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Civil Society in Indonesia

Jakarta governor candidates Adang Daradjatun and Dani Anwar sit next to Fadloli Muhir. (squid697/Flickr)

Jakarta governor candidates Adang Daradjatun and Dani Anwar sit next to Fadloli Muhir. (squid697/Flickr)

New York, April 25, 2001
In partnership with Synergos Institute.

Hadi Soesastro, Executive Director, Centre for Strategic and International Studies (CSIS), Indonesia

S. Bruce Schearer, President of Synergos
Nicholas Platt, President of Asia Society

S. Bruce Schearer

Global and Citizen leadership and part of our reason for organizing this space is exactly to have the kind of event here that we are going to have tonight. So we are just delighted and we are delighted to be hosting it with the Asia Society. I’ll step aside for two seconds and we can proceed to hear more about the society and its programs. But just briefly for those of you who may not know much about the Synergos Institute, we are a fifteen-year old institute, which was founded by Peggy Dulany, who is with us tonight, the Chair of our board. We are glad to have you here tonight Peggy. And Synergos’ mission is to work together with others in Asia, Africa and Latin America, to combat poverty. We are in the strong belief that people living in difficult situations are the ones who are fundamentally best equipped to deal with problems. So our approach is to try to strengthen the capacity of civil society that local partners in these countries are already building, to work with communities to find solutions to the poverty in their community. We do this through leadership programs, where we train leaders to be better bridging leaders to bridge the business sector, the government sector, the non-profit sector, to create larger scale alliances to combat poverty. We work off the strengthening of grant making foundations. We are meeting capacity and financing capacity in civil society or working at the community level. Recently, we have a global philanthropists circle, which seeks to mobilize contributions of all the wealth that has been accumulated through the global endowment in the last ten year or so and see that it is put to use in some of these civil society level activities in Asia, Africa and Latin America.

So it’s a pleasure to have you all here. The only problem that I have with this room is that we can’t get in a big circle. It is the spirit of this evening and the other discussions that we have is that you are all participants in this discussion. It is not a one-way process and our speaker tonight has a lot to tell us but we are looking forward to a great dialogue after this. So rather then my introducing, I am going to introduce Ambassador Nicholas Platt from the Asia Society. Welcome, it is so nice to have you.

Nicholas Platt

Having our two organizations so close at hand, with overlapping objectives is a very good thing for all of us. It is my pleasure to welcome Hadi Soesastro. On behalf of the Synergos Institute and the Asia Society. Hadi is an old friend of mine; we have been through things together through his organization, CSIS in Jakarta, for almost twenty-eight years when I was in government. In any case, we have one of Indonesia’s leading civil society representatives here tonight.

He's now, the executive director at the Center for Strategic and International Studies, he is a member of the Asia Society’s International Council. He is on the editorial for a number of important economic journals, the ASEAN Economic Bulletin, the Bulletin of Indonesian Economic Studies. He has written extensively on issues that relate to energy, international trade, regional cooperation, economy and security and role of technology in development. He has been active over the years in the Pacific Economic Cooperation Council, which is a venerable cooperation council that has the forerunners of APEC and is a member of the International steering committee of Pacific Trade and Development. He has also been involved in a lot of track two activities throughout the region, via the Council for Security Cooperation in Asia and the Council for Asia-Europe Cooperation. He is a lecturer at the University of Jakarta in Indonesia and Irian Jaya University. He has taught at Columbia. He has taught at ANU in Australia, in Canberra. He is a member of the Indonesian National Economic Council and the Advisory Council of Abdurrahman Wahid from December 1999 to September 2000 and recently he has been elected board chairman of the newly established TIFA foundation of Jakarta, whose main objective is to strengthen civil society of Indonesia. That will form the basis of his talk.

Since the end of Suharto’s rule in 1998, Indonesia has been in a critical state of transition toward democracy. For the first time in Indonesia’s history, Indonesian has both have a freely elected Parliament and a democratically chosen President. However, the institutions have yet to really gel. Financial crisis has taken its toll and usually reached a cover from that and there are regional conflicts that need to be resolved and a host of human rights issues to sort out. Tonight Hadi will give us an update that was assigned to Indonesia and the challenges that were made towards achieving full participation in the democracy. The rise of civil society in Indonesia involves a new dynamism as it involves the challenge of promoting democratic values and instituting cultural, civil ideology, political liberties and you will hear about those initiatives to achieve those goals. This evening’s program is part of a new initiative by the Asia Society. It is called Asia Social Issues Program. It a public education initiative that looks at critical social challenges, poverty, human rights, environmental degradation and migration, women’s issues and the solutions that are being generated in Asia to address them. I am very pleased and honored, to acknowledge the efforts of the Synergos Institute in working with civil society groups in Indonesia and throughout the region, for their capability-building initiatives and also for bringing Hadi Soesastro to New York. This is a long introduction but he deserves it. Let’s welcome him.