• posted by Anindya Jun 30th, 2011

    Opening Remarks The Bakrie Center Foundation (BCF) Forum. Jakarta, Monday, 27th June 2011

    bcfAssalamualaikum Wr. Wb.


    Distinguished Guests,

    Students, Ladies and Gentlemen

    Good morning.

    On behalf of the Bakrie Center Foundation, welcome to today’s conference, called Indonesia’s Year, ASEAN’s Future. Today, we are also going to award scholarships to 107 Indonesian students from 12 local and foreign universities.

    Before I go any further,I would like to offer my apologies for not speaking in Bahasa Indonesia today. As a courtesy to our foreign guests, I will be speaking in English. This is actually a deceptive strategy. If what I am about to say doesn’t make any sense, it must be because English is not my first language.

    I see here in the audience the best minds in academia, politics and civil society. I would like to acknowledge the support and friendship of Professor Barry Desker, the Dean of the S. Rajaratnam School of International Studies in Singapore. As well as Mr Douglas Paal, Vice President of the Carnegie Endowment for International Peace in Washington D.C. I also want to thank all the other distinguished guests here Pak Sekjen ASEAN, Pak Mentri, Ambassadors, Provosts, Deans and leaders of Indonesia, ASEAN and friends of ASEAN.

    In particular, I want to thank my beautiful grandma and the rest of my dear family, for making an effort to come here. Her presence always gives us moral support and strength. But if I may say so, it does put pressure on me now to perform.

    Besides them, I see around me the best minds of the future for Indonesia, embodied in the students here today. Some of them have traveled a great distance to get here. Apakah teman-teman dari UNHAS dan Sam Ratulangi ada di sini? Please give them a big round applause.

    Apakah teman-teman dari Universitas Cendrawasih ada di sini? These are my true friends from Papua who traveled seven hours to be with us. You know, that is how long it takes to fly from Jakarta to Tokyo. Supaya adil, kita tepuk tangan juga dong buat: Institut Pertanian Bogor, Institut Teknologi Bandung, UGM, Airlangga, Udayana, Mulawarman, Lampung, Andalas.

    Their presence shows you how vast and magnificent our country is. We come from different corners of Indonesia. But we are all united as Indonesians. In Indonesia today, I see hope. And I see a model for ASEAN.

    After all, our country’s motto is Bhinneka Tunggal Ika, which means “Unity in Diversity”. This spirit will drive ASEAN and its future.


    Ladies and gentlemen,

    This brings me to my topic today: Indonesia’s Year, ASEAN’s future. This seems like a big topic, right?

    The idea, however, is loud and clear for me and the third generation of my family. Almost all of them are with us today. The Bakrie Center Foundation wants to get the young in Indonesia and ASEAN to be stakeholders of the region’s future.

    Let me take you back in time. ASEAN was born in 1967 as a response to security threats in the region. But it was also formed in the spirit of cooperation by its founding fathers – the foreign ministers of Indonesia, the Philippines, Malaysia, Singapore and Thailand.

    We owe a big debt to Adam Malik of Indonesia, Narciso Ramos of the Philippines, Tun Abdul Razak of Malaysia, Thanat Khoman of Thailand and S. Rajaratnam of Singapore. They built ASEAN from scratch. They laid the foundations to bring ASEAN to where it is today.

    We owe these great men a duty to make sure that ASEAN continues to be useful and relevant in this region and beyond. While ASEAN is making some progress towards achieving certain ideals, we are still far from the endgame: a Southeast Asia united on all fronts, political and economic.

    I believe my generation has NEVER been part of the ASEAN dream. The ASEAN forums are becoming more frequent and larger, BUT the participants are also getting older. We need to begin the process of getting our younger leaders involved in the ASEAN process.

    If five of our founding fathers can shake Southeast Asia, imagine what these 150 students seated here today can do. We need to build leaders for the future.


    Our founding fathers dreamt what we dream today. The environment today makes it even more conducive to build on the work of our founding fathers.

    Today, the world has changed. ASEAN remains one of the pillars of Asia, standing alongside China and India. It is truly heartening that, just two years into the 2008 global economic crisis, ASEAN has not only rebounded but is booming.

