Jokowi's speech at Den Haag: Worth listening to?





Post Scriptum.: the video is in Bahasa


In front of around 500 spectators, not all of them Indonesians though, "Jokowi", - Indonesian ruling president, once an unknown meuble exporter who fell himself into political arena, a then former mayor of Surakarta (best known as Solo) in Central Java, a gambler of his own political faith who later run and once sit at the most sought seat of governorship in Indonesia's sprawling capital, Jakarta - shows up with modest white long-sleeve shirt, followed by an incumbent Minister of Foreign Affairs (a former Indonesian ambassador to the Kingdom of the Netherlands). Enthusiastic Indonesians and Dutch in the room - out of around 15,000 Garuda-passport holders in the Netherlands - welcome the president with ovation, after a 16-year long-awaited visit of a top-notch leader of far east archipelagic country finally landing on homeland of Indonesia's longest-running trade partner ever, putting aside the colonialism history.

So, what makes Jokowi's visit special the most for his spectators and for the rest Indonesians in the Netherlands in general? His appearance, hand-shaking, photo selfie? Perhaps, but for a distant observer, I would say, the speech, leaving all the deals and signatory partnership behind the negotiation table alone.

It's definitely not a typical (formal) presidential speech, but I would say, more likely a progress report with some humors and puns in the mid of talk, judging from video above. He is not Obama, nor Putin nor even a Soekarno. Rather comparing himself to other persona, looking at Jokowi's very own style (and the content of course) - not rhetoric yet straightforward, not much eloquent yet up-to-dated, and the diction? simple, common, and general, understandable for most people inside the room - is rather striking, at least for me myself.

Jokowi's talk ranges from bureaucratic issue to fashion, from Sumatera to Papua, as follows

"Openness and Competition" He Says

Jokowi's story telling is heralded with explanation of economic crisis in Greece, its development, later affected European Union (EU) economic stability, in parallel caused Yuan (China's currency) depreciation, then responded by The Fed's interest rate increase, at the end affected Indonesia's investment flow resulting in economic slowdown (indicated by weakening GDP growth). Later the president tells audiences about how other countries responded to economic instability and how its adaptation mechanism works, the US-led Trans-Pacific Partnership (TPP) and ASEAN Economic Community (AEC) for instance were thus formed.

"Thus, we have to integrate!

"The option is only two, moving fast (thus we cooperate with other countries in turn, being open) or left behind (as if we rather opt to sleep/hiatus)"

No less important than being 'open', he emphasizes that Indonesians should be challenged with "competition". His critics on rampant behavior - as he refers to stereotyped typical Indonesians - of being "lazy ass" is no less striking to witness that the president is frankly admitting his people's weakness, interestingly right in front of his people himself. He opines that people being lazy naturally because they are too much living in their comfort zone, less or no challenge created at all. Laziness is definitely not in a good fashion nowadays and never, he argues, considering it an inhibiting factor that deteriorates competitiveness strength (Indonesia currently ranks 37th, far below neighboring countries Singapore's 2nd, Malaysia's 18th and Thailand's 32nd, indeed still far from old friend the Netherlands' 5th out of 140 countries measured, source here). Jokowi is definitely not happy, infuriated much? Could be yet he smirks. His "Revolusi Mental" jargon is hoped not being translated as a mere political euphoria.

Jokowi's call to "moving fast" is clear and doable in his measures. To support his argument, Jokowi shares successful stories of two public banks, a national flag carrier and a state-owned oil company. He mentions Bank Negara Indonesia (BNI46), Bank Rakyat Indonesia (BRI), Garuda Indonesia Airlines and Pertamina (oil company) as four good examples of how reformation in companies (both the management and the human resource) are progressing. They all once had shared common issues, unprofitable state-owned enterprises, almost bankrupt, unachieved vision, and unaccomplished self-made targets. What's wrong? Jokowi's simple answer is only in one sentence, "They had no competitors". He further explains, in Indonesia once the market becomes more liberalized, untapped, and openly competitive, as results; private banks from other countries are being more present, more private airlines were born, foreign oil company started to operate their gas station in big cities, all of these new changes in Indonesia's business landscape had given a nerve and hard pressures to the long-run unprofitable state-owned enterprises. Jokowi smiles as he might whisper "punch on your face and work it out now!"

