By FORMER HOUSE SPEAKER JOSE C. DE VENECIA JR.
We congratulate Indonesian President Joko Widodo for his reelection as president of the world’s third largest democracy and hope he will reach out to his defeated rival Probowo Subianto, a retired general who has run a second-time against him.
Observers note a record 245,000 candidates ran for public office, from the presidency and parliamentary seats to local positions, all undertaken in one day. The Indonesian polls perhaps represent the largest democratic electoral contest in Southeast Asia.
There will be accusations from the losers of large-scale cheating but our friends in the diplomatic community in Jakarta indicate the polls were largely clean.
The modest soft-spoken Widodo, who has launched a large-scale infrastructure program, visited Manila in April, 2017, ahead of the ASEAN Summit then, on invitation of President Rodrigo Duterte and they discussed security of sea lanes, cross-border traffic and patrols, and economic cooperation.
We hope in President Widodo’s second term there will be more meaningful and concrete economic exchange between Indonesia and the Philippines and with the ASEAN partners.
It is also the hope of Indonesia’s friends in ASEAN that perhaps after a decent interval, efforts will be undertaken to reach out to the defeated rivals. It would be an excellent idea if Subianto, who also lost a presidential battle with Widodo in 2014, will perhaps be invited to serve as Indonesian ambassador to Washington, DC or to the European Union, which could eventually lead to the beginnings of a much-desired government of national unity in Indonesia.
This columnist, who serves as president of Centrist Asia Pacific Democrats International (CAPDI), and of the International Conference of Asian Political Parties (ICAPP) and other Asian senior officials of our organization, had the privilege of conferring with President Widodo in Jakarta in February, 2015, where we exchanged views on possible ways of cooperation in the common battles against poverty, terrorism and extremism, climate change and environmental degradation.
With us in the meeting then with President Widodo were our very own former President Fidel V. Ramos, chairman emeritus of Centrist Asia Pacific Democrats International (CAPDI); then Vice President Jusuf Kalla of Indonesia, CAPDI chairman; Deputy Prime Minister Sok An of Cambodia, CADPI vice chairman, now deceased; Sen. Mushahid Hussain Sayed of Pakistan, CAPDI secretary general, who is considered a credible aspirant for national leadership in Pakistan; and CAPDI officials business leader Tan Sri Datuk Chen Lipkeong of Malaysia and Cambodia, Erwin Aksa of Indonesia, and Asian and Filipino business and civic leaders Alex Fu, Michael Chen, Fernando Pena, Lito Jimenez, my son Joey de Venecia III, and Francis Manglapus.
CAPDI is an organization in the Asia Pacific bringing together political parties and key institutions of civil society, think tanks, business leaders, media, women and youth groups. It has offices in Manila and Jakarta. CAPDI works closely with other active organizations, the International Conference of Asian Political Parties (ICAPP) and the International Association of Parliamentarians for Peace (IAPP).
We met last Thursday in Manila with Dr. Chung Sik Yong, chairman for Asia of the Universal Peace Federation (UPF); Dr. Robert Kittel, director for peace education of UPF Asia; and Dr. Julius Malicdem, UPF Philippines president, to discuss a forthcoming UPF World Summit in Phnom Penh, and a larger event in Manila at the turn of the year, 2020.
The New York- and Seoul-based Universal Peace Federation (UPF), of which we are chairman emeritus, is a global network of individuals and organizations dedicated to advancing the cause of peace through cooperation and dialogue among countries and peoples, pioneered by its late founder Rev. Sun Myung Moon and his active widow Dr. Hak Ja Han Moon, and currently under the active leadership of “Mother” Moon and New Yorker Thomas Walsh, with members in 180 countries.
UPF, which has a general consultative status with the United Nations Educational, Scientific, and Cultural Organization (UNESCO), carries out humanitarian programs, service-learning projects, character education, and sports programs. Lately, it has launched some peacemaking initiatives.
We have alerted them to the possibility of joining a journey to the Democratic People’s Republic of Korea to contribute with other Asian political leaders hopefully to peace-making efforts in the North Korean peninsula where we made an unforgettable journey to Pyongyang in April, 1990. Among those in our team were the late Congressman Miguel Romero, former Philippine Education Undersecretary Nestor Kalaw, and Japanese Journalist Kiyoshi Wakamiya.
We conferred with then North Korea Founder Kim Il Sung, which immediately led to the establishment of Philippine-North Korean diplomatic relations.