Taylor in his book, Indonesia: the peoples and histories, refers to the nation as the largest Muslim nation in the world (page). Indonesia is located in present day Southeast Asia and Oceania and is officially referred to as the Republic of Indonesia. On the other hand, Vickers (1) refers to Indonesia as the fourth largest country in the world. According to Vickers, it is the fourth largest country in the world with a total population of 220 million people. It is worth noting that it is among the most populous nations in the world and shares a border with several countries, Malaysia, East Timor and Papua New Guinea among them (Yudhoyomo). The nation is also known for the several islands numbering about 13,000 resulting to the popular name of archipelago. The following paper will look into the state of Indonesia’s economic productivity, trade, demographic data, health and environment issues, government and security, low intensity warfare, place in history and the different neoliberal development impacts. Indonesia is also the home of several religious groups and people with the archipelago making it a very significant region in terms of trade with foreigners.
Theme: A Growing Tourist Attraction Destination
As will be discussed later in this presentation, Indonesia is rapidly becoming a tourist destination, with several tourists across the globe preferring to visit its beautiful scenes which, no doubt, will attract a tourist once again. The nation of more than 220 million people, Indonesia presents Lake Toba which is situated on the island of Sumatra. The other attraction sites include the Tanjung National park, the Baliem Valley in the highlands of New Guinea, Mount Bromo, Bunaken located at the north of the island of Sulawesi, Torajaland which is a highland region of South Sulawesi, Gili Islands, Komodo national park, Borobudur and Bali, known as one of the most popular islands destination in the world.
The private sector as well as the government is key players in the economic progress of Indonesia. As it was mentioned earlier it has a mixed economy and is regarded as the largest economy in Southeast Asia. Statistic release in 2010 illustrates that its GDP was US$700 billion. There have been indications by researchers that the country will perform better in the next ten years as a result of strong economic links being put in place by the government. This also includes its vital role in agricultural products and services offered to the citizens and the whole population. It is also among the top countries that are involved in exportation of products globally. However, the periods of political instability in the early 1960’s played a great part on limiting the positive growth of the country’s economy (US Department of State). This was in result of the government being young and inexperienced.
About fifty percent of workers in Indonesia are located in the agriculture sector and this contributes to about twenty percent of the GDP, according to statistics released in 2001. The country is divided into three major types of farming, and this involves small holder farming which basically focus on growing rice, small holder cash cropping and several foreign, as well as private owned, estates that focus on the production of crops for export. Small farmers produce rice, vegetables and fruits in large quantity and more that twenty percent of this is usually directed for export (Vickers page). The most important estate grown crops include tobacco, rubber, sugar, palm oil, hard fibre, tea, cocoa and coffee.
The expansion of arable acreage is focussing on sustaining the growing population in the country. This has been envisioned through improved farm technology and extension of the irrigation scheme. Rice is considered as the staple food in Indonesia and its production has been recently increasing. Consequently, the government has indicated that the production is likely to meet the high consumption rate (EmporikiBank). The government has also been involved in the rice economy, managing the stability of prices to the urban consumers with an aim of expanding domestic output. On the other hand, corn was also seen as the major producer of calories in some major provinces.
There are several people from Indonesia who have contributed to the invention industry, and they include B.J Habibie, Khoirul Anwar, and Nelson Tansu among others. For instance, Habibie was involved in great contribution in the aviation industry making about 46 patents, while Anwar was involved in the patent of OFDM-based 4G technology with Nelson Tansu contributing to methods of emitting laser. Some other inventions that have been made include nuclear waste materials done by Yudi Utomo Imarjoko.
Tourism is considered as a major boost in the Indonesian economy and is a reat earner of foreign exchange to the country. Most tourists who visit the country come from neighbouring Singapore and Malaysia with the government being involved in branding. Some of the major attractions include the well preserved natural ecosystem with rainforests, the dive sites, surf brakes, national parks, and volcanoes not to mention the significant contribution of cultural tourism (Vickers page). The more than three hundred ethnic groups in Indonesia is a perfect attraction of tourists in the country.
