Can Fiji learn from Indonesia about returning to democracy? | Pacific Beat

Can Fiji learn from Indonesia about returning to democracy?

Can Fiji learn from Indonesia about returning to democracy?

Updated 26 March 2013, 18:00 AEST

Indonesia's experience with moving from dictatorship towards democracy might have useful lessons for Fiji.

That's according to Dr Ketut Erawan, director of the Indonesian Institute for Peace and Democracy at Udayana University in Bali.

He visited Fiji recently and spoke to government officials, academics and students at the University of the South Pacific journalism course.

Dr Erawan tells Bruce Hill that while the two nations histories are quite different, there are things they can learn from each other about the best way to transition back to democracy.

Presenter: Bruce Hill

Speaker:Dr Ketut Erawan, director of the Indonesian Institute for Peace and Democracy at Udayana University in Bali

ERAWAN: The historical development of Indonesia and Fiji in some way is comparable because we expect that democracy will be shown as the basic foundation of our nation and for moving the countries forward. And we also have experience to create nation building to ground our democracy. So there are three things we can share as a learning process of how we do it and we're not perfect but we have something to share. One is that we're certainly able to create a sense of nation, a set of proposals of oneism because we are coming from so many different ethnic groups, villages and cultural and histories, but we're able to agree that we are Indonesian, and that is the first thing from my point of view, also to become an aspiration for the people of Fiji. The second one is that when we create our transition movement to democracy we are able to navigate through designing rule of law, which is we amend our constitution, we create law and politics and we based on our democratic processes through the law. So how we are able to create not only process of democracy, but democratic processes at the same time. And the third one is that Indonesia can share their experiences that democratic processes is not a short game, it is continuous, it is long, it's up and down, sometimes we are so hopeful, sometimes we are in a situation where there are many challenges. So Indonesia working so hard to make sure that our momentum carries out further and that is a step by step transition to democracy to constitution process.

HILL: I noticed that one of the groups you spoke to while in Fiji was student journalists at the University of the South Pacific. How important is media freedom to this process of moving from a dictatorship towards democracy?

ERAWAN: The students and in particular media are one of the core actors in institution for that process because media has three functions from my view; one is that media will bring and able to deliver facts, the truth. Second, media can become a mechanism to bringing the alternative voices because they're able to submit kind of discourse agenda for making sure that other voices be heard. And the last one, media can be kind of instrumental in transforming the society and also the state, so they can see themselves in a different way and they're able also to create a new kind of preference where democracy will be on top of the list.

HILL: When you were in Fiji were the things that you noticed about the Fiji situation which were perhaps not directly comparable to Indonesia, things about Fiji that were perhaps a bit unique to its own situation?

ERAWAN: Yes I believe that each country have their own uniqueness. Maybe the scale of Fiji is not comparable to Indonesia because we have 17-thousand islands, Fiji only a thousand, maybe less. And also in terms of history and development of Fiji, maybe it's not comparable. But I believe despite the situations which are not comparable, we believe that a lesson learned should be shared. And we want to learn also from Fiji how it evolved through the democratic processes. An issue about women and the issue of development in terms of media, I think from my view Fiji now is the situation where it can push itself further, because it's given a lot of hope and I believe now is the right time for Fiji to move forward, that is my message from the beginning. If we discussed about the past, about atrocities, about so many mistrusts and many other things we will never move forward, so put that separately, create institutions to ground the processes and move forward together.

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