SPEECH BY H.E. DR. SUSILO BAMBANG YUDHOYONO
PRESIDENT OF THE REPUBLIC OF INDONESIA AT GOVERNMENT LEADERS FORUM ASIA (GLF ASIA) JAKARTA, 9 MAY 2008
Assalamualaikum Wr Wb
Mr. Bill Gates, Chairman of Microsoft Corporation,
Mr. Craig Mundie, Chief Research and Strategy Officer of Microsoft Corporation,
It is a pleasure for me to join all of you at this closing plenary session of the Government Leaders Forum, Asia 2008. Before anything else, I wish to thank Mr. Bill Gates, Mr. Craig Mundie and Microsoft for bringing the Government Leaders Forum to Jakarta.
The Government of Indonesia is privileged to partner with Microsoft in organizing this important Forum.
I am very pleased to see so many government and business leaders from all over the world gathered here to focus on how to realize technology’s brightest and most significant promise: the deliverance of the teeming millions from the grips of ignorance, disease and poverty.
The theme of this Forum is therefore appropriate and, for Indonesia, most timely: “Serving the Citizen: The Transformative Power of Information Technology in Delivering Government Services,” particularly in the fields of education, health care and sustainable development.
That theme is close to my heart, since it is all about serving the people. And serving, and protecting, the people is what Governance is all about, irrespective of political system, historical background or cultural condition. Serving the people is about improving their lives, responding to their basic needs and aspirations, enabling them to live up to their potentials, and ensuring them not just equality but also equal opportunity.
All the years I have been in public service, I have been amazed to see beautiful minds, wonderful talents and great potentials in the countless individuals that I meet all over the country. It is the greatness of God Almighty that he spreads the power of imagination evenly to all human beings, rich or poor, old and young. But the sad reality is that many of these potentials remain hidden and locked, rather than developed and unleashed. There are many families who have been locked in poverty and ignorance for generations simply because they lack the enabling and empowerment tool to escape that cycle.
I do believe that information technology is the most promising and potent cure that the world has ever known to fight the perils of poverty and ignorance. 50 years ago, someone in a remote Sumatran village, would need to cross oceans and have lots of money in order to gain access to worldly knowledge and information. But today, any individual, even in the most remote place, can have instant access to 50 billion pages of information about anything with a single click of the mouse. That is simply amazing !
And a global citizen in the 21st century not only have the right to life, freedom and pursuit of happiness, he or she—irregardless of his or her nationality, race, religion or income— also has the right to an email address with large or unlimited memory space. This is truly a fascinating digital democracy !
And I believe we are only seeing the tip of the iceberg as the internet grows and becomes more accessible to more citizens around the world.
With the help of information technology, any government can deliver services to the people much faster and more efficiently. But to us in Indonesia, with a population of 230 million, the task is a great challenge.
In the field of education, for instance, we have 55 million students, 2.7 million teachers and 293,000 schools. Thus, it is an arduous struggle for us to meet the goal of connecting half of all educational institutions in an ICT network and achieving 50 percent national e-literacy by 2015.
We are facilitating e-learning by creating the infrastructure for schools and students to be connected. The target for 2009 is to connect 1.43 million computers in our schools. We must also develop and provide e-books and interactive educational programmes for this network. We will need all the help that we can get in this effort.
In government and in the private business sector, information technology can help increase productivity, efficiency, responsiveness, transparency and accountability.
Not only has it enabled government to deliver services faster and more efficiently, it has also empowered the people by giving them easier access to information about the work of government. It has enabled them to monitor and get involved in policy implementation.
Let me give you the simplest example. At the start of my term, I introduced the use of SMS to interact with the whole nation: anyone can send me a message on 9949. I was immediately buried in an avalanche of messages telling me what to do to solve the nation’s problems and also scores of SMS containing personal, including marital, problems. But my office has been able to cope very well. Relevant complaints are, as a matter of course, passed on to the relevant authorities for prompt action.
A more complex example is the role of information technology in our national elections. Without it, this fundamental political exercise would have been extremely difficult to carry out in this archipelago of 17,000 islands covering an area of 5,000 kilometers and three time zones. We have some 150 million citizens of voting age spread over 5,100 districts going to some 600,000 polling booths.
In 2004, they went to the polls three times—once to elect members of Parliament and twice to elect the President and Vice President. Between 2005 and now, this process have been played out in 33 provinces and 430 districts to directly elect local officials.
It used to take weeks before we knew the final results of a national election. In 2004, it took only three days to get a complete, accurate and transparent national count.
In times of national disaster, information technology has served us in good stead. The post-disaster data base on Aceh and North Sumatera helped speed up recovery and rehabilitation of communities devastated by the tsunami of December 2004.
Using IT, we have streamlined our bureaucracies and enhanced efficiency and transparency of our governance. We are now into e-procurement. Our people are paying taxes and applying for driver’s licenses and identity cards on line. Next year we will be offering to our exporters and importers a computerized National Single Window, to their great convenience.
