No detailed agenda from Yudhoyono in first TV address

He moderates expectations and returns to his election themes

ONE hundred days are not enough to solve all of Indonesia’s problems.

That was President Susilo Bambang Yudhoyono’s message in a nationwide television address – his first since taking power on Oct 20 – that was widely expected to provide a detailed road map of his administration.

Instead, it lacked specifics, with the 55-year-old leader turning in large measure to the themes he had touched on during the election campaign.

Given the ongoing battle with a hostile Parliament and the problems facing Indonesia, his immediate aim was to moderate expectations.

‘What is clear is that the government’s first 100-day programme is not to, and will not, settle all the problems,’ he said.

The first three months would be used to identify problems and ‘set down the agenda and aims’ for his five years in office.

Clearly, reviving the moribund economy was on the top of his agenda.

He said he would build on the financial stability achieved by his predecessor Megawati Sukarnoputri and would pursue an economic policy that was ‘pro-growth, pro-employment and pro-poor’.

This would entail Jakarta providing more jobs – nearly 10 million are currently unemployed – and increasing the annual economic growth rate to 6.5 per cent from the current 4.9 per cent by attracting foreign investments and developing Indonesia’s rural sector.

The key challenge was winning back international confidence in the country, he noted.

Dr Yudhoyono said his ministers were looking at several factors that had hindered investment flows – the legal system, poor labour laws, taxation and infrastructure.

If not addressed, they could set Indonesia back even further, he said.

Central to restoring economic growth was the fight against corruption, for graft has scared away badly needed foreign investment and prevented the economy from matching the growth achieved by other Asian countries.

Independent groups have consistently rated Indonesia as one the world’s most corrupt nations.

From the start, Dr Yudhoyono had promised a dose of ‘shock therapy’ in fighting graft.

He revealed that he had told Attorney-General Abdurahman Saleh to begin prioritising the corruption cases to be prosecuted.

He also made clear to his ministers that they would be sacked if they engaged in corruption.

Besides setting up an independent commission to deal with the problem, he would also convene monthly Cabinet meetings on the issue.

Another major priority was maintaining security.

The President said he would step up efforts to fight terrorism.

For a start, he had told police to hunt down Azahari Husin and Noordin Mohd Top, two Malaysians linked to the Jemaah Islamiah terrorist network who were responsible for a series of terror attacks in Indonesia since 2002.

Dr Yudhoyono said his government would also work to resolve separatist conflicts in the far-flung provinces of Papua and Aceh, and end simmering sectarian conflict on the island of Sulawesi.

Over the weekend, a blast killing six people in the troubled Poso regency of Sulawesi, which has seen Muslim-Christian clashes for the past six years, served as a reminder of how Indonesia was still prone to bloodshed.

The hour-long speech paved the way once again for critics to blast the Yudhoyono administration.

Political observer Muchyar Yara told The Straits Times: ‘He looks nice on TV. But in the long run, style counts for nothing. It will be substance.’

His TV appearance late on Wednesday is the first of what will be a monthly affair where the President will make an ‘accountability speech’ to the Indonesian public.

A senior diplomat noted: ‘He wants to project this image that he is in touch with the people.

‘It is the only thing he can offer them now. It is impossible for him to resolve chronic problems within these 100 days. But after six months, people will want to see concrete results.’

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