March 10, p. 3
Last week, I left Wilton Park, West Sussex, England, with mixed feelings after attending an international conference on Indonesia there. The conference, well attended by prominent Indonesians and friends from all over the world, discussed recent political and economic developments in Indonesia and how the country, due to the relative domestic successes, could play a role as a global actor.
The theme reminded me of the debate within Indonesia on the same subject a few years ago. There are those who maintained that Indonesia should not play a global role. Indonesia, according to this view, was still fraught with domestic problems. Therefore, it should concentrate on addressing those problems and put its house in order first before embarking on any global role in international affairs.
The debate at the Wilton Park conference, however, was different. Whether Indonesia should or should not play a global role is no longer a matter of choice for Indonesia. Given its membership of the G20, and its recent involvement in addressing issues of global concern, such as climate change and energy security, Indonesia is already there. What Indonesia should think about is how it could play its global role in a meaningful and effective way, for the benefit of both Indonesia and others.
(By Rizal Sukma, Jakarta)
Indonesia’s GDP based on PPP (Purchasing Power Parity) in 2009 ranks 121st in the world according to the IMF. Countries such as the Republic of Congo and Albania rank higher.The PPP method is a much better standard than “nominal GDP” to compare economic power, as this method also takes into the equation the purchasing power in given countries (average cost of housing, food, water etc.).For example, while in the United States average wages are higher, Americans have higher costs of living too.The ranking shows how far Indonesia still has to go. Indonesia should prioritize solving its domestic problems (we all know its tremendous challenges) rather than wasting too much time and money on international politics. Take into consideration too that you don’t only make friends in international politics, but enemies too.As economic and social development should be a priority, keeping a low profile in international politics is wise (see China’s model). I definitely agree with the poster that foreign policy should be disconnected from any religious beliefs. And I too believe that in the long run, it’s inevitable Indonesia will play a much bigger role on the world stage.
However, the focus of our attention must be in the domestic domain which has so many problems that must be urgently resolved. But the Indonesian role in the international arena cannot be neglected, to get benefits for our domestic needs and to keep our dignity.
The important thing, in the international arena, is to identify what parts are beneficial, economically, socially and politically, to take.
The author of this article writes: “Indonesia’s military power is one of the weakest in the region.”
This is in contradiction with the fact that it is also the most ferocious, the regional champion of massive violations of human rights for the last few decades.
But that contradiction is only
apparent: committing atrocities
on unarmed civilians does not
make the Indonesian military a respected institution on the international scene.
Filippo Gian Carlo
Indonesia has long been playing below standards in term of its international role, politically, economically, and culturally. If we are to wait until we settle our domestic problem, we will be lagging far behind “smaller” power in the region like Malaysia or Thailand (or even Vietnam). As a matter of fact, we are lagging behind them already. They have built strong reputations globally. Let’s do it now or ... we’ll mean nothing.