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EDITORIAL: Why We Will Support Indonesia

When we needed support when traditional allies deserted us after the 2006 events, Indonesia was one of first countries to pledge their backing. Over the years the relations have grown
17 Jun 2015 11:22
EDITORIAL: Why We Will Support Indonesia
Why will Fiji support Indonesia?

When we needed support when traditional allies deserted us after the 2006 events, Indonesia was one of first countries to pledge their backing.

Over the years the relations have grown stronger. Full diplomatic relations were established. Bilateral trade, economic and defence ties continue to grow.

Rosy Akbar, the Minister for Women, Children and Poverty Alleviation, recently returned from Jakarta, where she signed a new Memorandum of Understanding for technical assistance with her Indonesian counterpart. A group of Pacific journalists including Fiji Sun photojournalist Paulini Ratulailai, is in Indonesia. The journalists were invited by the Indonesian Government to have first hand experience of what it tourism industry has to offer.

Last year, Susilo Bambang Yudhoyono (SBY), then Indonesian President, was guest speaker at the Pacific Islands Development Forum summit in Denarau, Nadi. His visit underscored the strong diplomatic ties between the two countries.

More than a decade after being severely hit by an economic crisis that also damaged domestic political stability, Indonesia is rapidly emerging as an economic and political power in South East Asia and global politics. It is the biggest country in that region and has considerable potential.

Just like Fiji, some people did not give Indonesia much chance after the fall of Suharto in 1998. There were predictions that the country, the fourth most populous in the world and the largest Muslim majority, would break into small states.

But Indonesia has defied its criticis as it continues to consolidate its democracy. It came at a cost. People died in street riots after Suharto’s downfall. But the following general elections (both parliamentary and presidential) after have brought peace and stability. In August 2009, general elections (both parliamentary and presidential), incumbent SBY was returned..

According to an Asia Foundation report, the elections showed declining support for Islamic parties which, many in the West had mistakenly feared, could take the nation down a spiral of extremism and violence. Some argued that elections in newly democratic countries with weak political and administrative institutions generated an intense nationalism leading to violence and war. But the Indonesian elections have shown otherwise.

Indonesia, instead of looking inwardly, opened up its foreign affairs policy and established relations with several countries.

Its commitment to human rights and peace in the region has been recognised by the international community.

The West Papua issue is a work in progress and is still a sensitive one as far as Jakarta is concerned. The situation now, though, is a lot better than what it was. President Joko Widodo, has carried on from where SBY left off.

Because of Indonesia’s profile now on the world stage, Prime Minister Voreqe Bainimarama will support it in the Melanesian Spearhead Group meeting in Honiara next week.

Feedback: maikab@fijisun.com.fj 


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