Editorial

Editorial (372)

30
January

 

In 2018, Indonesia is going to host two international events, namely the 18th Asian Games from 18 August to 2 September 2018 in  Jakarta and Palembang, South Sumatra and the annual meeting of the World Bank and International Monetary Fund -IMF on October 12-18 in Bali. The government must provide a lot of funds for these two international events.

For the 2018 Asian Games, Indonesia's investment as a host reaches approximately Rp 30 trillion and the implementation of the annual meeting of the World Bank and the IMF is not so huge since it is only held in one city.

The organizing of these two international events will serve as a model to calculate the economic impact. The National Development Planning Agency -BAPPENAS is preparing a study on the economic impacts of these two international activities.

It is reasonable to calculate the impact of all costs incur, not only from the financial aspect but also the impact on multi-sectors. Head of BAPPENAS, Bambang Brodjonegoro said that the economic impact assessment of an activity needs to be done to measure how much the activity affects the domestic economy and not just from the financial aspect. He also explained that BAPPENAS will calculate the economic impact of each event twice both pra-event as a projection, and post-event as a description of the realization as well as evaluation materials.

Several countries hosting international events have undergone the study and calculation of the economic impact of each activity. Indonesia should have started to make a study of the economic impact of every international event.

The results of the study are expected to increase revenue from all sectors, not only the tourism sector of the city that hosts the implementation, but also the surrounding areas. The more expected impact, of course, is the involvement of micro, small and medium businesses in every activity.

Hopefully, the model of the study that BAPPENAS will undertake for Asian  Games and the annual meeting of World Bank and IMF can be an input for subsequent economic activities. So, every time Indonesia hosts any international activities, the economic impact will spread to many sectors.

29
January

Indonesian President, Joko Widodo conducted a series of state visits in South Asia, namely Sri Lanka, India, Pakistan and Bangladesh from 24 to 28 January 2018. In this visit, he was accompanied by several ministers of the Working Cabinet, such as Minister of Foreign Affairs Retno Marsudi, Coordinating Minister for Economic Affairs, Darmin Nasution, Minister of Trade, Enggartiasto Lukita, and Cabinet Secretary, Pramono Anung.

Sri Lanka became the first country visited by President Joko Widodo on January 24 to 25, then India on January 25-26 and Pakistan on January 26-27, and Bangladesh on 27--28 January 2018. Later from Bangladesh, President Joko Widodo resumed his trip to Afghanistan on January 29, 2018.

"Opening New Opportunities" became the theme of the President's state visit. The main focus of the visit is to enhance and develop economic cooperation with South Asia, including trade, energy, connectivity and infrastructure development.

President Joko Widodo's visit to several countries in South Asia is considered to be quite successful, resulting in some agreements on cooperation with countries visited in accordance with the theme, "Opening New Opportunities".

On the visit to Sri Lanka, President Joko Widodo agreed on a number of trade and economic cooperation with Sri Lankan President, Maithripala Sirisena.

Meanwhile in India, in addition to attending the ASEAN-India Summit, President Joko Widodo also held a bilateral meeting with Indian Prime Minister, Narendra Modi who created the same agreements.

During his visit to Pakistan, President Joko Widodo had the opportunity to speak at the National Assembly of Pakistan. In addition, in a bilateral meeting with Pakistani Prime Minister, Shahid Khaqan Abbasi, the signing of a memorandum of understanding on energy and trade was agreed. Indonesia agreed to supply Liquefied Natural Gas -LNG to Pakistan.

President Joko Widodo's visit to countries in South Asia ended in Bangladesh. After a meeting with Bangladeshi Prime Minister, Sheikh Hasina, both of them witnessed the signing of several cooperation agreements between the two countries.

In addition, President Joko Widodo also visited Rakhine State refugees, in at Cox's Bazar in Myanmar and reviewed the service activities undertaken by the Indonesian government as well as Indonesian humanitarian organizations that have been already operating there.

President Joko Widodo's visit to South Asia is very strategic and it expands Indonesia's relationship with the South Asian countries. Hopefully, this will bring about positive impact for both Indonesia and the visited countries.

