Parapat, Diversity in ethnicity, language, and culture in Indonesia is expected to reinforce national unity, as affirmed in the state emblem Garuda saying Bhinneka Tunggal Ika (Unity in Diversity). Vice President Jusuf Kalla stated this when opening the Congress of Batak People (MMAB) and the National Working Meeting (Rakernas) of Punguan Simbolon Dohot Boruna Indonesia (PSBI) at Pantai Bebas court in Parapat Simalungun, North Sumatra, on Saturday (July 30).

Vice President further emphasized that Indonesia has now become a great nation as it is able to manage pluralism with tolerance and mutual respect.

“The Arabs are made up of one tribe and one language, consisting of 16 countries, but they are fighting one other. This is different from Indonesia. Although the country has diverse ethnics and languages, its people live in harmony,” he said.

The Vice President then appreciated Batak figures who have made a great contribution to the nation, whether in military, bureaucracy, or academics.

“The character of Batak people is not only that they talk loudly, but they are also hardworking, steadfast, and courageous,” he said.

The Vice President encouraged Batak people to harness the potentials of natural beauty in Lake Toba and surrounding to promote tourism. According to him, tourism is a business with the lowest capital. “You only need to promote the beauty of the ocean, the mountains, and the mild weather,” he argued.

The event then continued with a dialogue between the Vice President and people of Batak led by PSBI chairman Effendi Simbolon, followed with sowing the seeds of Pora-pora fish into Lake Toba as a symbol to restore the environment.

In the dialogue, some people demanded the government to help save the environment and the natural beauty of Lake Toba. Vice President responded favorably to the request, but he also warned that the government cannot establish and improve the environment alone and must be supported by local people, for example by no longer disposing waste into the lake.

“The customary law is there not only to regulate how to perform a certain ceremony, but also how to organize the community and protect the environment,” he said.

Also attending the event were Minister of Forestry and Environment Siti Nurbaya, Minister of Communications and Information Rudiantara, North Sumatra Governor Tengku Erry Nuradi, and Head of the Vice President Office Mohamad Oemar.