NAME: Yudi Ryanhartono
AGE: 34
OCCUPATION: Manager of SOHO diner in Seminyak

Is the country better or worse since former president Suharto stepped down 10 years ago?
When Suharto was president, some things were good and some were not. Now in Indonesia, a lot of people are still having trouble, but it is neither better nor worse than before.

How did you feel when you heard he died in January?
It didn’t shock me because he was old. I felt sad, but not surprised.

Is Jakarta politics relevant for your life, or is it ruled by elites who are out of touch with the people?
What politicians in Jakarta do has an impact on other islands, but it’s the same story: sometimes they do good things and sometimes they don’t. There are still a lot of things that need to be improved in the government. I disagree with some of the things they have done – the Pornography Bill, for example.

What does Indonesia have to do to become an economic powerhouse once again?
Indonesia is very rich. We have metals, forests and other natural resources, so we have to take full advantage. Right now we export things to other countries and they improve them and send them back to us; this is not normal. We also have to fight for human rights.

What do you think of human rights in Indonesia?
In our country, if you have power, you can do anything. New laws are improving the situation, but there are still a lot of people who abuse others and do whatever they want.

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

I would first improve laws; second, boost the economy; and third give a better life to the people.

How do you think new Bali Governor I Made Mangku Pastika is doing?
I think our new governor has a good reputation, and I also think he is a good man. He is already doing good things – for example, opening a job-finding website for Bali. That’s relevant for me.

Indonesia is made up of more than 17,500 islands, many religions, dozens of ethnic groups and hundred of local dialects. Therefore, is it reasonable to expect “Unity in Diversity,” as the founding fathers said?
I would like to think so.

What does being Indonesian mean to you? What sets you apart from, say, neighboring Singapore, Brunei or Malaysia?

I am happy to be Indonesian when I am in Indonesia, but when I travel abroad, I realize we still have to make a lot of improvements. But I think we are different; all those places are different, with different people and different laws.

Why do you think Indonesia has always had such a testy relationship with its neighbor Australia?
I don’t know if the relationship is testy. Because of the bombing tragedies in Bali, Australians might think Bali is now a dangerous place.

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

That’s a very hard question. I think the best time was right after Suharto resigned, because we were not afraid anymore. There was more freedom in the country.

Filed under: Vox Populi

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