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TransformationfromanAuthoritarianSystemtoaDemocracyin aPluralisticSociety:TheExperienceofIndonesia1

BacharuddinJusufHabibie2 Indonesiansocietylivingintheonlymaritimecontinentintheworld hasalwaysbeenapluralisticsocietycomprisinghundredsofethnicgroups eachwiththeirownlanguage,cultureandtraditions. The majority of people in this maritime continent identify themselves as Indonesians, after several hundred years of facing common challenges togetherofbeingcolonized,andtheirnaturalresourcesexploitedbyother nations. Colonial exploitation and abuses became the unifying force that band together hundreds of ethnic groups against the colonial powers that had caused many people to suffer. Indonesias pluralistic society has always longedforprosperityandstabilitythatisacquiredfreelywiththelibertyto determineitsownfuture.ThepluralnatureofIndonesiansocietywasoften taken advantage of by the colonial powers through divide and rule to advancetheirowninterests.Yetthroughtheadvanceofmoderneducation the young leaders of the various ethnic groups in the Indonesian Archipelago in the early twentieth century began to be aware of the fundamental causes of their countrys subjection. They, therefore, transcended their differences to forge a common national Indonesian identity. Frombeingaweakness,pluralismhasbecomeIndonesiasstrength,giving birth to the motto Bhinneka Tunggal Ika or Unity in Diversity. Indonesias diversity became the strength and basis for Indonesias independence on the 17th of August 1945 which gave birth to the Unitary StateoftheRepublicofIndonesia.CurrentlyIndonesiahasapopulationof over 245,613,043 (as of July 2011), which consists of around 600 ethnic groups, living on an area of 1,904,569 km2 (land and sea), with over 17,508islands,withaterritorythatspans5,244kmfromWesttoEastand 1,888kmfromNorthtoSouth. Essential to Indonesias pluralism is the diversity of religions, which synchronizes with the diversity of local traditions, shaping the unique socialculturallandscapeofIndonesia.

1PresentedattheGlobalPolicyForum2011,Yaroslavl,Russia,79September2011 2FormerPresidentoftheRepublicofIndonesia

WiththenationalconsensustorespectdifferencesinthespiritofUnityin Diversity,Indonesiansocietycanconcentrateonherprioritiesofincreasing productivityandcompetitivenessofitshumanresources.Thisrequiresthe positive synergy of three basic elements; culture, religion and science & technology in an atmosphere of freedom with human resources that are responsible, egalitarian, and nondiscriminating of race, ethnicity, and religion. Nationalindependencegainedin1945wasthencompletedwiththesocio political freedom obtained in 1998 through political liberalization. This second national liberation was achieved without changing the essence of the Constitution but was done through successive constitutional amendments starting with the General Assembly of the Peoples Consultative Assembly (MPR) in November 1998. During the early transition period from authoritarian rule to democracy Indonesia underwent steady and consistent transformation through an accelerated evolutionwhichprioritized: 1. HumanRights 2. 3. HumanResponsibilities Granting Regional Autonomy to the regions (both existing and newlyformedones)inordertosafeguardandpreservethelocal culture. Granting the freedom of speech, expression, beliefs and the freedom to establish political parties that were in line with the Constitution. Grantingamnestyandreleasingallpoliticalprisonersincluding those who had differing political views from those of the Presidentorthecurrentgovernmentaslongastheyremained loyaltotheConstitution Granting the freedom to peaceful protest/demonstrations withoutendangeringpropertyorlives. Granting the freedom of the press to all media print and electronic. Immediately within 1 year (1999) to conduct free and fair electionswiththeoldandnewpoliticalpartiesparticipating. Develop an independent justice system that is free from corruption,collusionandnepotism. EnsuringtheindependenceoftheCentralBankthatisfreefrom thecontroloftheGovernment/President.



6. 7. 8. 9. 10.

11. 12. 13.

Endedthesocialpoliticalroleofthearmedforcesanddevelopa politicallyneutralandprofessionalmilitary. SeparationofcoordinationoftheNationalPolicefromtheArmed Forces(Army,AirForce,andNavy) PeacefullyresolvingexistingForeignPolicymattersinthiscase it was the matter of East Timor within the guidelines of the Constitution. Developing, improving, and forming democratic institutions at thenationalandregionallevels.


