71 Years Old Indonesia: Problems and National Contemplations

71 Years Old Indonesia: Problems and National Contemplations

Happy 71st Independence Day, Indonesia. On the last August 17 2016, the society was colored by various ceremonies, festivals, carnivals, “Pesta Rakyat”, etc.  All of these celebrations were dedicated to commemorate Indonesia struggle to raise the Red White Flag. But, are we really independent? Do we really stand on our own feet?

I have stated in my last article in Republika that Indonesia is in the new hard times. First year of President Joko Widodo is pretty complicated. There are several problems that year by year added by the others before some of them were done by solutions. There are several things that I call as “National Problems” which Indonesia has to overcome and “be independent from”.

First, the National Economic Problems. This is related to a demand for Indonesia to create and enhance a Realistic and Honest Budget; a fight to neo-colonialism; and a fight to corruption. Economic Crisis has taken part in Indonesia’s first strategic policy. Since President Joko Widodo first year as president, inflation climbed in large part because of higher food prices (especially rice), and growth slowed due to declining competitiveness, difficult global conditions, and China’s deceleration, resulting in large layoffs of Indonesian factory workers. The government then tackled the issue by reshuffling the cabinet and brought in a new economic team that within the short space of six weeks announced five reform packages designed to improve competitiveness, revive investment, and arrest the growth slowdown.

We hope that Sri Mulyani’s role as the new Minister of Finance could be a chance for Indonesia to boost its economic development. President Joko Widodo needs person like Sri Mulyani with her experiences in Word Bank and also as Indonesia former finance minister to drive Indonesia reform agenda. She may be able to fulfill our high hopes on the government. It will depend much on the working coordination between the new finance minister forges with both President, Darmin Nasution as the economic coordinating minister, the legislatives, and also the stakeholders which come from both Indonesia’s and foreign investment. But, getting along with the parliament is very important regarding to the budgeting problem which Sri Mulyani stated as “non realistic” budget.

The Tax Amnesty regulation could be a solution. As we notice in the worldwide, that there’s a continuum of tax-avoidance, tax-evasion strategies, so there are things that are clearly illegal—having tax and income and failing to report it on your tax return—and then there’s a big gray area where you try to disconnect yourself from your wealth, like putting it in shell companies, trusts, and foundations. These cases were the driving forces for Indonesia’s policy about Tax Amnesty. Indonesia should soon bring “Tax Amnesty Policy” to its best performance.

The second problem is the National Integrity which nowadays concerns to Papua. Regional dissatisfactions in eastern Indonesia can’t be ignored and has to be done with trust and confidence building measures between parties. This is the challenge for Wiranto as the new coordinating political, legal and security affairs minister. Hipolitus Wangge from Marthinus Academy on his article in thejakartapost.com stated that there are two prominent issues related to Papua and the regional dissatisfactions issues which are: 1) the internationalization of the Papua issue across the South Pacific under the Melanesian Spearhead Group (MSG); and 2) the unresolved human rights issues and serious underdevelopment in Papua.

This is a very serious concern for Indonesia regarding to Wiranto’s history and his negative reputation in East Timor 1999 and Biak Massacre 1998. These reputations are contrasted with the long-overdue spirit of reform needed to deal with human rights issues in Indonesia’s easternmost region. Nobody wants this would detain his ministerial efforts to deal with gross human rights violations in Papua.

The third problem is National Youth which is related to the Drugs Trafficking Conspiracies that came to the surface after Freddy Budiman’s testimonies which stated a rumor that some of government and/or law apparatus “oknum” also played a role on drugs trafficking conspiracy in Indonesia. Right or wrong about this rumor is depend on the government efforts on fighting the drugs trafficking in Indonesia. Government should strengthen and enhance its strategies to fight the “drugs cartel” in Indonesia. Indonesia should investigate the drugs channels of trade (access, illegal harbors, law “oknum”, etc) that come “in and out” of Indonesia.

The fourth problem is focused on our National Identity which related to our national history and also has a correlation to the news nowadays about dual citizenship. It just needs two persons; a “20 days” minister Arcandra Tahar and a Paskibraka Team candidate Gloria to trigger Indonesia contemplates a rethinking on its citizenship regulation. We should contemplate, what makes Indonesia, “Indonesia”? The government must build a strong and enhanced national identity which based on our constitution. Arcandra Tahar and Gloria are only two examples about how national identity is not always parallel with state identity.

These four problems are headed to one question, “Are we really independent, yet? Do we really stand on our own feet?” These four are the national problems which mean also ours. These could not be overcome only by government itself or the society itself. There must be a true national “gotong royong” which include all levels of Indonesians and include all aspects; education, socio-culture, politics and law enforcement, etc. Then we hope that Indonesia will (always) be a better place for its people to live in, to depend on, and to pray for. Happy Independence day, Indonesia!

 *) Azhari Setiawan is researcher at Postgraduate Program of International Department, Universitas Indonesia and researcher at FAIR (Forum for Academician of International Relations) Riau.

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