Democratic principles are rarely used to resolve national crises, the governor of state-security think-tank National Resilience Institute, or Lemhannas, said at the 2017 Jakarta Geopolitical Forum on Friday (19/05).
“If all citizens believe in the principles of democracy and seek solutions based on those principles, our society would be more effective. However, many Indonesians seek resolutions through undemocratic means,” Agus Widjojo, a retired Indonesian Military (TNI) general, said at Borobudur Hotel in Central Jakarta.
In new democracies, Agus continued, societies must adhere strongly to the rule of law if they are to survive without encouraging the rise of strongmen or autocratic figures.
The Lemhannas governor said Indonesian democracy was not formed out of coercion from third parties but was brought about by popular demand for societal change. The country can only develop democratically if all elements of society support that transition, Agus said.
“Technological revolution has shocked us and [society] must be aware to respond [to that revolution] effectively and responsibly,” Agus added.
Echoing Agus’s statement, University of Indonesia professor emeritus and former Finance Minister Dorodjatun Kuntjoro-Jakti said “volunteerism” is the foundation of Indonesian democracy.
“The way Indonesia manages diplomatic efforts reflects that spirit of volunteerism. We do not distinguish between large or small countries […] we respect all nations, regardless of their differences from our own way of life,” Dorodjatun said.
The professor emphasized that the principle of mutual respect must be present within Indonesian society itself for society to flourish. Differences, Dorodjatun said, should be embraced if the country is to truly democratize.
“Many of our most important achievements in foreign policy have come about because of our patience, and willingness to negotiate with those we perceive as different. The same principle should be applied in domestic affairs, if we are to flourish as a nation.”