Unite against graft, threats to national unity: Jokowi

Indonesian President Joko Widodo and his wife, Iriana (centre), wearing traditional Bugis attire, together with Vice-President Jusuf Kalla and his wife, Mufidah (right), and lawmakers after Mr Joko delivered his annual address at the Parliament build
Indonesian President Joko Widodo and his wife, Iriana (centre), wearing traditional Bugis attire, together with Vice-President Jusuf Kalla and his wife, Mufidah (right), and lawmakers after Mr Joko delivered his annual address at the Parliament building in Jakarta yesterday, ahead of Independence Day today.PHOTO: EUROPEAN PRESSPHOTO AGENCY

President also says more must be done to safeguard Indonesia's pluralism, diversity

To achieve global recognition as a developed nation, Indonesians must unite against corruption and threats against national unity, President Joko Widodo said yesterday in his annual address to Parliament on the eve of Indonesia's 72nd Independence Day.

He also warned that more must be done to safeguard Indonesia's principles of pluralism and diversity in the wake of racial and religious tensions in the country.

These include growing Islamic radicalism as well as anti-Chinese sentiments, he said.

The latter has gained prominence among Muslim hardliners, leading to the imprisonment of former Jakarta governor Basuki Tjhaja Purnama, a Chinese-Christian, in May for blasphemy against Islam.

"We must be firm when dealing with ideological infiltration, such as extremism, radicalism (and) terrorism, which can destroy the unity of our country," he said, adding that Indonesians must hold fast the principles of Pancasila, the national ideology of "unity in diversity".

"We want to work together, not only in creating an equitable economy, but also in ideological, political, social and cultural developments," he added.

Mr Joko, popularly known as Jokowi, was elected in 2014 on a platform of reform and clean government. As he ends the third year of his five-year term in October, his promise of change has yet to be fully realised.

BE FIRM AGAINST TERRORISM

We must be firm when dealing with ideological infiltration such as extremism, radicalism (and) terrorism, which can destroy the unity of our country.

PRESIDENT JOKO WIDODO, in his address to Parliament on the eve of Indonesia's 72nd Independence Day.

Besides having to deal with a slower-than-expected pace of economic growth, the rising threat of terrorism, and racial and religious strife, the President has also had to grapple with an ugly showdown between the Corruption Eradication Commission (KPK) and some lawmakers over an ongoing probe into a trail of kickbacks for politicians in an electronic identity-card project in 2010.

Mr Joko has maintained that a strong and independent KPK is essential if Indonesia wants to tackle a historical culture of graft, including cases involving high-level officials, politicians and businessmen.

But this effort to eradicate corruption and raise Indonesia's competitiveness must not only involve the government but all parties, said Mr Joko yesterday.

"We will become a developed nation, recognised by other nations in the world when we are competitive, but one of the hindrances to our competitiveness is corruption, it is our common enemy," he added.

In his speech, the President also shared his vision for equality and for all Indonesians to "move forward together, prosper together".

"We do not want prosperity to be enjoyed only by one person or one group of people," he added.

"In the past three years, the government has focused on fighting poverty, curbing inequality, and reducing unemployment."

He told Parliament that because of the government's efforts, the number of Indonesians that live under the poverty line fell from 28.6 million in March 2015, to 27.8 million in March this year.

Plans to enhance Indonesia's transportation infrastructure to increase connectivity across the archipelago by air, sea and land, are also on track, said Mr Joko.

These include the building of new airports, sea ports and tollways, not just across Java island, but also in provinces such as East Kalimantan, East Nusa Tenggara and Papua.

In closing, the President paid tribute to the Indonesian national police for maintaining law and order, and other security agencies such as the National Narcotics Agency, for its efforts in the war on drugs.

Mr Joko said the capabilities of the Indonesian military and police must continue to be strengthened due to the complex and fast-changing security challenges that the country faces.

"The threats we are facing are no longer just an invasion from another country, but new threats from extremism, radicalism, terrorism, human-, drug-, and weapons-smuggling, as well as cybercrime."

A version of this article appeared in the print edition of The Straits Times on August 17, 2017, with the headline 'Unite against graft, threats to national unity: Jokowi'. Print Edition | Subscribe