    In Southeast Asia, growth is a keyword these days. In the larger Asian sphere, the presence of six nations in the Group of 20 has elevated the region in that economic league of nations.

    All this is good news. What is even better is that ASEAN’s economic rise is accompanied by growing political maturity and links to the rest of the world. It has expanded its family to include new members, as well as members outside of ASEAN.

    Already, ASEAN has deepened its relationships with external powers such as China, Japan, India, the US and Russia. In fact, this is the birth of East Asian Summit. But ASEAN also faces many challenges. With the rapid changes taking place in the world economic and political stages, ASEAN has to adapt quickly.

    It has to protect its own house while also tending to the wider opportunities outside its immediate community. Some challenges have been with us for a while, and will continue to surface in the years to come.

    These range from the border conflict between Thailand and Cambodia, to potential flashpoints in the South China Sea, to food insecurity and the effects of global warming. Another pressing issue is economic integration. You will hear more about these issues later at the panel discussion.

    The bottom line is this: ASEAN has to rise up to these challenges. Just as steel rods are forged in fire, true leadership is forged in the fires of adversity. As leading members of ASEAN, we have to show the world our steel.

    But are we ready for this?


    Ladies and gentlemen,

    Good leadership and education goes hand in hand. You can’t have one without the other. I believe that education holds the key to a better future for ASEAN. We need to create an intellectual base that will build leaders in Indonesia and the rest of Southeast Asia.

    That is why the third generation of my family decided to establish the Bakrie Center Foundation. We wanted to develop human potential, following our grandfather’s legacy.

    Born into a family of modest means, my grandfather managed only a basic education. He never had the chance to go to university. He built up his knowledge by reading widely. Rather than resenting those who had the opportunity for higher learning, my grandfather saw in them the qualities of hard work and a hunger for information.

    My father and the second generation of my family further reinforced this emphasis on “ilmu” or knowledge and “wawasan” or exposure. These two elements are central to the Bakrie Center Foundation.

    We want to help Indonesians acquire “ilmu” and “wawasan” to compete globally. For over a decade, my family has sponsored several programs on education. These include local scholarships and even the full-fledged Bakrie University, spearheaded by my untie, Ike Bakrie.

    The Bakrie Center Foundation is continuing the good work. With our Graduate Fellow Scholarships, we aim to empower the brightest talents in Indonesia with opportunities to study at home and abroad.

    Many of you, in the audience today, are the leaders of Indonesia tomorrow. We are also helping to groom future leaders in other ASEAN countries, such as sending non-Indonesian students to the S. Rajaratnam School of International Studies.

    ASEAN needs to be more than just a grouping of government leaders and the elite. The future of ASEAN must be about its people. Educating and empowering them so that they can build a better life for all of us.


    I come now to my final point. I have spoken at length about the importance of building leaders for ASEAN’s future. I would like to add one more point: Stamina.

    For ASEAN to succeed, each family member must pull its own weight, and we must all stay committed to going the distance. Those of you who know me will also know that one of my passions is running marathons.

    I started running fairly late in life, in my 30s. It was not easy. I had to build up my lung capacity and the strength in my arms and legs. Many times, I felt like giving up. I see many similarities between marathon running and running a business or an organization. It takes commitment and purpose. It takes determination and perseverance. It takes discipline and long-term investment.

    As ASEAN evolves, will there be setbacks in our plans? Yes. Will world developments upset our best intentions? Yes. Will there be mistakes along the way? Yes, of course. But we must have the stamina of a long distance runner to prevail. We must continue on our path.

    Today, let us share with each other our visions for a better tomorrow. And when we part company at the end of today, I hope we leave with a renewed sense of purpose. And a belief that each one of us can make a difference.

    Sometimes, it may feel like you are alone, like a long-distance runner. But if you look around you, you will see that there are many others – a community of runners – also in the same marathon as you.

    Ladies and gentlemen, I thank you. And may you never run alone.

    Wassalum’alaikum Wr. Wb.

Leave a Reply