26
January

aseanindiaWhile in Davos, Switzerland, the World Economic Forum-WEF was having its  annual meeting,  in Tokyo, Japan, ministers from 11 member countries of the Trans Pacific Partnership-TPP, met to continue the multilateral organization without the US.

Tuesday, January 23, Indian Prime Minister Narendra Modi in the World Economic Forum, WEF, in Davos, Switzerland, stated that the luster of globalization has now dimmed. The barrier is the protectionist attitude of some countries. Although not addressing the name, this statement is apparently aimed at the United States. Since Trump came to power, the United States has demonstrated a protective stance in trade. Among others by  abandoning the Trans Pacific Partnership (TPP) deal.

In the same forum last year, when Trump was to enter  the White House, Chinese President Xi Jin Ping had already expressed his views on free trade. Not wanting to lag behind China, this year Modi wants India to be an example of free trade by opening the door for investment.

As one of the fastest-growing countries in the BRICS group, (Brazil,  Russia, India, China, and South Africa), India feels it is lagging behind China and seeking to build partnerships with Southeast Asian countries.

Upon  returning  from Davos, in order to further strengthen cooperation with Southeast Asian countries, Modi invited 10 ASEAN countries to meet on ASEAN-India summit and to celebrate the Republic of India Day, which fell on  Friday (26 January). Despite having cultural influence in almost all ASEAN countries, and implementing  the Act East policy,  India's trade rate with ASEAN only reached 470 million US dollars in 2016-2017. That number is only one-sixth of China -ASEAN trade value.

India is trying to approach ASEAN because China has approached and been accepted in South Asia, by building infrastructure and energy in Pakistan and Sri Lanka. But some Southeast Asian countries in dispute with China, are expecting a bigger role of  India in the region.

For Indonesia, the intention of India, who does not want to lose influence in Southeast Asia and ASEAN,  is a natural thing. As a country with active  and free foreign policy, Indonesia welcomed the intention, and attended India Republic Day celebrations with a delegation led by  President Joko Widodo. But of course Indonesia does not want to wobble in other countries battle  of influence, including India and China.

25
January

 

On January 23rd, 2018, the Corruption Eradication Commission -KPK again made a surprise by deciding the status of a suspect to a regional head. The official is suspected of accepting bribes and gratuities related to the implementation of projects within his government. On the one hand, people see clearly how the capacity of the anti-corruption institution shows. The KPK is so smart, with the support of all parties, crack down those who abuse their authority. On the other hand, the question arises, why there are still those who commit corruption (?). In fact, the data of Ministry of Home Affairs shows that there have been hundreds of corruptions cases by regional heads charged by the KPK from 2004 to 2017. This should be enough to remind anyone not to take consequence.

Over the first few years of regional autonomy applied, the call of little kings for regional heads occurred. It was only natural remembering that their authority was powerful. The positive impact of the democratic spirit in the reformation era is aimed at accelerating development in each region. Each region is authorized to accelerate development in accordance with its potential. Unfortunately, temptations arise for individual or group interests. Unsurprisingly, the KPK's action to eradicate the abuse of authority by these little kings is greatly appreciated by the people of Indonesia.

Now, corruption eradication efforts do not encounter significant obstacles, as supported by all stakeholders in addition to the strength of the underlying legal basis. KPK seems to keep make breakthrough without fear in a bid to eradicate corruption. Now, the problem is that how the KPK takes preventive efforts, such as by maximizing the presence of internal monitoring units to be involved in the execution of each project.

In addition, it may be necessary to review the democratic system in the election of regional heads, especially in terms of huge costs that contestants and supporters must spend. Consequently, this brings about impact on corruption by some regional heads, both incumbent and newly elected ones.

Indeed, every country has its own uniqueness in democracy. So, the model of democracy in one country cannot be applied absolutely. But democracy should not be secretly-packed image of something bad. If this is the case, KPK's work will be endless, and this is not good news. Corruption will continue to recur if the root cause of the problem is not well identified. That’s why, this must be immediately resolved.

24
January

US Defense Secretary James Mattis made a working visit to Indonesia amid efforts to resolve the conflict in Asia.

