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Unity in Diversity

Indonesian President Opens Bali Democracy Forum and Explains How to Consolidate Democracy in a Pluralistic Society

(11/8/2013) The Bali Democracy Forum (BDF) was formally opened on Thursday, November 11, 2013, by Indonesian President Susilo Bambang Yudhoyono in Nusa Dua.

In his opening address, the President presented his vision of  four pillars needed to consolidate democracy in countries with diversified population bases.

As reported by The Bali Post, President Yudhoyono said, first, the constitutional rights of every citizen must be guaranteed. “Those rights include freedom of religious worship, freedom of expression, equality before the law, non-discrimination, the protections of minorities and the due process of law. We give meaning to these rights that form the basis of our laws and regulations,” President Yudhoyono emphasized.

The Indonesian President also underlined the importance of continual strengthening of government departments and the legislative branch, while promoting a culture that honors human rights, freedom of the press and participation in civil society.

The second pillar in consolidating democracy in a diversified citizenry, said Yudhoyono, is the unfailing championing of the supremacy of law. Basic and fundamental rights embodied in the constitution and other laws and regulations must be honored. To do this, the President warned, needs the protection of minority rights.

The third pillar, said the President, is to promote the participation of the public in the decision-making process. To achieve this each country must be able to create an environment in which people feel they can influence public policy, he said.

The fourth pillar outlined by Yudhoyono is the promotion of interactions between various groups within a pluralistic society in order to achieve shared understandings, tolerance and social cohesion.

In closing, President Yudhoyono said Indonesia’s multi-party system presents both challenges and opportunities for the consolidation of democracy. The multi-party setting shows that a diversified population can identify common cause through frequent and open debate.