Tag Archive | "SBY"

Indonesia For A Better World

Sidney Morning Herald
Tom Allard Herald Correspondent in Jakarta

July 10, 2009

THE Indonesian President, Susilo Bambang Yudhoyono, is expected to promote a more assertive foreign policy during his second term, leveraging the country’s status as an international standard bearer of democracy and moderate Islam.

The retired general and moderate reformist is believed to have triumphed in Wednesday’s presidential election. He is yet to claim victory and one rival, Megawati Soekarnoputri, may still bring a challenge based on alleged widespread fraud in the voter list.

But, a day after the usually reliable quick counts by independent polling groups were issued, Indonesians were already looking ahead to Dr Yudhoyono’s next five years in office.

Anies Beswaden, rector of Paramadina University, said Dr Yudhoyono could become a regional leader of significance.

“He could emerge as a global leader,” he said, noting Indonesia had banked a huge amount of international goodwill for holding a peaceful election when the region was beset by political turmoil. “I think his destiny and legacy will be in the international sphere.”

As the world’s largest country with an Islamic majority, the region’s beacon of democracy and a nation that is overwhelmingly moderate religiously, Indonesia has plenty of “soft power” to deploy. World leaders such as the US President, Barack Obama, have been effusive in their praise of its development.

Australia had been hoping that Dr Yudhoyono would win a second term and bring more economic stability and security to its previously fragile near neighbour. The Prime Minister, Kevin Rudd, called Dr Yudhoyono yesterday afternoon to congratulate him on his expected win.

Dr Yudhoyono has had a long interest in international affairs.

Wimar Witoelar, a prominent commentator, said he expected the President to leave much of the nitty gritty of domestic affairs to his cabinet.

“He does have the stature to be a statesman,” he said. “Indonesia can carry its weight internationally by itself.”

Many in the intellectual elite want Indonesia to develop a foreign relations strategy outside the Association of South-East Asian Nations, which has been widely derided as ineffective, for example in its inability to force Burma to introduce even the most modest reforms.

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The Time Is NOW

Indonesia is re-emerging as one of the world’s hottest developing economies, a remarkable turnaround for a country that was once widely viewed as a basket case.

Despite the global financial crisis, Indonesia’s economy is on track to grow nearly 4% this year, making it one of only a handful of major economies — including China and India — that International Monetary Fund expects to expand in 2009.

Its stock market is up 50% for the year, and companies including Volkswagen AG and British American Tobacco PLC are making new investments there.

Much of the credit goes to Indonesia’s president Susilo Bambang Yudhoyono, a former army general who is widely expected to win re-election after five years in power. Under his watch, the government has stamped out Islamic terrorism and ended its civil war in the resource-rich province of Aceh. He has brought state spending under control and launched a popular anti-corruption drive, landing a number of senior politicians and central bank officials, including one whose daughter is married to Mr. Yudhoyono’s son, in jail.

But critics say Mr. Yudhoyono will have to do more to attack corruption if the nation is to reach its potential of China-style economic growth rates of over 8%. Last year, China attracted six times more foreign direct investment than Indonesia. Foreign businesses say that a corrupt legal system and bureaucracy are major deterrents to doing business in Indonesia.

For more than a decade, this ethnically-diverse archipelago nation of more than 17,000 islands — covering a distance greater than Los Angeles to New York — was known for corruption and chronic instability, with one of the world’s longest-running civil wars. Islamic terrorists struck Western targets in Indonesia with impunity, and foreign investors mostly steered clear. Indonesia seemed so unstable at times that some Western analysts feared it would turn into another Pakistan.

Recently, its fortunes are changing. Last month, a Morgan Stanley analyst report suggested Indonesia should be added to the famous “BRIC” grouping of fast-growing emerging markets that now includes Brazil, Russia, India and China.

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Candle In Any Given Darkness

THE election is a triumph for Indonesia and for President Susilo Bambang Yudhoyono. It is a development of strategic good fortune for Australia of epic proportions.

If, as Paul Keating often argued, the rise of Suharto in the mid-1960s was the greatest beneficial strategic act for Australia in the post-war period, then the rise of SBY and the development of Indonesia as a stable democracy is an equally important piece of luck for the lucky country.

Exit polls indicate SBY is likely to win the presidency on the first round – a staggering achievement. But to have brought Indonesia to the stage where it has such large, crucial elections so peacefully and so routinely is an even bigger feat.

Listen to the criticisms of this election: it’s been boring, lacking in striking policy contrasts among the candidates and short on vision. How many nations would give anything to have elections like that?

All the candidates were credible. SBY has brought political stability, extraordinarily effective counter-terrorist action, modest institutional reform and solid economic growth.

His opponents were a former president, Meagawati Sukarnoputri, and incumbent Vice-President Jusuf Kalla.

The worst criticisms of SBY seem to be that he is a crook karaoke singer (a quality he shares with many Indonesian former military men) and that he can be overly cautious.