PrioritizingeconomicandpoliticalissuesatthebeginningoftheReformsof 1998 was indeed very critical as the first steps. Policies based on the 14 pointsabovehadtobeexpeditedandexecutedinatimely,precisemanner ensuringthequalityandminimizingthepotentialrisks.Theseeffortswere also important in order to avoid a complete fragmentation of the Unitary StateoftheRepublicof Indonesiawhichhadbeenunderauthoritarian regimes for 40 years, starting with the onset of Sukarnos Guided Democracy in 1959 and followed by Suhartos New Order from 1966 to 1998. The Asian financial crisis which began in July 1997 in Thailand, that triggeredthedownfallofauthoritarianruleinIndonesia,can bedescribed asfollows: TheWorldBankforecastedinits1997reportanaverageeconomicgrowth forIndonesiaof7,8percent.However,inthemidstofthisrapidgrowththe economiccrisiseruptedinthemiddleoftheyear. ThedeclineofthevalueoftheBaht,thecurrencyofThailand,wasfollowed byadeclineofthevalueofothercurrenciesinseveralSoutheastAsianand East Asian countries, including the Philippines, Malaysia, Indonesia and SouthKorea.Allofthesecountrieshadeconomicstructuresthatwerenot all that dissimilar from that of Thailand, and they were all experiencing bubbleeconomies. The crisis precipitated a flight of foreign capital from these countries and resulted in their banking systems collapsing one after the other. Bank Indonesia tried to apply various policies to defend the rupiah, but the monetarycrisis,accompaniedbyacollapseinconfidence,madetherupiah increasinglydifficulttocontrol. Astheresultofthemonetarycrisis,theIndonesianbankingsystemcould nolongerfunctionproperlyforaconsiderableperiodoftime. Thus,itwas

notpossibletoencouragegrowthintherealsectorandbusinessworld.Asa result,businessstagnated. The supply of goods, especially essential commodities, was disrupted, includingbothofthoseintendedfordomesticconsumptionandexport.Asa result, a food and essential other commodities crisis became unavoidable. The situation spun rapidly out of control and evolved into a prolonged multidimensionalcrisisthataffectedvariousfields.Theeffectsofthecrisis causedextremehardshipforthepeople. The monetary crisis that hit Indonesia was part of the domino effect ripplingoutfromthedeclineofvalueoftheThaiBathagainsttheUSDollar. ThepeakofthecrisisinThailandwasreachedinDecember8,1997,when 56 of the countrys 58 most important financial institutions were closed. Despite of the International Monetary Fund (IMF) assistance, since 8th of October 1997, the crisis afflicting business resulted in many companies layingoffworkers,leadingtoamassiveincreaseinunemployment. The monetary crisis impacts on employment in one year from 1997 to 1998wereasfollows: 1. Underemploymentroseby13,8%from28.2to32.1million 2. Unemploymentroseby16,7%from4.68to5.46million All of these in turn led to social crises, as well as public disorder and securityproblems.Thosewhocouldnotfindjobsintheformalsectorinthe endwereforcedtoworkintheinformalsector,whichsufferedfrommuch lowerproductivitylevels. Public disquiet and fear became commonplace as the situation got worse. Indonesia, which had previously achieved macroeconomic stability, showeditselfincapableofweedingoutcorruption. Just the opposite, in fact, Indonesia under President Suhartos New Order, proveditselftobeafertilegroundforgraft.Corruptionwas commonplace at both the central and local government levels, and affected all levels of administration,fromthehighesttothelowest. Collusion, frequently manifested in the granting of monopolies, further increasedthegapbetweentherichandpoor,asonlyasmallgroupwasable totakeadvantageofthespecialopportunitiesandfacilitiesavailableinthe economicfield.Forthemajorityofthepeople,however,lifecontinuedtobe astruggle,withmostpeoplelivingbelowthepovertyline.

