“Managing Differences and Competing Interests:
The Indonesian Experience”
H.E. Dr. R.M. Marty M. Natalegawa
Minister for Foreign Affairs
Republic of Indonesia
At the International Conference on the
Global Movement of Moderates
Kuala Lumpur, Malaysia, 18 January 2012
His Royal Highness Raja Dr. Nazrin Shah, Crown Prince of Perak,
Yang Mulia Dato’ Sri Anifah Aman, Minister for Foreign Affairs of Malaysia,
Yang Mulia Dato’ Tun Musa Hitam, Deputy Prime Minister of Malaysia in 1981-1986, and moderator of this session,
Mr. Khalek Awang, President of the International Islamic University of Malaysia Alumni Association
Ladies and Gentlemen,
Assalamu’alaikum Warahmatullahi Wabarakatuh.
A very good afternoon to all of you.
It is indeed an honour for me to participate in this International Conference on the Global Movement of Moderates, and to share my views on how, by drawing upon Indonesia’s experience, we can embrace diversity and unleash its full potentials for the benefit of all.
I therefore wish to thank the Prime Minister of Malaysia, the Honourable Dato’ Sri Mohd Najib Tun Razak, for kindly inviting me to take part in this important Conference.
May I also take this opportunity to congratulate the Honourable Prime Minister on the launching of his book, “Global Movement of Moderates”, and the inauguration of his brainchild, the Global Movement of Moderates Foundation, yesterday.
In a world weighed down by extremism of all kinds, these will give a refreshing boost to the cause of moderation.
I was privileged to witness the first time the Prime Minister announcing this initiative at the 65th Session of the UNGA in New York in 2010 and then again, soon after that, at the ASEM Summit in Brussels.
As an advocate of peace among nations and within nations, Indonesia strongly welcomes this initiative. It strengthens and vindicates our own efforts to give voice to the moderates in our own society—and in all societies.
Such efforts include the International Conferences of Islamic Scholars and the World Peace Forums that our Government carried out in partnership with our largest Muslim organizations, the Nahdlatul Ulama and the Muhammadiyah. They include the Global InterMedia Dialogue we launched with Norway to enlist the power of mass media to promote the cause of moderation and mutual tolerance among faiths and cultures.
Hence, Indonesia is an early and natural part of the Global Movement of Moderates. We will thus contribute what we can to help make this Movement flourish.
For my own contribution today, I have been requested to speak on the topic, “Managing Differences and Competing Interests: the Indonesian Experience.”
I can understand why the Indonesian experience has been chosen as sounding board for this topic.
As one of the most diverse nations in the world, Indonesia is home to more than 300 ethnic groups. It is home to the world’s largest Muslim population. And it is home to all other humankind’s great religions, including Hinduism, Buddhism, Confucianism and the various denominations of Christianity.
Indonesia proudly bears the civilizational influences of the Middle East, the Sub-Continent, the rest of East Asia as well as the Western world.
A broad spectrum of political persuasions is also at work in our society.
Indeed, Indonesia is diverse in all aspects.
And yet, we succeeded in nurturing our national unity. And we made a successful transition from authoritarianism to a fully democratic system.
Throughout that transition, we have not regarded our diversity as a problem to be managed. Instead, we cherish it.
It is our asset, our national character, and we therefore celebrate it. We build upon it.
To be sure, our journey has not always been a smooth sailing one.
At times, it was like a roller coaster ride. We had to cope with separatist threats, ethnic tensions, and religious conflicts. In fact, in the turbulent times following the 1998 crisis, some observers went so far as to predict the failure of Indonesia as a country. The balkanization of Indonesia.
But the overwhelming majority of our people remained committed to the unity of Indonesia. And instead of falling apart, we adopted a new approach. We reformed our governance. And we overcame the challenges.
Thus we acquired a second major asset: our experience in democratic transition and societal reform – lessons-learned that may be of relevance to others.
That transition, too, has not been an easy process. It demanded resilience, perseverance and commitment from all Indonesians.
From that experience of political transition in the midst of diversity, others may derive insights that are useful to their own efforts at political development. And develop for themselves practical ideas on how to manage, and indeed, embrace diversity.