Trade in Indonesia
The international economy has greatly affected the positive growth of Indonesian economy. There have been several programs established by the government towards ensuring that trade has been uplifted in the country. It is also important to state that the agricultural sector in the country comprises of about twenty percent of the DP. In terms of international trade, Indonesia is a member of the WTO and ASEAN association, an indication that the nation has no restrictions to foreign trade. There is a positive indication of the trade balance in the country. The three major export partners who play a vital role in trade balance are Japan, China and South East Asia. The commodities which comprise the export goods include mineral fuels and oils, nuclear reactors, as well as boilers and rubber. Others include iron and steel, electric & electronic equipment and organic chemicals.
On the other hand, there are goods that are imported into the country, including machinery and other equipments, chemicals, fuels and foodstuffs. Cotton apparel and natural rubber are exported to the United States in large quantities while statistics indicate that corn, generators and cooper are the leading and fast growing imports of Indonesia from the United States. In 2006, for instance, Indonesia exported more than US$13.4billion worth of merchandise to the United States, while imports from the United States rose to $3.1 billion in 2006. Indonesian imports from the United States include soybeans, raw cotton, corn, chemicals, plastic materials, pulpwood, dairy products, manmade cloths, organic chemicals and drilling and oilfield equipments (US Department of State). The fastest growing Indonesian imports from the United States include corn, generators and accessories, copper, trucks, buses and special purpose vehicles, as well as glass plates and sheets. The largest proportion of exports includes cotton apparel and household furnishings, natural rubber and gums, fish and shellfish, car parts and accessories among others.
According to the census that was released in 2010, the population was estimated to be 237 million with the population growth being estimated to increase tremendously in the coming years. The world most populous island is located in Indonesia and is known as Java, where half the population are known to be residing in. An estimated increase of up to 50 million people is expected by 2050. There are several different languages and dialects in Indonesia, most are descendants from the Austronesia speaking peoples. Java is also considered as the most populated area in the world (US library page). There are six major religions that are recognized by the state.
These religions include Protestants, Catholics, Hindu, Islam, Buddhism and Confucianism. The freedom to religion has been guaranteed by the constitution. There are about 300 distinctive native ethnicities with about 742 different languages and dialects. The Javanese are considered to be the largest ethnic group in Indonesia. The Javanese comprise of about 42 percent of the total population. In terms of ethnic setting, the Javanese constitute about 40 percent of the total population, the Sundanese about 15 percent, while the Madurese about 3.3 percent. Indonesian is the official language of the nation with Muslims forming the major proportion of religious views in the country. There are also local languages with the most prevalent being the Javanese (Vickers pages). The agricultural sector leads as the most populous workforce with about 42 percent being in that sector, followed by the industry sector with twelve percent and the service sector comprising of 44 percent.
The Sunni form the large part of Muslims in Indonesia, with the other religions comprising of a small number. There are about thirty three major provinces in Indonesia, with West Java being the most populated among them with an estimated population of about 43 million followed by East Java with a population of about 37 million and Central Java with 32 million. Jakarta is the largest city with a population of 9,5 million, according to the statistics released in 2010 census. In terms of the literacy level, those who are aged fifteen years and above can read and write. Unlike several countries where education is free, Indonesia is not the case, and children have the obligation of having to go through grade 9.
Health and Environment
According to Febriedethan, Indonesia is a tropical country that that has dry and wet seasons (page). The author notes that both seasons are usually accompanied by major diseases. For instance, malaria is one of the common diseases experienced during the tropical season. It affects birds, monkeys, as well as human beings. The symptoms include fever, sweating and chills. The other disease is Dengue Fever that is characterized with fever, extreme pain and the eruption of the skin. Other diseases include intestinal worms, hepatitis, tuberculosis and typhoid fever which can be circulated through drinks and food.
Indonesia recorded a higher mortality rate among children in 1989 which stood at 97 per cent in 1000 children than 46 percent for 1000 children in 2003. The government has been praised for reducing the mortality rate among children by 2015. On the other hand, plants have been noted to be in the great danger as a result of intrinsic biological factors and habitat loss. The other factor that is an ecological threat to the country is overexploitation and natural factors. In his article, Muhammad notes that Indonesia lost about 24 islets in the period 2005-2007 and this was largely due to climate change in the country (page). There has also been a higher rate of deforestation in the country resulting to more than 77 million hectares of the land being left in critical position (Muhammad page). In 2006, for instance, more than 5,000 people died due to 840 ecological disasters and 1,140 people were reported missing in the periods 2006-2007.