During his visit in Jakarta, after received by Foreign Minister Retno Marsudi, James Mattis immediately met his counterpart Defense Minister Ryamizard Riyakudu. A number of issues became the attention of both government officials. As stated by Minister Ryamizard Ryacudu, they discussed among others, the two countries cooperation, North Korea, South China Sea, and Rohingya.

Against these issues, Indonesia and the United States generally can be said to have the same view. On North Korea, for example, Indonesia also hopes that Pyongyang will stop its nuclear test. Related to Rohingya refugees, like Indonesia, the United States sees the need for handling efforts with attention to the human side.

The United States Defense Secretary also pays attention to trilateral talks between Indonesia, Malaysia and the Philippines. James Mattis expressed the US commitment to support the three countries' defense cooperation in Southeast Asia, especially in handling the entry of ISIS into Southeast Asia. Washington's support was made on the similarity that terrorism should be prevented from spreading.

James Mattis' visit to Indonesia, in addition to being viewed from the perspective of various issues, has also become important regarding the follow-up of bilateral cooperation in the field of defense. As is known, Indonesia and the US have agreed on defense cooperation through the Join Statement in Comprehensive Defense Corporation, signed in October 2015, when President Joko Widodo visited Washington. The commitment of the cooperation was reaffirmed when President Jokowi met President Donald Trump on the sidelines of the G 20 summit in Germany last year.

During this time more than 6,000 Indonesian Military and civil servants have studied in the US. Meanwhile, at least 61 US officers have had the opportunity to attend the Indonesian Military (TNI) Staff and Command School in Indonesia.

It is within this framework that the visit of James Mattis to Jakarta this time can be seen as strategic enough to enhance mutual understanding between the two countries . Particularly in the form of defense dialogue and enhance the cooperation that is realized in concrete activities.

23
January

 

Food, especially rice has remained the main need of Indonesian people up to now. Thus, food sovereignty becomes one of the agendas in the National Medium Term Development Plan for 2015-2019.

At the Opening of the National Congress of HIPMI XV in Bandung, West Java on January 12, 2015, President Joko Widodo urged Minister of Agriculture to be self-sufficient in food within the next three years, which means this year 2018. Self-sufficiency starts from rice, and then the next one is other foods. On that occasion, President Joko Widodo believed there would be no rice import after three years.

In fact, price hike of rice has risen significantly since December 2017. Ministry of Trade decided to import rice of 500 thousand tons targeted to arrive in Indonesia by the end of January 2018. Later, the government's plan to import rice by the end of January is considered too close with a harvest that will fall in March 2017. There is a possibility that the distribution of imported rice will actually make the rice farmers disadvantaged.

Quoting the report of liputan6.com on January 16, 2018, rice import is conducted to ensure the availability of rice supply across Indonesia and reduce the price of rice in the market. The price of rice has risen because of inaccurate rice production data. An agricultural observer of the Faculty of Agriculture at Bogor Agricultural Institute, Prof. Dwi Andreas Santosa views that the price hike of rice can be overcome if the available data is accurate. So far, the rice prices have often risen because production data and consumption are not correct.

Meanwhile, member of Indonesian Ombudsman, Ahmad Alamsyah Saragih stated that the Ministry of Agriculture stated that so far the production of rice is surplus and stock is enough. However, the statement is based only on estimates of harvested area and grain production, without concrete amount and distribution of rice stocks.

Actually, the data believed to be accurate, especially related to the availability of rice, can be seen from price movements. The basic principle taken is a balance between demand and supply, which is generally applied. The more rice stock is, the lower the rice price is, and vice versa. Inaccurate data related to national rice stocks needs to be fixed immediately, because this has the potential to make the government take wrong policies. In regard to this, the Ombudsman advised the government to provide strong support for the Central Bureau of Statistics -BPS in a bid to issue more accurate data on rice production and stock.

It is time for the government, mainly the Ministry of Agriculture, to evaluate the data sources used as the basis of national food policies. The policies should be based on research results according to the facts on the field instead of estimate only. So, there will be no more policies that may make the farmers disadvantaged.

22
January

Infrastructure development continues to be sped up by the government of President Joko Widodo and Vice President Jusuf Kalla, especially for areas outside of Java. During the period 2015-2019, the government targets the development of infrastructure covering 1.000 kilometers of toll roads, 2.650 kilometers of new roads, 30 kilometers of new bridges and 65 dams.

