Dr Marty Natalegawa at CAP Graduations

20 December 2016

REMARKS BY DR. R.M MARTY M. NATALEGAWA AT THE CONFERMENT OF DOCTOR OF LETTERS, HONORIS CAUSA BY THE AUSTRALIAN NATIONAL UNIVERSITY

CANBERRA, 14 DECEMBER 2016

Professor, the Honourable Gareth Evans, Chancellor of the Australian National University,

Professor Brian Schmidt, Vice Chancellor of the ANU,

Distinguished academics of the College of Asia and The Pacific,

Graduates,

Ladies and gentlemen,

I stand before you today with a deep sense of humility – for the recognition that the ANU has chosen to confer …

Not least of all, however, I am inspired by the possibilities and potentials that each and every one of the graduates today offers in making for the betterment of our global society – in particular in promoting a stable, a prosperous, and a “pacific” Asia Pacific region …

For there is, indeed, an unfortunate familiar refrain that speaks of some of the ills or challenges confronting our world today …

I speak here, for example, of the prevalence of trust deficits …

Between nations, large and small, which manifests in the worst-case assumptions of the other’s intent – injecting and sustaining a vicious cycle of tensions and instability – made all the more acute when matters of territorial disputes are involved …

And of trust deficits within nations - democratic and authoritarian alike, – a condition only too readily seized and exploited by the demagogy of those bent on whipping up public fervour for the sake of popularism …

And I refer here as well of the many paradoxes of our world …

Of a world where the revolution in digital technology has made information more bountiful than ever, and yet of peoples no more better informed – a post-truth world;

Of a world of endless streams of images and incessant social media chatter, and yet a world having less capacity to hear, let alone listen to, and empathize with, the other; and a world that may be more technologically interconnected and yet, at the same time, somehow less connected – as witnessed by increasing evidence of intolerance and divisive politics …

Ours is truly a world full of uncertainties; where change is ever permanent …

However, as long as such is the case, then the possibility for positive change is always open …

More than ever, I believe that we are at a critical juncture: choices between the politics of hope and fear; between intolerance and celebration – not mere tolerance - of diversity; and between divisive and cooperative leadership …

And, however insignificant and powerless one may sometime feel – the choices that each and every one of us make, can make a difference – a positive difference.

[address …]

My association with the Australian National University began some thirty years ago; coinciding with the beginning of my career in the diplomatic service of Indonesia. Representing one’s nation – from the hallowed halls and corridors of the United Nations, its Security Council included; to the conflict ravaged terrains of Darfur and Afghanistan; the displaced peoples in many corners of the world; the promise that is ASEAN; and in the building and nurturing of relations with neighbouring countries – not least of all Australia - has been a tremendous honour and privilege …

All throughout – I have been driven by the quest: not to take the world as it is, rather, how it can be: a more secure, a more prosperous and a more equitable world … idealistic realism;

To positively alter the dynamics in relations among nations – convinced in the belief that nations states are not destined to be permanently mired in relations of tensions and conflict – that they are policy outcomes … waging peace.

To chart synergy and complementarity between the relentless pursuit of national interests and the reality that ours is a globalized world, replete with challenges that defy national solutions alone … cooperative leadership.

And not least of all – convinced of the power and efficacy of diplomacy – of dialogue and persuasion - in the sustained settlement of disputes …

Hence, I have sought to pursue a foreign policy that is transformative. Not to see in change as threats to be overcome; rather as opportunities.

Thus, ensuring that Indonesia’s democratic transformation post-1998, serves as a catalyst in Indonesia’s foreign policy to push for greater respect of democratic principles and good governance within ASEAN through its Political and Security Community and beyond – and to see in Australia, not only our geographic neighbour, rather also a fellow partner in democracy;

Hence, the efforts to extrapolate ASEAN’s transformative experience – the conversion of trust deficit in Southeast Asia to strategic trust – to the wider East Asia region, through the East Asia Summit and the promotion of a “dynamic equilibrium” for the region …

In short, to present Indonesia as part of the solution – building bridges – to address some of the most intractable challenges of our time: international peace and security, sustainable development, promotion and protection of democratic values, human rights and good governance …

[address ]

In a 24/7 world of incessant news cycle, where some may succumb to place primacy on form over substance, it is worth emphasizing that diplomacy is a process and not an event. It is one that requires the earnest of efforts, building and, indeed, rebuilding trust and confidence. Sometimes, it demands an almost infinite reservoir of patience, of perseverance and resilience… not to relent to a personal sense of exasperation. For emotion is not policy …

Notwithstanding the most sincere of good will and the strongest of efforts – for different reasons – conditions are not always propitious for optimum progress to be made. In such instances, it is critical to acknowledge the constraints of the moment and, ensure that one does not make the issues even more intractable for future generations who may possess the requisite wisdom previously lacking …

[address …]

Some twenty six years ago, the Australian National University graciously and warmly welcomed, my wife, Sranya, and I, and our young family. The suburbs of Downer, Pearce, and O’Connor became our home. Our eldest daughter, Annisa, began her schooling at the O’Connor School, and subsequently attended the ANU for her post-graduate degree. Anantha, our second, was born at the then Woden Valley Hospital and, even as a young toddler, kept company as we attend the Canberra Raiders games at the then Bruce Stadium! And our youngest, Andreyka, has since attended the Asia Pacific Week here at the ANU, further deepening his interest and understanding of our dynamic region. Sranya was entrusted by the University’s Childcare Centre to provide care for a good number of young children of Australian families. Myself, I got to know the Lyneham and O’Connor neighbourhoods rather well as I deliver the morning papers every morning!

Since then, I have come to experience the remarkable resilience of Indonesia-Australia relationships. I have never lost sight of the fact that there is far more that unites us than that which divides as fellow vibrant democracies … And that policy-makers must not lose sight of such realities – that they must instead foster and nurture peoples’ basic inclination to simply get along …

[address…]

Before I conclude, please allow me a personal note …

My family – Sranya, Annisa, Anantha and Andreyka – have been the love of my life. They have lent unstinting support and understanding, and made personal sacrifices; without which all would have been impossible. I dedicate all my efforts to them …

To all the graduates, and their families present, once again, congratulations!

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