I Will Never Give Up

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Interview Susilo Bambang Yudhoyono (SBY) di Newsweek edisi 21 Juni.

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Can you provide the strong hand that Indonesians seem to want, while also respecting human rights?

I think they want a leader who can talk to them, that can listen to them. I've visited many parts of Indonesia, and I've spent hours just listening. They probably know that I'm really concerned with the problems they face, and I'll offer solutions.

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Interview: 'I Will Never Give Up'

Yudhoyono is leading in the race to become Indonesia's next president. If he wins, though, his work will have just begun.

June 21 issue - Susilo Bambang Yudhoyono is flying high. The former Indonesian Army general and government minister has a huge lead going into the country's first direct presidential election on July 5, and his campaign is only gathering speed. While most analysts expect no candidate to poll more than 50 percent, thus forcing a runoff in September, SBY, as he's known, is within striking distance of an outright victory. He took time out last week from campaigning in the northeast city of Manado to speak with NEWSWEEK's Joe Cochrane. Excerpts:

NEWSWEEK: You stand at nearly 50 percent in the latest polls. Do you think the election will even go to a runoff?
YUDHOYONO: Of course, if I could win in the first round it would be much better. If we have a head-to-head encounter, then I think the political costs will be very high [for the country].

What is it about you that has the voters so excited?
I don't know. I try to present myself, and I try to do what I say. I hope that support will be translated concretely on July 5.

You've spoken of the need to have both democracy and national security. How would you balance them as president?
Indonesia is so diverse. If we practice only on the democratization side—improving freedoms, empowering civil society, respecting human rights—and we neglect to maintain our stability and public security, then we may encounter what we've had in the past, an unstable situation.

Can you provide the strong hand that Indonesians seem to want, while also respecting human rights?
I think they want a leader who can talk to them, that can listen to them. I've visited many parts of Indonesia, and I've spent hours just listening. They probably know that I'm really concerned with the problems they face, and I'll offer solutions.

You had military training in the United States in the 1980s. Did that help you form a global view of Indonesia's problems, and become a more professional soldier?
Yes, I understood better [afterward] the universal values of the military and the role of the military in a democracy. This really helped me in reforming our military.

You will face a huge economic challenge if elected, much of which is due to plummeting foreign investment. How will you lure investors back?
If we are to reduce poverty, create jobs, increase purchasing power and rebuild infrastructure, then we will need new capital. Of course, to be able to invite investment, I have to improve the climate—legal certainties, political stability, law and order, sound tax policies, customs policies, good labor management. I will improve the guarantees to encourage investors to come to Indonesia.

You and your opponents have all vowed to stop corruption. But can this be done in just a few years, as you all suggest?
Fighting corruption is an unfinished agenda. It's also faced by many governments around the world. I'll never give up. Leadership matters. If leaders engage in combating corruption, and [every] single penny can be audited, I can do much more to prevent corruption and punish corrupt officials.

Indonesia's last two presidents, Abdurrahman Wahid and Megawati Sukarnoputri, both had lackluster presidencies. Where did they go wrong?
Running a government must be based on a system of good management and effective leadership. Probably both leaders had good personalities. [But] we need action in running the cabinet, in making decisions, in developing policy and in communicating to the people.

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This page contains a single entry by enda published on June 14, 2004 11:38 AM.

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