David Cameron, British Prime Minister
Indonesia Can Lead the World
Indonesia’s transformation has been extraordinary, says Prime Minister David Cameron
VIVAnews - Indonesia is embarked on an extraordinary journey. In just over a decade you have begun a transformation that has taken my country and many others, several centuries forging an inspirational path from dictatorship to democracy.
On the streets where once there were barricades and market stalls, there are now shopping malls and superhighways. In a city where once you could not speak your concerns, today you can speak them, write them, publish them and even tweet them in the country where people now use twitter more intensively than in any other nation on the planet.
Where once the government denied human rights to its people, today it promotes them – and not just here but right across the region.
Together with this extraordinary political transformation has come an economic dynamism that has made this one of the fastest growing countries in the world with a leadership role to match, helping to steer the global economy at the G20.
It’s an economic dynamism that sums up why I am here today with the biggest and most high powered trade delegation Britain has ever brought to this region here to do business with you, creating jobs and growth for both our countries.
It’s an economic dynamism which in less than two decades is forecast to propel Indonesia into the top six economies in the world. Right now, this country – your country – is one of the most exciting and dynamic places on the planet.
You have made it that way. Saya salut dengan Anda [I salute you]
As you know, the journey has not always been easy. Just ten years ago Bali suffered one of the most horrific terrorist attacks in history.
202 people died including 38 Indonesians. People of 23 other nationalities were also killed, including 88 Australians and 28 Britons, one of them, Jonathan Ellwood, the brother of a Member of Parliament in my party.
And the memorial in London - with 202 carved doves - is just outside Downing Street. The attack on Bali was an attack on the world and it taught us just how the security of our countries is now so inevitably intertwined.
Because just like 9/11 in America and 7/7 in London, we were attacked by a group of people who wanted to set Islam at odds with the West and use a warped version of their religion to justify a campaign of hatred and violence.
They threatened the safety and security of us all. In the gravity of that fateful moment here in 2002, Indonesian resilience was tested.
And let’s be honest, some around the world even questioned whether Indonesia might face a bleak dead-end choice between extremism on the one hand and a return to dictatorship on the other whether to ensure stability in the face of this attack, Indonesia might turn the clock back.
And that is what makes what you are achieving all the more remarkable. Because what Indonesia is showing is that it is possible to develop a democracy and a modern economy that neither compromises people’s security nor their ability to practise their religion.
Indeed, far from endangering safety, prosperity and religious identity, it is democracy that ensures them. And this has huge implication for others seeking the same fundamental freedoms in places like Egypt, Iran and Syria.
The Path to Citizenship
So my thesis today is very simple. Indonesia’s transformation is not just vital to its own future prosperity and security.
If Indonesia can succeed, it can lead the world in showing how democracy can offer an alternative to the dead-end choice of dictatorship and extremism.
Because I believe - and Indonesia is showing - that the vital aspirations that we all share are rooted in democracy. And let’s be clear what we mean by democracy.
Not the single event of holding an election because elections on their own do not guarantee democracy - and can sometimes just lead to elected dictatorships.
As I have said consistently, it is about a broader process, the challenge of laying the foundations what I call the building blocks of democracy.
The independence of the judiciary and the rule of law; the rights of individuals, free media and association, a proper place in society for the army, strong political parties and civil society.
These things together make up a golden thread that can be found woven through successful countries and sustainable economies all over the world.
None of this can be achieved overnight. But if the task of laying these foundations can be completed successfully it will mean that each person enjoys the same freedoms, rights and responsibilities as citizens together.
Citizenship that means access to justice and the rule of law is available to all. Citizenship that means every individual has the same fair access to the services the state provides - irrespective of their background, religion, ethnicity or family ties.
And a citizenship that means everyone having a fair chance to play their part in shaping society – making their voices heard, building schools, businesses and civil society organisations.
These are powerful ideas. But wherever this vision of democracy and citizenship has been advanced it has encountered dangerous foes.
From Slavery in America to the Civil Rights Movement a century later. From Apartheid in South Africa to the situation in Syria today.
This fight for freedom, for the equal rights and responsibilities that should come with democracy and citizenship, has been one of the defining strands of history so we don’t just ask whether countries are getting richer but whether they are getting freer, fairer and more open too.
But there are four groups in particular who will do everything in their power to defeat us. First, there are those who believe that in advancing security, you need authoritarian leaders, because only an autocrat can keep you safe.
