Toward an innovative, competitive nation
Susilo Bambang Yudhoyono
The Jakarta Post
Today, we need to reflect on the journey of the reform that has lasted for 15 years. We have also gone through an era marking the transition to democracy.
Our democracy keeps growing and flourishing as indicated by, among other things, the well-functioning checks and balances of inter-state power institutions, the implementation of decentralization and regional autonomy, the holding of periodic, peaceful, fair and democratic general elections, as well as the establishment of state institution apparatus, which ensure a more satisfactory democracy and good governance.
Our Human Development Index has gone up significantly, as a number of indicators have shown. Student participation rates of primary, secondary and higher education have shown an encouraging outcome. Life expectancy rates keep on increasing and we are optimistic that we will be able to achieve the target in 2014. Infant and maternal mortality rates are decreasing. In fact, we have become an exemplary country that has succeeded in reducing the number of tuberculosis sufferers significantly, either by early detection or treatment.
Our ability to increase national productivity has shown results. This is reflected in the improvement in per capita income, as well as in the expansion of the middle'class in our homeland. In 2004, our per capita GDP was US$1,177. In 2009, we managed to raise it to $2,299. This figure kept rising and reached $3,592 last year. With our commitment, efforts and hard work, by the end of 2014, our per capita GDP will be close to $5,000.
Today's global reality and situation are still shrouded in uncertainties, either in the fields of politics, security or the economy. In the Middle East and North Africa regions, for example, the transition to democracy is still unclear.
In the Asia-Pacific region, Indonesia always calls for the realization of a 'dynamic equilibrium', a condition that is marked by the absence of a dominant power. Relations that are based on the spirit of cooperation and partnership, which are neither competitive nor confrontational, a conviction that the progress of one country is not a threat to other countries; on the contrary, it is indeed an opportunity to enhance cooperation and partnership.
In the Southeast Asian region, Indonesia is constantly committed to the establishment of the ASEAN Community 2015, with its three pillars ' namely the political and security, economic and sociocultural pillars. We also actively incorporate society in this process to ensure that the ASEAN Community can bring about benefits and advantages to all of us.
We have been watching political and security developments very closely in a number of countries in the Middle East, particularly in Syria, Egypt and Palestine. In the case of Syria, Indonesia calls on leaders of the permanent member states of the UN Security Council to play more active roles in finding a solution to the political and security crises in that country. The world must not remain idle and allow the unfolding humanitarian crisis to continue unabated.
In relation to developments in Egypt, we would like to express our hope that the political crisis will be speedily resolved, and that national reconciliation can start immediately. Indonesia is deeply concerned about what has been taking place in Egypt during these last few days. We hope the continuing loss of life will be stopped immediately.
The use of force and military might to confront demonstrators is definitely against democratic and humanitarian values.
Praise be to God, our economy has continued to grow in a sustainable manner. The people's purchasing power continues to strengthen, the middle class has grown significantly, monetary and fiscal stability has remained under control and national economic fundamentals have also become stronger. The economy grew at around 5-6 percent, the business world thrived, unemployment declined and we are continuously lowering the poverty rate.
Adjustment of the fuel subsidy has been carried out. Consequently, we can allocate a bigger budget to programs that give greater benefit to the people, especially those of the low-income segment, such as the programs of social security, basic infrastructure development, public transportation provisions and social security system.
The aims of all of these developments are to create a national connectivity that, in turn, will generate industrialization and down-streaming. Our economy will also become more efficient, have a greater competitive edge and be more equitably distributed all over Indonesian territory.
We also need to continue maintaining tolerance and managing harmony between inter- and intra-religious adherents in Indonesia. We must be more aware that Indonesia is a nation built on a diverse societal structure. We must regard this diversity as a blessing, and manage it wisely and responsibly. Imbued with the spirit of Bhinneka Tunggal Ika (Unity in Diversity), we need to continue to nurture tolerance. We have to continue to prevent destructive communal violence and clashes that could seriously undermine the harmonious life of our society and national unity.
I would like to serve a reminder to all Indonesian people, that the state fully guarantees the existence of individuals and minority groups. Based on the Constitution, the state also guarantees freedom of worship for all citizens according to his/her religion and beliefs. It is unacceptable that a person or certain group of people impose their beliefs on others, let alone use threats, intimidation or violence.
The third important issue is related to the management and the preparation of the 2014 general election, as well as national leadership succession. We will elect 560 members of the House of Representatives, 132 members of the Regional Representatives Council, 2,137 members of the Provincial Legislative Councils, and 20,257 members of the Regency/Municipality Regional Legislative Councils.
We all hope and must be rest assured that the 2014 election will run smoothly, orderly and in a peaceful manner. No less important than this, we also hope that its organization meets all the universal standards in the tradition of democracy: free and fair.
We also hope the political parties contesting the election will improve the quality of democracy in this country. Consequently, the political parties should ideally build a more accountable relationship with their constituents.
We will also hold a presidential election to vote for a president and vice president. It is indeed a blessing, as the country has managed to encourage the emergence of new leader candidates who are qualified and stand ready to continue the leadership relay in this country. Let us make sure that the candidates actively expound their vision and mission, solutions they offer to overcome a number of the nation's complex problems. Let us ensure that the people obtain sufficient information with a view to evaluating their candidates for leader.
Those elected will have the obligation to defend justice and the well-being of every person without exception, including those who did not vote for the winning candidate or party. Herein lies the beauty of democracy.
The fourth important thing is related to the obligation of the state to retain sovereignty and maintain territorial integrity. We must reiterate that Aceh and Papua are inseparable parts of Indonesia.
Through this affirmation, I hope all parties actively cooperate to prevent political activities that may disrupt the good relations between Indonesia and other friendly countries.
Apart from these four issues, the state and government will continue to carry out what have been the priorities and principal agenda, for example, corruption prevention and eradication, prevention of and operation against terrorism and various transnational crimes, as well as efforts to mitigate climate change and environmental protection.
We are likewise committed to pursuing various global agendas related to food, energy and clean water crises, and also the mitigation of climate change impacts.
In order to expedite the realization of these aspirations, we must enhance the quality of our human resources. We have to promote and develop the young Indonesian generation to eventually become intelligent, morally dependable and tolerant.
Furthermore, we must also continue to foster the culture of innovation and research as well as technological mastery. An advanced nation is an innovative and competitive nation.
The article is an abridged version of President Susilo Bambang Yudhoyono's state of union address delivered on the eve of the 68th anniversary of Indonesian independence.
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