Another problem was the concentration of the fruits of economic developmentinJava,whilemostareasoutsidethisislandremainedmired in backwardness and poverty. Globalization and the emergence of a transparent world community, and much greater access to information havebroughtaboutaperiodofrapidchangethroughouttheworld. The Indonesian people responded to this change by demanding freedom,transparency,justice,anddemocracybasedonhumanrights, responsibilities,andsecurity. These new demands came to the fore within a relatively short period of time. The people now benefit from much greater freedom and greater transparency, and are braver but also more confused, more pessimistic aboutthefutureandsometimesevenmoreindifferent. Therapidchangestakingplaceatboththeglobalandnationallevelsledto growing uncertainty among the people. This uncertainty affected the credibility of politicians and the economy. Triggered by the monetary crisis,the confusion and unease felt by the public led to demonstrations, particularlythoseorganizedbystudents. Initially,demandsthatPresidentSuhartoresignwerefewandfarbetween. However, as time went on, it became more apparent that the students, supported by the public at large, wanted to see the ouster of the Suharto governmentwhichhadcontrolledIndonesiaforoverthreedecades.Inthe endthestudentswerenolongersatisfiedtohearpromisesofpoliticaland economic reform from the government, but demanded a total regime change. The economic crisis suffered by Indonesia undermined the basis of legitimacy upon which Suhartos New Order government was built. Long periodofeconomicgrowthhadmutedcriticismsoftheregimes monopoly of power and limitation of civil and political liberties. However, with the onset of the economic crisis the peoples patience wore out. Economic hardships, revelations of human rights abuses and blatant corruption of those closely related to the ruling family eroded any supports left for PresidentSuharto. Day by day, the demands for President Suharto to step down grew increasinglyloudandstrident.Theconvulsionstakingplaceinsocietywere clearlyapparentfromthereportscarriedinthemedia. WhiletheIndonesianmediahadbeenpreviouslyrestrictedinwhatitcould report,itwasnowwillingtotakeastandandassertitsindependence.The

media started to report freely what was happening, and the opinions and views being expressed in the community. This initial euphoria of press freedom was made possible by a softer approach from the authorities in linewiththedemandsforreform. The seemingly unstoppable series of demonstrations reached their climax withtheTrisaktiUniversitytragedyonMay12,1998.Atthetime,students fromTrisaktiUniversitywerestagingademonstrationbutwereconfronted bythesecurityforces.Aclashoccurred,duringwhich7studentswereshot deadbyliveammunition. ThissparkedaspateofwidespreadriotinganddisturbancesfromMay13 to 15. President Suharto was in Cairo attending a meeting during this momentousperiod. Theriotsbrokeoutsimultaneouslyinanumberofareasandlefthundreds ofpeopledeadandwidespreaddamagetopropertyintheirwake. Therioting,looting,burningandrapeleftabitterlegacyfortheIndonesian nation.Theextentoftheviolencecameasashocktomany,especiallyina countrywhichhadalwaysclaimedthatitspeoplewerepoliteandfriendly. TheHouseofRepresntativesandthePeoplesConsultativeAssembly(DPR andMPR),whichtillthattimehadcontinuedtoexpressloyaltytoPresident Suharto, became alarmed that the escalating situation could result in widespreadsocialconflictsthatmayendangernationalunity. After hours of difficult negotiations the leadership of the House finally urged President Suharto to resign and called on the people to exercise restraintandmaintainnationalunitysothatanorderlyandconstitutional changeofgovernmentcouldtakeplace.ItisgreatlytoPresidentSuhartos credit that he stepped down without demur, saving Indonesia from a prolonged political crisis and conflicts which could result in a great many deathsandleaveadeepscarwithinsociety,ashaverecentlyhappenedin somecountries. Inaccordancewiththe1945Constitution,asVicePresidentIwasswornin to become president immediately after President Suharto announced his resignation on 21st May 1998. The new government was tasked to carry out wideranging reforms or Reformasi as demanded by the general public. In the 17month Democratic Transition period of my presidency, I personallylednationaleffortstoovercomethemultidimensionalcrisisand laythefoundationforIndonesiastransitiontodemocracy.

I developed a systematic approach for finding solutions to various issues thatareoftenrelatedtooneanotherandcouldbebestdescribedasfollows: 1. Ensured that in the shortest time possible uncertainties were transformedintocertaintythroughmakinglargescalechanges. 2. Avoidedmakinglargescaleschangesthrougharevolutionthat could yield unpredictable results, but rather developed accelerated evolution procedures which were planned and implemented based on agreed rules and regulations, but at an acceleratedpace. 3. Relaxed existing unproductive constraints to social, political and economic progress and prevented the formation of additional constraints. 4. Immediately became more transparent and continuously informedthepeopleofthechangesthatweretakingplace. 5. Ensuredthatfreedomofthepresswasgiventhehighestpriority to allow high quality of information to reach the people at the righttime. 6. Guaranteedthefreedomofspeechandthefreedomforpeopleto voicetheiropinions,alsoifneededthroughpeacefulprotestand demonstrations. 7. Immediatereleaseofallpoliticalprisoners 8. Allowedthecreationofnewpoliticalpartiesthatmustrecognize andaccepttheexistingConstitution. 9. MadeitclearthattheConstitutionisalivingdocument,allowing for amendments, without changing the basic principles and philosophyoftheNation. 10. Swift decisions taken to improve macroeconomic indicators, employment creation measurements, and prevention of the outflowofcapitaltoachieveeconomicandpoliticalstability. 11. Solved immediately domestic and national issues without ignoringregionalandinternationalconstraints.

