Siti Nurbaya explains how the Indonesian government implemented a four-stage decentralization policy to transfer authority from the national to the regional governments over the period February 2001 to May 2005. She explains the need to train and guide regional governments to increase their capacity and improve their performance and thus allow them to provide more effective services to the provinces outside of the capital city of Jakarta. She described how a test run was conducted before the eventual turnover of power to regional governments to ensure that they were adequately prepared to deal with their new responsibilities. Nurbaya also discusses the importance of maintaining unity to encourage the regional governments to collaborate with the national government in the absence of formal controls. She describes how Indonesia benefited from considering the successes and failures of other countries in decentralizing and instituting new laws and constitutional changes. Throughout the interview, she highlights how power transfers at the presidential level deeply influenced the success of reform efforts undertaken by lower levels of government and the civil service.
At the time of this interview, Siti Nurbaya was the secretary general of the Regional Representatives Council in Indonesia. Nurbaya, who played an important role implementing Indonesia’s decentralization policy as the secretary general of the Ministry of Home Affairs from February 2001 to May 2005, began her career in 1979 as an agricultural planner on the Development Planning Board in the provincial government of Lampung. After nearly 20 years of working in regional development, she was appointed as chief of the Planning Bureau of the Ministry of Home Affairs in Jakarta in 1998 and then as secretary general in February 2001. After leaving the position of secretary general of Home Affairs, she served as secretary general of the House of Regional Representatives, which is the upper house of the Parliament of Indonesia. She has played an active role in the Golkar Party-affiliated Indonesian Younger Generation for Reform (AMPI) and even chaired the mass organization in 1993. Throughout her career she has advocated for policies that support gender equality.