Thu, 18 Sep 2003

President Megawati criticizes nation's lack of discipline

Fabiola Desy Unidjaja, The Jakarta Post, Jakarta

President Megawati Soekarnoputri criticized the nation by saying that the people lacked the discipline and commitment to bring the country out of the prolonged crisis.

Delivering her address to mark the National Productivity Day on Wednesday at the State Palace, the President said the nation was still running low in the fighting spirit department, and needed every bit of it to improve their productivity to help mitigate the crises that the nation has been mired in since 1997.

She cited her frequent headaches when dealing with unmotivated state officials, "even, I have often been angered by the absence of a will (to rebuild this country)."

"Our workers have remained underdogs compared with their colleagues in other countries. It is so hard to make Indonesian people disciplined," she lamented, adding that it was necessary to do a nationwide campaign for a hard-working culture among the people.

The President emphasized that Indonesians had the potential to compete with other nations, but continually lose the competition because of weak discipline.

"Indonesia's strength lies it its vast human resources; its core problem is the lack of discipline and motivation, which I am deeply concerned about," she said, while adding that she would make the issue a central theme to her presidential election campaign next year.

She said that the country's productivity depended greatly on each individuals' willingness and ability to produce more and better, whether they are civil servants or employed in the private sector.

Marking her 100th day in office, back in October 2001, Megawati criticized her aides who simply gave her glowing reports of their work, just to make her happy, a move she called Asal Ibu Senang.

She made no direct mention of the unemployment problem that has reached an alarming level or the absence of legal certainty that has affected the investment climate. It can only be assumed that she was saying if people were more disciplined, unemployment and rule of law would take care of itself.

The president also made no mention of the 109,000 civil servants who seemingly exist in on the pay-out lists only.

The president has several times threatened to dismiss civil servants who violate the law or do not agree with her government's policies, but so far there have been no reports of dismissals and no significant improvements are evident in most government offices.

The government has not introduced any programs that directly deal with the low quality of human resources nor has it made much of an effort to improve the education system. More than 70 percent of currently employed people, or some 90 million people, do not have a high school diploma. Approximately 5 percent of the population have graduated from university.

"Thousands of times, I have said that it is not necessary to hold workshops and seminars to discuss these things; the most important thing is (what has been done) in reality," the President said.

She concluded that it was important not to get bogged down in endless, insignificant debate about how to do it or why to do it, but just that it needs to be done, and it begins with training and discipline of the people.

"We should not put such a high priority on the technical matters, but focus on improving the ability of our human resources," said the President.