PRESIDENT’S INAUGURATION SPEECH

Now is the time for action: Susilo

Thursday, October 21, 2004

The following is President Susilo Bambang Yudhoyono’s speech, which he delivered at the State Palace after his inauguration on Wednesday at the People’s Consultative Assembly:

Today, we are grateful indeed to God Almighty. Having gone through a long election process, today, before the members of the People’s Consultative Assembly, I, and Pak Jusuf Kalla, took our oaths as the President and Vice President of the Republic of Indonesia for the period of 2004-2009. Our inauguration today marked the beginning of a new government, which received a mandate directly from the people. Let me take this opportunity to express my deepest gratitude to the Indonesian people, for your participation, support and trust.

Allow me — personally, and on behalf of the Vice President Muhammad Jusuf Kalla, as well as on behalf of the entire nation — to express our deepest gratitude and highest appreciation to Ibu Megawati Soekarnoputri and Pak Hamzah Haz, for their great efforts in upholding the Constitution, leading the government, and guiding the nation successfully during their tenure as the president and vice president between 2001 and 2004.

Indeed, the entire nation shall remember and cherish all the great deeds of president Megawati and vice president Hamzah Haz. In the spirit of our nation’s time-honored tradition, I, as the President of the Republic of Indonesia, pledge to always preserve my ties of brotherhood with Ibu Megawati Soekarnoputri and Pak Hamzah Haz, as our two national figures.

All of us must remember the wisdom of our great founding father, the former president Sukarno, who once reminded us: “United we stand, divided we fall.”

Today, we have, remarkably, passed one of the most important tests of our history.

First, our nation has successfully undertaken national elections in a democratic, fair, orderly, and peaceful manner. This year’s elections were, by all means, the most ambitious, most difficult, and most complicated electoral marathon in the world, and yet, we successfully orchestrated them.

Indeed, we are all proud of our General Elections Commission (KPU), which managed to undertake this difficult task independently, professionally and responsibly.

Second, as we have just witnessed in today’s solemn ceremony, our nation has accomplished the process of power transfer constitutionally, democratically, orderly and peacefully. Thank God, our nation is now more mature in democracy, and able to build a more mature political culture. With such a great success, not only are we successful in taking this step as a big democracy, but we have also become a model for the world’s democracies.

Our great nation has undertaken two elections since reformasi: In 1999 and in 2004. In the democratic transition of any country, the second election is normally regarded as the critical one, the litmus test for the maturity of democracy.

With the formidable success of our elections this year, we have indeed taken one step forward in realizing the modernization of Indonesian politics. And, through our legislative election this year, we are one step ahead in achieving political regeneration in Indonesia, as we can clearly witness through the new and fresh faces in our honorable Assembly.

Thank God, the 2004 elections are now over. It is time for us to walk together, toward our future. We have passed our moment of competition, now it is time for unity. Our days of words and promises are over, as it is time to do real deeds and works. It is our time to unite in creation.

It is time for us to consolidate our spirit of determination, thoughts and attention, to overcome the various challenges and problems that we are now facing. We must overcome these problems together. Indeed, the government that I lead cannot possibly overcome them without the support and participation of our people, and all national components.

As we all know, for the founding fathers of this nation, their biggest challenge was to establish our nation and free our people from colonialists. For the subsequent generations, including ours, the greatest challenge is to free our people from poverty, ignorance, backwardness, and all problems that prevent the growth of our people’s abilities. More specifically, the challenge of our era is to consolidate our democracy and accomplish our agenda of reform.

A consolidated democracy that is continually developing will provide us with solid ground for the life of our nationhood and statecraft. Within such a democratic life, we can manage to successfully implement our national agenda, including the accomplishment of various agendas of reform.

With our perseverance, belief and hard work, God willing, our nation and beloved country will continue to grow — people will be more prosperous within a safer and just life. And, with all these convictions, I am confident that our nation will become a respected nation, and respected by other nations in the world.

Today’s mood of happiness is engulfed by huge optimism. However, we must remember that the journey may be difficult and we face a huge challenge ahead:

– Our economic growth this year, which is still far less than 7 percent, is definitely inadequate in generating more employment. More than 10 million of our fellow countrymen are still out of jobs.

– Needless to remind you that 16 percent of our people are still living below the poverty line.

– Although the debt to Gross National Product ratio is decreasing, debt will continue to burden our economy.

– Our brothers and sisters in Aceh and Papua still live in anxiety.

– Security in Poso and Maluku is still well under control, although not entirely recovered.

– Corruption, collusion and nepotism are still rampant and continue to be a systemic problem.

– The international situation is far from settled.

– The price of oil continues to rise well above the assumptions of our national budget.

– And, the imminent threats of terrorism and other forms of transnational crime will continue to haunt us. Let us work harder to overcome all these difficult challenges. Tomorrow morning, on Oct. 21, God willing, I will inaugurate the members of my cabinet for the 2004-2009 period. Soon after that, we will immediately start to formulate and implement the initial steps of government policy. In the next few months, my administration will concentrate on domestic problems.

