Yvette Tanamal, Jakarta – Calls for national unity, inclusive development and a tough stance against identity politics took the spotlight in President Joko "Jokowi" Widodo's speech to mark Pancasila Day on Thursday, as the country's political machine revs up for the 2024 presidential and legislative elections.
This year, the official event to commemorate the birth of Pancasila, the state ideology, was held at the National Monument (Monas) in Central Jakarta, under the theme "gotong royong [mutual cooperation] in building civilization and global growth".
Wearing a gold-accented Sultanate of Deli outfit from North Sumatra, Jokowi said a strong society was founded in unity.
"Tolerance, unity and gotong royong are keys to building a strong nation. As such, I invite all of us to reject extremism, identity politics and the politicization of religion," Jokowi said in his Pancasila Day address, which will be his last before Indonesians vote for a new president in February next year. "Let's welcome the coming elections with maturity, joy and by upholding the principle of Pancasila."
Jokowi's remarks came amid concerns that the 2024 presidential and legislative elections could again polarize the country the way they did in the previous two elections, in which pro-Islamic sentiment, the religion professed by most Indonesians, was used to mobilize voters.
With new leadership just around the corner, Jokowi also noted that in line with the Pancasila ideology of equality, the even and sustainable development of the country must be put at the forefront of the national agenda, naming some of his flagship projects as examples.
"The government can change, but the fight [for a better Indonesia] must be continued. Justice, equality and welfare are the values we fight for through structural reforms, improving human resources, the downstreaming of industries and the development of the Nusantara capital city," he said.
"We want people living outside of Java to also greatly benefit from the country's developments."
Attending the Thursday event was Vice President Ma'ruf Amin, former president Megawati Sukarnoputri, who also chairs the steering committee of the Agency for Pancasila Ideology Education (BPIP), as well as former vice presidents Hamzah Haz and Boediono. National Police chief Gen. Listyo Sigit Prabowo, Indonesian Military (TNI) commander Adm. Yudo Margono, House of Representatives Speaker Puan Maharani and People's Consultative Assembly Speaker Bambang Soesatyo were also spotted among the attendants.
Jokowi's administration made Pancasila Day a public holiday in 2016, affirming June 1 as the birthday of the state ideology.
Reflecting on the past year and the multiple crises looming large over the world, Jokowi said Indonesia had done well in weathering the storm, with a relatively stable economy and controlled inflation. Yet with high geopolitical tensions as the backdrop of the current world, Jokowi declared that Indonesia should be "taken as an equal" to other big countries and be given the space to collaborate without being discriminated against.
An equal global presence, Jokowi claimed, was part of the Pancasila ideology.
"This is Indonesia. Indonesia is an Indonesia that cannot be dictated by anyone, cannot be ordered around by other countries. We are, however, always ready to contribute," he said.
Experts and politicians have spoken up against identity politics ahead of the 2024 elections, while expressing their hope that the campaigns will be free of strategies that aim to sow division.
The National Police have formed a special task force to combat provocation and hate speech in the lead-up to the next year's elections, while the chairmen of the two most influential Muslim organizations in country, Nahdlatul Ulama (NU) and Muhammadiyah, have joined hands to oppose the divisive use of identity politics.