 

In early 2018, there are several infrastructure projects that have been built by the government, such as toll roads, railways, dams, airports, housing complex and cross border posts.

 

The newly-inaugurated development project by President Joko Widodo on Sunday (21/1/2018) is the initial toll road of Bakauheni-Terbanggi Besar in Bakauheni district, South Lampung regency. This is the first toll road in Lampung province.

The ready-to-operate toll road is the one of Bakauheni Harbor-Simpang Susun Bakauheni covering 8.9 kilometers and the toll road of Simpang Susun Lematang-Simpang Susun Kotabaru covers 5.5 kilometers.

 

Since their initial reins of government, even before being elected as president and vice president of Indonesia, Joko Widodo (Jokowi) and Jusuf Kalla (JK) have already launched a program called Nawa Cita or nine- priority agenda for the road of change towards being politically sovereign, economically independent and culturally personalized for Indonesia.

 

One of the Nawa Cita's programs is to enhance people's productivity and competitiveness in international markets so that Indonesian nation can move forward and rise in a bid to be equal as advanced Asian nations. This can be done by building infrastructure not only in Java but also outside Java, such as Sumatra, Kalimantan, Sulawesi and Papua.

 

The existence of infrastructure is believed to speed up economic growth and reduce regional inequalities. In addition, the infrastructure development must be carried out to win the competition against other countries.

 

What the government of Joko Widodo and Jusuf Kalla has done is worth being supported by all stakeholders. All of the toll roads, airports, and seaports can all be a means of pressuring prices and accelerating the flow of logistics. This will greatly affect Indonesia's competitiveness internationally. (Trans by Rhm)

19
January

At the end of 2010, a wave of revolutions in the form of demonstrations and protests for the change of government, whether peacefully or not, struck some of Middle East and African countries. The occurrence, known as "Arab Spring", originated in Tunisia precisely on December 17, 2010. A few days later, entering the year 2011, the Tunisian government led by Zine el Abidin Ben Ali collapsed. Tunisia also experienced the most democratic transitions and political changes compared to other Arab countries, which were then also affected by Arab Spring. At that time, the ruling regime was overthrown without bloodshed and civil war.

 

But what happened in Tunisia last week, when commemorating the fall of the Ben Ali regime 7 years ago, was a mass demonstration against price and tax increases. Before this demonstration, a protester was killed on Monday, January 8th. The unrest prompted the government to send troops to several areas in Tunisia, and arrested nearly 800 people, including opposition leaders.

 

The act of protest occurred when the Tunisian government announced and provided a "new year gift" in the form of fuel price adjustment and some consumer goods starting January 1, 2018. In addition, some types of taxes and tariffs such as car taxes, telephone rates and internet also rose.

 

Following the demonstration, the Tunisian government also offered a social reform scheme that has been submitted to the parliament, in the form of medical care reforms, housing and assistance to the poor. So far, the government programs have not been able to overcome unemployment and poverty, including unable to restore the tourism industry, after being hit by terror attacks to foreign tourists 3 years ago. Tunisian Prime Minister, Yousef Chahed is trying to convince his citizens that 2018 is the last year of trouble in the country. But it seems that the Tunisian opposition is dissatisfied with the programs offered and urges to stage rally against the government.

 

The escalating violent act in Tunisia that has previously experienced a peaceful transition is alarming. The Tunisian government and the opposition should negotiate a peaceful solution. Solving the problem with the "Tunisian tradition" such as the toppling of the Ben Ali regime 7 years ago should be carried out in a bid to avoid violence, such as bloodshed that may pose casualties.

18
January

3rd Reshuffle Cabinet

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Published in Editorial

During the period of his government that began in 2014, President Joko Widodo has reshuffled his cabinet for the third times on Wednesday 17 January. There was a change of ministers; They are Idrus Marham replacing Kofiffah Indarparawangsa who resigned as Minister of Social Affairs, General TNI (Ret.) Moeldoko as Chief of Staff of President replacing Teten Masduki, Agum Gumelar as a member of the Presidential Advisory Council replacing Hasyim Muzadi.In addition, the President also inaugurated Marshal Madya, Yuyu Sutisna as Air Force Chief of Staff.

