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Indonesia's Trajectory 2014-2019: An Insider's Forecast

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Synopsis

The release of the book ‘Toward 2014-2019: Strengthening Indonesia in a Changing World’, published by the Indonesian State Intelligence Agency (BIN), provides an interesting and important insider’s look at how Indonesia sees its role in the ASEAN region and the world stage.

Commentary

AS INDONESIA – now under the leadership of President Joko Widodo and Vice-President Jusuf Kalla – looks to the future and re-assesses its place and role in the ASEAN region and the global arena, the country’s leaders and major stakeholders have begun to forecast the likely trajectory that it will take in the years to come.

The publication of the book ‘Toward 2014-2019: Strengthening Indonesia in a Changing World’, by the Indonesian State Intelligence Agency (BIN), provides an interesting and important insider’s look at how Indonesia sees its future and what it wishes to achieve over the next five years. The fact that the book was written in English suggests that this is a text that is meant for wider consideration beyond Indonesia: Here it is clear that the Indonesian technocratic elite want their opinions to be known abroad, and taken into account.

 

Indonesia’s Assessment of The World

Initiated by the Head of the Indonesian State Intelligence Agency (BIN), Lt. Gen. (Ret.) Marciano Norman and edited by Dr Muhammad A.S. Hikam, former Minister for Research and Technology (1999-2001), the book brings together the combined research of several dozen prominent Indonesian specialists and academics, as well as the findings of many focus group discussions.

Starting from a global perspective, the book begins by offering an Indonesian assessment of the state of global affairs. Citing examples such as the Ukraine crisis and the conflict in Syria, the authors argue that ‘old world powers’ are still competing on the global geo-strategic stage. Recognising the once-pivotal role played by the United States as the only global power , the authors look at Russia, China and Europe as other sources of power , and argue that Indonesia now exists in a more complex world where alternative developmental models and paradigms present themselves.

It is in this context of an increasingly plural and complex world that Indonesia seeks to find its niche, and align itself with like-minded powers: The authors note that China – unlike the US – happens to be a major power that does not impress its value-system on other allied countries, and is able to accept diversity and difference in political-developmental models. . Conversely, the West’s promotion of democracy in situations such as the Arab Spring uprisings has not yielded clear results.

Between rhetoric about democratisation and real material benefits such as foreign investment, the authors seem more inclined towards the latter, and note that China’s investments in Asia and Africa have led to tangible material results. Thus despite whatever strategic-military reliance Indonesia may have had on its Western allies in the past, the authors veer in the direction of pragmatism and note that in the decades to come Indonesia’s main economic partners are likely to be Asian and that the country will need to fend for itself when securing its energy, food and resources security.