Christmas celebrations are held in Pontianak. Intolerance and the political manipulation of religious sentiments are rising in the country. Widodo takes a firm stance in favour of Indonesia’s multiculturalism. Mgr Agustinus Agus calls for acceptance and development of differences, which represent the riches of the nation.
Pontianak (AsiaNews) – In his Christmas address to the people of Indonesia, especially the country’s Christians, Indonesian President Joko Widodo urged his fellow countrymen and women "To never tire of working in the Lord's garden” for the sake of the nation’s social progress and development.
The president spoke in Pontianak, the capital of West Kalimantan province, on 28 December. For the third time, state Christmas celebrations took place in a predominantly Christian city, far from Jakarta.
Speaking against a climate of growing intolerance and political manipulation of religious sentiment by extremist groups, President Widodo reiterated his firm support for Indonesia’s multicultural society.
Many high-profile national and regional figures took part in the ceremonies in Pontianak. They included cabinet ministers, former Indonesian Vice President Try Sutrismo, military and police chiefs, as well as the governor of West Kalimantan Cornelis M H.
"No matter what your kind of profession or field of work one is engaged in, what matters is the constant commitment to the good of the country,” the president said.
“The Lord would never let us to be inactive,” he added,”but we must do something seriously to make every citizen enjoy social justice and prosperity."
"The true spirit of Christmas is simplicity, the spirit of sharing. This is the most important thing to promote, with the strong expectation of bringing new hope and change,” concluded the president.
In his homily, Mgr Agustinus Agus, archbishop of Pontianak, stressed that peace is an expression of Christmas and reiterated what Widodo expressed.
"We are called to orchestrate our brotherhood as a nation. It is with this spirit that we are called to extend our blessing and charity to others," the prelate said.
"This Christmas season calls on all Indonesian citizens to accept and develop our differences as part of the nation's riches and celebrate them as a blessing."
The next after, President Widodo announced a “a national price of energy”, which, according to analysts, confirms his commitment to social justice.
Given Indonesia’s geography, which strongly influences energy prices, such as petroleum, from island to island, the final cost of consumer goods varies, creating strong disparities between provinces.
With the new policy, the authorities want to end the problem by imposing the same prices on all energy producers, including state-owned companies.