27 Januari 2010

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Thirteen challenges facing Indonesia

This is an abridged and translated statement by the President  to the press (from an unofficial transcript) after a meeting with other heads of high state institutions —  including the vice president, Speakers of the People’s Consultative Assembly (MPR), the House of Representatives (DPR) and the Regional Representatives Council (DPD), Chiefs of  the Supreme Court, the Constitutional Court and the heads of the State Audit Agency and the Judicial Commission — at the Bogor Palace on Jan. 2.

The challenges are first,  the four pillars of the State’s way of life that we refer to as our  basic consensus: the Pancasila state ideology, the 1945 Constitution, the Unitary Republic of Indonesia, and the state motto Unity in Diversity. We all agreed to observe our respective tasks in order to strengthen these pillars.
The second relates to the proliferation of administrative regions. A moratorium has been put in place pending the outcome of an evaluation. We will come up with a grand policy design and master plan in 2010 and consult them with the DPR and DPD before they become policy.
The above proliferation imposes a huge budget burden on the state. These moves must lead to improvement of people’s welfare and not the other way round. In the last 10 years, we have seen the creation of more than 200 new autonomous regions.
We cannot let this happen without a clear concept. With the new grand design and master plan, some regions may be divided and some have to be merged with others.
The third relates to free trade, including the ASEAN-China Free Trade Agreement (ACFTA). Free trade is not a novelty for us. We took the initiative at an APEC Summit here in Bogor in 1994. In 2003, we had three meetings in Bali, the ASEAN Summit, the ASEAN+3 and the ASEAN with its dialogue partners, which culminated with ACFTA.
Today, there are talks about not implementing ACFTA. The government position is clear: we will see and evaluate our preparedness.
We need to meet and discuss so that the objectives of the agreement will not create problems to our
people. These talks should be conducted according to international practices.
The government will manage this problem as best as it can. We have to protect the interests of our people and prepare them better but we must maintain strong cooperation within ASEAN and with our trading partners.
The fourth challenge is the stability of commodity prices. The recovery of the global economy has led to increases in prices of basic commodities. The government is taking steps to prevent this from burdening people. We have set aside Rp 38 trillion under the Amended 2010 Budget to stabilize prices through market operations and other measures.
The fifth relates to the 2014 general elections. We have some way to go, but the campaign for legislative elections will commence in July 2013. Learning from past experiences, we have to prepare early.
All the laws should already be in place two years ahead. We are counting on the cooperation of the House of Representatives. We must also appoint the Election Commission and assign it with the appropriate budget.
Number six relates to the amendment of the 1945 Constitution.
Although the Constitution makes provisions for constitutional amendment, we have to make sure that the changes reflect the urgency and the will of the people.
Number seven relates to the local elections at provincial and regency levels. We want these polls to be more effective and efficient, and not become costly political exercises. We need to improve the mechanisms and the rules of these local elections.
The eighth challenge would be  the campaign to end mafia practices in the judiciary. The Task Force to Fight the Judiciary Mafia enjoys widespread support and counts on public participation. People can report directly to my office or the Task Force, and their information will be followed up.
Number nine relates to the national school final exams. The government will make sure that
preparatory steps are taken beforehand. They will be in accordance with the Supreme Court ruling, without sacrificing the quality of our education.
The 10th challenge relates to the judicial review process conducted by the Constitutional Court. The court is obliged to explain to the public about its rulings.
Number 11 relates to the quality of judges. We have had cases of judges acting unprofessionally.
Reforming the judiciary is imperative and must be thorough, and not simply confined to the district courts. We need to build a credible judiciary system.
Number 12 is  financial accountability. All state institutions must strive to improve the quality of their financial reporting and auditing. We support the initiative to build an audit facility that links them with the BPK, so that any irregularity can be checked, traced and tracked immediately.
The 13th challenge is  the checks and balances between the different state institutions.
They can synergize their acts, sometimes complementing one another, other times  controlling each other, but they are there to prevent abuse of power.
These checks and balances mechanisms are not meant as tools for one state institution to bring another down.
This is a presidential, not parliamentary system of government, so we don’t recognize the concept of “vote of no confidence” that can bring down the Cabinet. Conversely, the President cannot dissolve the parliament, the MPR and the DPD. The rules on impeachment are clearly stipulated in the Constitution.

by Susilo Bambang Yudhoyono
Opinion of The Jakarta Post, January 28, 2010