Personal Assistant

Name: Cherry Rahardju
Age: 24
Occupation: Personal Assistant
Location: Petitenget, Seminyak
Marital Status: Single

Is the country better or worse since former president Suharto stepped down 10 years ago?

I think it’s worse. At this point, there’s more political uncertainty compared to 10 years ago. Everything keeps changing. Government rules and regulations keep changing, too.

How did you feel when you heard he died in January?

I actually felt sad. Personally, I thought he was a good leader and I respect everything he did for the country.

Is Jakarta politics relevant to your life, or is it ruled by elites who are out of touch with the people?

Jakarta politics is not connected to my life at all.

What does Indonesia have to do to become an economic powerhouse once again?

Indonesia has to do many things, including getting rid of corruption. The weakest point of this country is political corruption. Overall economic conditions will improve once we manage to weed-out corruption.

If you were running the country, what three things would you fix or change immediately?

First, again, I would get rid of corruption. Then I would work on improving the education system. Next, I would provide training (non-formal education) for people on welfare so that they would learn marketable skills.

The people of Bali vote for a new governor later this year. What would you say to the field of candidates right now? What do they need to promise in order to get elected?

I’m actually not even sure who’s running. I haven’t been following the election. Bali’s economy relies on the tourism sector, however, so promoting and developing the tourist sector would probably help candidates get votes.

Indonesia is made up of more than 17,500 islands, many religions, dozens of ethnic groups and hundreds of local dialects. Therefore, is it reasonable to expect “unity in diversity,” as the founding fathers said?

Yes, maintaining unity in diversity is important because that’s the one thing that keeps us together as a nation. What happened with East Timor, for instance, was not good for the country. If every island became independent, we wouldn’t be one united country anymore.

What does being Indonesian mean to you?

I think being Indonesian is defined by culture. Being Indonesian means we put emphasis on our culture. We still believe in the importance of traditions and cultural norms in our lives.

Why do you think Indonesia has always had such a testy relationship with its neighbor Australia?

I think it’s the location. The two countries are physically very close, but the ways of thinking between the two countries are so different. But politically, over the past few years, despite our differences, both countries have made an effort to respect each other.

What, for you, has been Indonesia’s greatest moment since it declared independence in 1945?

The greatest time in Indonesia took place before the 1997 economic crisis. During that time, we had better educational opportunities and the dollar-rupiah exchange rate gave us higher advantages. Back then, it was Rp2,500 to the dollar.

Filed under: The Big Questions

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