Speech of UNDP Country Director On the Launching of IDI 2011 Report 11 December 2013

11 Dec 2013

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Bapak Djoko Suyanto, Coordinating Minister for Politics, Law, and Security Affairs

Ibu armida S. Alisyahbana, Minister of National Development Planning/Head of BAPPENAS

Bapak Gamawan Fauzi, Minister of Home Affairs

Bapak Suryamin, Head of Statistics Indonesia (BPS)

Bapak Prof. Emil Salim, Chief of the Presidential Advisory Board

Distinguished ladies and gentlemen, colleagues and friends.

 

It is my honour and distinct pleasure to welcome you this morning to the launch of the 2011 Indonesia Democracy Index as well as the release of the preliminary analysis of the 2012 Index.

I want to start my remarks with a reference to a statement made by President SBY at the sixth Bali Democracy Forum held last month in Bali. As you know, the Bali Democracy Forum provides a platform for countries in the Asia-Pacific region to share views, experiences, and best practices on democracy. It is a very useful forum as it not only provides new insights for nations that are in the transition to democracy but also those, like Indonesia, that are consolidating or strengthening their democracy. This year’s theme was “Consolidating Democracy in a Pluralistic Society,” which is extremely relevant to Indonesia.

In opening the Forum President SBY stated that today Indonesia is a nation of 240 million people, comprising more than 300 ethnic groups; speaking over 700 languages; belonging to various faiths; and spread out in over 17,000 islands. The President noted that this pluralism and diversity present major challenges to democracy, and in his speech he cautioned that to cope with this type of reality, it is very important that Indonesia pursues a democracy that is based on civility, where anarchy is avoided, and where peaceful means are used to influence decision-making.

The issues that the President outlined in his speech in Bali are very much relevant to the launch this morning of the Indonesian Democracy Index, as this index is intended to help us understand how well Indonesia is progressing in adopting those democratic norms and values and building strong democratic institutions.

15 years ago, when Indonesia made the brave transition to democracy, I remember reading various commentaries on Indonesia. Most political pundits at that time wrote off Indonesia as a hopeless case. The country was hit by constant violence, political instability was the norm, and the economy was on the brink of collapse. 

Look at where Indonesia is today - not only has Indonesia defied the odds of failure that was predicted by many of those analysts, but it now enjoys political and economic stability. Indonesia came through the global financial crisis in 2008 and 2012 virtually unscathed. Although poverty and inequality are still pressing social concerns,  a growing number of citizens are making the transition to the middle class and enjoying better standards of living.

In short, Indonesia has made remarkable progress over the past 15 years - economically, socially, and politically. Robust economic growth, combined with significant improvements in peoples welfare, and a series of peaceful national elections are only a few of the indicators of that progress.

These are all things that Indonesia should be proud of.

But the discussion in Bali was also intended to signal that democracy is not a destination, it is a journey; that means we should always see democracy as a ‘work in progress’, never as a finished job – and the achievements of the past, however remarkable, should not create complacency.    

Indonesia is very large, it is diverse, it is pluralistic, it has extremes of wealth and poverty, it has historical divisions and social conflicts, and in 2014 it will hold another set of national elections. These are some of the reasons why the IDI is so important. 

      The main value of the IDI, ladies and gentlemen, is that it provides a barometer of where the country stands today, politically. 

  • Does Indonesia have a uniform political culture based on civility?
  • To what extent are we seeing a growth in mutual understanding, tolerance and social cohesion, which are so vital for a healthy and stable democracy?
  • Are peaceful means being adopted to influence the political process?
  • How far has Indonesia come in terms of ensuring that the constitutional rights of all citizens in this diverse society are guaranteed?
  • And to what extent are people, of whatever religion, social class, geographic location etc., able to participate in decision-making processes that affect their lives?

These are the types of critical questions that the IDI helps us to ask and, also, to answer. The index examines all the key dimensions of democracy, from civil liberties to political rights, and the institutions of democracy, and looks at how well Indonesia is performing across all 33 provinces.  I believe it is an extremely useful piece of research which should be carefully studied by everyone.

Ladies and gentlemen, the 2011 IDI indicates that Indonesia has made further progress in strengthening its democracy; there are a number of positive indications from the report, but there are also a few areas for further attention.

