The long period of colonialization and exploitation by foreign powers has engendered a strong sentiment among Indonesians of the importance of freedom and democracy, based on the belief that every nation has the right to freedom and to determine their own direction.
However, we must also admit that despite its deleterious effects, colonialization had also played an important role in bringing the nation together. Based on one common vision, that of gaining independence, the people, regardless of their ethnic and educational backgrounds, including their upbringing, began the process of unification by consolidating the archipelago’s diversity into one common concept, as declared in the Youth Pledge act of October 28, 1928. The Pledge declared a common belief among the youths, that of one nation, one nationality and one language, that is Indonesia. The August 17, 1945 Declaration of Independence by Soekarno and Mohammad Hatta, who later became the first President and first Vice-President of Indonesia, and the establishment of the Republic of Indonesia, had paved the way for the development of an independent, sovereign, unified, just and prosperous nation based on the people and for the people.
Over the next half of a century, the Republic of Indonesia, through its continuous development programs, had managed to place itself among one of the fastest developing nations in the world, a nation to be reckoned with in the international scene.
The success of the country’s national development took a turn for the worst, when Indonesia was hit by a series of social, economic and political crises. The New Order government’s failure to overcome the crises had led to the nation’s call for democratization in the social, economic and political sectors. Led by students, Indonesians began to take to the streets and rally for “Reformasi” or reform/change. The impetus resulted in the abrupt fall of the New Order Government, under President Soeharto and the appointment of Prof. Dr.-Ing. Dr. Sc.h.c. Bacharuddin Jusuf Habibie as the third President of the Republic of Indonesia. The event was an important milestone in the history of the Republic and will always be remembered as the birth of Indonesian democracy and the dawn of “Reformasi” –a step towards a more democratic Indonesia.
As President of a nation of over 200 million, Habibie had persistently demonstrated his concerns over the nation’s need to better understand and implement the general principles of democracy. His concerns were based on his observations of the Old Order and for having served in the New Order, and had consequently led him to contemplate the existing situation.
Through a systematic, comprehensive and integral process, he developed a concept that best describes, expresses and conveys the proactive and anticipatory predictions on the interpretation of democracy as a political machinery. The concept was thus implemented in a variety of political agendas, such as:
In the relatively short time that he was in office, Habibie had maintained his modern outlook on democracy and implemented them in his decision making processes. Habibie’s important role in accelerating the democratization process in Indonesia is recognized by both the national and international communities so that he is regarded by many as the “Father of Democracy”. Habibie’s commitment to democracy is real. When the People’s Consultative Assembly (MPR), Indonesia’s highest institution which has the authority to elect the president and vice-president, rejected President Habibie’s Accountability Speech, Habibie gracefully withdrew from the Presidential race. He did this, despite the fact that the MPR’s rejection of the speech did not constitutionally bar him from contesting, and the conviction of many of his supporters that he could still win the presidency against the other candidates. Habibie argued that once his speech was rejected by the MPR, it would have been ethically inappropriate for him to continue to run for the presidency. This decision was also intended as a political education about the true meaning of democracy.
As a former President who understands that democracy is a concept that needs to be continuously developed in order to promote a modern Indonesia, Habibie recognizes the need to establish an institution dedicated to promoting and developing the concept of democracy in Indonesia. This realization has led to the establishment of The Habibie Center on November 10, 1999 in Jakarta, Indonesia.
The Habibie Center is founded by Bacharuddin Jusuf Habibie and family, as an independent, non-govermental and non-profit organization. Our vision is to promote the modernization and democratization of Indonesian society based on the morality and integrity of sound cultural and religious values. And our missions are:
To establish a structurally and culturally democratic society that acknowledges, honors and promotes human rights, as well as to study and advocate issues in the development of democracy and human rights.
To promote and advance effective human resources management and the socialization of technology.
The mission serves as a platform for the strategic development of The Habibie Center’s agenda in Democracy and Human Rights, Human Resources in Science and Technology, Media and Information, Maritime Resources, Democratization of Science and Technology, Networking and Cooperation.
The Habibie Center’s vision and objectives are manifested in its logo. The logo consists of four pillars depicting the fundamentals of The Habibie Center, namely:
CultureDemocracyTechnologyJustice (Human Rights)
Four pillars form an integrated, harmonious, dynamic and progressive compatible ensemble who sits on the grounds of religion belief in God Almighty. Logo serves to explain the purpose of the Centre; to develop and achieve an independent, fair and democratic society based on religion and culture.