Sat, 12 Mar 2005

Indonesia urges world solidarity to fight poverty

Ridwan Max Sijabat and Apriadi Gunawan, The Jakarta Post/Medan

President Susilo Bambang Yudhoyono called on Thursday for world solidarity in fighting poverty to help developing and poor countries promote sustainable development programs.

Following a display of solidarity from around the world in the aftermath of the Dec. 26 tsunami disaster that devastated parts of Indonesia and other countries around the Indian Ocean, all nations were now challenged to show their commitment to seeking a global partnership to save the earth from environmental catastrophe, he said.

"A global partnership is badly needed to fight against the poverty affecting a majority of the planet's population," Susilo said in his keynote address to the first summit of the Network of Regional Governments for Sustainable Development, which is being attended by more than 1,000 delegates from 43 countries.

"Poverty has made most people unable to improve the quality of their lives and education, and made their governments unable to carry out development programs in accordance with the sustainability concept."

Describing some of the numerous problems plaguing poor nations, the President said that one out of every five persons on the planet had to live on a daily income of less than US$1, 80 million people in developing countries were malnourished, 10 million others died of preventable diseases annually, and more than 150 million children did not receive an education because of poverty, while one in every five people in the world lacked access to clean water.

He said the Indonesian government and the country's people had been impressed by the world's swift response to the tsunami disaster.

"Almost all nations showed their solidarity with the Indonesian people by sending humanitarian relief to the disaster victims, and their armed forces to help the Indonesian Military with emergency relief operations and to rehabilitate the affected areas. They also donated a huge amount of money to finance the planned reconstruction and to resettle the victims," he said.

Susilo said the disaster provided an opportunity for all nations to come closer and work together to form a global partnership to cope with the world's problems.

"The tsunami disaster has brought all of us, governments, businessmen and activists, to gather here and this has not happened previously. I can even say that it is a global trend in international relationships," he said.

He said he was impressed by his East Timor counterpart, Xanana Gusmao, who presented financial assistance donated by the East Timorese people.

"Bill Clinton along with another former U.S. president, George Bush Sr., who visited Aceh and Medan recently, told me that one third of the American people gave donations to Aceh, while Malaysian Prime Minister Abdullah Ahmad Badawi and Singaporean Prime Minister Lee Hsien Loong have ensured that all nations are united in overcoming the disaster, and in strengthening bilateral and multilateral cooperation," Susilo said.

He hailed the Toba Lake Summit as an important forum for the world's regional governments to share their experiences in implementing regional autonomy.

"The central government supports the membership of West Java and North Sumatra in the Network of Regional Governments for Sustainable Development (NRG4SD) so that they can learn from developed countries on how to implement regional autonomy.

"We want to ensure that regional autonomy is implemented in such a way as to create good governance, instead of merely decentralizing corruption," the President stressed. -- A related story on Page 4