President Susilo Bambang Yudhoyono, in his opening remarks at the Sixth Bali Democracy Forum, outlined four points needed for consolidating democracy.
"In this regard, I would like to share with you some views based on Indonesias experience in consolidating democracy. First, the constitutional rights for all citizens must be guaranteed," he said here on Thursday before the Forums participants, including Brunei Darrussalams Sultan Hassanal Bolkiah and Timor Leste′s Prime Minister Xanana Gusmao.
Citizens′ constitutional rights include freedom of religion, freedom of expression, equality before the law, non-discrimination, protection of minorities, and due process of law, he said.
Second, the supremacy of the rule of law must always be upheld, he stated.
"This entails the protection of the basic rights of minorities. It is, therefore, essential that we uphold both the will of the majority and the rights of minorities as prescribed in our constitution," he added.
Third, the peoples participation must be promoted in decision-making processes that affect their lives.
"We should create an environment in which the people share a sense of ownership in the policy outcomes. In a country of vast diversity and great territorial expanse such as Indonesia, this requires decentralization of the system of governance. Therefore, one of the first reforms in our democratic transition was the decentralization of our system of governance," the president explained.
And fourth, continuous inter-communal interactions must be promoted to enhance mutual understanding, tolerance and social cohesion, he noted.
"We should encourage dialogue among communal groups of different faiths, ethnicity and socio-economic standing. As a result, we promote amicable and peaceful resolution of differences or disputes among them," he noted.
He also said that the Bali Democracy Forum has grown to become a much-valued part of the regions democratic architecture.
The Forum has become a platform for Asia-Pacific countries to share views, experiences, and best practices in democracy.
"In particular, our discussions have recognized the linkages between the promotion of democracy and development, as well as between democracy and peace and stability. The Asia-Pacific region, including Southeast Asia, does indeed provide evidence of such linkages," Yudhoyono stated.
This year, the theme of the Bali Democracy Forum is "Consolidating Democracy in a Pluralistic Society."
As a nation rich in diversity, Indonesia is a reflection of the pluralism that marks the Asia-Pacific region, he said.
"Over the centuries, various civilizations, races, faiths and cultures found a home in our archipelago. Today, we are a nation of a quarter of a billion people, comprising more than 300 ethnic groups, speaking some 700 languages, professing various faiths, and spread out on no fewer than 17,000 islands," the president added. ***1***