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Indonesia house speaker suggests appointing ministers of happiness and tolerance

Coconuts Jakarta - July 3, 2019

Now that the post-election legal battle with failed candidate Prabowo Subianto is finally finished (despite what some of his most die-hard supporters may think), speculation has now moved on to the possible makeup of President Joko Widodo's new cabinet.

But while most of the focus is on which politicians (and parties) may pick up cabinet positions, House Speaker Bambang Soesatyo spoke out to suggest the formation of two completely new ministerial positions, ones that would focus exclusively on promoting the happiness of Indonesians and tolerance in the country.

Speaking today at a seminar titled "Indonesian Culture in the Dimensions of the Present and Future Perspective" at the JS Luwansa Hotel in Jakarta, Bambang referred to the event's hashtag #IndonesiaBahagia (#HappyIndonesia) and said that one of the state's goals should be to motivate and inspire citizens to be happy.

The house speaker noted that other countries had ministries devoted to promoting happiness as well as tolerance.

"In the United Arab Emirates, there is already a minister of happiness and minister of tolerance, if our goal is to get there, then these two ministries need to be considered in our country," he said as quoted by Detik.

Bambang went on to say that, if Jokowi was drawing up a list of ministerial candidates and there were not enough positions to go around, creating a minister of happiness and a minister of tolerance would be good ones to add.

The UAE does indeed have a minister of state happiness, a position established in 2016 to, in the words of the UAE government website, "harmonise all government plans, programmes and policies to achieve a happier society". The Middle Eastern country established the position of minister of state tolerance the same year to reinforce "the UAE's commitment to eradicate ideological, cultural and religious bigotry in society."

They weren't exactly the first to come up with the position though. In 2013, Venezuelan President Nicolas Maduro announced the creation of a new "vice ministry of supreme social happiness."

Does Indonesia need a minister of happiness? It actually seems to be doing fairly well on that front already, at least judging by a 2017 survey by the Gallup International Association that ranked Indonesia as the 8th happiest country in the world and one of the most optimistic as well.

We'd say the case for a minister of tolerance (or perhaps minister of Pancasila?) is more pressing, considering the country's rising levels of religious intolerance and the many ways that the government's own policies have been found to support and institutionalize that intolerance.

Do you think Bambang is on to something or is the idea of happiness and tolerance ministers too impractical? Let us know what you think!

Source: https://coconuts.co/jakarta/news/indonesia-house-speaker-suggests-appointing-ministers-of-happiness-and-tolerance/