What future for Indonesia, as New Year approaches?
Happy New Year Indonesia!
The Past, Present and the Future
It is now that time of the Julian Calendar. In a matter of a few days, out goes 2007 and in comes 2008.
For the most disconsolate Indonesian, he would look forward to 2008 with expectations for succour; a new year that would hopefully unshackle him from the misery of the past.
Coming to terms, logically.
Eric Arthur Blair, better known as George Orwell once said:
Who controls the past controls the future. Who controls the present controls the past.
At first reading, Eric Arthur Blair appeared to make sense. However, I re-read his statement several times and eventually sought the aid of Aristotelian syllogism to find its merit.
Aristotle's Categorical Syllogistic Law has two premises that brings it to a conclusion. In brief, this is the law:
- Major Premise: If (A) is predicated of all (B)
- Minor Premise: (B) is predicated of all (C)
- Conclusion: (A) is predicated of all (C)
Every logical argument can be reduced to syllogisms and every syllogism can be reduced to assertions with the subject-predicate structure. Hence, by applying Aristotle's Categorical Syllogism to Eric Arthur Blair's statement, it would read as follows:
Major Premise: Who controls the past (A) controls the future (B)
Minor Premise: And who controls the present (C) controls for the past. (A)
Conclusion : Therefore the past (A) controls the present (C)
Now, that conclusion does not make sense to me. Perhaps, it would make cynical sense if for example a remark is made such as, "Indonesia's past controls her present."
Eric Arthur Blair's over simplified statement has a syllogistic fallacy - the Fallacy of the Undistributed Middle.
My apology. I do not wish to bore you with the permutations of Aristotelean Logic. Hopefully Indonesia does not become assiduous with Eric's statement. In trying to control the past will be for naught.
Of course the Indonesians have the Pancasila. But that's for another discussion on some other other day.
Hence, what could inspire Indonesians with hope and with deeds during 2008?
Indonesians would fare better by taking the words of Thomas S. Morton:
The past is behind, learn from it.
The future is ahead, prepare for it.
The present is here, live it.
Is it possible for Indonesia to rise to the occasion and to emulate a few of their neighbouring countries?
Alvin Toffler, a world renowned futurist and an accomplished consultant to several Heads of States once said this:
The future always arrives too fast"”and in the wrong order.
Now if that be true, it would make any future look dicey; too many uncertainties and worse with events "coming in the wrong order"!
Indonesia's expediency would find a wholesome goodness in Homer's words:
Carpe diem! Seize today and put as little trust as you can in tomorrow.
or in the more emphatic marketing slogan by NIKE,
Just Do It
(and do the RIGHT THING of course!)
Excerpts gathered from the report by the European Commission - Country Strategy Paper, Indonesia 2007-2013.
Reasons to smile:
Three Major Achievements By Indonesia
- Indonesia has made substantial progress towards the full restoration of democracy, transparency and the rule of law.
- As regard the macroeconomic situation, Indonesia has made progress towards the stabilisation of the economy by reducing both its debt burden and budget deficit.
- Having completed historic elections in 1998 and 2004, Indonesia continues to manage one of modern history's most effective transitions from autocratic rule to democracy.
Reasons not to smile:
Nineteen Major Challenges
- Pervasive corruption presents the single most important obstacle in the way of advancing pro-poor economic policies, including restoration of a climate conducive for investment, the repair of the wayward legal system, the reform of the police and the armed forces, and the socially responsible management of Indonesia's unique natural heritage.
The fight against corruption is made difficult by the culture of patronage that has been the hallmark of Indonesia's body politic for over fifty years.
- Poverty remains a challenge, while unemployment and underemployment remain high. Over 110 million (nearly 50%) of Indonesians live on less than US$2 a day and are at great risk of falling below the poverty line.
- The gender-related development indicates that women still face numerous social barriers although there have been improvement in terms of women's representation in parliament, the proportion of women in senior official managerial and technical staff positions at work.
- Disparities between rich and poor, rural and urban are significant. There is a significant group of young people in Indonesia who are effectively disenfranchised for lack of access to school, illiteracy and having to work.
