The Jakarta Post
A true friend provides good advice at the right time and in the right way, an old saying goes. That’s what outgoing British Ambassador to Indonesia Moazzam Malik did when he conveyed a five-point farewell message to Indonesia right before his four-year posting ends on June 21.
As always, it was on a strong and bold note, including regarding the protection of minorities. His words will be well received and may impact government policies and people’s mindset.
Thirty years ago, then-United States ambassador to Indonesia Paul Wolfowitz sent a shocking message — but received a cheerful welcome — to president Soeharto. In a public lecture at the American Cultural Center on May 10, 1989, just a few weeks before he ended his three-year term and returned to Washington to hold a senior position at the Department of Defense, Wolfowitz said: “If greater openness is a key to economic success, I believe there is increasingly a need for openness in the political sphere as well.”
Ambassador Malik took a similar path, although his message was not just for the government but the whole nation as well. He understands very well that President Joko “Jokowi” Widodo can accept his message, and hopefully is willing to act on it in his second five-year term.
“I hope that Indonesia can promote democratic values, including the rights of minorities. If Indonesia is successful as a democratic country, where the world’s largest Muslim population is, that is good not only for Indonesians but actually for all democratic countries and Muslim communities around the world. Indonesia can be an example that we can all look to learn from and to emulate,” Ambassador Malik told The Jakarta Post.
He wishes to see Indonesia progress in five big areas.
First, Indonesia can be a role model for predominantly Muslim nations in the developing world. Islam in Indonesia is internationally recognized as moderate, democratic and peaceful. But it is also a fact that intolerance and disrespect for minority rights and freedom of religion remain a challenge.
Second, he cautiously criticizes Indonesia for overestimating its market power. Indonesia should be more open to the global economy to make it more competitive.
Third, Indonesia needs to boost its human resources through high quality education, a field in which the United Kingdom is willing to cooperate.
Fourth, as the world’s 16th largest economy and the fifth-largest carbon emitter, Indonesia should be able realize its commitment under the Paris Agreement on climate change.
Fifth, Indonesia needs to be more active in international collaboration. In his first term of office, President Jokowi took an inward-looking policy and paid little attention to foreign affairs, therefore a second term will give him an opportunity to make a difference.
As a British and Muslim friend, Ambassador Malik knows very well the world pins hopes on Indonesia promoting democracy, prosperity and peace.
Bapak Moazzam thank you for your very meaningful farewell message.