Government and Security
According to the 1945 constitution, Indonesia is a republic with the executive, legislature and the judicial service sharing powers between them. Several changes have taken place in the country since President Suharto resigned from office in 1998 which resulted in several political reforms. The president of the nation can only rule for a maximum of ten years which is the two terms of five years each (Manning 122). The bicameral legislative system was adopted in 2004 following the formation of the Regional Representative Council where each of the 33 provinces has four representatives each to the DPR.
The government is headed by the President and Vice President elected on a five year term. The last elections in the country were held in 2009 and the president is the head of the state and the commander in chief of the armed forces. He is also mandated to elect a cabinet that helps him in the daily running of the government. Furthermore, member of the Cabinet do not necessarily have to be members of the legislative assembly (Manning 122). The current President is Susilo Bambang Yudhoyono who is assisted by Professor Boediono. They are members of the Democratic Party Coalition.
Security in Indonesia has long been a subject of debate as a result of the problem in some parts of the archipelago where there have been religious wars. On the other hand, the government in recent past has put in measures after the bombings that were witnessed in the islands of Bali in 2002. However, the country is still in danger due to the several activities by terrorist groups and the terrorist training ground in Indonesia where people are known to come out and carry out suicide bomb attacks. Despite the promises to combat corruption that were the platform of President Yudhoyono election campaign, corruption has remained a great challenge to the government. Corruption continues to engulf major institutions with the police force being the most affected.
According to statistics released in 1997, most women from Indonesia in their twenties were reported to be in prostitution in neighbouring Saudi Arabia. Hughes et al. on Factbook on Global Sexual Exploitation further notes that more than 600 women were raped in the periods of 1990-1997, which occurred as a result of military personnel being involved. In response, the Independent National Committee was formed by the then President, B.J. Habibie and who was to be handed the report of the findings (Hughes et al). The government condemned the rape cases as the inhuman episode in the history of the nation.
Low Intensity Warfare
Edward Aspinall in his report states that Indonesia has long been known for serious ethnic conflicts as well as several communal conflicts. The episode leading to ethnic conflicts gained momentum following the resignation of President Suharto in 1998. Most provinces in the country recorded a serious incidence of violence. In some provinces, for instance, those who had well established themselves through settlements were killed, while others were driven away. In recent years, however, progress has been made and little ethnic divide was witnessed being caused by national politics. The tensions can be justified as a result of Indonesia being known as the world’s greatest multi-ethnic society.
Wilson notes that there were several violent conflicts that were characterized as being separatists as well as communal in nature (page). The conflicts were geared towards bringing the needed reforms that were witnessed under the rule of President Suharto. The Human rights record in Indonesia has not been that encouraging leading to a global negative perception of the country. Brundige et al state that West Papua has been subjected to years of suffering, as well as horrible abuses since Indonesia gained full control of it. The several violent acts witnessed in West Papua have been caused by the Indonesian military. The military have hence carried out human abuses through subjecting Papuan men and women to rape cases, sexual violence, disappearance and acts of torture. Environmental harm has been caused to the region as a result of destroying the resources and crops of West Papua.
Â The Human Rights Watch in the 2007 report illustrated the continued concern on the slow pace of reforms, as well as the imposition of the death penalty which has seen several citizens being denied the right to express themselves, as well as the right for the free religious expression. Impunity violations have also occurred in Nanggroe Aceh Darussalam (NAD) and Papua. The death penalty came under much scrutiny as a result of several people being killed by the act. Minority Christians in Indonesia did not have an easy ride in this populous Muslim nation. For instance, in 2005, several of them were attacked in Poso. Furthermore, Christian girls had also been beheaded in the same year as a result of being minority in a large Muslim country.
Place in History
Indonesia was a Dutch colony for 350 years in the period of 1600 to 1945. On the other hand, Japan also took control of the nation from 1942 to 1945. The Independence movements that existed before the Second World War in the Dutch East Indies led to the Dutch surrendering the nation (Steenbrink 60). The Japanese led an invasion on the nation in 1942 which resulted to several men being taken into forced labour. However, international pressure in 1949 led to the Netherlands agreeing to free the Colony and hand it as an independent state. However, the Dutch control in New Guinea seized in 1962.
