Skip to content

Indonesia: what role as a contemporary global actor?


By dxw

Among those taking part in the conference were the State Minister for National Development Planning (BAPPENAS), Professor Armida Alisyahbana and Governor of Papua province, Barnabus Suebu

Indonesia: what role as a contemporary global actor?

Monday 1 – Thursday 4 March 2010 (WP1019)

With support from the Foreign and Commonwealth Office, London

President Susilo Bambang Yudhoyono was returned for a second five-year term of office in 2009, becoming the country’s first leader democratically re-elected and giving Indonesia a welcome dose of continuity. Will this enable Indonesia to play a more significant role in global issues?

The conference:

  • took stock of recent political and economic developments in Indonesia;
  • examined Indonesia’s potential as a growing 21st century global actor, and what needs to be done to strengthen Indonesia’s governance, economy and social development to enable it to address contemporary challenges domestically and internationally;
  • mapped out how Indonesia can further develop its contribution towards effecting change internationally through the United Nations, G20 and regional architecture. 

Among those taking part in the conference were the State Minister for National Development Planning (BAPPENAS), Professor Armida Alisyahbana, Governor of Papua province Barnabus Suebu, Heru Prasaetyo, Deputy Head of the Presidential Unit for the Management of Programs, John Prasetio, Vice Chairman of the Indonesia Chamber of Commerce and Industry (KADIN), Dr Rizal Sukma, Executive Director of the Jakarta Centre for Strategic and International Studies, Professor Anies Baswedan, President of Paramadina University and Yuli Ismartono, Executive Editor of Tempo.

The programme and report can be found on the conference page.

Among key issues arising in discussion were:

  • Indonesia would like to be recognised as a place where democracy and Islam co-exist, but not as a Muslim democracy;
  • Indonesia’s parliamentarians tend to adopt a protectionist stance towards free trade and economic reform, and the government needs to take a leadership role in countering such views;
  • while there are ideological differences between political parties, parties do not have political manifestos spelling out policies; there is a need for the parliament to become more transparent, with voting clearly recorded, and accountable to local constituents;
  • despite radical decentralisation, seen by some as ‘over-decentralisation’, achievements in local government are attributable to inspired leadership rather than systemic change; there is a serious need for reform of the civil service;
  • There needs to be much greater coordination in Indonesia’s foreign policy, and on the domestic front the government needs to see policy through consistently, with better executive coordination and accountability;
  • Indonesia should perhaps concentrate on two or three items on the global agenda where its involvement could make a notable impact, rather than spread its interest across a broad range of challenging issues; it could focus its activity in its immediate region although going global is felt by some to be the only option;
  • ASEAN appears logjammed, and Indonesia should assert leadership while recognising the likely absence of support from some members of the grouping for Indonesia’s proposals; efforts should be made to revive EU-ASEAN cooperation;
  • While the international community has high expectations of Indonesia’s role in global issues, some question whether Indonesia should not concentrate on tackling domestic challenges, such as sustaining and improving economic growth and competitiveness, and tackling poverty, rather than looking to assume a significant role internationally; there is a need to bridge the gap between capability and expectation.

For coverage of the conference in the Indonesian media, see:

“Postscript from Wilton Park”, Yuli Ismartono, Tempo, 16 March 2010

WP1019 photo
Minister of State for National Development Planning (BAPENNAS), Professor Armida Alisyahbana


WP1019 photo 2
Miles Toder (left), Director, Democratic Governance Office, USAID/Indonesia and Ambassador Julian Wilson (right), Head of Delegation of the European Union to Indonesia and Brunei Darussalam


WP1019 photo 3
Wolfgang Piecha (left), Head of Division for South East Asia, Australia, New Zealand and Pacific and Yuli Ismartono (right), Executive Editor, Tempo


WP1019 photo 4
Heru Prasetyo (left), Deputy Director of the Presidential Delivery Unit for Development, Monitoring and Oversight and Dan Martin, Editor/Economist, The Economist Intelligence Unit