How to Support Democracy: The Case of Indonesia
January 24, 2018
Lieutenant General TNI Agus Widjojo (Army; Ret.) is currently the Governor of the Indonesian National Resilience Institute – a ministerial-level agency directly under the President of Indonesia. General Widjojo, along with Lieutenant General S.B. Yudhoyono (Indonesian President from 2004 to 2014), played a significant role in shaping the modern history of Indonesia. This he was able to do from his last two positions in his military career from 1998 to 2003.
He served as the Commandant of Joint Forces Command and Staff College, as Chief-of-Territorial (National Political-Strategic) Affairs for the Indonesian Armed Forces from 1998-2001 and as the Senior Deputy Speaker of Indonesian National Consultative Assembly (representing the Indonesian National Military and National Police) from 2001-2003. At that time, the Indonesian National Consultative Assembly was the highest governmental institution in Republic of Indonesia.
Gen. Widjojo was deeply involved with the reform of the socio-political role of the Indonesian Armed Forces – leading to the peaceful democratic succession of President Suharto in 1998 – with the separation of the National Military and National Police in 1999, with the amendment of the 1945 National Constitution, with the surrender of the privileged position of Chief-of-Territorial Affairs that he had previously held, and with the surrender of the Armed Forces faction in the Indonesian Parliament. He has been instrumental in the transformation of the National Military into a fully professional military, ready to sustain Indonesia in a democratic era.
General Widjojo is the author of the book, Transformation of Indonesian National Military. The agency that Gen. Widjojo currently leads is responsible for high-level national strategy-making, as well as for the policy, command, and staff education for national leadership in government and non-government sectors, including all democratically-elected leaders from the level of Mayor to Governor.
His previous active-duty military/strategic positions include serving as the J-4 (general planning) for the Commander of Indonesian Armed Forces, the Commander of 17th Airborne Brigade of Army Strategic Command and as the Serving Officer in the International Commission for Control and Supervision in Vietnam (1973-1974) and United Nations Emergency Force II (UNEF II) in Sinai (1975-1976). General Widjojo’s special interests are in the fields of security sector reform, democratization, and post-conflict reconciliation.
He was the International Fellow at the U.S. National Defense University, Washington, D.C. where he earned his Master’s Degree (M.S.) in National Security Strategy in 1994. General Widjojo is the son of Major General TNI Sutojo Siswomihardjo, one of Indonesian National Heroes who was killed in the Indonesian Communist Party abortive coup d’etat in 1965.
For more on Indonesia, see James Clad’s Westminster talk, The Islamic State Attacks Indonesia – And its ‘Middle Way’, Wibawanto Nugroho’s Westminster talk, Understanding Islamist Radical Terrorism, and Jeff Moore’s Westminster talk, the Evolution in Islamic Insurgency in Asia.
Robert R. Reilly:
Tonight, it is a great privilege to have Agus Widjojo who is a minister in the Indonesian government. He is a retired lieutenant general who has served in many key positions. His current position is governor of the Indonesian National Resilience Institute, a ministerial level agency that’s responsible for high-level policy and strategy formulation as well as for the strategic education of Indonesian senior leaders.
I refer to some of the key posts that the general governor has held as Commandant of Joint Forces Command and Staff College as chief of territorial affairs for the Indonesian Armed Forces, as the senior deputy speaker of the Indonesian national consultative assembly, which at that time was the sovereign power of Indonesia, and- and many others.
At the point to make, and I’m sure you’ll hear from the governor tonight though he may be too modest to say so, is the very key role that he has personally and professionally played in the transition and reforms in Indonesia that have led it to be the strong democratic constitutional country that it is provided and also a key role in the professionalization of the Indonesian military forces.
I quickly refer to just a couple of his publications. I don’t know, this one may surprise you that we have a copy. It’s a consideration of the human elements in the command estimate by General Widjojo [who] was at that time a lieutenant-colonel and this was published in Fort Leavenworth, Kansas in 1988. And as well you look been at the National Defense University and and one of your other degrees that you have received here- also I want to point out that he is the author of “Transformation,” another book called, “Transformation of the Indonesian Military.” So please, general- Join me in welcoming governor- We join you as he addresses, “How to Support Democracy in a Pluralistic, Highly Religious Society.”
