The Republic of Indonesia comprises five major islands: Java, Kalimantan, Sumatera, Sulawesi, and Papua. Some other islands are Maluku, Nusa Tenggara, and Bali. There are approximately 17,000 small islands comprise the Indonesian archipelago that stretches along the Equator extending more than 4,800 km. With more than 220 million people, Indonesia’s population ranks fourth in the world. Although Indonesians live in more than 6,000 islands, about 58% of the population is concentrated in the island of Java.
Indonesia has more than 300 ethnic groups, 14 distinct languages, and about 400 related local dialects. It is the national language Bahasa Indonesia that holds the nation together. With approximately 90% of the population being Moslem, Indonesia is the largest Islamic country in the world. Other official religions include Catholicism, Protestantism, Hinduism, and Buddhism.
The Indonesian national system has been influenced by its colonial past. The Dutch arrived on the islands at the turn of the sixteenth century, seeking spices and wealth for expanding an empire. The Dutch colonized Indonesia for 350 years, and Japan came next to colonizes for a bout 3.5 years. The Japanese maintained the Dutch administrative system while they ruled. Based on what stated before, Indonesian legal system is mixed systems, based on Roman Dutch law and Islamic law.
The Indonesia republic promotes a philosophy called Pancasila as its national policy. Pancasila advocates five basic principles:
1. Believe in one Supreme God. Although the majority of the population is Moslem, all religions are protected by law. Every Indonesian has the freedom of religion. 2. Justice and civility among people. This includes treating fellow human beings respectfully and being helpful to each other. 3. The unity of Indonesia. The interests of the nation supercede self-interest. The nation’s welfare and progress must be the primary goal of individuals and organizations. 4. Democracy through deliberation and consensus among representatives. The rights of citizens should be respected and decisions arrived at in deliberative manner. 5. Social justice for all. There should be fairness in rendering justice for all regardless of differences in socio-economic status.
The Role for Public Relations
Public relations practitioners play a significant role in this unstable political, economic, and social environment. Public relations professionals should be in the frontline helping people to realize the changes that Indonesia has been undergoing and to cope with uncertainty during this transition.
The least public relation practitioners can do is to help foster communication among opinion leaders, critical no-governmental organizations (NGOs), and the youth. Public relations can also make the international audience understand the complexity of the situation in the country during the painful process of national development.