I believe this is a feat achieved by Indonesia, as a leader among ASEAN countries, taking steps toward coexistence and co-prosperity in the region, as well as President Joko Widodo's soft and skillful communication leadership. Unfortunately, the reality is that countries around the world are currently mired in conflict and division due to the absence of political leadership.
The leaders of the U.S. as well as political leaders of major countries around the world, are only focused on their own national interests and are ignorant of common global tasks. Meanwhile, President Joko Widodo has maintained high support both inside and outside Indonesia through his humble and communicative leadership over the past nine years.
I am confident that the leadership of such a political leader is an asset not only to Indonesia but also to the world. It appears that after President Joko Widodo, who will complete his second term in October next year, the international community will ask him to play a very important role in a different way.
This means that he can be one of the right people to solve problems between various powers that are experiencing conflicts between countries, regions, and systems. To this end, I believe that he would create a round table of former presidents and prime ministers to connect and mediate the parties involved in the conflict while supporting current heads of state, which would be a new alternative that has never been seen before.
During an interview with me at the Presidential Palace in Jakarta in May 2016, he said, “The most important virtue for journalists and politicians is communication, and that is the highest value of democracy.”
I believe that it is entirely to his credit that during his nine-year term in office, there were no pre-modern bad practices such as religious and ethnic conflicts or suppression of the media in Indonesia. Regarding Korea, which is celebrating its 50th anniversary of diplomatic relations this year, it is worth appreciating that he said of Korea, "Relationship between Korea and ASEAN is a partnership of the future with energy transition and digital transformation as the main axes."
In his remarks at both Korea-ASEAN summit, President Joko Widodo said, “Energy transition and digital transition require significant investment and technology transfer.” The center of the world has now shifted from the Atlantic to the Pacific. Now is the time for countries bordering the Pacific to take responsibility to join forces and contribute to human prosperity and international peace.
I believe that the opportunity for Indonesia, now the leader of ASEAN, to play a leading role in Korea, the United States, Japan and ASEAN began at the ASEAN Summit in Jakarta. President Joko Widodo also emphasized that regional stability must be maintained in order to achieve future partnerships, and that this is the responsibility of all parties in the Indo-Pacific region.
“Future partnerships can only be achieved if regional stability is maintained, tensions and competition are reduced, strategic trust is strengthened, and cooperation is improved,” he emphasized.
If Indonesia, as a responsible country in the Pacific, plays a leading role along with Korea in the flow of world history that has shifted the center of gravity from the Atlantic to the Pacific, history will have no choice but to give a very positive evaluation.
I am confident that President Joko Widodo's bridge-building role, as one of the political leaders best at communicating across time and space, will shine not only during his term, but also after he leaves office.
Lee Sang-ki is the founding president of Asia Journalist Association (AJA) established in 2004 and the publisher of the online media THE AsiaN published in 2011. AJA is an organization involving veteran journalists from each region of Asia, with 350 members from more than 30 countries. THE AsiaN, an online media founded by AJA in 2011, currently operates in three languages: Korean, English, and Arabic. Lee Sang-ki is a veteran journalist who served as the 38th and 39th president of Journalists Association of Korea.
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