General Agus Widjojo:
Thank you very much for your attendance. Tonight I’m here at your service – to fulfill your thirst about the knowledge of Indonesia. I have a white subject or topic to cover so maybe I just want to start with a large, white, broad brush of Indonesia. Then I would enter and invite your questions and entertain you in the discourse for my brief presentation, okay?
To understand Indonesia today is- We have to understand unity came from in the past. Then we also had experienced quite a recent transition into democracy and which is still an ongoing process until now and that would be the most interesting point because because- because you can find our aspects mixed in those times in that transition and what we are seeing and what we are eating about Indonesia today – my opinion is still a result or in the context of that democratic transition then if I am asked you know we started the democratic transition in 1998 when President Suharto resigned after being in power for about 30 plus years and the unison people decided and made that decision to succeed that political system into a democratic political system 1998 let’s say it’s 1999 let’s say it’s 2000 it’s all in 17 years so when people ask me it’s already 17 years onto board with this transition well I would I would make my point that I refer to to to a political scientist maybe one lens was it and said that that that the end of a democratic transition which marks the start of the democracy consolidation is that when everybody believes in democracy he said that when democracy is the only game in town and where principles of democracy is the only way to set differences I don’t think we have seen this yet totally implemented in Indonesia because it is in times of transition not everybody in town have believed that democracy is still the only game in town. There are elements in the society which believes that which believes that differences could be settled by the- by- by the- by political power by showing how powerful they are through physical existence or appearance by demonstrations and we still also yet have to to establish or to to empower to strengthen the arrangements of the democratic system some say that also this is in the political literature that the problems or challenges facing at the market transition is that the changes or challenges facing the establishment of the capacity of political institutions and in a democratic transition where democracy have to open up for differences for different aspirations than the competition and the race between between between the coming of various aspirations and the effectiveness of political institutions are there to be evaluated as to how effective that transition is and in this in this era in this time we see in the in the converging world where borders national borders are diminishing not in the sense of the physical borders of a country but the borders of the mixing of ideas and thinking’s we see that the growth of aspirations can be can be multiplied in a very fast way and which leaves the effort to do enhance the capacity of the political institutions like lagging behind them so this is well this is why we are seeing if you notice in those newly democratic countries Indonesia is rather lucky then there are in the region countries like Myanmar there are countries in the Middle East as famous as the Arab Spring are struggling in this democratic transition democratic transition is not a linear process sometimes it’s a two step forward one step backward one step forward two steps backward it’s a muddling through process the democratic transition was marked by the again as I have said the resignation of President Suharto which was followed by the amendment of the Constitution actually that was the start of the political transition of the in unison democracy that change the political system some of the significant features are we’re in the past the president was elected by the National Assembly now all public elected public officials the parliamentarians or members of the members of the representative of the people of Indonesia the Regional Council the regional elected public officials the president are now directly elected by the people so we have a direct election for all those public officials as the mark of the start of this democratic transition through the amendment of the Constitution secondly also quite a significant feature of the transition was the the the the termination of the socio-political role of the military in the past the military had a dual function which formally and legally played a role in social social politics that has been terminated through the termination of the dual function doctrine that was significant and it was also unique in the sense that it was the military who voluntarily who voluntarily reformed itself to leave the role in social politics and that and that the political transition into democracy was left solely to the civilian politicians the military had no involvement at all in that democratic transition and it was totally to the civilian politicians so in this highly dynamic political or social situation of Indonesia if we ask and assess I think the methodology that I would propose to you to do to ask the question how is this should be arranged then we have to look into the consensus of the people which is represented by the Constitution and if we go if we draw further back into history there is an interesting point there also that we were given the geographical area of an archipelago at archipelago in the equator which which which which spreads as far as almost Western Europe and that that archipelago has been occupied by various ethnic groups those various ethnic groups had very much their own language and they abide by their own faith of religion so that it is a representation of bhinneka tunggal occur close enough to the meaning of the the English of unity and diversity so by that our founding fathers when they when they formulated or whether they frame the Constitution they they conducted deliberations and come to a consensus that the Constitution should provide an overarching an overarching Constitution to allow all these differences to be accommodated that was the consensus by our founding fathers and