Surprisingly, being hit by all pressures from within and outside the countries, these four companies in return made a fight back. A big transformation was made and is still progressing. Evidenced by current statistics, expert report, and brand quality measurement; it assures that BNI and BRI are now listed in Forbes 2000,  BRI recently is the only bank in the world with owned satellite, Garuda Indonesia airlines recently has been awarded 5-star airlines by Skytrax, and Pertamina's expansion overseas is taking place.

In brief, Jokowi again reaffirms "Openness and competition are the keys".

Does he know the "Know-How"?

Straight to the points, Jokowi coins two methods in order to trigger the development and investment in the sprawling archipelagic country; deregulation and infrastructure acceleration. He then shares:

"We currently have around 3,000 regional regulations that are troublesome (for investment). Then I asked the regulatory maker: 

J: 'How long does it take (to deal with the troubles)?'

RM: 'We need to evaluate them'

J: 'Nonsense! Delete them all! The world is running, we are a big boat'

The complexity of bureaucratic system in Indonesia is definitely not sort of his fancy. Jokowi states that his focus in his recent one-half year running presidential duty is to revolt the inefficient system. In the other hand, he says that he once complained to Investment Board about how lame their performance is. 

"I asked: How long does it take to issue an investment certificate? Their answer is 2 years. It's totally crazy. then I said I only tolerate 22 days, then scaling down to weeks, and now why not in hours. And yes, now investment certificate issuance can be issued in only 3 hours for 8 items"

The other story he shares (about during his incumbency as Governor of Jakarta):

"The Business Trade License (SIUP) issuance process in Jakarta was once crazy. When I made an impromptu ("blusukan") to regional investment board office as I received so many complaints from small-medium entrepreneurs, I discovered that the barrier was rather the signature beholder himself, the person in charge (head of office) was inexistent during my visit. He was out of office during working hours. Then I immediately left the office and throw the documents into trash bin. The next day, I fired him. Now I urge the implementation of three-shift work for public services, one-shift work is no longer enough to fulfill the demand. I hope it will work. We have to really run, like really".

Talking about infrastructure development, he then plays with the slides and projector remote controller that show photos of current under construction various projects being held in the country, namely; (a) the longest toll road ever in Sumatera island (Jalan Tol Trans-Sumatera) that connects bottom down province of Lampung to the westernmost province on the tip of Sumatera island, Aceh province that stretches as long as 2,818 km, believed to later beating down the record of current existing Trans-Java toll road; (b) the railway system in Sulawesi island (Jalur Kereta Api Trans-Sulawesi) that later in total will be 2,000 km long connecting city of Makassar in South Sulawesi to Manado (capital of North Sulawesi), making it the longest railway system ever made in Indonesia after the long time established railway system in Java island during Dutch occupation years ago; (c) the most striking one, Trans-Papua road network, will be the title holder of the longest road network ever in Indonesia that will stretch as long as 4,325 km long, including the bridge that will connect Indonesia's westernmost province Papua to neighboring Papua New Guinea (PNG). However, this project is known as the most challenging in terms of geographical feature and security. The under construction projects will tone down the domination of the already densely populated Java island. 

Jokowi's focus on disparity in Papua is among the concern that he wants to solve. Given the fact that goods price in Papua is extremely high compared to ones in other regions. He says that he feels guilty of this plight. Based on investigation it is found that high cost of goods transport from production base has caused the price is rocketing. Through the infrastructure development and transportation improvement, he expects that in near future price disparity will no longer be issue in Papua. 

In addition, Jokowi also shares the story behind the ambitious dams construction (targeting 49 dams built in 5 years). Goverment of East Nusa Tenggara (NTT) - a province prone to drought, among the risky beaten tracks - made a call and asked the president to build dam for agriculture, irrigation, and water supply. Inspired by solid determination of NTT's governor, 7 dams are being built in there and many more may come to exist.

