In his state-of-the-nation address given on the eve of Independence Day, President Susilo Bambang Yudhoyono on Thursday spelled out six main public concerns that the government needed to address, with the battle against corruption topping the list.
“Corruption eradication, bureaucratic reforms and good governance, violence and social conflict, investment and legal certainty, infrastructure development and fiscal policies in facing the global economic crisis are Indonesia’s main concerns,” Yudhoyono said.
He declared that these six topics were prominent in the minds of both the public and the government and therefore had to be solved rapidly.
The President labeled corruption as “an extraordinary crime” that has destroyed the principle foundation of development, but added that acts of corruption continued to take place within the central government, regional governments, legislative bodies and even among law enforcers.
“We also have to admit that the domination of corruption tends to widen and grow in the regions,” he said.
He called on law enforcers — the National Police, the Attorney General and the Corruption Eradication Commission (KPK) — to mutually support and strengthen themselves in order to fight corruption impartially.
“There should exist togetherness amongst law enforcers, not unhealthy competition or attempts to weaken each other,” Yudhoyono said. He added that the unbiased application of the law and a commitment to uncovering the truth should be the guiding forces of law enforcement.
His statements came amid an increasingly apparent rivalry between the National Police and the KPK that has erupted over the handling of a suspected graft case involving police officers linked to the provision of driving simulators.
Yudhoyono remarked that in order to manage a large country such as Indonesia, bureaucratic reforms and good governance are “extremely important.”
Social problems, he added, such as land disputes, electoral controversies and intolerance, pose serious problems for Indonesia, promulgating violence across the archipelago.
“We should abstain ourselves from wanting to always win and enforce our wishes on others. Our nation should be a showcase for harmony and tolerance, not conflict and horizontal violence,” Yudhoyono said.
Social violence and communal conflicts, he noted, could be prevented if everyone cared and chipped in.
“There should not be the impression that the National Police are permitting these issues to proceed,” he added, in clear reference to criticism that in many recent cases of violence in some communities, the police appeared to merely observe from the sidelines and allow the brutality to proceed unchallenged.
Yudhoyono called on all citizens to work to improve the country’s investment climate and legal certainty, which many have blamed as causing Indonesia’s high cost economy and hindering economic growth.
He singled out permit processing, declaring that it should be accelerated and simplified.
Combined, he claimed, these improvements will lead to the rapid development in infrastructure required by the country to progress.
In the face of the government’s limited funding capacity, the private sector and state enterprises needed to play a larger role. Amid global economic uncertainty, financial health was important to assure a stimulus for development while remaining prudent.
He commented that Indonesia has been able to survive the crisis that has hit many parts of the world by implementing a cautious fiscal policy
Yudhoyono added that Indonesia has radically changed in recent history, from being under an authoritarian and centralistic government to creating one that respects freedom of opinion and organization while supporting decentralization and regional autonomy.
“If there are negative excesses in the implementation of decentralization and regional autonomy, then let us return them to the right path,” he said.