President Susilo Bambang Yudhoyono said that Indonesia has successfully managed its transition toward democracy, which started in 1998, a success he attributed to a collective effort involving the people and the government.
“The social conflicts in Maluku, West Kalimantan, Central Sulawesi, Papua and Aceh were successfully handled and solved through a joint understanding for the sake of the state’s unity,” Yudhoyono said, as quoted by presidential adviser on regional development and autonomy Velix Wanggai in a press release sent out on Thursday.
Velix said that the president saw Indonesia’s grand idea of nationalism, social integration, harmony and Bhineka Tunggal Ika, or Unity in Diversity, as a collective language that should be embraced by all citizens. The president also stressed that the country was founded on tolerance, justice, social virtues and the supremacy of the law.
“President SBY recently said that if we don’t want to see the arbitrary use of power, all of us who have power must prevent ourselves from abusing power,” said Velix, adding that the president also encouraged all citizens to lead a polite, ethical and peaceful democratic life — a crucial foundation for democracy.
The president last month called on Indonesians to aspire to the qualities personified by the Prophet Muhammad in order to achieve social harmony.
Speaking to thousands of Muslims attending an event to mark the birthday of the prophet, Yudhoyono said that these qualities were most needed now, ahead of the 2014 legislative and presidential elections and all their attendant issues and controversies.
“We have to aspire to the example set by the prophet, who led a diverse group of people,” he said.
He added that history showed that although Muhammad had followers from a wide range of backgrounds, he still managed to keep the peace among them and prevent their differences from spilling over into violence.
The president said the same spirit of solidarity amid diversity was needed in the run-up to the polls, which in the past have proved fractious and polarizing.