Second, there are the corrupt elites who want to hijack the system to win a bigger and bigger share of the cake on the basis of wealth or privilege, not equality for all citizens.
Third, there are the extremists – some of whom are violent – but all of whom want to impose a particular and very radical, extreme version of Islamism on society to the exclusion of all others.
And this total rejection of debate and democratic consent means they believe that democracy and Islam are incompatible.
And fourth, there are tribalists who want to exclude those who don’t share the right ethnic background or family group from having their stake in society – a job and a voice.
For democracy to succeed each of these opponents must be overcome wherever they are found across the world. And in each case I believe that Indonesia can help to lead the way.
In each case “Indonesia mampu memimpin dunia.” Let me take each in turn
First, authoritarians. There are those who argue that if you want to maintain security and stability you have no choice but to accept an authoritarian leader.
They said it of Gaddafi, Mubarak and Ben-Ali but in each case the Arab Spring has shown that denying people their rights in the name of stability and security actually makes countries less stable in the end.
Over time, the pressure builds up until the people take to the streets and demand their freedoms. So where cries for reform are being resisted and the people are being repressed – just as they are today in Syria - we must oppose the authoritarian.
Because the longer Assad stays the more dangerous things become for his people and the greater the likelihood of a bloody civil war. Where reform is beginning, like in Burma, we must get behind it.
So let’s pay tribute to those who have for decades and at huge personal cost to themselves fought for that freedom and reform. Not least, of course, the inspirational Aung San Suu Kyi.
Let’s pay tribute also to the leadership of President Thein Sein and his government which has been prepared to release political prisoners, hold by-elections and legalise political parties that had previously been outlawed.
And let’s show that when they have the courage to reform we have the courage to respond. And when the foundations of reform have been laid, like here in Indonesia, we must build democracy until it is fully established and unassailable.
That is what you are doing. Under the leadership of President Yudhoyono, Indonesia now has a proud record of democracy in South East Asia and is helping to support reform in Burma.
The troubles of East Timor are over and the military is playing its proper role, defending the country from external attack.
That is a powerful signal to the world. The elections in 2014 will be another opportunity to show the strength of Indonesia’s democracy.
And the responsibility will be for whoever wins those elections to continue to resist any calls to return to the old ways of the past and ensure that political and parliamentary institutions deliver the reforms expected by those who elect them.
For by showing the world the alternative to authoritarianism, “Indonesia mampu memimpin dunia.”
Second, corrupt elites. Corruption threatens democracy and citizenship both economically and politically. It impedes the working of the market, stifling competition so contracts are won not by the strongest bid but the strongest vested interests.
It means citizens are denied equal access to education and healthcare or a fair chance to get a licence to start up a business or get a new road built in their local community. Corruption denies the people their economic and political stake – the citizenship, the job and the voice that they want.
Worse still, it breeds a cynicism and a sense of rage. Instead of being seen as a force for good, politics is used to abuse ordinary people and prioritise the needs of the privileged few at their expense.
So if you are in a road accident with a powerful family, there is no fair way to contest the case in court. For Mohammed Bouazizi, the Tunisian fruit-seller, it was corrupt bureaucracy which denied him the right to sell his fruit where he needed to that stopped him earning a living and led him to take his own life.
In these ways corruption is not just economically damaging, but corrosive to the very bonds that hold a country together.
So how do we fight it?
Here in Indonesia, President Yudhoyono is right to insist there can be “no compromise in fighting corruption.” That recognition is a sign that Indonesia is determined to tackle this. And you are making important progress.
The Corruption Eradication Commission may have its critics but it has brought to book an impressive array of wrongdoers and your media highlights the issue relentlessly. In Britain, we have introduced a Bribery Act – so that companies which accept corrupt payments while operating abroad will be prosecuted at home.
And we have resourced the Metropolitan Police to make sure that stolen assets are returned to developing countries. In our aid spending we’ve made it clear that aid can not be linked to commercial contracts or commercial advantage for British companies.
We’re ensuring real transparency and accountability over the way aid money is spent. So any NGO that receives funding from the UK is going to have to publish what they do, where they get their money and where it goes.
This will enable people in the developed and developing world to ensure their money gets to those who need it most. Next we will apply this principle to recipient governments too.
And we will increasingly use aid to fund anti-corruption measures like corruption commissions and stronger parliamentary democracy and to demand that recipient countries make measurable advances against corruption in return for our aid.
Because in the end, rooting out corruption will make more difference in tackling poverty than decades of aid spending focused purely on its symptoms.