that is how that we should live in in Indonesia okay so the first element is that if we ask how should it be arranged in Indonesia with that situation then we have to look into the Constitution as a as an implementation of the consensus of our founding fathers in 1945 when we found our independence and that was the consensus of our founding fathers secondly is that secondly is that secondly is that if we are to find answers as to why is this change becomes I would not say difficult but not so easy because all these cannot be separated as to how we live and that comes into the aspect of the culture we are basically a paternalistic society and having a paternalistic traditional culture we just cannot live without leaders and we tend to seek to look for leaders to lead us and actually if we look into hindsight again into our history most of them we see that if they were filled with the existence of kingdoms saw the nets so the people the people accommodated or experienced or made up their traditional culture based on the traditional pop culture of the people that had a leader in the form of a sultan in the form of a king and that forms as our traditional cultures we tend to look for leaders what our leaders for to decide our destiny and this has its this has also its its its its practice right down into the family when I was a child in my family and although that I’m grown up now in the eyes of my parents I’m still a child when there is an issue or a problem in the family the the head of the family makes the decision and the children never challenges the decision okay we come to the changes of the the current changes maybe later on but that that was the basis of the culture and what I want to say is that in this democratic transition that left that leaves an impact we are always looking for leaders and what is unfortunate that we tend to see leaders as a perfect leader perfectly which does not exist in the theory books of leadership which does not exist in reality because leaders are the role of leaders are carried by human beings and there is no human being that can be or that has no no no no no no deficiencies right okay this one and in our traditional culture also we tend to we have a large influence of our emotions we tend to think and we tend to act more based by our emotions instincts intuitions rather than our rationality and so that in if we support of if we adore one leader it’s like you know it’s like falling in love everything is perfect but once we saw cracks in that person in which we thought that he or she was perfect then we can go to the opposite we can hit that person so that is the second characteristics so we are emotional and yes what I wanted to say was that we are looking for perfect leaders for a perfect relationship which never existed in reality but what is worse is that we miss expected things that is part of the principles of democracy we thought that democracy would provide or deliver those perfect leaders and we kept looking and waiting for those perfect leaders out of political elections it’s it’s maybe until now not everybody are aware that democracy never promises perfectly just if democracy has to take side between competence even looks Vasavi popularity democracywill take sight with popularity this has not been realized maybe by some segments of the of the public things that are that that is not realized is that they they thought that democracy is only a machine to provide leaders they never realized that the soul of democracy is the sovereignty of the people a presidential election is not a competition to find the smartest candidate but it is to find a person who he or she will be constitutionally able to say that I represent the people why I collected most of the votes now these are these are the the mixed expectations in times of transition and there as far as I have said that the transition can can can can come in to reality in a muddling through process so that is where Indonesia is and what we see like Indonesia is becoming or there are there are situations values new values which challenges these all loans or things that we have taken as what it should be for instance in the past because of its paralyzing but elastic nature for differences we tend to conform we tend to say and we tend to say that there is only one way to define what is right there is one source of truth where in democracy we have to open up to differences of opinions and again to to handle or to manage those differences we need effective political institutions and that is still an ongoing process where we we are still working on it this poses a challenge to a new democracy and if we see that there are many differences of opinions like the book step we saw I saw on my way in here differences in Islam where in the past that has not came up to the surface I think that these differences difference different versions of Islam which came to the surface in Indonesia we should not see that only as a negative negative negative dynamics but that can also be said to be that democracy is working in Indonesia and that Indonesia has learned to face differences of opinions and the reality is that I can say that those differences in the end never came or never develop into into let’s say physical crisis or fictions in the end they can come into if not a solution but an ending so this is where Indonesia Indonesia is currently there are a lot of changes and challenges and as for the region I’m lucky to be accompanied by political counselors is it but very from the embassy I think he is the authoritative source resource person to answer but before I go to what is happening in the region I think what is happening in Indonesia is not only of the dynamics internally within Indonesia but we see also how in the international strategy environment things are changing drastically we see the even in the United States itself which led into its implications in other parts of the world in the Middle East how Saudi Arabia is changing and how we see failed States in several countries in the Middle East and with this with this converging world that can easily send its influences and implications just to any other countries including to Indonesia including the ideology of pancasila again by the founding