Indonesian Pres. Yudhoyono Told DIPLOMACY Chairman Dr. Limb: "I Admire the Dev't of IT in Korea, Korea Can Assist Our IT Dev't"
Dr. Thok-kyu Limb (left), chairman of DIPLOMACY, with Indonesian President Susilo Bambang Yudhoyono (popularly known as SBY) and First Lady Kristiani Herawati Yudhoyono, prior to an exclusive interview in Busan on Nov. 20, 2005. Dr. Limb personally has a close relationship with the First Lady Kristiani Herawati for over 30 years ever since her father, the late Amb. Sarwo Edhi Wibowo, served in Seoul from 1975 to 1978. The late ambassador was the father-in-law of current President Yudhoyono.
Dr. Thok-kyu Limb, chairman of DIPLOMACY, had an exclusive interview with Indonesian President Susilo Bambang Yudhoyono, during the APEC Leaders' Meeting in Busan, the second largest city in Korea, on Nov. 20, 2005. The following are excerpts from the interview between the Indonesian President and Dr. Limb. -Ed.
Question: Your Excellency President Susilo Bambang Yudhoyono, what is your impression of APEC Summit this time? Answer: There was a lot of progress inside APEC, but we have to do more to; really liberalize our trade and investment; facilitate trade and investment; and implement the technical and economic cooperation. Of course, we have to stick to the Bogor Goals. The theme, "Towards One Community: Meet the Challenge, Make the Change," was the Busan Roadmap to Bogor Goals, which calls for liberalizing the investment for developed nations to be completed in 2010 and for us developing nations in 2020. In my view, we can reach that objective if we are working seriously and we are committed to combat the existing problems between us. At the Busan summit, we did not only discuss our economic problems, but we also discussed at large our cooperation in the fight against terrorism, avian flu, transnational crimes and even the fight against corruption. Indonesia is now in the fight against terrorism, avian flu, and drug narcotics. Of course, we have achieved several objectives but we have to do more, because we should not only win the battle, but my objective is to win the war. Naturally, we have to do more.
Q: What is the vision of APEC in the future? A: I think that APEC summit should be playing a better role in developing fair international economic cooperation globally. We have to realize that all nations have to contribute to the achievement of "Millennium Development Goals" - to get better education, health, environment, and successful development of all developing countries. APEC, besides developing itself as the regional economic association, can also contribute to the establishment of international economic order. It is that I think destined toward the achievement of Millennium Development Goals. APEC will be part of the global solutions. I have the impression that APEC can play that kind of role. For example, if we are talking about the Doha Development Agenda (DDA) at the WTO Round to be held in Hong Kong, many people are pessimistic whether the European Union can cooperate in agreeing on many things, or having fairer trade cooperation between the developed and developing countries. In respect of APEC at this time, we are fully committed, including President Roh, Presidednt Hu Jintao, Prime Minister Koizumi, to talk to the European Union to succeed our next ability round [WTO] especially in the formulation of DDA. So, the first vision of APEC is to have a better cooperation among APEC members. The second is to be contributing to the establishment of more just and better global economic cooperation.
Q: What is the major problem you are facing in Indonesia today? A; After the crisis, the first objective for Indonesia is to rebuild our economy. Remember that when the crisis hit Indonesia in 1998, we had a negative economic growth, minus 7% from the previously plus 5%. So, we have been working hard in the last six years to recover from the crisis. Now, I am glad to tell you that our microeconomic condition is moving well. Of course, we have to do more to transfer the growth into job creation, poverty reductions, and other objectives. Our challenge is how to stimulate our growth to reconstruct our economy after the crisis. The second objective is to be a successful nation. I have realized that out long-term objective is to improve the quality of our education and to bear good governance. So these two objectives are becoming a top priority for my government and we are working hard to achieve good education and governance. Sometimes, the problem is, because I have to change the mindset, the culture, the behavior of doing many things on how should we develop ourselves. I am now managing the path of reforms, democratization, of moving ahead to a better future. Sometimes, this is very challenging but I have to do it very seriously to be able to accomplish the objectives that I have set up.
Q: What is the vision for Indonesia in the future? A: In the next two decades, probably 15~20 years from now, Indonesia will be more peaceful, prosperous, just and democratic. For me, peace, prosperity, democracy and justice are becoming our big agenda. I believe very strongly that, with proper steps of development, correct policy and strategy, we will be able to reach those objectives.
