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Jokowi spells out how he will rule if elected
Publication Date : 26-04-2014
Joko Widodo, the presidential candidate of the Indonesian Democratic Party - Struggle (PDI-P), has put in writing an indication of how he would govern and manage the economy if elected.
Indonesia should stand on its own feet if it is to realise its national goals of a fair and just society, but this does not mean it cuts itself off from foreigners, he wrote in the preface to a book by supporters outlining his vision for the country that was launched on Thursday.
Joko's remarks are his first on how he would lead the nation of 250 million if he becomes president, and seek to balance his party's nationalistic platform with the hopes of investors and others that South-east Asia's largest economy would not change direction too sharply following a change in government.
"Indonesia will not develop without the help and cooperation of other parties. Indonesia is rich in natural resources, but it does not yet have enough capacity to manage them all effectively and sustainably," Joko, popularly known as Jokowi, wrote.
The desire to be a strong nation has often been misperceived as having to isolate oneself from the outside world, he noted.
However, he added that it was important for Indonesia to control the process of such cooperation.
"For too long, we have allowed control over many things in this country to be in the hands of others. It is time we reclaimed our position of control so that our resources can be mobilised fully for our national interest," he wrote.
The book titled "Jalan Kemandirian Bangsa" (The Path to National Self-reliance) - a vision for Indonesian society in the 21st century - was written by Seknas Jokowi, a non-partisan group set up last December to gather support for Joko for the July 9 presidential poll and includes PDI-P MPs, academics and activists. The book is intended to contribute to a manifesto later.
Joko's remarks appear directed at overcoming worries some have about the PDI-P's strong nationalist tendency.
Indonesia under incumbent President Susilo Bambang Yudhoyono of the ruling Democratic Party, over the past decade, has taken a free market stance that saw the entry of foreign telco giants that bought into local operators and foreign retail chains such as France's Carrefour expanding their businesses here with minimum restrictions.
But in recent years, the outgoing administration has adopted policies seen as nationalistic, including regulating imports and restricting the export of unprocessed minerals.
There have also been growing populist pressures to restrict the role of foreign investment in key sectors like telecommunications and banking, although some Indonesians say the country needs foreign know-how if it is to better compete with others in the region, while a growing presence of foreign banks would provide competitive funding to businesses.
The book outlines how development in Indonesia must rely more on domestic resources and less on foreign capital, borrowing and foreign workers, stressing that the country's development would be more sustainable when self-reliance is prioritised.
PDI-P senior cadre Arif Budimanta said the party is currently drawing up a long-term development plan and the book would provide valuable input for this plan.
Teten Masduki, an anti-corruption activist and close adviser to PDI-P chairman Megawati Sukarnoputri, told The Straits Times the emphasis on self-reliance should not be translated into anti-foreigner sentiment.
"In an era of globalisation, it is impossible to do all things alone. But how come so much of the food that we consume and the materials that we use are imported? Why not move the production here? We need to create jobs here too," said Teten, stressing that import regulations will be made stricter if Joko is elected.