Key Messages

The "Revolusi Mental" slogan as he, for several times, calls for a change in work ethics and attitude. He says that he concerns about national services. He urges - particularly to young people who seize the biggest demographic portion - "We are not about going backward, thus open your gadget and learn something from internet, being smart is not enough, be unique and creative!"

Creative-Economy and Education

Jokowi says that he is inspired by Silicon Valley, K-Pop, creative economy and talented young people. His last visit to the United States - including visiting Google and Facebook headquarter - and welcome by Facebook founder himself Mark, is the new milestone of technology transfer from West to far East, he expects. He says that he already created a partnership with top-notch tech companies in Silicon Valley that will allow around 1,000 Indonesian tech-preneurs and starts-up every year to follow the specialized program that will enable knowledge and technology transfer. 

"My dream is to have our own Facebook, our own Google etc. as what China does now. Moreover, animation, fashion, dress, and culinary will be our next iconic creative economy. Now we are about appointing out city of Bandung in West Java as headquarter of Economy Creative Division".

He also shares his recent trip to UK about how he met young Indonesian designers are making way in London fashion industry.

"When I was in London (as part of his one-week visit in four European countries, Germany, UK, the Netherlands, and later Belgium), I met 5 young Indonesian designers at their 20s who currently are establishing their career as fashion designers. I'm so much surprised knowing the fact that their brands are exhibited in the premium center of shopping district in London and their works sold out in just one week for a premium price. Then I told British Council, I will sponsor and encourage more young talented designers to unleash their wings in London, please welcome them". 

The story of vocational school in Germany is no less interesting to listen to as Jokowi, again, picks an experience from his recent trip.

"We all know that Germany is very popular for its quality vocational schools. I met education division and asked about how many Indonesians attending vocational schools here in Germany (excluding university, research)? There are only 200. I said, too low. Well, the number that I expect to have now is about 20,000. We are urgently needing quality vocational school graduate as they are the most well prepared in technical stuff, particularly technology. I'm so much inspired by Techno-Park in Germany. I talked to the education division, we will send 20,000 young Indonesians soon for vocational training and education."

Not satisfied with European successful story, Jokowi again talks about K-Pop, a pop culture from South Korea that has successfully penetrated and welcome in Asia and some other countries outside Asia, a creative money machine for South Korean's economy other than Samsung.

"When South Korean president visited Indonesia, I asked, how long was it prepared to make a K-Pop a big wave? It is 14 years, from audition of hundred thousands scaling down to only few debutante(s) who successfully make a stage. The concept was really well prepared before it launched to the market and boom! Many young people even in Indonesia are big fan of K-Pop. I am ambushed. Also, story from UK, I talked in business forum that One-Direction, Aerosmith are quite popular in Indonesia". Jokowi himself is a big fan of metal music!

Jokowi admits that it takes some times to create a big wave from creative economy. However, he says he is optimistic the richness of Indonesian cultures can be optimized as selling value, not only beneficially from economy but also branding the image of the country itself in the meantime.

Closing

Den Haag, the last stop of his European trip. In the closing part, he envisions that "education and culture" are two main interests that he cares much (aside from economy as this one is priority) when he is asked his view toward partnership with the Netherlands, as not much discussed in his speech. From his answer, I take a note that in order to understand the long relationship between the former colony "Indonesia/East Indies" and the Netherlands nowadays, cultural mission, education, and people-to-people interaction are among the best approach, which make the relationship between the two is unique and different. He also suggests that Indonesian president to visit the Netherlands for at least once in three years. Save the best for last (?)

Anyway, thanks President Jokowi for visiting the Netherlands!
*At least I have something to write ;-)





1 Response to Jokowi's speech at Den Haag: Worth listening to?

April 28, 2016 at 2:07 PM

An extensive, informative, cool and pretty positive article on Jokowi's visit ( which was not a big PR event nor game-changing in the ID - NL relations, I'm afraid).

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