Trade relationship with the Netherlands dates back to 1603 when the Dutch East India Company begun its operations in the country. Despite several nations trying to gain control of the most populous country, it was the Dutch who finally established strong colonial roots in Indonesia. There have been conflicts between the two nations as a result of the Christian West Papua Movement (Steenbrink 124). However, recent events that the Dutch Minister of foreign Affairs witnessed visiting the country uplifted a new relationship when the country was celebrating its 60th independence. The military in Indonesia has been involved in buying military equipments from the Dutch.
It was the result of Dutch missionaries who gave birth to Christianity in Indonesia. The legal system being practiced in the country can bear its roots from the Dutch colonial policy, and major reforms have been initiated which also resulted to the Minister of Justice from the Netherlands visiting the country in 2009. The Netherlands is home to a large population of the Indonesian community. Several Indonesians are known to have set up churches in Netherlands, which is seen as a new mission of evangelism.
Different Neoliberal Development Impacts
The financial crisis that was witnessed by Asia in the beginning of July 1997 resulted into several countries being affected. One of the countries was Indonesia, which meant that external help was necessary. Indonesia was among the worst countries hit by the financial crisis along with South Korea and Thailand. Before 1997, Indonesia was seen as a nation on the root to prosperity. There were instances of low inflation being witnessed in the country and there were huge foreign exchange reserves (Titiheruw et al). The banks in the country were in a positive progress. However, things did not go on well in August 1997 when the rupiah came under attack.
The status of the rupiah was affected leading to the IMF stepping up to assist in the situation. It initiated a rescue package worth $23 billion. However, several debts incurred by the corporate, as well as the strong demand of the dollar made the situation worse. On the other hand, the massive selling of the rupiah weakened the country’s economy. The dropping rupiah led to higher costs being imposed by the companies that had borrowed in dollars. There are others like Ramli who believed that involving the IMF in the economic crisis of Indonesia will plunge the nation further into more problems (Titiheruw et al). The author states that this is not the way to go as it will result in several problems to the nation.
As a result of the global crisis that was experienced in 2008, despite the exports in Indonesia remaining strong, the dramatic decline in oil further dented the economic progress of the country. For instance, the country experienced a deteriorating condition of up to 5.2% from 6.1% in quarterly economic growth. In terms of export growth, Indonesia recorded a low of 1.82%, which was termed as the lowest ever since 1986 (Titiheruw et al). Towards countering this challenge, the government initiated stimulus package that were directed towards maintaining the private consumption levels. The action was to limit the impact caused by the global financial crisis.
Future Development of Indonesia
Statistics indicate that Indonesia was recently welcomed as a member of the G20 and has been categorized as a member of the lower middle income nations by the World Bank. However, the financial crisis experienced in Asia left the country’s economy more fragile. In order for the country to record success in future, several challenges that are currently being witnessed need to be addressed (Goff page). On the other hand, the government faces the challenge of having to ensure that the entire nation receives equal distribution of resources. The several provinces in one of the most populous nations in the world pose as a great challenge to the well being of the country in general.
The business environment shows that most leaders are the aging population, begging the fact that youthful leaders need to rise up to the challenge and fill market positions. However, despite the demographic trends not favouring most of the young people, youthful generation is most likely to rise up and fill the ageing positions. The rate of population growth is still progressing at a higher rate, signifying that despite the aging of population, there still is youthful generation who will be able to take the positions which are now being held by the older generations (Goff page). On the other hand, the government should put in place measures that will be able to respond to the high rate of growth.
The measures being put by the government towards an effective health care is an indication that most people will have an access to the better health care in the coming years. The Bing Bang policy of decentralization will cause major developments in most provinces, unlike the case when most of the resources were located in one province (Goff page). The need for integration and measures being taken towards reforming several laws is an indication that most of the ethnic acts of violence that have been witnessed earlier will be eradicated.
Good governance and positive development records is one way that will see the Republic of Indonesia reach success in development. This signifies that despite the growing population, measures have been put in place to contain the great number of people who will be looking for employment opportunities, as well as creating room for a better health care. Indonesia remains a tourist centre which is likely to attract many tourists who will contribute to the economic growth. It is worth noting that the country should act with immediate measures to solve the death penalty laws, as well as allow the minority Christians to practice their religion. In conclusion, the prospects of Indonesia loom bright as we step forward into the future.