SBY’s supporters say this caution is a key to his achievements. He moves in the right direction, but only as fast as the public consensus will allow. He pushes the consensus along but avoids polarising his countrymen.

Megawati, and her vice-presidential running mate, former Suharto-era general Prabowo Subianto, perhaps trying to take a leaf out of Kevin Rudd’s book, accused SBY of being a “neo-liberal”.

They also made this accusation against SBY’s vice-presidential running mate, Boediono.

Boediono was a finance minister and head of Indonesia’s central bank. It is no disrespect to him to point out that no politician could have less charisma than he does.

Instead of a movie star or a general or a rich industrialist, SBY chose a technocrat as his running mate. He didn’t need extra votes or charisma.

This may be a problem in four years as there is unlikely to be a strong administration candidate for president.

But for now, the President has a big agenda of economic and institutional reform to confront.

SBY educated one of his sons in Australia and has a record of co-operation with Canberra in crucial issues.

In an often dark world, this election is a bright candle.

Source: The Australian

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The Suramadu Bridge

The Jakarta Post |   Opinion

When President Susilo Bambang Yudhoyono inaugurates the 5.4-kilometer long Suramadu (Surabaya-Madura) bridge today (Wednesday), many Indonesians may sing  “Dari Sabang Sampai Merauke” (From Sabang to Merauke) song, one of our national songs frequently sung by Indonesian children at elementary school. Let us forget (at least for a while) the presidential campaign, the popular song and imagine how we should connect our country’s 17,000 islands.

R. Suharjo, the song composer, wanted to provoke our awareness on how to unite our islands, of course not literally, but how to unite a population living in our many islands to live as one nation.

Dari Sabang sampai Merauke (From Sabang to Merauke)

Berjajar pulau pulau (Islands line up)

Sambung menyambung menjadi satu (They are connected)

Itulah Indonesia (to become Indonesia).

The Rp 4.7 trillion (US$466.6 million) Suramadu Bridge is indeed a mega project, which required about six years to construct. Our founding president Sukarno had thought about the project in 1960. His daughter, then president Megawati Soekarnoputri, officially started the project in August 2003.  But the Suramadu project is only a small part of the bridging of gaps that we need to connect as many Indonesian islands as possible.

The Suramadu Bridge is not our first inter-island bridge. We already have the Barelang (Batam-Rempang-Galang) Bridge. The 2.26-kilometer bridge actually comprises six bridges which connect the islands of Batam, Tonton, Nipah, Setokok, Rempang, Galang and Galang Baru.

Providing sufficient land, sea and air transportation links is one of most pressing challenges the nation has to confront. There are islands that can be connected by bridges, but many more islands that can only be connected with the outside world by sea and air transportation. The fast growth of our airline industry proves how high the market demand is for affordable air transportation, although it is also worrying that we are still very far from being able to provide both quality and affordable air transportation for travelers.

There has long been an ambition to bring Java and Sumatra closer together by building a bridge which will connect Banten in Java and Lampung in Sumatra. People in Bali and Lombok, and people in other islands also dream of similar land bridge connections, although we never know whether or when we can achieve these ideal goals as they may be too expensive or unrealistic.

The presence of the new bridge will bring tremendous positive impacts especially for Madura. Four million people on Madura Island will enjoy the economic benefits of the new road. The movement and deployment of people will be much faster as they will no longer depend on ferry services. Of course there will also be negative impacts on social, cultural and other aspects of life.

Since the completion of the Cipularang turnpike, which makes it much easier and faster to travel to Bandung from Jakarta, Bandung’s economy has been progressively booming. But many people living along the old routes, which used to connect Jakarta and Bandung, are now suffering severe economic setbacks because many less people now need their business services.

The Suramadu Bridge is indeed a tremendous project. We want to salute and express our respect to all the parties who have made the bridge a reality. But, we also want to remind all of us that maintaining the bridge is also a huge task. We congratulate the people of East Java on the inauguration of the new bridge.

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The Time For Indonesia Is NOW!

Susilo rides the momentum

By Karim Raslan

ASEAN can expect a far more assertive Indonesia given the Democrats’ success in last month’s Legislative polls.

LAST Friday in Bandung, capital of West Java, incumbent President and Democrat party leader Susilo Bambang Yudhoyono (SBY) amazed the assembled crowd with a rare display of bravado during a ceremony marking the declaration of his candidacy.

After nearly five years of hesitancy and uncertainty, the former general – emboldened by his party’s extraordinary success in last month’s Legislative polls (in which the Democrats tripled their representation in Indonesia’s parliament by securing 150 seats) – showed his countrymen what he was capable of as he selected his running mate.

Despite the mewling entreaties of his erstwhile political allies, most of whom were lobbying for one of their number to be adopted as his running mate, SBY turned them all down.

