NAME: I Wayan Budiana
OCCUPATION: Transport driver
LOCATION: Lebih, Gianyar
Is the country better or worse since former president Suharto stepped down 10 years ago?
It’s worse now. Suharto had great control over the country and the economy was better before. He was a good leader and a good man, but his son and other corrupt family members have tainted his image. Now in Indonesia everything is about money. You can do anything you want if you have enough money.
How did you feel when you heard he died last year?
I was very sad. I think it was a great loss for Indonesia.
Is Jakarta politics relevant for your life, or is it ruled by elites who are out of touch with the people?
Bali should be allowed some of the autonomy they want. Bali is such an important province in Indonesia and they should be given some freedom to make the most of what they have. Mostly now Jakarta just controls taxes, so it wouldn’t be so much of a risk for the Balinese to be given autonomy.
What does Indonesia have to do to become an economic powerhouse once again?
Indonesia must step up security. If the country is safe and secure, everything will be ok; if it’s not, we will go bankrupt.
If you were running the country, what three things would you fix or change immediately?
Security is the most important priority. If the country was safe I could go on to step two and start inviting investors to put money into Indonesia. I would decide on step three after the first two were complete.
What do you think about Bali’s government?
Great. (Governor) Mangku Pastika is the best thing to happen to Bali in a long time.
Indonesia is made up of more than 17,500 islands, many religions, dozens of ethnic groups and hundred of dialects. Therefore, is it reasonable to expect “Unity in Diversity,” as the founding fathers declared?
In a way I think we can be united, but as a citizen of the only Hindu island in Indonesia, it’s very difficult to think of myself as the same as other Indonesians.
What does being Indonesian mean to you? What sets you apart from, say, neighboring Singapore, Brunei or Malaysia?
I am proud to be Indonesian. We have come a long way in the past 50 years or so, but I think we have been able to retain more cultural identity than our neighbors.
Why do you think Indonesia has always had such a testy relationship with its neighbor Australia?
We have had problems with Australia stepping into political
problems, like in East Timor, which caused a lot of tension.
What, for you has been Indonesia’s greatest moment since it declared independence in 1945?
The best years since 1945 were 1990 to 2000. The economy was good and people had jobs. Since 2000 things have gotten harder again.