--- Role of the Press Key to Indonesia’s Progress* *

--- SBY Must Keep Ball Rolling in Economy

--- Indonesia Must Keep the Wind in its Economy's Sails

      --- Confidence Abounds For Indonesia's Economy

      --- Don’t Let Corruption Steal Focus From Reform


      *Role of the Press Key to Indonesia’s Progress *

Jakarta Globe Editorial, 02 May 2010

Indonesia today enjoys one of the freest press climates in the region­ — 
at least as far as having the freedom to start up new publications. 
Shortly after the fall of Suharto’s authoritarian New Order government, 
the Ministry of Information, which was tasked with issuing press 
licenses and monitoring coverage of sensitive issues, was abolished. It 
was a startling reform, and the nation went from fearful of information 
to open and outspoken almost overnight.

As a result, there are more than 200 local publications and television 
stations in the country today, creating a vibrant media environment. 
Radio stations remain popular and a key source of news and information, 
while bloggers and the online media are mushrooming.

The press has also grown in influence. In the current era, both the 
government and opposition political parties understand and appreciate 
that they need to maintain open communication channels with the 
mainstream media.

The local media industry has come a long way since the repressive days 
of the New Order regime when newspapers and magazines could be closed by 
the government with little regard for due process. But as journalists in 
Indonesia celebrate World Press Freedom Day today, they should be 
mindful of continuing threats against them, in particular the threat of 
criminal defamation and various forms of intimidation designed to stifle 
their voices and the people’s right to know.

In recent years, there has been an alarming rise in the use of criminal 
defamation against journalists despite the enactment of the 1999 Law on 
the Press and the 2008 Law on Freedom of Information, which ostensibly 
protect journalists against charges of criminal defamation. 
Unfortunately, repressive criminal legislation remains on the books.

And while the media is now a full-fledged industry, it still struggles 
to attract the best and brightest Indonesians. This is primarily because 
of low salaries and the low prestige associated with journalism. The 
media must, however, acknowledge that professionalism among journalists 
also has to improve before salaries will rise and more bright young 
people will consider it a career option. There is a dire need to improve 
on-the-job training for young journalists as well as modernizing 
curriculums in journalism schools.

The future for Indonesia’s press is bright. As more people attain higher 
education, there will be a greater thirst for information, entertainment 
and enlightenment. Journalists must adapt to the changing landscape, and 
while they must continue to play a watchdog’s role to keep excessive 
government in check, the media must also play a nation-building role.

Given its ability to influence the populace and change mind-sets, the 
press has a unique opportunity to shape a new Indonesia. It must 
exercise its responsibility with wisdom and care. In many ways, the 
country’s future is in its hands.

* * *

SBY Must Keep Ball Rolling in EconomyJakarta Globe Editorial, 19 April 

President Susilo Bambang Yudhoyono put the economy back on the front 
burner in Bali on Monday and his timing could not have been better. 
Buffeted by a string of controversies, the president has at times taken 
his eye off the economic ball.

Tampaksiring Palace in verdant central Bali was the perfect setting for 
Yudhoyono to focus the government’s attention on the economy as senior 
officials, business leaders and provincial governors joined his cabinet 
for a three-day national retreat on economic strategy. To kick off the 
event, he outlined his 10 “Tampaksiring strategies” aimed at boosting 
economic growth.

These include encouraging significant growth in investment and exports, 
as well as developing human resources. The president was on the mark in 
noting that Indonesia must push per capita income beyond the $3,000 
level if it is to climb above emerging economy status and also reduce 
poverty. By the end of his term in 2014, Yudhoyono wants to see a per 
capita income of $4,500.

With average income now at $2,600, the government, working with private 
business, must power the economy forward. The momentum is clearly with 
the country at this time and it would be a crime not to maximize this 
golden opportunity.

The president’s ambitious program also calls for a reduction in the 
official unemployment rate from about 8 percent to between 5 and 6 
percent and lowering the poverty rate from the current 16 percent to 
below 10 percent.

Most of the targets and plans outlined in Bali are not new. The 
president has often cited these figures and has long pushed for more 
equitable growth. But by focusing on these issues squarely in such a 
public gathering, he is indicating the economy is now once again his 
central focus.

