The First family: (From right) Susilo, Ani, their son and daughter-in-law, Edhie Baskoro and Siti Ruby Aliya Radjas, leaving a polling station after casting their ballot papers at the legislative elections in Jakarta in April. - AFP
AS the presidential election approaches, Indonesia’s First Family appears to be getting ready to leave life in the State Palace.
President Susilo Yudhoyono candidly spoke on Tuesday about his feelings about leaving his office during a meeting with 33 delegates to the Asia Leadership Trek from Harvard University’s Center for Asia Leadership Initiatives.
Susilo began his address by welcoming the participants, who hailed from 22 countries, to the State Palace, which he said had been his office and “small” living quarters for the past 10 years.
“The name is so grand but it is actually a very modest working environment,” Susilo said.
He spoke later about how interesting the current period was for the country, although he was not part of the political battle surrounding the election.
“This time around, I’m not in the limelight since I am about to finish my second term in office.
“A president in Indonesia is only allowed to serve two terms,” he said.
Looking back, Susilo said he considered his two terms a success and that he was “quite proud to see how Indonesia has turned out today”.
He also said that the world had recognised the country’s economic achievements during the past 10 years.
“The World Economic Forum, in its last annual conference in Manila, called the last 10 years in Indonesia the ‘golden decade’,” he said.
Susilo said the success of Indonesia, the largest country in Southeast Asia with the largest Muslim population in the world, was critical as it could have a great geopolitical impact.
“What happens in Indonesia affects the rest of the region one way or another,” he said. “And if democracy and modernity works in Indonesia, that sends an important message and serves as an important example for the Muslim world.”
“It also has a political dimension because Indonesia is one of the world’s most diverse countries, and if we can stay together and succeed as one nation, it will bolster the case for pluralism,” Susilo added.
Later, he told the audience that his priority for his remaining four months in the palace would be to maintain “momentum on all fronts”, including free and fair elections, democratic development, political stability, economic growth and social equity, as well as to protect Indonesia from potential global threats.
In recent days, some members of the First Family have bid their farewells to the people.
First Lady Ani Yudhoyono delivered a farewell speech on Monday to children taking part in the 2014 Sanitation Jamboree at the State Palace.
“I know, children, (you) are not eligible to vote because are not yet 17, but you can watch and learn about democracy so that you can understand what the election is about and what it is for,” Ani said.
Meanwhile, Susilos eldest son, Agus Harimurti, along with his wife, Annisa Pohan, issued a statement on social media announcing that they would be leaving for the United States, where Agus will attend a one-year course at the US Army Command and General Staff College in Fort Leavenworth, Kansas. — Philippine Daily Inquirer / Asia News Network