The president officially recognized the special status of Yogyakarta’s government system on Wednesday, during a ceremony to swear in the sultan as the governor.
“Law No. 13 of 2012 is a form of recognition and at the same time of respect by the state for regional authorities that have specific and special characteristics,” President Susilo Bambang Yudhoyono said. “The state recognizes the special nature of Yogyakarta as a regional government that is different from those in other provinces.”
Yudhoyono was speaking at the official ceremony in Yogyakarta to swear in Sultan Hamengkubuwono X as governor and Prince Paku Alam IX as his deputy for the 2012-2017 period. It was the first time the governor and deputy governor had been sworn in by a president.
The law signed by Yudhoyono on Aug. 31 and passed into law on Sept. 3 effectively ended years of disagreement between the central government and the special territory over how its governor and deputy governor were selected for office. The central government had argued for years that the territory needed to hold democratic elections, but a majority of residents disagreed, preferring to hold to tradition that Yogyakarta’s sultan and prince of Pakualam are automatically given the posts.
The tradition arose after the special territory, which functions as a province, was singled out founding President Sukarno in recognition of the city’s important role during the struggle of independence for the young republic in the 1940s.
In his speech Yudhoyono said that the special status accorded to Yogyakarta could not be separated from the territory’s role during the nation’s struggle against independence from the Dutch in the second half of the 1940s.
“History records that the special status accorded to Yogykarta is part of the process of the establishment of the Unitary State of the Republic of Indonesia,” he said, referring to an official announcement issued on Sept. 5, 1945, by the then Sultan Hamengkubuwono IX and Prince Pakualam VIII, that the sultanate of Yogyakarta was an integral part of the young republic.
He said that Law No. 13 gave special authority for Yogyakarta to choose its own methods of filling the posts of governor and deputy governor and in its local government, cultural development, land and zoning affairs and special funding.
Yudhoyono also recognized that Yogyakarta has led much of the country when it comes to development.
“This province is superior and advanced in the fields of education, culture and tourism. The special territory of Yogyakarta also recorded achievements in the creative industry, in the high life expectancy and an education sector that is a main component of the human development index,” Yudhoyono said.
The president called on the two leaders to work hard to boost economic growth, create jobs, reduce poverty, safeguard the prices of essential goods and improve the quality of education and health services.
Analysts have praised the 66-year-old sultan as an able governor, with the population of more than 3.5 million people seeing rising economic prosperity since he took office in 1998. JG