NAME: Ni Luh Gede Sudiasih
LOCATION: Sulangai, Badung
Is the country better or worse since former president Suharto stepped down 10 years ago?
It was better before. It was much cheaper for everyday necessities and so it was easier to live comfortably. I think people are more stressed now.
How did you feel when you heard he died last year?
He was an old man and he was sick, so I was sad, but I think everyone knew it was coming.
Is Jakarta politics relevant for your life, or is it ruled by elites who are out of touch with the people?
I don’t really pay much attention to politics, so it obviously isn’t relevant to me. The only policies that make a difference to my life are economic ones.
What does Indonesia have to do to become an economic powerhouse once again?
We have to stop destroying the beauty of Indonesia so tourists want to keep coming here. The tourism industry, especially here in Bali, is what will save us.
If you were running the country, what three things would you fix or change immediately?
First I would subsidize necessities like petrol, rice and other foods, so people wouldn’t have to spend all their money on things that should be cheap. Secondly, I would make sure tourist areas were safe and secure. And lastly, I would make more laws about protecting the environment.
What do you think of Bali’s government?
I think (Governor I Made) Mangku Pastika is a very smart man and is very good for Bali. Hopefully he’ll be able to do all the things he promised in his campaign.
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 declared?
I’m not sure. I see myself more as Balinese and Hindu than Indonesian; so I guess I don’t feel very unified with the rest of the islands.
What does being Indonesian mean to you? What sets you apart from, say, neighboring Singapore, Brunei or Malaysia?
Like I said, I feel more Balinese. So my religion, traditions and family life are very different to neighboring islands as well as countries.
Why do you think Indonesia has always had such a testy relationship with its neighbor Australia?
I don’t know how bad it was before the problems in East Timor, but that really made Indonesia angry at Australia.
What for you has been Indonesia’s greatest moment since it declared independence in 1945?
The recent execution of the Bali bombers was a very good moment for Indonesian justice, but I’m not sure if we have had our greatest moment yet.