Detail Column

Celebrating Indonesia’s independence in 2044

18 August 2011


Celebrating Indonesia’s independence in 2044

Agus Pakpahan, Jakarta | Thu, 08/18/2011 7:00 AM


When I graduated from college in 1978 — 33 years ago — I was told that by 2000 Indonesia would have joined the ranks of developed countries. Unfortunately this did not materialize.

What are the main causes of Indonesia’s failure to reach the coveted status today, after 66 years of independence, while it took our neighbors a far shorter time?

The problem is that development has so far been regarded more as producing goods or services rather than improving human and institutional capabilities.

Therefore, we may have a trade account surplus, but suffer a huge deficit in the service account. The only surplus in the service account is for migrant workers remittance and travel (tourism). In addition, surplus in trade is dominated by conventional products that rely on cheap labor and natural resources.

I consider the economic process an evolutionary course of cultural change. Culture changes very slowly. It takes generations to absorb cultural change. It is believed that cultural change will transform almost everything in both human and national life.

One of the most important factors our country has missed in the past, and even to the present time, are the learning mechanisms that enrich cultural exchanges among diverse cultural groups in Indonesia.

In fact, the process of cultural enrichment is inhibited by the domination of certain cultural powers that are strengthened by specific power structures.

The domination and structural bias creates the weaknesses of the present situation.

One of the sources of fire that will spark potential future conflicts that could endanger the unity of Indonesia is the emerging cultural hopelessness among the majority of people. The domination of a certain cultural group in economic, political or military fields will be interpreted as no future for those considered outsiders.

When the majority of people begin to feel they have no future, the nation is in danger. This feeling will divide the former cultural cohesiveness into a new form of cultural uncertainty. The emergence of terrorism, I believe, has been induced by cultural hopelessness and cultural uncertainty.

To ensure a better future for Indonesia, we have to go back to the basics. We have to throw away the feelings of superiority or inferiority over one or another cultural group and recreate the feeling of brotherhood among all groups in Indonesia.

Local autonomy must be interpreted as a new vehicle to build a stronger Indonesia. A strong central government is needed to protect all cultural groups under the Bhinneka Tunggal Ika (Unity in Diversity) principle. Indonesia is for all and all for Indonesia.

In order to improve a new cultural process of development, we need to develop a new structure of rules of representation of all cultural groups in Indonesia, which will enable them to fully participate in decision making processes.

In the current political power constellation we have the Regional Representatives Council (DPD), which represents regional or local interests, and the House of Representatives (DPR), which represents the interests of political parties. We may say that the DPD is the direct political protector of Bhinneka Tunggal Ika, but unfortunately its political power is limited compared to its responsibilities.

Given the frame of thought followed by its implementation, I believe the current generation will positively contribute to our country. Indonesia is not a homogenous geographic territory, in almost every aspect, especially cultural heritage. By seeing development not as a process of producing goods and services, but as a means of progress, people can move forward in line with what the Constitution has mandated.

Cultural resources are dynamic, but their principles are not. Bhinneka Tunggal Ika is the spirit to build Indonesia as one nation and one united country dotted by cultural groups that resemble “shareholders” in a corporation.

Reinterpretation of the meaning of that spirit is necessary from time to time to determine more constructive approaches and better interpretations of what this country is for.

We have to work very hard over the next 33 years if we wish to witness our next generation celebrate the 99th anniversary of Indonesian independence in 2044 as a stronger and more prosperous nation.

The writer is a researcher and chairman of the Union of Associations of Indonesian Estate Crops Farmers.



sumber : paper edition The Jakarta Post