That’s why we established the Bali Democracy Forum, the only intergovernmental forum in Asia for exchange of experiences and best practices in political development. We are confident that through this Forum, we can learn from one another’s experiences on our respective challenge and opportunities in addressing diversity as part of political development.
Let me now take this opportunity to share with you two basic conclusions that may be drawn from the Indonesian experience.
First, democracy is an effective response to the competing interests and agendas within society.
This is largely the case, whether that society is relatively homogenous or vastly diversified like Indonesia.
There are two ways of responding to the wide range of aspirations and concerns among the people. The state can superimpose its will on these disparate interests. Or it can accommodate them in a just and democratic manner. In our case in Indonesia, we have done it both ways.
The New Order era, spanned about three decades, offered one approach.
And it seemed to work—until the Asian Crisis of 1998 exposed the fundamental weakness of a system that was not accountable.
Indonesia then took a completely different approach.
We embraced democracy. We launched our transition to a democratic system. We carried out far-reaching reforms. All voices now gained a hearing. And all interests are now taken into consideration in a genuine search for common ground.
We developed a system in which all stakeholders could participate—not only through free and fair elections—not only through dialogue between accountable officials and their constituents.
Rather also, through various avenues of feedback which are wide open—including a free press and various forums through which petitions and grievances are expressed and heard.
Thus the people feel empowered. They have a sense of ownership of the actions of the state. And they feel they are making a contribution to the day-to-day conduct of governance.
Thus we have become more certain that we are faithful to our national motto, Bhinneka Tunggal Ika, “We are many, we are one.” And that we are strictly applying our tradition of Musyawarah untuk mufakat, or consultation to reach consensus.
We are also more firmly committed to Pancasila, the five principles of our national philosophy, which prescribes respect and mutual understanding among all on the basis of our belief in God and the values of humanity, national unity, democracy, and social justice.
That’s how democracy took deep roots in our country: it is supported and nourished by the core values of Islam and other faiths in Indonesia. By our cultures and traditions. By our own social standards.
That’s how we sent a message to the world that Islam, democracy and modernization can flourish together. And that democracy pays political, social and economic dividends.
Within 13 years, we emerged as a vibrant economic power with regional and global outreach. And we are more stable, politically and socially, than we have ever been.
Ladies and Gentlemen,
I started out by affirming that Indonesia’s diversity is not a problem to be managed but an asset that we celebrate and build upon. The world is even more immensely diversified. I believe we can celebrate, build upon and unleash the full potentials of global diversity for the benefit of all humankind.
This brings me to the second basic conclusion I wish to share with you: in the same manner that democracy is the best response to competing interests at the national level, the most effective response to competing national interests at the global level is a democratization of global governance.
This means that in the face of the many disparate national interests being asserted in global forums, we must now earnestly look for common ground.
In this regard, I recall that when President Susilo Bambang Yudhoyono addressed the UNESCO in Paris last year on the 10th anniversary of the Universal Declaration on Cultural Diversity, he cited decisive changes that have a profound impact on the global order.
One of the most crucial of these changes is the growing role of the developing world in the global economy.
The rise of the emerging economies, their call for reform of the international financial architecture, and their willingness to work with the developed world to solve global problems—represent a unique opportunity for democratization of international governance.
I sincerely believe that the democratization that took place at the national level in Indonesia—and in other nations making a transition similar to ours—can be replicated at the global level to address competing national interests.
If we all work together to carry this out, the benefits for all humankind will be tremendous.
Ladies and Gentlemen,
Let me just share one final thought with you.
The moderates of the world should not feel isolated from one another. For there is no lack of forum and process for dialogue among the faiths, cultures and civilizations. And yet there are still outbreaks of violence in many parts of the world that stem from prejudice and intolerance.
This does not mean that dialogue doesn’t work. But it may mean that dialogue has not spread wide enough. And that there is room for further inclusion.
As Prime Minister Dato’ Sri Najib Razak said in his keynote address, we have to make the voice of reason louder than the voice of hatred.
We have to take risks. We must summon every bit of courage within ourselves and exercise it.
That is why I am optimistic about this Global Movement of Moderates and its tremendous capacity to promote dialogue.
True moderates have moral courage. And that is what it takes to change the world for the better.
I thank you.
Wednesday, 18 January 2012