NAME: Paldo Siallagan
Is the country better or worse since former president Suharto stepped down 10 years ago?
I think it was better before, because people were more equal.
How did you feel when you heard he died in January?
I was sad, but not that much, because I didn’t know him.
Is Jakarta politics relevant to your life, or is it ruled by elites who are out of touch with the people?
It depends. Sometimes they do good, and sometimes they don’t.
What does Indonesia have to do to become an economic powerhouse once again?
Nobody knows; that’s the problem. But before doing anything about the economy, we should get rid of corruption, which really damages our country, and also do something about the police, because they don’t care about justice; they are only interested in money.
If you were running the country, what three things would you fix or change immediately?
First I would lower taxes to allow people to allow people to buy more things; then I would work on our social system: free education, free hospitals; and I would help students – encourage people to study.
How is Bali’s government performing?
This government is the same as before; there’s nothing new.
Indonesia is made up of more than 17500 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 declared?
I think it is possible for us to all stay together, but we have to stop talking about religion, for example. We should talk more about people. There are too many religious issues in this country.
What does being Indonesian mean to you? What sets you apart from, say, neighboring Singapore, Brunei or Malaysia?
This is my country, so I love it. But the difference between us and those countries is that in Indonesia, we have less money and people are less educated…
Why do you think Indonesia has such a turbulent relationship with its neighbor Australia?
We have a very strong relationship. We have a lot of Australian tourists, and Australia sometimes helps Indonesia.
What for you has been Indonesia’s greatest moment since it declared independence in 1945?
It’s hard to say, but I think Indonesia is improving all the time.