Related to reshuffle head of presidential staff, President Joko Widodo said that the presence of Teten Masduki remains within the palace, but now he becomes the special staff coordinator but in detail his duty will be submitted by the Secretary of State. With the change of position, President Joko Widodo views that Teten Masduki will continue to be close to himself, specifically in the execution of the duties of the president.

After the inauguration, Chief of Presidential Staff, Moeldoko said that he had communicated with Teten Masduki to continue the work programs that exist in the institution of the Presidential Staff. Moeldoko’s communications are done to consolidate a number of work programs at the new institution in his office. It is intended that all the national work programs of government’s Nawa Cita can be completed in 2019.

Meanwhile, Deputy Speaker of the House of Representatives DPR, Agus Hermanto views that the cabinet reshuffle will not change the political constellation.He also pointed out that Idrus Marham and Khofifah are both supporters of Jokowi-Jusuf Kalla. Agus Hermanto sees little change in the position of Minister of Social Affairs from Khofifah Indarparawangsa to Idrus Marham. Agus assessed that the cabinet reshuffle is the prerogative of the President.

Indeed, the 3rd cabinet reshuffle does  not change significantly in the performance of the government. The purpose of the cabinet reshuffle is certainly to improve the performance of the cabinet ministers of government in the implementation of the Nawa Cita programs of the government. We can see that the positions are replaced by many vacant positions such as Social Affairs Minister, Presidential Advisory Board, and Air Force Chief of Staff. So politically, this does not disturb the work programs of Nawa Cita. In addition, it seems that President Joko Widodo does not want political turmoil in his government. Because the year -2018 is called as a kind of political year that he says at every opportunity. So, the stability and harmony of the cabinet in the government must continuously be maintained. In addition, the increasing number of ex-military elements within the government indicates the importance of strong people from the established environment in maintaining the stability of the situation and the field conditions in completing the government's work programs until 2019.

17
January

At least 20 countries on Tuesday  held  a High Level Conference discussing the two Korean conflict in Vancouver, Canada. In the meeting initiated by the United States and Canada, the start of the talks was still focused on imposing sanctions on North Korea, for its activities in conducting nuclear tests. Perhaps that is why, China was not invited in Vancouver. As is known, Beijing is North Korea's major ally and trade partner.

The China’s absence  may  related to  US and Japanese statements before the conference. They insisted that the conference would focus on sanctions imposed on North Korea, rather than seeking solutions to the feud between the two nations living on the same peninsula. Japanese government sources said that countries in the world need to force the North Korean government to change its policies. By  maximizing  pressure through all available means, including through full implementation of United Nations Security Council resolutions.

On the other hand, it is still possible that  the Vancouver summit would  come up with another solution that leads to both Koreas’ peace move. Host of the Conference, Canadian Foreign Minister Christia Freeland, as reported by Vietnamese radio, had been in talks with her South Korean counterpart Kyung-wha on various issues including bilateral relations.

On the sidelines of the summit yesterday, Foreign Minister Freeland revealed the possibility of a diplomatic solution to solve the North Korean nuclear test problem. On the same day, Foreign Minister Freeland also held a separate meeting with the Japanese Foreign Minister, Taro Kono. From these facts, there appeared to be an attempt to resolve the crisis of North and South Korea through a diplomatic approach.

The efforts of a truly diplomatic solution are still open. North Korea and South Korea on Tuesday 9 January seemed to have a similar view about the need for military talks, to ease tensions between the two countries. As reported by the BBC, South Korea called on North Korea to end hostile acts that could escalate tensions, while North Korea agreed to the need of a peaceful atmosphere on the Korean Peninsula.

It remains to be seen whether the summit in Vancouver could help both Koreans solve their problems or not. Apparently, the key is in the United States that hosted the meeting with  Canada. If Washington persists in its policy, diplomatic efforts may still be difficult to achieve. While the shift in Washington's stance is likely to change Beijing's position as Pyongyang's main ally. It is undeniable that the two Koreas can not be separated from the influence of the United States and China.