His personal push and focus is crucial if any of these targets are to be 
met. The country needs firm and dynamic economic leadership — and that 
begins with the president. He must take the lead in driving 
infrastructure development and promoting bureaucratic reforms. He must 
ensure that policies are well thought through and effectively 
implemented. If he succeeds, his legacy will be assured.

Although he has Coordinating Minister for the Economy Hatta Rajasa at 
his side, it is imperative that the president is personally involved if 
business and the economy are to grow. The magic 7 percent GDP growth 
target he restated on Monday will only be achieved if Yudhoyono takes 
the lead.

The president highlighted a number of significant challenges that await, 
including the establishment of political stability, legal certainty and 
public order as well as the creation of the right policies and 
regulations. The latter is crucial for building investor and business 
confidence as wrong policies do far more damage than even corruption.

Indonesia is on a roll right now and we must not lose the momentum. The 
country may not get another chance.

* * *

Indonesia Must Keep the Wind in its Economy's Sails – Jakarta Globe 
Editorial, 02 May 2010

Indonesia’s stock market is on a bull run. The rupiah is at its highest 
level since August 2008 and investors and local businesspeople are 
increasingly optimistic about the country’s economic outlook.

This virtuous cycle presents a golden opportunity for the government to 
push ahead aggressively with the reforms needed to take the economy 
forward. As Finance Minister Sri Mulyani Indrawati noted, 2010 must be 
the year of removing bottlenecks and roadblocks, and accelerating growth.

The finance minister said the challenge for the government would be to 
push through reforms, especially in some of the most important 
institutions such as the police, the Attorney General’s Office and the 
Supreme Court. This is critical not just for investors and the business 
community, but also for the nation as a whole.

Removing bottlenecks and roadblocks in sectors such as logistics, 
licensing and power generation will be crucial for accelerating growth 
this year. The economy is expected to grow at 6 percent in 2010, but if 
these crucial reforms are pushed through, growth could be even higher.

Improvements in both market sentiment and business confidence also 
reflect the easing political tension in the country. Now that the Bank 
Century bailout investigation is hopefully behind us, it is an opportune 
moment to refocus on the economy and on creating jobs. We should all now 
concentrate on working to accelerate growth.

Improving the nation’s infrastructure — vital to support growth — and 
overhauling the legal system are serious challenges for the government. 
Both tasks will require careful planning, focus and execution. These 
tasks cannot be left in the hands of junior government servants, and it 
is heartening to hear the finance minister say she is back on the job.

If these challenges are overcome, Indonesia also will be better placed 
to capitalize on growth in other regional markets by participating fully 
in the Asean-China Free Trade Agreement. If its industries are 
competitive once again, Indonesia can become a major exporter of both 
natural resources and manufactured goods, and local industries will not 
need to fear competition from outside.

The wind is now clearly blowing in Indonesia’s sails. The momentum that 
is now with the country must be maximized and utilized. The confluence 
of factors that created this virtuous cycle took nearly a decade to come 
together. Indonesia now has a great opportunity to reap the dividends of 
the business-friendly government policies that have been put in place.

The investment community is ready to invest. The stock market is 
signaling that better times lie ahead as equity markets always move 
ahead of actual trends. Indonesia is in a sweet spot and it would be 
criminal if we let this opportunity slip from our grasp. Now is the time 
to make a real difference for a better tomorrow.
Markus Junianto Sihaloho – JAKARTA GLOBE, 03 MAY 2010

* * *

      Confidence Abounds For Indonesia's Economy

Jakarta Globe Editorial, 04 January 2010

Optimism is a powerful force and the positive tone coming from the 
office of the coordinating minister for the economy is welcome news for 
the business sector and the economy as a whole. Speaking at his first 
news conference of the year, Hatta Rajasa, chief economics minister, 
painted a bullish picture for the economy in 2010.

