Analysts: The ‘Progress’ of Indonesia’s 67 Years a Complex Matter
Prominent intellectuals on Wednesday expressed optimism in Indonesia’s ability to become a more advanced country in the next decade, while acknowledging the challenges still ahead as the nation celebrates 67 years of independence on Friday.
Former chairman of the Constitutional Court Jimly Asshiddiqie said the nation had made much progress in rising to its current level from a poor country of six decades ago. But many adjustments had yet to be made in Indonesia’s transition to a democratic system of governance and the vibrant civil society that has developed.
Jimly said that in the past, a state’s actors comprised the executive, legislature, and judiciary, but in today’s globalized world, that paradigm had changed. He pointed to what he called a “new trias politica” of the state, civil society and the global market.
With that new paradigm, Jimly said, the government contributes only 33 percent of the nation’s progress, while civil society and the market split the rest. A thorough comprehension of this paradigm shift is needed if Indonesia is to elevate itself onto the plateau of advanced countries, he said.
Over the past three years, for instance, the nation’s per capita income grew to $3,542, from $2,267. The poverty rate has dropped to 11.96 percent in 2011 from almost 17 percent four years earlier.
However, Jimly cited Indonesia’s Gini coefficient, which serves as a measure of inequality and now stands at 0.41, down from last year’s position of 0.30. The coefficient calculates a zero value to be perfect equality, and 1 being absolute inequality.
While Indonesia’s impressive growth showed that the market was functioning well, rising inequality was evidence that the state was not measuring up to its duty to the people. In other words, Jimly cautioned, measuring Indonesia’s progress with growth figures does not present the full picture.
Meanwhile, the rector of Paramadina University, Anies Baswedan, said Indonesia had every reason to be optimistic, a mentality that helped forge the nation.
Anies said that in 1945, when the republic was founded, “we had every reason to be pessimistic, but in fact we were optimistic, because the nation found hope in the integrity of our leaders — the founding fathers.”
Today, despite Indonesia’s great natural and human resource potential, “there is cynicism in society, because there is a tragic lack of trust toward leaders on all levels,” he said.
In order to strengthen the nation, Anies proposed better empowering the middle class, to the extent that they would send their children to public schools and go to public hospitals when they became ill. Likewise, he said, the middle class must be encouraged to constitute the biggest segment of taxpayers so that they will defend their interest through participation in the political process.
Anies also called on the nation to pay more attention to the development of human resources, predicting that it would be brain power, not fast-depleting natural resources, that drives Indonesia’s economy and social welfare in the decades ahead.