I have moved to Bali from the UK, on leaving the UK I had all my worldly goods shipped to Bali where I will be living. Indonesia has held a particular affection for me for many years as I have periodically, 16 years, worked and lived here, so moving to Bali was not such a big deal.
Last week I had to travel to Jakarta to pass my relevant authenticity documents to the receiving shippers so that they can process my shipment from the UK through their customs. During this trip I flew to Jakarta from Bali on the first available flight arriving into T3 at approx 10;15 Jakarta time. At which point I was greeted at the airport by a clerk from the shipping firm, he relieved me of all my documents. After which I found a cosy place and waited for several hours for their return. On this occasion I had no need to travel to down town Jakarta as I had spent most of the last 16 years in and out of this city, not least I have lived here for 6 months of this year.
In my period of tenure here in Jakarta I have watched this city morph into a sophisticated metropolis with many skyscrapers now adorning the skyline. In 1995 when I first arrived here the city was only then becoming a modern day city, It is now awash with all the facilities that you would expect from a country of some 250M people in a modern enlightened place. Jakarta today is a far cry from the Jakarta of some 20 years ago, it is now a pleasure to visit although it held a particular quaintness back then, but to live here must have been a different story.
I should make the point that this country has somewhat lagged behind the other south east Asia countries in so far as the development phase has taken longer to get a hold here Indonesia than in other south east Asia countries. Perhaps this is due to the to the presidential reign of Suharto who kept a tight grip on this country for 32 years only releasing it during the riots of 1998. After which Indonesia has progressed along the path of true democracy giving rise to a significant entrepreneur-ism that you now see today. This creativity has developed and blossomed under a very liberal regime, it was recently labelled by a BBC poll as the country with the most accommodating policies towards entrepreneur-ism allowing and encouraging many small companies to flourish.
My point which is to be made here is that Indonesia with its 250M people is not a country that should be ignored, in fact quite the reverse it is a country that should be targeted as the market here is only just beginning to reach a mature phase. Believe it or not; its people are getting richer here and living standards are from a very low base creeping up and this is gathering pace.
So with all the financial issues sitting in the western world and all the products developed in the west with little possibility of a home market then how long can western companies ignore this part of the globe.
To recap over history this is a country that until 1998 was led and firmly controlled for 32 years by the Suharto family, I say family as it is said that the leader Mr Suharto who used only one name that of his family, was driven very strongly by his wife from the rear and it is said that she was the real power so much so that after here untimely death a few years before the demise of Suharto’s power hastened his departure as his decisions carried less weight than those made during her life.
Suharto came to power during the 1960’s communist insurgency that was sweeping down through Asia. Being firmly opposed to communism he tighten his grip on south east Asia and I suspect became a firm friend of the west as he was able to secure the shipping lanes that surround this extensive part of the world. However, I also suspect that as the Iron curtain fell then his support from the great powers across the oceans dwindled, making his position of supreme leader over a somewhat brutal and corrupt authoritarian regime unsustainable. Thus freeing Indonesia from an oppressive regime, giving rise to democracy and secure investment opportunities. As a geography lesson, if you were to lift Indonesia off the map and overlay it on Europe then this country would stretch from London to Tehran, as an archipelago it is huge.
During my period in and out of Indonesia I have seen an experienced many changes as you can imagine but none so vibrant and exciting as the changes and opportunities that are developing today as this country evolving to a stable democracy. To ignore the developments here is pure folly on the part of the dwindling fortunes of the western corporations.
In 1998 when democracy began through the civil unrest that emerged from the campus of the various universities as the city of Jakarta began to fight back (I guess a form of Arab Spring which pre-dates that of the middle east). Ironically, as the event’s unfolded here in Jakarta Suharto was on an official trip to the kingdom of Saudi Arabia.
Since then un-told riches have passed to the workers that have been prepared to invest in time, money, blood and sweat.
I started this article by talking about my trip here, as it was inspired by the flight across the northern coast of Java. As we approached Jakarta I was able to see a vast array of serried ranks of new houses this was of quite a surprise, but when I think about the growth here then I am not at all surprised by this development.
The aircraft also landed at T3 which again was a very pleasant experience for this is a new terminal equipped with all the modern facilities that you can expect to be provided for the waiting public. There are TV’s showing news, sport etc, free WIFI and comfortable chairs in which to pass the time of day. Of course many restaurants and coffee shops were available so a long wait here was a pleasant stay.