- While enrolment rates had improved and the gender gap had closed at primary level, 'striking inequalities remain at the junior secondary and senior secondary levels'. It also asserted that educational quality is still a major challenge. Indonesia's investment in its education system has been low compared to other countries in the region: Indonesia ranks low among its Asian neighbours in terms of its share of public education expenditures to GDP (while this ratio has now reached some 2.5-2.7%, it is still low).
- Health expenditure is only 25% of total expenditure on health, which is below the average for countries of East Asia and the Pacific (39%).
- The environmental situation remains worrying, due to a number of factors the most important of which are population growth, rapid urbanisation and failure to enforce the environmental legislation available.
- Industrial pollution and a lack of capacity for the recycling of hazardous waste are other causes of concern.
- The environmental sector is plagued by weak enforcement of environmental legislation, contradictory legislation at central, provincial and district levels and light sanctions for those breaking the law.
- Indonesia is vulnerable to climate change. Climate change may lead to an increase in extreme weather events, sea level rise and increasing droughts, thus affecting food security. The main source of greenhouse gas emissions is deforestation (Indonesia is responsible for approximately one tenth of global emissions from deforestation).
- The most pressing economic issue is job creation in order to absorb the 2.5 million new entrants on the labour market every year. The unemployment rate of young men has risen to above 25% and those of young women to above 30%. Moreover, close to 60% of the youth work in the informal economy. Most jobs in the informal economy are in low productivity activities where earnings are low and unstable.
- Recent policies have helped achieve macroeconomic stability, but more is needed in the area of structural reform. Indonesia's performance has lagged behind some of its regional partners and GDP growth remains below potential, due to investment and export weaknesses. The relatively weaker export performance compared to some other Asian countries is rooted in a number of factors, in particular declining foreign direct investment to export sectors and rising unit labour costs which have eroded cost competitiveness in the manufacturing sector.
- Several shocks to the economy have however slowed down progress, in particular the steep increase in oil prices combined with a reduction in fuel subsidies resulting in a rising inflation and financial instability at the end of 2005 (which led to a sharp depreciation in the rupiah), which necessitated substantial interest rate hikes in the final months of 2005.
- Improving the investment climate is critical in order to sustain a high growth rate. Overall Foreign Direct Investment (FDI) has not recovered since the pre-1998 crisis, and actual flows are negative up to 2003, implying asset sales by non-residents. Only in 2004, did FDI slightly recover to just above US$ 1 billion. Adverse factors that need to be tackled are:
(i) cumbersome investment procedures both at central and local levels;
(ii) weak law enforcement;
(iii) governance problems, especially in the customs and tax administrations, agencies that consistently fail to both generate revenue for the government and offer a fair treatment for investors;
(iv) unattractive labour market conditions.
- There is insufficient concentration of efforts in competitive export sectors and weak export promotion services. In addition, a number of Indonesia's export sectors are facing increased competition from China. Costs and delays in the transportation and import/export clearance process are high and there are difficulties in meeting international requirements in technical and in sanitary and phyto-sanitary standards. Technical skills in SMEs in export and marketing matters are also low.
- Legal certainty is another important related issue for economic development, and it is also a focus for the Medium Term Development Plan, where the need to continue with legal reform, particularly in the Commercial Court, is emphasized.
- Transnational crime is an issue of more general concern in Indonesia, in particular piracy in the Malacca Straits, illegal logging, money laundering, drug trafficking and trafficking in human beings.
- Progress in Human Rights has been slow and limited in tackling impunity over past human rights abuses. Although special human rights courts were set up, investigations were mostly aborted and the few convictions obtained were overturned on appeal. A critical factor limiting progress on human rights is the institutional weaknesses of the judiciary and law enforcement agencies. The elimination of torture in detention remains to be achieved.
- The legal framework for the protection of adat communities remains weak and participation of these groups in decision making could be improved.
Government rules or laws refer also to "isolated communities", reflecting the marginalisation or physical isolation of some communities, in particular in the remote parts of the Indonesian archipelago.
To the citizens of Indonesia, I wish you peace and progress throughout 2008. Even if means that you have to take baby steps to overcome those challenges; better baby steps than none at all.