Outgoing President Susilo Bambang Yudhoyono demonstrated his achievements as Indonesia's leader over the last 10 years in his speech at the United Nations in New York on Wednesday local time (early Thursday in Jakarta), but dropped his plan to introduce his successor at the international forum, apparently at the very last minute.
He reportedly enthusiastically accepted the idea from members of his entourage to say farewell to the world and at the same time introduce president-elect Joko "Jokowi" Widodo as his successor, at the UN General Assembly. He planned to convey the special message in Indonesian. It would be a perfect chance for him to show off his statesmanship to the world, his aides purportedly told him.
Yudhoyono was also hopeful that he would personally meet with US President Barack Obama. He was scheduled to arrive in Washington on Thursday.
"Before concluding his speech, Bapak President will call on world leaders to help Jokowi in leading Indonesia. He will say that in Indonesian," said a senior government official, before Yudhoyono addressed the assembly.
After receiving the suggestion about Jokowi, the President reportedly smiled broadly and promised to formulate the best way to deliver the message. His ministers, especially Coordinating Economic Minister Chairul Tanjung, were said to be very enthusiastic about the plan. While accompanying the President before the speech, the business tycoon looked excited, as captured by the UN's internal TV coverage.
"This is a very good opportunity to show to the world how mature our democracy is," the official boasted.
The person who first raised the idea with the President claimed that Yudhoyono was visibly pleased when he proposed it during a conversation on their way from Jakarta to New York. Other senior delegates concurred and were said to be awaiting the historic moment. "Until the very last minute, we did believe that the President would be firm with the plan," the source said after Yudhoyono completed his long speech.
In his speech, entitled "Making The Right Choice at History's Crossroad", Yudhoyono said: "It is a great honour for me to stand once again before this body - the last time that I do so during my two terms as President of Indonesia".
"I do believe that with strong commitment and political will, we can make the impossible possible. As we say in Indonesia, 'di mana ada kemauan, di situ ada jalan'. Where there is a will, there is a way," he said to applause from the audience.
The President divided his statement into two major agendas: His assessment of regional and global security and political development, as well as his achievements as the country's leader since October 2004.
"I observe that today the international community is concerned about the danger of the old Cold War returning to our fold. Major power relations are worsening, fueled by mutual suspicions. Relations that were previously stable and cooperative are now marked with volatility and tension. And this benefits no one. Therefore, we should not let this become permanent," he noted.
On national affairs, the President cited major progress achieved under his leadership, including his success in increasing "income per capita by 400 per cent within just a short decade" and in finding "a permanent peaceful political solution to end the 30-year conflict in Aceh province".
"In a world witnessing rising extremism, Indonesia continues to hold firm to the values of freedom, tolerance, moderation and multiculturalism that form the basis of our nationhood," Yudhoyono said.