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Jakarta Post

'Dilemma of democracy': Tito says nondemocratic countries have better economic growth

  • News Desk

    The Jakarta Post

Jakarta   /   Wed, November 27, 2019   /   10:12 am
'Dilemma of democracy': Tito says nondemocratic countries have better economic growth Home Minister Tito Karnavian during the Indonesia Onward Cabinet announcement by President Joko “Jokowi” Widodo on Oct. 23, 2019. (JP/Seto Wardhana)

Indonesian Home Minister Tito Karnavian has suggested that nondemocratic countries are more economically well-off than democratic countries.

During the 6th Congress for the Indonesian Provincial Government Association (APPSI) members on Tuesday, Tito gave a speech in which he said that democracy did not necessarily go hand in hand with the economic development of a country.

Western democracies such as the United States and European countries, for instance, had long adopted a democratic system for their governance but they saw rather stagnant economic growth, Tito said.

“There seems to be a dilemma over democracy, since [countries] that do not adopt the [democratic] system see their economic [growth] leaping instead,” Tito said as quoted by kompas.com, “Vietnam, for example, is a socialist [republic] and its economy is rising.”

The retired police general also gave the example of Thailand ─ Southeast Asia’s second-largest economy after Indonesia ─ which was under military junta rule from 2014 until earlier this year.

According to Tito, the fellow ASEAN country’s economy moved forward when the military held power.

“Civil supremacy [in Thailand] was taken over by military junta rule and their economy advanced,” he said, adding that a similar phenomenon had occurred in Egypt, which was ruled by a military junta after its democratically elected president got overthrown.

The minister went on to cite the example of China, which has been among the world’s fastest-growing economies, albeit without adopting a democratic political system.

“China is a one-party state. It’s a nondemocracy, yet its economy grows rapidly,” Tito said, adding that China’s economic growth had continuously followed closely behind and might surpass the US ─ which still retains its status as the world’s biggest economy.

Tito, a minister of the world’s third-largest democracy, said that in 1998 he visited China’s Beijing and Shanghai. At that time, the two cities still had slum areas, with polluted rivers and people using bicycles everywhere, he said.

Fast forward 20 years, Tito said he visited the two cities in 2018 and saw the same rivers with clean waters, and that Beijing already had a similar feel to Washington DC, while Shanghai was similar to New York.

In front of Jakarta Governor Anies Baswedan, who also attended Tuesday’s event, Tito even joked about how Jakarta currently looked like a kampung (village) compared to Shanghai in China.

"If we take a better look, Jakarta looks like a kampung compared to Shanghai," Tito said. (dpk)