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Jakarta Post

Editorial: A lesson from Scotland

  • The Jakarta Post

    The Jakarta Post

  /   Sat, September 20, 2014   /  09:46 am

Scotland may have said '€œNo'€ to independence in this week'€™s referendum, but in doing so the UK'€™s northern region has secured more concessions from its rulers in Westminster, making it the subject of other regions'€™ envy, including those within the UK.

We have to hand it to the Scots. They have played the devolution game very effectively and have secured the maximum benefit from staying within the UK while retaining enough powers and their own cultural identity.

They even have their own soccer league. They secured the greatest possible benefit from North Sea oil money in a similar vote in the 1970s.

Was there ever any doubt about the outcome of Thursday'€™s referendum? Surveys before the vote indicated a close call and an aggressive campaign by the unionists to get the vote out may have turned the table in their favor. As of Friday, the official count was 54 percent in favor of the '€œNo'€ vote, according to Reuters.

The chief lesson of the Scottish vote for the rest of the world is that no state can take for granted that all its regions will happily stay under one roof. There were clearly some long-held grudges, as Scots reviewed more than three centuries of London rule. Some of these grievances emerged before the referendum.

A separation would have been a tragedy, but if the Scots had so wished, Westminster and the rest of the world would have had to respect their democratic aspirations.

Indonesia, an archipelagic state made up of culturally diverse nations, is not immune to similar pressures. Many today still vehemently argue that the unitary state of the Republic of Indonesia is final and not up for discussion, let alone negotiations.

But Indonesia, like the UK, is a democratic nation. There are civilized ways of dealing with independence aspirations other than treating them as a security threat.

If we have learned our lessons well, then we will understand that using the military to quell independence movements only compounds the problem. You cannot kill aspirations, as much as we may disagree with them.

For Indonesia'€™s central government, dialogue remains the best and probably only way of dealing with independence aspirations that are often entertained by some of its regions.

For the regions, they could learn a thing or two from Scotland on how to get the maximum benefit from their union.

The Scots have spelt out how the game should be played in a democracy.

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