Tue, 23 Aug 1994

Independence pioneers are models: Soeharto

JAKARTA (JP): Indonesia needs to rekindle the spirit shown by its freedom fighters 50 years ago to overcome the challenges in development, President Soeharto said yesterday.

"We need to strengthen our development spirit and multiply development activities," Soeharto said in addressing a gathering of the Association of Pioneers of Independence.

"History has shown that we can overcome every challenge and put aside every barrier. The struggle of the pioneers of Independence during the Revolution and the War of Independence proved that point.

"Before we became an independent nation, many people in the world doubted that we could stand as a free nation and run an independent nation," he said in his keynote address delivered at the State Palace.

This is the seventh general assembly of the association which has seen its members dwindling over the years from an original 13,000 to a mere few hundreds now. Their average age is now 80.

The gatherings are aimed at finding ways of maintaining at least the spirit of the association's members -- those who took part in various independence movements before Indonesia proclaimed its own independence in Aug. 1945 immediately at the end of the World War II. There were suggestions that the children of the pioneers maintain and run the association.

"Times change. In the coming years, there will be even greater and more rapid changes. Clearly the answer to these challenges and problems are no longer the same, but experience and wisdom remain the chief force to answer to the challenges of the time.

"The Pioneers of Independence possess the valuable experience and the wisdom. Therefore their contribution to the national development remain significant," Soeharto said in his speech.

He said the most pressing issue for Indonesia is in dealing with its economic problems and that failure to overcome them could lead to turmoil.

He said the world economy is now shrouded with uncertainty, and developing countries face economic pressures due to large amounts of foreign debts, low-priced commodities and a shortage of financial aid. (pwn)