JAKARTA, July 17 – Media Prima News And Current Affairs’ exclusive interview with Indonesian President Joko Widodo.
Question: This is the second time Indonesia is hosting the Asian Games, which will be held in Jakarta and Palembang. How will you ensure the festive mood is enjoyed throughout the games?
Answer: The Asian Games will take place in Jakarta and Palembang. We want the people, not only in Jakarta to be happy, but also in Palembang, Sumatra, Java and the whole community to enjoy it. We will receive 16,000 athletes and officials for this Asian Games.
It’s a big number. There are 40 categories, and 14 of them will be contested in Palembang, while the rest will be in Jakarta. Forty-five countries will send athletes to Indonesia, so preparations should be in place and it must be well organised.
We hope the guests coming from 45 countries are comfortable and we hope this tournament will be successful not only for Indonesia, but also for Asia.
Q: Speaking about the presence of tens of thousands of people, the crowds and transportation of athletes to the event locations will become major challenges. How will the Light Rail Transit (LRT) facility help athletes, locals and visitors in this matter?
A: It is a big challenge. For example, in Palembang, we built the LRT from the airport to where the games are held. In Jakarta, we prepared special services from the apartment to the games venue. We have conducted simulations, calculations and planning to make sure that athletes and the audience are well served.
We have set up a special place (to manage it) and an organisation. We hope it will be a success.
Q: There is more than a month to go until the games begins. What is your opinion on Indonesia’s preparedness as a host nation?
A: I arrived in Palembang to check on our preparation: What has been done and what needs to be done. Here, (I can say that the level of preparation) is 99 per cent. Maybe, it’s just a little bit of repair and it should take two or three weeks. InsyaAllah, everything will be ready. It is the same in Jakarta. The level of preparation is 99 per cent.
Q: As host of the games, what do you want participants to take home from their experience in Jakarta and Palembang?
A: We want guests who come to Indonesia to be comfortable and happy. We want them to be happy when they attend the events. Businesses, including shopping complexes in Palembang and Jakarta, are ready to welcome them. We hope everyone is happy here.
Q: In terms of security, how is the preparation? Is there any difficulty in that area?
A: There is no problem. We want the games to take place in a peaceful environment. Police have been preparing for any eventuality. We hope everything is in the best condition and safe throughout the games. I see no problem.
Q: Can you tell us about the challenges faced by Indonesia in stopping arms smuggling and cross-border criminal activities?
A: Firstly, intelligence cooperation is needed. Cooperation in terms of intelligence exchange is important and we have supranational cooperation involving Indonesia, Malaysia, the Philippines, Brunei and Australia to overcome terrorism.
We hope this cooperation will strengthen efforts to fortify the state from the threat of terrorism. We hope this cooperation will continue in the future.
Q: There is a view that religious schools or pesantren may be the target of extremist groups to disseminate radical ideology and recruit militants. How far is this true and what can Indonesia do to stave off the threat?
A: Pondok, pesantren and Islamic schools are places to build morals. Islam in Indonesia is tolerant, modern and peace-loving. We harbour hopes that a society with good morals will emerge from these schools.
If there is any terrorism, it involves only a small number of people and these schools can prevent them from being radicalised. Indonesia has a soft approach and a hard approach (in this matter). We cooperate with large organisations, such as Nahdlatul Ulama and Muhammadiyah, and other Islamic organisations to fight radicalism and terrorism.