch MP, received condemnation from Muslims across the globe for his irresponsible act of broadcasting a derogatory documentary film towards Islam on the internet. At the same time, three Malaysian nationals were arrested by the custom officials at Soekarno-Hatta International Airport for trying to smuggle 9.3 kg of drug to Indonesia.

What is the similarity between the incidents above? It is globalization. Globalization has permitted the movement of people across borders without any hurdles and transnational movement is an undeniable phenomenon at this age.

The term transnationalism was introduced for the first time in the 20th century by Randolph Bourne to describe a new way of thinking on the relationships between cultures. It is a social movement that grows due to interconnectivity between men across the globe and due to the depleting borders among nations.

According to Thomas L Friedman, globalization as the main motor behind transnationalism is a new system in the 21st century which focuses on integration and the abolition of borders between states. Globalization also advocates openness in which it allows the development and the strengthening of civil society which is important in the deepening process of democratic principles. The current democratic process in Indonesia is the resultant of this phenomenon. At the same time, globalization eases the process of transfer of strategic technology to assist the development process in a country.

Apart from the implementation of free market policy, the demolition of Berlin wall that symbolized division of the world and the emergence of internet are key factors that influence the birth of globalization. Friedman says that globalization has three balancing platforms: (1) the traditional balance that defines the relations between nation states; (2) the balance between the global market and the states; (3) the balance between individuals and the nation states.

If the first platform focuses on the role of states, the second platform puts the market as the decision making institution on important happenings in the world. Super power and supermarket are the two dominating power at this period. Meanwhile, the third platform emerged when the borders between states have depleted and the world is fully interconnected by a single global network thus allowing individuals to come on to the world stage at will. The super-empowered individuals are the dominating force at this stage of globalization and their impacts might either be useful or harmful to the global community. And the phenomena described in the beginning of this article represent the capability of these super-empowered individuals.

By using the triple "T" revolution – telecommunication, transportation and technology – these super-empowered individuals are capable of conducting their actions at ease and the resultant of their actions can instantly be felt and known by the rest of the population in this globe. Globalization has given opportunities to these individuals to conduct transnational crimes as well and this phenomenon is undeniably increasing and unavoidable. Indonesia must be prepared to face this new threat.

Containing Transnational Crimes

For Indonesia, the threat of transnational crimes is very much real than ever before. As the biggest archipelagic country in the world, Indonesia needs to build a comprehensive national security system to contain the threats in its various forms, be it the illegal logging, illegal fishing, terrorism, human trafficking, smuggling of drugs as well as other forms of transnational crimes. International cooperation is importantly needed to fight this dreadful menace.

One of the strategies is by adopting the United Nations Convention against Transnational Organized Crime established in November 2000. The Convention allows the signatory countries to avail international support and cooperation in setting up a series of measures against transnational organized crime. These include the creation of domestic criminal offences to combat the problem, and the adoption of new, sweeping frameworks for mutual legal assistance, extradition, law-enforcement cooperation and technical assistance and training. Thus it allows the successful containment of the threats of transnational crimes.

Besides, the Indonesian government must meticulously studies the root cause of this threat in Indonesia. By providing facilities and the opening of job market in Indonesia, the government will, I believe, be successful in preventing the locals from being tempted to be irresponsible super-empowered individuals. Transnational crime is a threat brought by globalization and Indonesia must be prepared to fight it at all cost.

Tuesday, March 25, 2008

Monks as Agents of Change

So far as the tradition in the Buddhism is concerned, worldly affairs are beyond the concern of the monks. Instead, achieving the purity of life and spiritual happiness become a life time dedication for these holy men. Once a Buddhist decides to choose a life as a monk, he/she has to relinquish his/her worldly desires and surrenders his/her life for the sake of spiritual happiness.

Recent phenomena, however, seem to have shown a departure from this tradition. Recent incidents of worldly affair involving these holy men described the better half of a monk's life. In Myanmar, they marched down the streets of Myanmar's major cities to demand the restoration of democracy and justice there. The endless suffering of the Myanmar people at the hands of the military junta has transported the monks beyond their spiritual lives.

Similarly, the latest incident in Tibet seemed to echo the previous monk-inspired social agitation in Myanmar. The Tibetan monks marched down the street of Lasha, the capital of Tibet, in a peaceful demonstration to demand freedom and abolition of injustices there. The Chinese iron rule in Tibet has made the Tibetans suffer. The Tibetans have been facing grave injustices from the decade long Chinese occupation.

But why did these monks rebel and go against the Buddhist tradition of non-interference on worldly affairs?

The answer to the question might come from the fact that monks are also human, like the rest of the population. They are integral part of the society, the most respected one in a Buddhist society. Even though the life of a monk is dedicated solely to the non-worldly affairs and the attainment of spiritual happiness but being in the highest order in the society, the monks are responsible for keeping the balance of life in the society. Thus, the presence of any form of injustice which obstructs the balance of life in a society cannot be tolerated and should be banished. The decision by the monks to choose the path of agitation through peaceful demonstrations should not be construed as a departure from their tradition of non-interference on worldly affairs. Instead, it is their responsibility to fight against injustices as an implementation of Buddha's teachings.

In Myanmar, the monks could no longer tolerate the injustices suffered by the Myanmar people. Their rights as the citizens of the State have been robbed and curtailed by the military junta that long has been controlling the small, natural resource rich nation in Southeast Asia. Thus, it was time for the monks to fight against this injustice and peacefully march down the street to assert moral pressure to the authority. They hoped that their peaceful march would turn into noise that could be heard by the authority and injustice in Myanmar can be abolished.

The latest incident involving the Buddhist monks in Tibet bore similarity to the one in Myanmar. The Tibetan monks could no longer tolerate the control of the Chinese government there. The Tibetan people have been robbed from their basic rights. Acceding to the data from London School of Economic, the double digit annual economic growth in Tibet fails to improve the socio-economic condition of the Tibetans. The minority Han community in Tibet are the one who benefits the most from it while the majority of the Tibetans are living in poverty. 40 percent of them are illiterate and only 15 percent Tibetans are educated, the lowest in China (60 percent). The Tibetan people must thus fight for their freedom and the monks led the way.

Not all the initiatives by these holy men, however, resulted in positive change. In Myanmar, the junta responded the demonstration with force and violent response. They arrested the monks and threatened these holy men not to repeat the act or face severe consequences. The demand for change went into deaf ears and injustice prevails.

Similarly, the demand for greater autonomy in Tibet that long has been advocated by Dalai Lama has so far not yielded any positive result. Tibet is still under the iron control of the Chinese government and the Tibetans are still suffering from injustice, both socially and economically.

It is important to note here, however, that in both Myanmar and Tibet the Buddhist monks have played important role in advocating change and fighting against injustices in their society. Even though their valiant efforts have not yet yield any visible change but they have played a role as agents of change. And better change is arriving, sooner rather than later.