Indonesia should live up to status as great country: Jokowi

JAKARTA (The Jakarta Post/ANN) - Indonesia should be holding its hand up to give help, not holding it out to ask for it, says President Joko “Jokowi” Widodo.

“We are in the G20, which means that we are a great country. No one should think that we are inferior, or even a small country. I have told the foreign minister and all ministers we should not look for assistance. We should be giving, giving and giving.”

Jokowi on Monday gave a briefing to 134 Indonesian ambassadors, consuls general, consuls and permanent representatives stationed overseas, whom he had called back to the country for a four-day meeting. In the opening ceremony, themed Diplomacy for the Now Age, Jokowi said with the satisfying economic growth, representatives “must not feel inferior”.

“We are a large country, why do we continue feeling short of [power]?” he asked.

Indonesia was ranked last year in third or fourth place among the G20 group of major economies, said Jokowi. With such an achievement, he said, Indonesian representatives overseas must be confident in boosting the great-country image by, among other things, giving aid to others.

“If we still feel small, we tend to be happy with aid. No! Now we must help needy countries. [We must] allocate aid,” said Jokowi, adding that Indonesia had helped Pacific countries.

Jokowi said the representatives must also use diplomacy to boost economic ties, particularly with non-traditional countries, like Pakistan and Bangladesh.

“We must not rely on traditional markets. We must be more persistent and serious about exploring non-traditional markets,” he said. Pakistan and Bangladesh, he said, must not be underestimated because they offer promising markets for Indonesia with, respectively, 210 million and 160 million people and 7 percent and 7.2 percent economic growth.

“We also have yet to touch African countries,” said Jokowi. “The markets are large and the growth is high. We have never seriously explored the opportunities.”

He said the envoys must team up with relevant parties in Indonesia, like the Trade Ministry, and join business expos held by other countries. He even urged them to not only deploy one or two stalls in an expo but “five to six stalls placed near the entrance.”

“I demand [they] must not be placed at the corner, near a toilet,” Jokowi said. “We are a large country […] we must be near the entrance. That is an image.”

Nonetheless, the envoys must conduct market intelligence to determine suitable products for the target countries, he added. Such measures, he said, are expected to foster Indonesia’s exports, which currently are less competitive compared to those of Malaysia, Thailand and the Philippines because of a lack of innovation in seeking opportunities.

“There are only two keys for economic growth: increasing investment and increasing exports. Your role is to play for these aspects,” Jokowi told the envoys.

Jokowi also called on them to respond to the world’s rapid dynamics. “Do not let the handling time of documents, like passports or visas, take weeks or even months. It is not that kind of era anymore,” he said. “We want our embassies to take care of such documents within hours or even minutes. The world has changed.”


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