NAME: Dek Tha
OCCUPATION: customer-service agent
Is the country better or worse since former president Suharto stepped down 10 years ago?
I think it’s pretty balanced. There are pluses and minuses. He gave a lot of attention to farmers and agriculture and I think we now we feel a great loss because of that.
How did you feel when you heard he died last year?
I thought about the good things he did, like his care for farmers and nature, and I was sad.
Is Jakarta politics relevant for your life, or is it ruled by elites who are out of touch with the people?
I think politics in Jakarta do affect us, and have a great deal of influence on Balinese politics.
What does Indonesia have to do to become an economic powerhouse once again?
First it needs to pay more attention to farmers and agriculture because they are very important in providing basics for the people. Now they seem to get less attention and people suffer because of it.
If you were running the country, what three things would you fix or change immediately?
I would work on the economy by supporting farmers; then I would give more attention to education as many children are lacking education. Finally I would try to improve the lives of poor children because the children are our future.
What do you think about Bali’s government?
I think it’s very good now, better than before.
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 declared?
Yes. That’s why we have an Indonesian language, even if most of the islands have their own language as well. I feel like we all have one principle.
What does being Indonesian mean to you? What sets you apart from, say, neighboring Singapore, Brunei or Malaysia?
Even if we are many islands and ethnic groups, we try to work together. When I was a student, we all sat together and worked as a team, even though there we people from all over Indonesia. By doing this, when we finish school as well, we make the future of Indonesia. I also feel special to be Balinese, because the Balinese people are very peaceful.
What for you has been Indonesia’s greatest moment since it declared independence in 1945?
I really only remember the bad times, but I think now is a very good time. Our president is successful in finding corrupt officials.