ISLES OF PLENTY

Indonesia 2018 | DIPLOMACY | INSIDE PERSPECTIVE

Joko Widodo, President of Indonesia, on the country's many achievements since its independence, the importance of supporting the younger generation, and his goals for the country.

Joko Widodo
BIOGRAPHY
Joko Widodo was elected President of Indonesia in 2014. He earlier served as governor of Jakarta from 2012-2014. He graduated from Gadjah Mada University in Yogyakarta with a degree in forestry engineering. In 2005, as a member of the Indonesian Democratic Party of Struggle, he was elected Mayor of Surakarta, and he was subsequently reelected in 2010 with over 90% of the vote.

I have always reiterated that we are a big nation. Indonesia is big not only because of its population of more than 250 million people, around 17,000 islands, or its abundant resources. We achieved our grandeur because our nation has stood the test of time and because we have been able to remain united until the 72nd anniversary of our independence. While other countries are plagued by violent conflicts among ethnicities, with divisions among religions, and disputes among groups, we are grateful that we remain united within the framework of the Unitary State of the Republic of Indonesia with its Bhinneka Tunggal Ika motto. We have even become a role model for many countries in terms of managing diversity and building unity.

We have to believe in the strength of our own people. Evidence proved that we have been able to make great achievements. In the past, we were worried about the presence of foreign banks in our country. Now we are witnessing that our national banks are able to compete with those banks and have become major and modern banks. We have huge potential, namely our young generations. Many of our young generations have become math, physics, and biology Olympic champions. Our young generations have showcased their accomplishments, such as becoming champions of the Qur'an memorization competition, emerging triumphant in robotic works, making innovation in start-ups businesses, and being creative in arts in world stages. Many creative industries and national movie productions are driven by our young generation. These young people are getting more popular, and their products are enjoyed by many.
However, we must not develop a dangerously complacent attitude or be carried away by all these achievements. We still have much to accomplish; we still have promises to deliver. We have to admit that it would be impossible for Indonesia to become an advanced nation if the homes of our people all over the country do not enjoy electricity. It would be impossible for us to become a competitive nation if our logistics costs are high. It would be impossible for us to become a global maritime fulcrum if we do not have seaports where large vessels that transport our products are berthed. It would be impossible for us to become a sovereign state in food commodities if the number of dams and irrigation channels that irrigate our agricultural fields all over the country are limited.
We are also facing challenges to free ourselves from the trap that shackles natural resources. After the era of oil and natural gas booming in 1970s was over and after the collapse of wood booming in 1900s, the era of mineral booming also came to an end. Even prices of several other commodities sharply fell. Therefore, we have to make a change.
In the past three years, the government has been focused on alleviating poverty, reducing gaps, and lowering unemployment rate. As a result, poverty level in Indonesia dropped from 28.59 million people in March 2015 to 27.77 million in March 2017. Our Gini coefficient continues to improve and reached 0.393 in March 2017, as opposed to 0.414 in September 2014. Our inflation had also been kept in check at 2.6% from January to July 2017. We also continue to maintain just and equitable economic growth. We have to ensure that our economic growth, which is 5% every year on average from 2014-2016, is not only enjoyed by certain people but by all Indonesians. Therefore, the development that we are undertaking is not only for those in big cities but for all Indonesians in villages, marginal areas, outermost islands, and border areas.
We want all Indonesians to be able to feel the benefits of development evenly. We want farmers, fishermen, laborers, clerics, traditional market traders, religious figures, civil servants, members of the Indonesian National Defence Forces (TNI), members of the Indonesian National Police (POLRI), journalists, cultural activists, university students, and many others to join hands to move forward, make progress, and bring prosperity.