Q: We have had very good relations with your country by the visit of many Indonesian dignitaries to learn many things from Korea. A: I met President Roh two days ago and we agreed to further strengthen our bilateral cooperation. I hope in the years to come that our cooperation will be enhanced, because I see many opportunities that we could take together for the benefit of our two nations. I suggest having a wider cooperation in the field of energy, investment and trade. Also, I admire the development of information technology here in Korea. So, I hope that we can cooperate better and Korea can assist us in the development of the IT. Because, it is very important into this world.
Q: What is your general impression of Korea? A: I have to respect and admit that Korea is becoming a good model. From being a developing country, in no more than three decades, Korea could transform and change itself into an industrialized nation. I tried to understand why Korea is moving so fast. The answer for me is basically because of the toughness, the high spirit and the discipline of the peoples. In addition, your correct strategy and policy in developing industry and information technology. You could manage well the capital to be used properly in developing your economy.
Q: What kind of Korean investors would you like to invite to your country? A: There are lots of opportunities in the years to come. For example, we plan to develop many infrastructures in Indonesia - road systems, harbors, ports, telecommunications, electricity, oil and gas industry, and other physical infrastructures. I realize that Korean companies have many experiences in developing infrastructures, so I invite them to be part of the development of infrastructure. Other cooperation is in the field of energy. It is very important to have a better industry in Indonesia and of course Korea can participate in that kind of project. We are also offering to many Korean companies, to join us in developing our plantations - palm oil, rubber, coffee, etc. I remember that one of the biggest industry is done by a Korean company in Indonesia. There is lots of potential to do more in Indonesia and I offer them to think about developing the eastern part of Indonesia like Kalimantan, Bahua, and Sulawasi. This is quite feasible to have progress in that field. Because I admire the developments of IT in Korea, I do hope that Korea can assist Indonesia in fair cooperation in developing our technology to be applied in our education and to built good governance in the daily life of our culture, and others. There are about 1,000 Korean companies that are now working in Indonesia. And there are 25,000 Indonesian workers here in Korea. Indonesia is ranked third in destinations of Korean investment, after the United States and China.
Q: I hope to introduce Dr. Oh Myung, so-called, "Father of IT in Korea," who is now the Deputy Prime Minister and the Minister of Science & Technology. He will work for the development of your country. A: Two days ago, on Nov. 18, 2005, we were watching the news of the technology, laptops, electronics and many others. So all leaders are really surprised and admire the advance of your technology. I will be visiting Korea again at the invitation of President Roh, in May or June in 2006. Then, I can talk about developments in Indonesia and explain opportunities during my next visit.
Q: I have heard so much about Your Excellency. Why did you join politics yourself? A: I preferred to stay in the army but in 1999, President Abdul Rahman Wahid called me to join the cabinet. I suggested to my commander, if he would permit me to stay in the army, I preferred to stay in the army to do many things for my soldiers, but he said no. He said, "You have to leave the army and join the cabinet." Of course, I had to respect and obey the President's order and I joined the cabinet in 1999.
Q: You are known for your special leadership. A: The way that I respond to the problems of security is to normally check directly with field commander and I also go down to the provinces which are troubled, and I give instructions down there and develop policy that is suitable for the situations that I am witnessing.
Q: How did you meet your wife? A: I met her when I was in the Military Academy at Magelang, during my fourth year, as Cadet Sergeant Major. She had come to Magelang to meet her father. Her father was an army commander, the late General Sarwo Edhi Wibowo. Because I was a leader of the cadets, I gave a speech at the inauguration of a building and then I met her. I graduated in 1973. In 1974, she moved to South Korea with her father and I wrote a letter to him in 1975 because I had to go to the United States to attend a military school. Then, I requested that I could continue my relationship, a formal marriage, in two years after returning from my studies in the United States. On the way back from the United States, after finishing training in the 82nd Airborne Division of the U.S. Army Rangers, I came to Seoul and spent almost one week here. We got married in 1976 at Yeouido in Seoul.
Q: What is your hobby? A: Traveling. I travel a lot with my family - my wife and son. Reading, and singing. Once a week, I have to spend my time and relax and sing. I like Bee Gees songs, "Don't Forget to Remember Me, World, First of May."