fathers they have depth into the local wisdom of Indonesia and they thought that they came out with five pillars to be made as our national ideology they consist of one the belief in one God secondly is humanity. Thirdly it’s national unity. Fourthly it’s democracy and fifth is social social welfare in in just way for all the people of Indonesia where in the past in an authority and authoritarian system that ideology enjoyed enjoyed a protect existence and was well disseminated to the public with the coming of democracy and the openness of globalization as never have been experienced before pancasila faced the challenges of being able or having to be able to complete with ideologies or thoughts that comes from outside of Indonesia including those various Islamic interpretations from different elements of Islam but as I have said if we see those differences in Indonesia I don’t think that we should only see it as a negative form but that is to say that that that democracy is now in place in Indonesia for the region if I have to to touch on regional interest and how the Indonesian policy plays I think international relations is a meeting of the national interest of various countries and the next issue there is how does one country places scales of priority in their national interest what are their priorities of course the first priority should be survivability I think we all plead to that but the implementation of that is what is the rank of priority for for clarity of what I wanted to say is about China okay in the past in in the Cold War days China was a communist country but China I think is still room by the single-party system the Central Committee of the Communist Party but I think and if we study the history of China it is not all also a linear process they have had their challenges and they have been able to get over their challenges we hear of leaders like Mao Zedong we hear leaders of them shopping we hear leaders of link live so Chi and I think China now enjoys the result of their hard work where they were able to to build their national economy while they are they are they are improving in their economy we see in other countries economy their respective economy is being done templated so here comes China and with this globalized world the interconnectivity between countries are such that it is not anymore like the cold war world of the past where we can draw lines very clearly between ideologies of national interests and between banks especially defense pact now it is a very much diverse world and diverse form and levels of national interest for each country if in one aspect one may see that maybe China is a threat but China now is is trying to pursue of meeting the national interest in a more in in a more intelligent way it is not by the sole use of their military power that they pursue then interest with result of their hard work of the economic power they are now reaching out to the world to achieve their natural interest through what one book says as SSS I forgot the I forgot that charm offensive their offensive is charming and which leaves sometimes a country you know good food could not could not have any real alternatives if if it is to be accorded in relation to their needs so with that another country may see China with their economic power and as a matter of fact especially in the region that you know the only country which has monetary or financial reserves that large we cannot we can say that it is only China the only country that can lend capital cheaply practically is only China and they offer also assistance in other fields in their view that other countries needs their their assistance so that is those are the two aspects of China of how we see with in the region and how they have tried to expand that influence with the one belt one road the modern form of their historic Silk Road of the past so that is how countries see China in the region but China is also realistic they may try to compete with the US economically but China is also realistic in seeing that militarily China can never compete with the US so they form a very realistic foreign policy but we see also that China is like what they have been doing in building up their economic power they are also building up powers in their other dimension technology for instance they are moving up very fast so with that it would be interesting for me to hear your views where I can also learn from your opinions time for my wine thank you for coming all this way I know that Indonesia is a member of the Organization of Islamic Cooperation which in in 1990 with its Cairo declaration left abrogated the United Nations Universal Declaration of Human Rights in favor of only Islamic law Sharia and wandering as Indonesia progresses along the transition to democracy and modernization what consideration is being given to leaving the OIC and or to denouncing the Thailand every baby did we leave oh I see Oh what would we know would we I see so it’s a question sentence sorry very I’ll come back to later when I need your assistance would I would we leave oh I see as you have said as you have said the interest of one country to join an organization if there are differences of views is that is that first of all is that that country would be accepted as part of that large organization where they can advance their national interest through that organization one secondly if there are differences it is a matter of could influence them or am I being influenced by them my and in our foreign policy Indonesia have always tried to do to influence the OIC to the best interest of the Islamic member countries not only to those countries but also to the best interest of or how Islam can give the best interest to the general international community and as we know Indonesia tries to promote the moderation of Islam. Islam does not necessarily mean the strict the strict to a deal to the Sharia law Islam is a wide-ranging book of teachings and if you try to find a comprehensive meaning of that book of teachings of Islam in the end Islam Wood Wood Wood Wood Wood Wood place itself in the effort to bring what is yes whatever that is yes compassion yes compassion to humanity to mankind and to the world as in any other international