– My administration will stimulate the economy in order to achieve higher economic growth, which can absorb more employment and help alleviate poverty.

– My administration will continue to adopt and implement open economic policies, in order to integrate the economy with regional and international economies. In doing so, the government will focus on short- and medium-term agendas in enhancing productivity and competitiveness.

– My administration will encourage more investors to build our infrastructure.

– My administration will actively launch an anticorruption program, which, I, myself, will lead.

– My administration will give special attention to the handling of conflicts in Aceh and Papua.

– My administration will prioritize and improve the government’s policies on the education and health sectors.

– My administration will intensify constructive dialog with economic actors, especially our business communities, including investors, whom I really expect to be the engine of our economy.

– My administration will do their utmost to establish clean and good governance, which is responsive toward the public’s needs and aspirations.

But, let me remind you: It is impossible to resolve all of these complicated problems within 100 days. That is easier said than done. But, I have the strong conviction that our determination and goodwill are far more superior than the problems we are facing. At this point, our character as a great nation is truly under a severe test.

For a great nation, the harder the test, the higher its tenacity; the more difficult the ordeal, the stronger its faith; the stronger the storm, the stronger its solidarity; and the more difficult the challenge, the stronger our sense of unity. Let us prove and build on our greatness as a nation. God willing, with our solidarity and hard work, we will be able to create a better condition for Indonesians — safer, more just and more prosperous. With my unfettered feelings and unfeigned confidence, today we are opening a new chapter in the history of our nation. This is the time to greet a new dawn.

To all of the Indonesian people, wherever you are, I would like to wholeheartedly express my sincere gratitude to you, for your support and confidence in myself and Pak Muhammad Jusuf Kalla. Although I am now the President, I am no different from each and every one of you — I am just an ordinary citizen from an ordinary family, born and raised by the state and the community. With the mandate I received directly from you, I am determined to become, not only the President of the Republic of Indonesia, but also the President of Indonesians — of all of the Indonesian people. I will keep this noble political contract with the people. I will dedicate my every thought — all my time and energy — to promoting and protecting each Indonesian soul.

To all members of the House of Representatives and regional legislative councils, Vice President Jusuf Kalla and I are committed to cooperating with all of you, for the sake of our national interests — the interests of the Indonesian people as emanated in our Constitution and laws that we must all duly uphold. For that matter, I sincerely urge you all to work together to overcome the various, difficult problems that we are facing. The people surely demand that we work closely in creating more jobs, alleviating poverty, redeveloping our infrastructure and many other problems faced by the people. The people need our leadership and need us as role models.

To all civil servants, especially civilian civil servants employed at central and regional levels, to our men and women in uniform, to our policemen and policewomen, to the employees of state-owned enterprises — I ask you all to welcome this new government with new spirit, improved services and to create a better life, together with all of the people. You are responsible for many important things in our lives. Let us do our tasks and duty with a full sense of responsibility. We are all public servants. The government and all civil servants are indeed here to assist and serve the public, the country. Keep up the spirit to serve. Any country in the world can be successful if only it is supported by clean, professional state apparatuses, responsive toward the aspirations and development of its people.

To all of our friends all over the world, please accept our friendship, which we offer to you with open arms. My administration will continue to uphold the free and active principle of foreign policy, and Indonesia is determined to become a voice that promotes peace, increases prosperity and defends justice. Indonesia will continue to grow as a democratic, open, modern, pluralistic and tolerant nation.

I would particularly like to express my highest appreciation to all of our state guests from friendly and neighboring countries, for their presence at the inauguration ceremony at the Assembly this morning, who have truly bestowed on us a remarkable honor. Indeed, we are honored by the presence of His Excellency, the Honorable Dato’ Seri Abdullah Badawi, Prime Minister of Malaysia; His Majesty Sultan Hassanal Bolkiah of Brunei Darussalam; His Excellency, the Honorable Lee Hsien Loong, the Prime Minister of the Republic of Singapore; His Excellency, the Honorable John Howard, Prime Minister of Australia; and His Excellency, the Honorable Mari Alkatiri, the Prime Minister of Timor Leste. We would also like to express our gratitude to the leaders of friendly countries who have sent their special envoys, from the Netherlands, the Philippines, Japan, South Korea and Vietnam. Personally, and on behalf of all Indonesian people, I am truly delighted and honored by your Excellencies’ attention to the new government that I lead.

Having been inaugurated as the President this morning, I will focus my attention on finalizing the Cabinet for the 2004-2009 period, which, God willing, will be announced tonight (Wednesday night). Furthermore, God willing, I will inaugurate the new Cabinet members (on Thursday), with the great hope that they can adapt immediately and work well.

Let me assure you that I, and the entire new government, will work hard to keep the people’s trust. I accordingly ask for the blessings, support and trust of all Indonesian people, and the whole nation, in order to meet constitutional requirements within the next five years. May Allah bless us all with guidance and strength.

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