In quick succession they were all considered and found wanting. Firstly, Akbar Tanjung, the controversial former Golkar leader; secondly, Hatta Radjasa, SBY’s close confidant and Amien Rais’ acolyte; and finally Hidayat Nurwahid, the Islamist icon from PKS.

Instead, the 59-year-old general chose a former Coordinating Minister of Economics (and currently Governor of Bank Indonesia), Pak Boediono.

Boediono has admittedly not registered on Indonesia’s political radar much and many greeted his bid for the Vice-Presidency of the Republic with disbelief.

The soft-spoken, diplomatic and incorruptible academic from Jogjakarta’s elite Gadjah Mada University seemed so unlikely that very few people took the political chatter that he was to be chosen seriously.

However, on Friday, most of us were dumbfounded as Pak Boediono stepped forward to join SBY as his running-mate.

Still, as a Malaysian, I confess my feelings were mixed as I watched the event.

On the one hand, it’s hard not to be buoyed by the mounting sense of manifest destiny evident in Jakarta – a confidence that emanates from yet another fairly successful and democratic election (thus far at least), the looming consolidation of power under SBY, an economy that’s still humming with activity despite the global downturn, and a growing international profile arising from the recent G-20 meeting in London, not to mention US President Barack Obama’s unique childhood connection with the republic.

Certainly after 11 years of drift (and at times near chaos) following Suharto’s fall in 1998, the republic deserves its moment in the sun, even if it proves to be short-lived.

It’s as if the perennial “sick man” of Asean has recovered and is in blooming health just as the rest of us are reeling from a mixture of swine flu and the financial crisis.

So what does Pak Boediono’s appointment tells us about Indonesia?

Firstly, it shows that the President is enormously confident. If mishandled, his choice could backfire badly. But SBY is the master of political communication; and, when he speaks, he really connects with ordinary Indonesians.

Secondly, he is turning his back on Jakarta’s craven political elite, most of whom enjoy very limited traction beyond the Parliament in Senayan.

Indeed, supposed heavyweights such as DPR Speaker and Golkar faction-leader Agung Laksono almost lost their seats in the recent polls. While it’s a risky ploy, SBY is right to be bold and use his political capital immediately.

Thirdly, SBY will be drawing his team from the professional classes – from academia and the private sector. These men and women will be younger and without the political baggage he so detests.

As SBY stated (in a deliberate but understated rebuke to his former Vice-President Jusuf Kalla, with whom the fall-out appears to have become quite bitter), the focus will be on achieving a more rational and effective administration.

It will also be one that hopefully minimises the political in-fighting and accusations of personal business interests that have dogged his government hitherto.

In another departure from conventional wisdom, I suspect the President will also be trawling through the provinces to find successful local leaders for his Cabinet.

Interestingly, the popular and well-respected Governor of West Sumatra, Gamawan Fauzi, was tasked with reading out SBY’s campaign manifesto.

Finally, I’d like to end by reminding policy-makers across Asean that we’ll be dealing with a far more assertive Indonesia in the event of an SBY victory.

The best indication of this change in mood was when the President turned to discuss the economy at the ceremony, and in a sign of his immense pride in his administration’s achievements, he bracketed Indonesia alongside the two Asian giants – China and India – as the only nations in the world still registering positive economic growth.

The message is two-fold: firstly, that his team’s management of the unfolding crisis has been infinitely better than Suharto’s back in 1997/98 and, secondly, that the republic has pulled away from its counterparts in the region like Thailand, Malaysia and the Philippines and is now assuming its rightful place among the continent’s giants.

This leads to another more sensitive issue. Basically there is going to be a change in the balance of power in Asean as countries such as Thailand slip from the forefront and Indonesia – with an ambitious English-speaking leader – assumes a more commanding position.

Strangely, the biggest losers in all this may well be the Singaporeans – at one time the region’s premier private bankers and compradors. The Singaporean elite have long prided themselves on their special links to Washington, not to mention the success of their economic model.

But as its sovereign wealth fund Temasek continues to haemorrhage cash, its financial sector comes under increased scrutiny and the city-state’s pre-eminence seems like a fragile dream alongside the exuberant diversity and barely-managed anarchy of the archipelagic republic.

But we, too, will have to deal with an Indonesia that is becoming far more powerful and dynamic than we are.

It would be easy to play the old game of sour grapes, but the wise thing to do would be to change the way we do business and govern this country lest we get left behind.

(source the star online)

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Buy TIME Magazine May 2009 Edition!

Dudes, time to save your money to buy this TIME magazine next month Edition 2009. Why? Time Magazine has ranked President Susilo Bambang Yudhoyono as one of the 100 most influential leaders in the world in 2009, presidential spokesman Dino Patti Djalal said Monday. Mr Yudhoyono was on the Time list along with former US president George W. Bush, former British Prime Minister Tony Blair, Russian Prime Minister Vladimir Putin, Italian Prime Minister Silvio Berlusconi and former US secretary of state Madeline Albright.The complete list of the Time 100 will be available at bookstores on May 1st, 2009.

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