institution which means political institution I don’t think any of those organization has a solid aspiration so I think the in the end the purpose of Indonesia being a member of oh I see is an implementation of the principles of the Indonesia’s foreign policy and that is a yeah free and active foreign policy I hope that answers I know it’s not satisfactory thank you we try to influence the bad influence with good influence but that is that is not easy but in the end that is the sense yes as you said it’s an archipelago how was it unit with so many you know very areas and Islands air how is Indonesia unified how do you help thinking about unification again respecting the diversity YouTube how do you do that through television radio travel how is travel accommodated throughout the South Africa aguas era that active airlines that go to every place yes thank you I’m trying to answer that Indonesian is as an archaeology country our form or method of of unifying those diverse islands or ethnic groups is on Wars by ideas by ideology although we are not a nation state meaning that we do not consist solidly or homogeneous Lee from one nation but again there was one scholar who said that a country is a matter of self perception who shares common understanding common history and shares also a common purpose would it maybe the Dutch that United Indonesia we don’t but it was the dead spook colonized Indonesia from the father’s Western Island into the farthest eastern part of Indonesia so the first aspect which United Indonesia was the aspect of idea and ideology and then we come to think as Indonesia modernizes itself we come to think of more of the physical aspect and now the administration of president Joko Widodo is putting priority on the building of infrastructures and one of them is declaring the maritime policy as one of its highest priority and in the in the in their policies and things that can be said is relating to this is the building of nterconnectivity between islands which maybe in the past have not been put enough have not been given enough attention whether it is sea lanes or n routes that way also we tried to do to implement what we hope to be a one economic outlook of an arc apology Indonesia meaning that the price of petrol or fuel in Java we would like to see is the same price of petrol and fuel in Papua or in the father’s outer islands that is the direction that the current government is working on but again it is to improve the interconnectivity of those islands the governor if I may ask the president related to China’s charm several days ago a u.s. naval military destroyer trying to claim him within 12 miles of part of the Scarborough Shoal that China has unilaterally claimed as its own so they sent a military frigate to escort the u.s. naval destroyer out of the area and I believe it was yesterday or the day before there was an incident between Indonesia and China again on a disputed area of South China Sea you how does Indonesia regard China’s extraordinary claim to sovereignty over the South China Sea and the East China Sea and do you think that can be resolved peacefully or that this is a harbinger of a less charming side my time has behavior yes this the stance of Indonesia in foreign policy in any any overlapping claims of territory whether it’s mail time or land I don’t think we have anything on land overlapping claims is one enricher would stand by the sovereignty of the Indonesian to public secondly that they should be solved by international laws and thirdly by never firing any weapons so I think those are the three principles in which Indonesia would always try to find solutions to any differences with other countries and as I have said as I have said that that the was it intertwine the relations between countries in various aspects are too close nowadays in the converging world that I don’t think war or physical military solution would be favorable or advantageous to any country and as long as very the diplomats are willing to sit down and talk then I think there is a solution on the horizon there are experiences in the Indonesian diplomacy in the past that whether it is by inviting if it is if it was a sort of differences by other two countries outside Indonesia or within Indonesia itself it is to invite to to talk and maybe to find some common endeavors which can be which can be seen to the best interest of both countries in a sort of cooperation we did have one one one experience of the solution of the island of Sipadan and lick eaten by President Suharto which was to be left to be decided by the ICC and we Indonesia was consistent to the decision of the ICC so there are various ways but those are the three principles that are held by Indonesia to try to find solution in differences with other countries connection with deforestation environmental question yes you are right it is all right this is outer scope of my presentation but I will try and-and-and-and because I am NOT an expert in in climate change I will only say from the facts in the past Indonesia has been blamed by neighboring countries of forest fires that come from the territory of Indonesia this year bye-bye the of course there there are always some some interaction when something happens in one country will influence another country and that has made Indonesia to step up in trying to prevent forest fires by going to those companies who have relevance in the source of these files and this year there has not been any let’s say protests from the rows neighboring countries because Indonesia has been able to put significant significant form that these neighboring countries did not feel any haze that came from forest fires from the location of the within the Indonesian territory so various ways has been stepped up by the government into the forest itself and by by injecting into the what you call that the underneath the forest tu-tu-tu-tu-tu-tu put of the fires those those those that are still that considered keep burning and also going to the companies who owns those forests and one of the most difficult is that sometimes in the region again that that making fires is the easiest way of preparing the land for for for before planting them and that is adopted by you know the common