World Economic Forum on East Asia: Our thoughts

Impressions - World Economic Forum on East Asia 2011

President Soesilo Bambang Yudhoyono officially opened the World Economic Forum (WEF) on East Asia in Jakarta on Sunday 12 June 2011 which was closed on the following day. More than 500 leaders from government, business, media, civil society and academia were engaged in various sessions to address some of the most pressing issues the world is now dealing with. The choice of Indonesia as the host country should be perceived as a good indication of the significance of Indonesia’s role in the world forum. Indonesia’s positions as a member of G20 and the chair of ASEAN demonstrate its regional influence. What can Indonesia learn from WEF on East Asia?

The GoLive Indonesia Project collaborating with Persatuan Pelajar Indonesia Australia (PPIA or Australia-Indonesia Student Association) at the University of Adelaide organised their second academic workshop. The workshop was held just one day after the World Economic Forum (WEF) on East Asia came to a close. The time of the event which was during the exam period did not stop the enthusiasm of participants to get engaged in the dialogue.

Risti Permani, a Postdoctoral Research Fellow at School of Economics at the University of Adelaide gave an introduction of the WEF. She highlighted that  under the theme “Responding to the New Globalism”, WEF on East Asia promoted a new idea of globalism.

Globalism has now moved beyond trade.It is also about political, economic, industrial, environmental and social agendas in the global economy.

Risti emphasised that responding to various global challenges simply means understanding that each of us might have different views of what was the most important issue for us (read more here).  Given global connectivity, a country’s priority can affect the welfare of other countries. Therefore, the spirit of promoting dialogue between global community leaders as demonstrated by the WEF is exactly what is needed. Risti also quoted Prof Klaus Schwab, the founder and Chairman of the WEF, “the number-one risk is deglobalization – the failure of the global system to cope with the complex issues we are confronted with.” Clearly, solving global issues requires global actions.

The workshop participants also watched Youtube videos presenting interviews at the social media corner at WEF on East Asia in Jakarta 12-13 June 2011.

Marty Natalegawa, Minister of Foreign Affairs of Indonesia, highlighted the importance of cooperation between countries in the East Asian region to tackle problems and grab opportunities.

John Riady, Director of Lippo Group, talked about the role of social media and argued that social media is here to stay and the only question is how we can adapt to it and use it properly.

Participants provided some excellent responses. Timbul Hutahean agreed upon the importance of communication between countries as one country’s policy can affect other country’s welfare as in the case of recent incident of animal welfare where Australian cattle have been subjected to cruel treatment at Indonesian abattoirs (read more here). Sisca Wijayanti raised concern over the Indonesian Government’s unclear priority. Chandra Wibowo provided an excellent response to Sisca’s question by referring to Presidential Instruction (Instruksi Presiden) Number 1 Year 2010. Little that we knew that the government has actually listed these aspects as its priorities:

  1. bureaucracy reform and good governance;
  2. education;
  3. health;
  4. poverty;
  5. food security;
  6. infrastructure;
  7. investment climate and business climate;
  8. energy;
  9. environment and natural disaster management;
  10. isolated, forefront, country’s border and post-conflict areas

Some participants viewed that these priorities can sometimes be conflicting. For example, between food security and self-sufficiency.

All participants agreed that the number one priority must be “bureaucracy reform and good governance”. Without it, Indonesia cannot afford to run various development programs. They viewed that increasing salary of government officials as has been done by former Finance Minister Sri Mulyani is an important step to combat corruption. However, there is a necessity to improve the system which at the moment still leaves room for corruption. Participants agreed that Indonesia’s corruption is a result of a bad combination between poor systems (auditing etc) and weak law enforcement.

Bagus Wicaksena highlighted Indonesia’s success in improving its Global Competitiveness Index. The country now ranks 44th among 139 economies. Yet, there are still many challenges that Indonesia must face. One example is the lack of infrastructure. Risti Permani reinforced the importance of learning from other countries for example from India (read more here).

Andri Kusdianto suggested that Indonesia should run a ‘WEF-like national dialogue’. The idea is to invite business leaders, regional government leaders across provinces, community leaders, academia, researchers, etc to sit together and discuss our national agenda or challenges. Lukman Fathorani replied that the Indonesian government through BAPPENAS actually has ‘Musrembang’. The fact that most of the participants were not aware of this event indicated that it must have been lacking of socialisation. The lack of social media strategies could potentially be one of the factors. We do not need to reinvent the wheel, but obviously something has to be improved!

Participants also viewed that it is important to acknowledge the government’s achievement for example in poverty reduction. The progress which is normally indicated by a decrease in percentage should be perceived cautiously. As we know, there is about 14% of Indonesian population still living under the poverty line, but if we multiply the percentage with the total population of Indonesia (ie over 230 million), that’s still a lot! Number does matter too.

Join us at the next PPIA academic workshop!

*This article is prepared by Risti Permani.



Filed under Economic Integration, Indonesia, PPIA academic discussion, WEF

2 responses to “World Economic Forum on East Asia: Our thoughts

  1. Pingback: GoLive Indonesia talked about WEF on East Asia « Indonesian Labour Studies (ILS)

  2. bwicaksena

    Good job Mba Risti. In addition, the idea of new globalism should heed not only on global trading system and investment integration, but also how to work together in combating corruption. From my point of view, Indonesia should take this momentum (WEF) since corruption has been the key factor impeding Indonesia’s achievement and economic growth.

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