Remarks of President of the Republic of Indonesia at the 2023 National Lunar New Year Celebration, Banteng Square, Central Jakarta, January 29, 2023
Assalamu’alaikum warahmatullahi wabarakatuh,
May peace be upon us all,
Greetings of virtue,
Distinguished Prof. Dr. Megawati Soekarnoputri, the fifth President of the Republic of Indonesia who is in attendance this afternoon,
Distinguished Ministers of the Onward Indonesia Cabinet—there are so many who are present and I cannot name you one by one, Minister of Religious Affairs, Coordinating Minister for Political, Legal, and Security Affairs, Minister of [Cooperatives and] SME, Minister of Health, Minister of State-owned Enterprises, and Chief of the Indonesian National Police,
Distinguished Excellencies, Ambassadors of Friendly Countries,
Distinguished Chinese-Indonesian public figures in attendance this afternoon,
Ladies and Gentlemen, especially all Chinese-Indonesian people from Sabang to Merauke in attendance this afternoon,
First of all, Happy Lunar New Year 2574, Gong Xi Fa Cai.
May happiness and prosperity always be with us all.
Distinguished Ladies and Gentlemen,
We must be grateful. Once again, we must be grateful if we look back on 2020, if we look back on 2021, if we look back on 2022. When the pandemic began, we were in the dark. We had no idea what policies to implement. We were frantic to find personal protective equipment because all countries sought it. We fought to obtain vaccines because all countries sought them. We also struggled to find medicines.
At the peak [of the pandemic], we were overwhelmed to get oxygen. Remember, at the time, all malls were closed, markets were closed, cinemas were closed, places of worship—mosques, churches, viharas, temples were all closed, small traditional retail stores are closed, Tanah Abang [market] was closed, small stores were closed.
Therefore, we must be grateful that the public activity restriction (PPKM) policy was revoked at the end of December 2022. We often forget if things are looking up. We forget that the situation has returned to normal although we are still in the transition period. I am very happy about our culture and I highly respect it – the culture of helping each other during the pandemic. Everyone joined hands and helped each other. That is our country, Indonesia, the land of Pancasila. That is what saved us; we helped each other, we worked together.
Therefore, because the situation has gone back to normal, I call on all of us to work hard, to rise and to be optimistic to catch up on what we have missed. Nevertheless, we must also be grateful that our economy grew very well in the third quarter at 5.72 [percent]. Our inflation rate is under control at 5.5 percent. I predicted that the year-on-year economic growth would be at 5.3 [percent].
Compare it with other big G20 countries. As much as I remember, we are either number one or number two among these big countries. We need to continue improving and optimizing our position by constantly working hand in hand. Everyone, the strong and the weak, must all work together, cooperate, and join hands. Do not forget the pandemic period. If we could do it in the pandemic, we must also continue helping each other in a normal situation so that everything improves.
It was not easy to manage the pandemic. We had to use the “gas and brake” policy to strike a balance between the economy and healthcare. We could not hit the gas too hard, but we could not hit the brake all of a sudden either. Everything could collapse.
I remember the time when we had to decide whether to enforce lockdown. All countries enforced a lockdown. During the cabinet meeting, almost 80 percent of ministers said, “Lockdown, Sir.” The people also asked the same. However, we were still able to think clearly and calmly about the strength of the people in the grassroots.
We calculated how long it would last, how many days or how many weeks. If we made the wrong decision, we might have had riots within two weeks at the time. We checked the people’s savings account. We were able to check how much the people had in their savings at the bank. We were able to know how much savings the upper class, middle class, and lower class had.
Therefore, I decided not to enforce lockdown although there was pressure to enforce it. Apparently, it was the right decision. If we had enforced lockdown, our economic growth could have been at negative 17 [percent] and it would have been very difficult to return it to normal as it would have dropped very drastically just like the growth of [economies] in European countries.
That concludes my statement.
Once again, happy Lunar New Year 2574. May God bless us all.
Wassalamu’alaikum warahmatullahi wabarakatuh.
God bless us.
I thank you.