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Jakarta Post

Fixing Indonesia's image problem

  • Anak Agung Banyu Perwita

Bandung   /   Mon, December 22 2008   /  02:48 pm
HITTING THE RIGHT NOTE: Representatives from the Australian Embassy play traditional gamelan instruments at a diplomatic gathering at the J.W. Marriott Hotel this year. The event, organized by the Foreign Ministry to promote Indonesian culture as part of Visit Indonesia Year 2008, was opened by Umar Hadi, director of public diplomacy at the Foreign Ministry. (JP/Ricky Yudhistira)(JP/Ricky Yudhistira)

Indonesia has an image problem. Yes, Indonesia is the third largest democratic country in the world. Yes, Indonesia is also the country with the largest Muslim population. But at the same time, we are witnesses to how messy our democracy can be and the use of religious symbols in many conflicts in Indonesia. The gaps between who we are, how we wish to be seen and how we are actually seen are widening. Of course, these gaps must close in the coming years. President Susilo Bambang Yudhoyono has plainly stated "we should be a country that has a solid national identity, but also a strong international identity, that is, how we are perceived by the international community". That is the job of public diplomacy. In the new era of international relations, the role of public diplomacy is becoming more relevant and crucial. It is an important element of soft power and the...