So we are keen to work with you in every way we can to help tackle corruption through bi-lateral co-operation but also through global co-operation with our shared leadership of the G20 working group on corruption. In taking on and defeating the scourge of corruption “Indonesia mampu memimpin dunia.”
Third, the extremists who oppose democracy. Let me be absolutely clear: I am not talking about Islam. Islam is a religion observed peacefully and devoutly by over a billion people.
And let me also be clear, extremism is not only found among Muslims. But there is a problem across the globe with Islamist extremism which is a political ideology supported by a minority.
Extremists – some of whom are violent – and all of whom want to impose a particular and very radical, extreme version of Islamism on society to the exclusion of all others. And this total rejection of debate and democratic consent means they believe that democracy and Islam are incompatible.
From Afghanistan to Iraq and from Bali to London, we have seen all too often that this extremism feeds prejudice, persecution and dreadful acts of terror and violence. These extremists try to turn Islam into a closed and warped ideology that is opposed to democracy.
What Indonesia shows is that in the world’s largest Muslim-majority country, it is possible to reject this extremist threat and prove that democracy and Islam can flourish alongside each other.
That’s why what you are doing here is so important, because it gives heart to those around the world who are engaged in the same struggle.
Indeed, Indonesia’s discrete and sensitive response to Egypt’s request for assistance in its own transition shows just how important your journey is.
Because in Egypt, it is vitally important to ensure that the democratic success of the Muslim Brotherhood’s party strengthens democracy and does not in the end undermine it.
The choice of the Egyptian people must be respected and we must all be ready to work with the government that the Egyptian people elect but at the same time we will demand that in pursuing their political views the elected government are not denying the rights of citizenship to those who do not share their specific religious views.
So the world will expect them to live up to the commitments they have made to protect the rule of law for all citizens to defend the rights of the Coptic Christians and minority groups and to accept that democracy means they will be held accountable in the courts and that they should not pervert the democratic process to hold onto power should the will of the people change.
Here in Indonesia too, you have enshrined the rights of all individuals in your constitution. This reflects the vital importance standing up against the despicable violence and persecution of minorities – whether Christians, Ahmadis or others.
And ensuring that people have the right to live their lives and practise their religion in the way they see fit.
In doing so “Indonesia mampu memimpin dunia.”
Finally, the tribalists, who threaten democracy by discriminating against people on the basis of their background, race, ethnicity or religion. Sometimes this means social discrimination, where people are denied the best education, job opportunities, housing or public services.
Other times it breaks out into destructive acts of violence or even full scale and destructive conflict. My own country has seen how poisonous this way of thinking can be.
We have suffered many decades of conflict in Northern Ireland and we’ve seen the terrible ethnic violence in Bosnia, Kosovo and the wider Balkans.
In the Democratic Republic of the Congo, Indonesian forces are serving in the UN mission to keep the peace and stabilise the country in the wake of an ethnic conflict which has cost millions lives.
For a country like Indonesia with its incredible diversity, protecting the rights of citizens from ethnic discrimination is vitally important. So we applaud the steps Indonesia continues to take to guard against ethnic discrimination and conflict, especially in Aceh.
You are, of course, all rightly proud of which part of Indonesia you are from but at the same time you can be equally proud of the democracy that gives all Indonesians the same status under the rule of law.
Once again, it is through commitment to genuine democracy and the rejection of tribalism, that “Indonesia mampu memimpin dunia.”
Indonesia’s transformation has been extraordinary. But the painstaking work of building democracy is not yet finished. By rejecting authoritarianism, continuing your work to tackle corruption and rejecting the forces of tribalism and extremism Indonesia can complete its journey.
The people of Indonesia can show through democracy there is an alternative to dictatorship and extremism. That here in the country with the biggest Muslim population on the planet, religion and democracy need not be in conflict.
And that following your example young Muslims across the world will be inspired to choose democracy as their future. That will be the greatest defeat that Al Qaeda or Jemaah Islamiya could ever suffer.
And that is the prize within your grasp. The prize for Indonesia and the prize for the world. The future is in your hands. I am confident that you can seize the moment. And that “Indonesia mampu memimpin dunia.”
This article is the speech of the UK Prime Minister Mr. David Cameron before the Indonesian students and academicians at Al Azhar University in Jakarta, 12 April 2012. The publication of this article has been permitted by the British Embassy in Jakarta
Photos by: REUTERS/Adi Weda/Pool
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