In particular, the country’s manufacturing sector looks set to bounce 
back from last year’s sluggish growth. Both Hatta and Industry Minister 
MS Hidayat expressed confidence the sector would grow by nearly 5 
percent this year, compared to 1.6 percent in 2009. If indeed this is 
achieved, it would spell good news for the economy as a whole

The manufacturing sector is the backbone of the economy in terms of 
creating jobs and driving industrial output. The sector employed 14 
million workers in 2009, an increase of 570,000 over 2008, but still far 
below the two million new jobs needed to absorb new entrants to the 

This means the government will need to work much harder to ramp up 
growth. It will need to move speedily to resolve a host of issues that 
have held back manufacturing growth over the past few years, mainly a 
lack of infrastructure, a labor law that is prohibitive to employers and 
too much bureaucracy. These are significant challenges that need to be 
tackled in a coordinated and comprehensive manner.

Renegotiating the implementation of the Asean-China Free Trade 
Agreement, which takes affect this year for certain manufacturing 
sectors, may buy the country some time but is not a long-term cure. 
Forming an interministerial department that would include private sector 
participation to accelerate competitiveness sounds like a good idea, but 
only if concrete measures are adopted and implemented.

Ultimately, the private sector needs well-thought-out and 
business-friendly policies coupled with modern infrastructure to be 
competitive both regionally and globally. Companies need to know where 
the government stands on crucial issues such as the corporate tax rate, 
electricity prices and increasing power supply to make informed 
decisions. There is no doubt the economic team under Hatta has been 
working hard to accomplish many of the programs outlined in the 
government’s 100-day program to accelerate economic growth. This is 
laudable, especially with Hatta claiming that more than 90 percent of 
the programs have been completed. But before we can congratulate 
ourselves, much more work lies ahead.

We need a concrete, workable and multi-dimensional program to take us to 
the next level of growth over the next five years. This is the real task 
for President Susilo Bambang Yudhoyono and his cabinet. Coordination 
among the various ministries will be crucial in achieving this, as will 
be the formulation of policies to increase competitiveness and raise 
living standards across the country.

* * *

      Don’t Let Corruption Steal Focus From Reform – Jakarta Globe Editorial

The arrest of a police officer and a lawyer involved in the 
investigation into rogue tax official Gayus Tambunan illustrates the 
ongoing need to stay vigilant against corruption. It is evident that 
graft is still very much in our midst and even among those very 
officials who we expect to be above it.

Gayus burst into headlines this month when Susno Duadji , a former 
National Police chief of detectives, alleged that the middle-ranking tax 
officer had paid off senior police officials to halt an investigation 
into huge sums of money found in his bank accounts. This case has become 
even more complex than it initially appeared, and has since resulted in 
a flurry of internal investigations within the tax office as well as 
law-enforcement bodies, including the police and the Attorney General’s 

Police said that more arrests will be made in relation to the initial 
investigation on Gayus, while the AGO said its internal investigator had 
found suspected procedural violations in the prosecution of the tax 
official, which ended in his acquittal by the Tangerang District Court 
this month.

It is a long, drawn-out battle and more arrests should come as no surprise.

President Susilo Bambang Yudhoyono has made fighting graft a central 
platform of his administration, and the latest episode shows that 
although he remains committed to the cause, much has yet to be done.

Combating deep-rooted corruption is critical to economic growth and the 
long-term health of the nation, but other action is also needed. It is 
equally important that the government gets its policy framework right. 
Well thought out policies are even more critical to boosting business 
confidence and attracting much needed investment. Clean business 
practices and clear legal certainty would also be meaningless in the 
absence of the appropriate policies and environment to attract 
investment in the country.

Revising the negative list investment list that limits foreign 
investment, for example, should be a key priority. So should 
streamlining the tax regime so as to empower individuals and businesses. 
The government must ensure that the economy’s growth trajectory remains 
strong in the years to come. To ensure continuing economic growth, the 
government must not be distracted by politics. It should also quickly 
draw up a new industrial blueprint and solve the acute power shortages 
that have plagued the country over the past years.

Fighting corruption must go hand in hand with allowing businesses to 
grow uninhibited. We must lower taxes and streamline bureaucracy. If the 
government can succeed in accomplishing these critical goals, it will 
have laid the foundations for long-term sustainable economic growth. And 
this will, in turn, help raise living standards for all Indonesians.

<Jakarta Globe Editorial, 30 March 2010> * * *

[Non-text portions of this message have been removed]


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