And, finally, I am proud to say, the creative economy, the fourth wave of economic development, is now very much in evidence in Indonesia. Because it is based on human creativity and innovation and usually involves a network of small and medium enterprises, it can lead to sustainable growth.
Our creative industries— such as handicraft, fashion, design, architecture, advertising, electronic media production, the performing arts, publications, software and other computer services and interactive games— are already going global while serving our large home market.
They make up 6.3 percent of the national economy and account for 5.8 percent of job creation, seven percent of the number of companies and ten percent of exports. And they are growing at a rate higher than the rest of the economy.
For instance, some 100 Indonesian films are now produced every year, four times the number produced five years ago. Most cinemas now show Indonesian films. Some 80 percent of the music played in Indonesia is locally created.
Homegrown industries in software, animation and interactive games are now being outsourced internationally. It has greatly helped that our people are blessed with a rich cultural heritage. Indeed, we have a young c-generation— creative generation— we can be proud of.
For example, graphic designer Alvin Kizana is only 32 but he designed the website for Nokia. In the process he parlayed a one-computer, one-employee operation to an enterprise with 60 employees.
Castle Rock is a local animation company that employs young people providing animation services for international producers. A custom-made guitar manufacturer, Mr. Toein, sells guitars to famous musicians abroad. A rattan exporter, Mr. Tonton of Rattanland, increased his exports from $30,000 to $1.6 million a year over the last six years.
A growing number of our SMEs are selling to customers abroad through the internet. Many of our music groups have their popular songs being used as ring tones all over the world.
In these and many other success stories, information technology has been a vital factor. Still, the challenges we face in the use of information technology are formidable.
In the first place, we still need to prepare our society for wider use of information technology. We need to open the minds of our people to innovation and to wean them away from overdependence on the wealth of our natural resources and a tradition of paternalism.
In the second place, whether we like it or not, there is the digital divide. The gap is widening between the information technology “haves” and “have-nots.” There is a real danger that the world’s poor will be virtually excluded from the emerging knowledge-based global economy—with dire consequences to global peace and security.
In Indonesia, a vast archipelagic country with a vast geography with an immense variety of demographic, ethnic, cultural and religious groupings, we can ill afford a digital divide across and within communities. This is a threat to national unity that we must effectively manage.
We have therefore taken vigorous measures to address this reality.
First, we are reviewing all laws and regulations with a view to prompting all government agencies and institutions toward e-government. We have just passed the first Cyberlaw in Indonesia, which provides robust legal basis for electronic transactions. We are strengthening our intellectual property rights laws and regulations and enforcing them strictly. That is why we are no longer on the USTR Priority Watch List.
Second, we are creating a national backbone to connect all of Indonesia, including the remote rural areas of Eastern Indonesia. This is the Palapa Ring Project. We are also extending connectivity to villages— so that our farmers can easily obtain information from the world at large on prices, demand and the technologies they need.
Third, we are promoting e-literacy through the education system and society as a whole. We are reforming our institutions that have to do with information technology.
Fourth, we are increasing the use of information technology across the board by accelerating its application in the government and private sector. This is top priority, as it is an important factor in the growth of the e-economy.
Moreover, we are preparing an action plan for the development of the creative industries. We aim to raise their share of the economy and their capacity to absorb the labour force from six to eight percent. We intend to double the number of companies in this sector and hike their export volume to 12 percent by 2015.
Fifth, we are actively cooperating with IT industries and businesses to achieve these objectives. One example is our cooperation with Microsoft, which I personally initiated during my meeting with Mr. Bill Gates in Seattle in 2005. My Government is cooperating with Microsoft in many ways—through its innovation centres and its learning programmes. We will cooperate with any other company that offers to work with us the way Microsoft is doing now.
Indonesia today is undergoing profound transformation. While the main force driving this process is the spirit of reform—political, social and economic reform—it is also true that this transformation is greatly helped along by the blessings of science and technology, especially information technology. We are, after all, part of a world that is being transformed by the magic of software.
That is why I am particularly pleased at our cooperation with Microsoft: it has global context. It is part and parcel of a movement involving an international civil society in which Microsoft is a leading light. This is a very informal but real global partnership—of governments, corporations and non-profits—that is now addressing the greatest challenge of our time and that is the challenge of poverty.
Earlier this year in Davos, Mr. Bill Gates challenged the governments, corporations and non-profits of the world. He challenged all of us to engage in what he calls “creative capitalism” as a way of addressing problems of education, health care and sustainable development. He proposed that we harness the forces of the market to bring about a better life for the teeming millions who otherwise would be left behind by progress.
I have good news for Mr. Bill Gates. The creative economy that we are forming in Indonesia is our answer to his challenge. Through this creative economy, we are partnering with Microsoft and other corporations, as well as with the civil society of this country, in a strong bid to extend the reach of market forces.
The market represents the natural and robust human desire for profit and recognition. Through the creative economy, we can make the market do more for more people than they ever did before. We can make the market the servant, rather than the enemy, of social justice.
Through the creative economy, we will give globalization a human face. And also give the market a human soul.
I thank you.