Overall, the 2011 index shows a slight increase in democracy performance compared to the previous year. I note, however, that the 2012 results – which will be announced shortly – indicate some reversals in this trend.  

Nonetheless, both the 2011 and the 2012 indices show that Indonesia continues to score high on civil liberties.  

Political rights, however, continue to underperform, signifying a need for further progress on improving the quality of political participation and ensuring that public demonstrations are undertaken more peacefully.

The report also highlights a need for greater civic education as a means to strengthen democratic values within the political culture.  This point on the need for civic education is quite significant. Recently, the UN Secretary-General Ban Ki-moon, on the occasion of the 2013 International Day of Democracy on 15 September, spoke on the importance of using civic education to ensure “that all citizens in all nations, in democracies young and old, established or fragile, fully understand their rights and responsibilities. And it is especially needed in countries that have made recent democratic gains so that progress made does not unravel.”

What this says is that democracy must exist in the hearts and minds of people, otherwise it will stand on very fragile foundations.

Last week when I was in Bappenas for another meeting, I learnt that the Government was conducting a national workshop on “Nationalism Commitments” to examine these issues of civic education. I also learnt that work is about to get started on establishing civic education centers in Indonesia.

I believe these are all steps in the right direction, and UNDP would be happy to provide any support required to these processes.

Ladies and Gentlemen, outside of the general discussion on Indonesia’s performance on democracy, this year’s report also provides very rich analysis and discussion of another critical issue. The report, as you have seen, is entitled Indonesian Democracy: The Explosion of Public Demand Versus Political Inertia, and it deals with the fact that, on the one hand, Indonesia is seeing a growth in public engagement and public demand, while, on the other hand, there are challenges in making political institutions more responsive to the needs and aspirations of the public.

We all know that the transition to democracy is almost always accompanied by high public expectations, and a key message of the report is that it is important to focus on strengthening the capacity of national institutions to meet these expectations and fulfil the promises of democracy.  The point here is that people may question the value of democracy if they do not begin to see real and tangible improvements in the quality of their lives.

A solid democratic process would still mean little to people if it didn’t help to alleviate poverty.  A democratic nation that respects freedom of speech and political rights would still be seen as ‘under-performing’ if it didn’t lead to growth and prosperity, and didn’t protect the nation’s poor and marginalised.

Democracy and Development are linked, and people expect one to contribute to the other.

Ladies and gentlemen, I won’t go any further into these issues, as the presentations that follow will provide more details. What I want to suggest is that in order for the Indonesia Democracy Index – with all its rich information - to make a real difference, the results must be discussed and debated and utilized to inform policies, programmes and plans.

In UNDP we are very encouraged to see that the Government of Indonesia has already started using the IDI in national development planning processes. We have also seen a number of provinces begin to utilize the IDI -- this is positive, and we will remain available to support other provinces that may wish to develop action plans to address issues highlighted in the report.

UNDP is strongly committed to working with partners to develop local initiatives that can help to strengthen democracy, improve governance, strengthen public education and so on. Under our Provincial Governance Strengthening Programme, for example, we are helping local governments in Gorontalo, NTT, Bankga Belitung and other provinces to reform their bureaucracies and improve public service delivery mechanisms. Under our Elections Project, we are aiming to help improve public education and awareness as well as civic engagement in the political process. And our Women in Politics programme is aiming to give a greater voice to women in the political arena.  These and other UNDP supported programmes can provide good platforms to assist central and sub-national  governments with actions to improve democracy.

In concluding ladies and gentlemen, let me say that this year marks six continuous years of our collective efforts to measure the state of democracy in Indonesia. Indonesia is perhaps the only country in the world that has managed to publish a democracy index consistently. This is a great achievement, and I would like to express my deep appreciation and thanks to the Coordinating Ministry for Politics, Law and Security Affairs; Ministry of Home Affairs; BAPPENAS and BPS for all the support that they have provided so that the index can be finalized and launched today. We also would like to thank our counterparts at provincial level - both the local government and non-government actors - who have supported the IDI process leading to today’s launch. I am also grateful for the financial support provided by the Australian Government. Last but not least, let me also thank the IDI expert team, which has worked so hard to produce the Index.

I wish you all a very productive workshop.

 

Terima kasih.