Editorial: Making Inroads Abroad for Indonesia

MARCH 23, 2015

While President Joko Widodo’s administration has been trying to portray itself as uncompromising when it comes to foreign relations, the president’s visit to Japan and China this week shows that Indonesia needs the help of other countries if it wants to speed up development.

In the 10 years of former president Susilo Bambang Yudhoyono’s term in office, Indonesia has failed to adequately develop its infrastructure and has become a country that is far too dependent on imported goods and services.

We have no idea why the previous government failed to put money into the nation’s infamously poor infrastructure. All we know is that previous administrations chose to prioritize other matters that would immediately put money into their own pockets, while the benefits of infrastructure can only be felt in the long run.

Joko has inherited a nation without adequate infrastructure. And no matter how hard he may try to push this nation forward, Indonesia cannot develop further without the support of railways, roads and dams, and a sufficient supply of electricity across the country. Our country needs to pour its resources into infrastructure if it wishes to attract both local and foreign investors.

Joko’s ongoing trip to two of Indonesia’s largest investors, China and Japan, should work to boost bilateral trade and investment. But most of all, Joko can take this chance to convince both countries to invest in Indonesia’s infrastructure.

With China and Japan competing for influence in the region, both would want to draw Indonesia to their side. The success of Joko’s trip depends largely on how he plays this card.