12. LegislativeandPresidentialelectionsbroughtforward,tobeheld

13. Affirmedthecleardivisionofdutiesandresponsibilitiesbetween

14. During this transitional period, every National Leader must be

fullyawarethathis/hermaindutywastoensurelowcost,high qualityandtimelydeliveryofthenecessarychangesthatneeded to be implemented without misusing the trust and opportunity given.Animportantchangeinpowerparadigminthereformera: anopportunitytoleadwasNOTgivenasameansfortheleaders tomaintainpowerforaslongaspossible. 15. A strong national consensus was a necessity to ensure nation wide acceptance of the overall road map in time of turbulence. Peoplemustbeencouragedtouselegitimatepoliticalprocedures and follow the appropriate political processes to voice their aspirations and avoid using street parliament in order to have strongandsustainablepoliticalinstitutions. 16. Motivated the youth to participate constructively in politics by allowing for freedom of assembly and freedom of expression to ensure that they are channeled in the right way. The younger generations have a tendency to explore various ways to express social and political criticism, and many are active in the many NGOsthathavebeenestablished,inparticularthroughtheuseof various new media twitter, facebook and other virtual social platformsforpoliticalandnonpoliticalpurposes. 17. Ensured freedom for assembly and for the formation of political parties with no bias or restrictions based on race or religion, including Islamicbased parties. Allowed the formation and survivalofpoliticalpartiestakingitsnaturalcourse. 18. Enacted and implemented measurable policies to eradicate corruption. Enlisted a buy in from all arms of government to support and commit to measures to eradicate corruption in all sectors.InIndonesia,thePeoplesConsultativeAssemblyissueda

decreetoinvestigateandconfiscateassets,andproceedwiththe prosecution of corrupt officials. This decree was followed with the establishment of a National Corruption Eradication Commission. 19. Introduced an antimonopoly law and later established an independent commission to ensure fair business practices that broke up existing economic monopolies and prevente new ones fromdeveloping. TheseweresomeofthestepsthatIndonesiacarriedoutinthe earlyyears of transition from authoritarian rule to becoming a true democracy. DespitethenumeroustransformativestepsbeingtakenIndonesiastillhas some way to go to consolidate and improve the quality of its democractic governance more substantively. However, notwithstanding its many shortcomings Indonesians firmly believe that a transparent, participatory, accountableandinclusivepoliticalsystemsuchasprovidedby democracy isthebestwaytobringustoourdesiredcollectivefuture. Since the Reformasi in May 1998, 205 new regions have been formed which includes 7 new provinces, 164 regencies, and 34 new cities. With these new additions, Indonesia currently has 33 provinces, 398 regencies and93cities. Thepredictionofanumberofexpertsthatindicatedthatthis signaledthe beginning of a fragmentation of the Republic of Indonesia into several smaller states was proven wrong, as the implementation of the 14 points mentionedaboveinturnstrengthenedtheRepublic. In the midst of the uncertainties of the global economy, Indonesias economy is growing at a steady 6.5% fueled by the agriculture, manufacturing,serviceandminingsectors.TheRupiahexchangerateasof July2011appreciatedby4.93%comparedtothesametimelastyearwith aninterestrateof6.75%. Indonesias GDP in 2010 increased by 77% compared to the beginning of Reformasi in 1998 while the debt ratio against the GDP decreased from 58%in1998to27%in2010and21.6%inJune2011. All in all, Indonesia has come a long way since the turbulent early democratic transition period. Indonesia, the largest Muslim majority nation, is now recognized as the world third largest democracy with a

vibranteconomyandplaysanincreasinglyactiveroleinregionalandglobal affairs. With its predominantly moderate variant of Islam, Indonesia acts as a bridgebetween the Westand the Islamicworld through thepromotion of interfaithdialogues. Indonesia is now a member of the G 20, being the worlds 16 th largest economy, while within ASEAN Indonesia has played a leadership role in ensuringtheattainmentofanASEANCommunitybasedontheprinciplesof democracy,humanrightsandruleoflaw.