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HomeInterviewsH.E. Dr. A.M. Fachir Vice Minister for Foreign Affairs Republic of Indonesia

H.E. Dr. A.M. Fachir Vice Minister for Foreign Affairs Republic of Indonesia

FUNDAMENTALS OF A GREAT NATION

Recently the Indonesian Ministry of Foreign Affairs organized a Journalist Visitor Program (JVP). Nine journalists from six different countries were taken to Indonesia. There were journalists from Bangladesh, India, Sri Lanka, Papua New Guinea, Fiji and Solomons Island. During a 10-day visit, the journalists visited various places, from Jakarta to Yogyakarta to Labuan Bajo to Bali. Indonesian Government has been organizing this JVP program for more than a decade. This is for the first time, three journalists from Bangladesh were invited. Tawhidur Rashid, Managing Editor of ICE Business Times were one of the JVP alumni. At the first leg of the visit, the journalists were taken to the office of the Indonesian Vice Minister for Foreign Affairs H.E. Dr. A.M. Fachir. are the excerpts of his speech at the journalists’ congregation. 

On JVP opening a new window of understanding Indonesia
This is actually to promote exchange and connections between the people of different countries. The whole idea behind this program, the process we intended to give the real feature about Indonesia, so you are free to ask people, to communicate with them and have a crystal clear understanding about our country.
I said that we don’t have any political problems with others. This is actually the basis for us to translate into something that is mutually beneficial for our people. We have observed that many a time, we take things for granted, instead of making the best use of tools we have at our disposal to foster multilateral relation. That’s why we encourage this person to people contact in order to benefit our people from this. Most of the time we base ourselves on these political relations. Sometimes we are too far behind to utilize these good political relations into cooperation. This program is basically to bridge that gap and connecting people by exchanging information and ideas in pursuit of developing better international ties.

On the peaceful harmony that Indonesia is all about
In 1928, the youth from Indonesia gathered in Jakarta and made an oath and expressed commitment that “we should have one country, one nation and upholding one language.” The chosen language originated from a community who are only 5% of the Indonesian population. The language, which is now known as “Bahasa language” is taught at an early age at the elementary school and is considered to be the national language. It has its root in Malay, which has evolved much since when it was adopted. This is just one example of farsightedness of our founding fathers. They believed this could be the key for our national unity since it would promote the idea that we don’t look down upon a minority group and we are respectful about the cultural diversity. We have, to be exact, 15,056 islands and more than 700 languages and with that comes a plethora of diversity to deal with. This diversity is something we consider to be our strength, our blessing that should be celebrated. In my office, we have people from different parts of Indonesia, which are not only geographically distinct but also can boast highly of its rich cultural heritage. However, when we work for the betterment of our nation. We forget those differences and work together.
We know it very well that we are different from each other that’s why we need the unity, and we believe in democracy, which is our first principle. Of course, when it comes to prosperity, we also need to ensure social justice. From the very beginning when we made a commitment that we will preserve our identity but at the same time express solidarity where national interest is concerned. That’s why someone from Java won’t call him or self a Javanese, rather we all are Indonesian. 

“We have, to be exact, 15,056 islands and more than 700 languages and with that comes a plethora of diversity to deal with. This diversity is something we consider to be our strength, our blessing that should be celebrated. In my office, we have people from different parts of Indonesia, which are not only geographically distinct but also can boast highly of its rich cultural heritage. However, when we work for the betterment of our nation. We forget those differences and work together.”

On the age of digital divide
I believe the mainstream media can play a huge role in regards to this. They are entitled to the responsibility to make people aware of the difference between authentic and fake news. We need to educate our people from elementary school up to the university that you should rely on reliable sources when it comes to a news. For example, in Islam, the statements by the Prophet (PBUH) are called Hadith, which is one of the sources of Islamic teaching besides the Quran. Those who preach Hadith are always careful about the source of it. Thus, in the age of social media, where people are easy to be biased, understanding the importance of authentic sources is of great importance and raising this awareness is a continuous process. To do so, first make sure that the information is right, second make sure the information is good, this is what we educate our people and the third one that it is useful. We have a certain law in the area of information technology that monitors if certain news spread falsehood and there are devastating consequences, those who help spread the news should face the music. Every country experience this. But this is why we need to empower the society to deal with it. Even in our country, we faced the problem. There was this incident where terrorists were shooting at the police. What we surprisingly observed was people watching the whole attack as if some film is being shot. The next thing, I still remember it very clearly: the incident took place at 11 o’clock and then by 4 o’clock President instructed to make the streets normal so that the fear didn’t linger in the mind of the common mass who witnessed the event or were in the neighborhood. In this connection, I would also want to mention about a part of our diplomacy that empowers moderation. This is one of the principles- in our program of promoting interfaith dialogue empowering moderation because extremist is not easy to deal with. So we empower this majority against that minority. We are lucky that we have two biggest Islamic organization here in Indonesia, they are actually very moderate. And anything happened to the republic (of Indonesia) when it’s come to extremism, we rely on those organization to address the issue.

On effective economic diplomacy
Our embassies, our mission overseas is the mission of the republic and they worked for the ministry. So first, of course, we focus ourselves to identify the potentials of a particular country. To start something in Bangladesh for example, we study your national budget, we study what you need and we engage both the governments and private stakeholders in Indonesia to connect potential counterparts. We know the national plan of Bangladesh for infrastructure, that’s how we empower embassy as well as connect with the stakeholders here in Indonesia. This is not only for state-owned companies but also for the private companies. In this connection, I must mention about the Asia-Africa Conference we organized back in 1955. One of the four ideas of our constitution is to become a good and contributive nation in the international community. Besides doing good within our own boundaries, we believe in a mandate to make sure that the world is a better place. the conference in Bandung from April 18-24, 1955, was held in the midst of the Cold War between the United States and the Soviet Union. The Indonesian government had raised the idea for the conference in April 1954. Leaders of Indonesia, India, Pakistan, Burma, and Ceylon (now Sri Lanka) met on December 1954, agreeing that they would jointly propose the conference. It called for peaceful coexistence between nations, for freedom from the hegemony of any superpower and any kind of domination by another country. It promoted solidarity with the poor, colonized, exploited and those weakened by the world order of the day.

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