people in the region but again the that that by the common people is not seen by violating the law they say that we’ve been doing this for generations and generations and generations but through Social Communications the government have been putting efforts whether at the superficial traditional and all those that have created forest fires in the past and the result is that this year it has resulted in a drastic difference. Please believe me. Yes the end state of the military reform is actually based on the Constitution and the principles of democracy from the Constitution 1945 was the writing or the framing of the Constitution 1999 was the reform of the military so how many ways was that okay I’ll test your mathematics from 1945 to 1919 44 to 1999 or let’s say 2000 that would be 54 we have two ducted that but we realize that the dual function those roles that were played by the military were never mandated by the Constitution but it was only in 1982 that the dual function was formally accommodated or contained in the defense bill defense and security bill then the question would be then how then could it be practiced in reality by the Indonesian military it’s because that in reality the political system that was tried to be to be to be to be implemented well was was carried out by the first generation of the founding fathers and they have in their idea of their memories when they fought together during the struggle for independence so the soul there was was was the soul there was camaraderie comrade-in-arms ship when they fought together the struggle for independence so that we had a saying then that anything can be arranged and that is not totally untrue when my children ask me what is comradeship what is camaraderie what is comrade-in-arms ship it’s like homecoming for a high school reunion some have become a diplomat maybe one has become a president some have become generals some have become successful CEOs the unsuccessful CEOs were never known but when they all come for a high school reunion those positions are irrelevant they all come home as graduates of that health school then how does the work of the reunion committee being carried out through collegiality okay you were part of a school band okay you take care of the entertainment Hey your father owns a transportation business boruto buses can be those sort of things and the Indonesian military never launched any power take over by force the Indonesian military never launched any coup d’etat so because they believe that if they launch one coup d’etat it will only cause a contagious for process of counter-coup datas then why can they have that role well it’s because that that that that when they were fighting together for our sake for independence we are now fighting together to develop the country and why was it terminated in 1998-1999 with reform it’s because that President Suharto was the last figure the last leader the last warrior here in the stories of Indians and sheriffs in the US was the last warrior of the founding fathers generation so when presidents were to resign I I wonder can my generation continue with that sort of arrangements I don’t know the civilian leaders they come from civilian universities so I don’t know them before unlike the 1945 founding fathers generation so we have to find a new system where the interaction between authorities can be laid down in a specific way so the people of Indonesia chose democracy meaning that everything we do in the life of the nation the political system any system any functions of the government have to be arranged based on the principles of democracy not in not an exception is also the function of Defense and also the role and authority of the military if you ask me where do we go we go by seeing the models of a country in an established democracy by by by by providing its role and authorities through their various agencies to the military to the police to the military with war fighting missions why were fighting missions to preserve sovereignty and integrity of the national territory would be to repair and to defeat foreign military but nothing to do with with with with with involving itself in the domestic affairs of the obviously the because the national territory is a territory where the national legal system is in operation that would be left to the role and authority of the various law enforcement agencies and the military is never designed to be a law enforcement agency so the model would be we are seeing the model of a country of established democracy that is the direction that we are we are we are moving the words does that answer your question sir. Thank you. Thank you. I think the authority to answer that question would fall in the authority of the Saudi Arabian Prince rather than the Indonesian former general I’m a stoplight intensive on my way home be reasonable Prince yes it’s too early to tell I think we have to observe the developments of it is canva happy be separated from Saudi Arabia Saudi Arabia as a whole canva happy be separated from the royal family the Saudi Arabia and those are the questions that should ask and we should watch into the future of the of how it will develop well again we are in time of democracy and first of all in time of democracy especially in a presidential cabinet system much of what is effective policy is being decided into the character and personality of the elected political leader of Indonesia in a presidential democracy secondly is that is that we believe that the mainstream of Islam Indonesia I’ve read it somewhere from my readings that majority of Islam in Indonesia considered themselves as member of either an O or or Mahmud II and those two are are considered to be modern Islam by the public only minority but majority condemns the Interfaith even more the Wahhabi so we believe in that but there is also should be maybe a social process a political process to to show that the majority of Islam of Indonesia are still the indigenous Islam of Indonesia which is the moderate Islam of Indonesia and provide them moral or physical support that they are able to- to challenge and to overcome those those political Islam that actually has only been recently set forth in Indonesia and coming from outside Indonesia.