by Anand Krishna

In his address to the nation on Aug. 15, 2009, President Susilo
Bambang Yudhoyono mentioned self-dependency (kemandirian),
competitiveness (daya saing) and excellence in civilization (peradaban
yang unggul) as three important factors in nation building.

Self-Dependency, or Nationalism in the language of our first president
Soekarno, can no longer be sustained outside the larger framework of
Internationalism. Our national self-dependency must also recognize the
interdependency of nations. Our world has already become a global
village, where anything happening in any corner of the village, or to
any villager, affects the entire village and all villagers.

In response to the JW Marriott and Ritz-Carlton bombings recently,
some of our "knowledgeable" experts, analysts and activists remarked
that the bombers had no reason to attack our country, for Indonesia
was not at war with them, and that instead they could have bombed some
other country at war with them, perhaps for instance the United States
of America.

It is very disheartening to note that even our "knowledgeable" lack
intelligence. What happens to America, or to any other country in the
world, has a ripple effect on the entire world. We cannot escape it.

Similarly, our government's stand on Myanmar is also regrettable.
While we can have a Palestinian Mission in our country, why can't we
allow the activists for peace and democracy in Myanmar to meet here?
Why can't we have the Dalai Lama visit our country and talk about the
plight of his people?

While talking about competitiveness, I believe that the Machiavellian
and Sun-Tzuian concept is no longer relevant. It must be replaced with
a more human approach based on togetherness (kebersamaan) as pointed
out by Business Week in its excellent special report (Oct. 30, 2006).

Interestingly, such a human approach was already envisioned by our
founding fathers. Sukarno called it gotong-royong (sharing our
burden), and Hatta translated the concept into a cooperative based
economy. Unfortunately however, President Yudhoyono did not, even
once, mention the word in his entire speech.

He did, however, suggest taking into account our resources (certainly
both human and natural), knowledge (skills), and culture for our
economic development. I fully endorse to this, as I also do to the
"limited role" of government (non intervention), for we have just
witnessed the failure of totally decentralized and liberal western

President Yudhoyono suggested productivity, adaptability, and
innovation (most importantly in the field of technology), as important
factors to excel. I presume that by innovation he meant creativity.
For innovation could also mean growth, or simply improvement on
something already created; whereas, creativity is originality.
Creativity is unique.

We must believe in our "uniqueness". This country, like any other
country in the world, is unique. We have our share to contribute to
world civilization as other countries do. We must be more

President Yudhoyono reasserted his commitment to the state ideology of
Pancasila as an "open and living ideology, source of inspiration and
solution for nation building"; and, the national theme Bhinneka
Tunggal Ika or "Unity in Diversity" as our uniting factor.

Now, let us for once and all time end the discourse on khilafat and
religion-based government system. And, with that, also end the threat
to our national unity and integration.

What is most important for the President is to closely watch the
movements of his supporters, some of them clearly have hidden agendas
and vested interests.

Our culture is deeply rooted in spirituality and humanity, not in the
dogmas and doctrines of a particular religion.

We do not believe in politically motivated barriers in the name of
religion. Our founding fathers used Ketuhanan or Godliness for

President Yudhoyono also shared his vision of "Indonesia 2025", when,
in his opinion, we will no longer be a developing nation, but mature
into a developed nation. This is perhaps his wise response to a report
prepared by the National Intelligence Council of the United States in
November 2008.

The report and ensuing studies, as well as scenarios prepared by
several experts, indicate that by 2025 the Indonesian State could be
fragmented. The threat is posed by religious fanatics, radicals and
extremists, and not only from terrorists or their violent acts.

President Yudhoyono seems to have understood this threat clearly. I
must say, there are not so easy and very ambitious, but achievable
goals. Together, we can achieve them. But, as we talk of togetherness,
let us also not forget the "checks and balances", the most oft quoted
phrase in his speech, without which democracy would mean nothing.

Let us have the opposition. Let us not be afraid of them. "Those who
point out your mistakes," said the great 14th century Sufi Mystic
Kabir, "are your true friends and well wishers." For, it is because of
them, that we can improve, and grow further.

The writer is a spiritual activist and author of more than 130 books.

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