Douglas Ramage to join CAUSINDY

IMG_3665CAUSINDY is excited to announce that Douglas Ramage, the Chief Representative of BowerGroupAsia, a business and investment advisory in Indonesia, will be joining our Election Debrief Panel Session. He is also Governor of the American Chamber of Commerce (AmCham) in Indonesia, as well as its Trade & Investment Committee Chair.

Douglas Ramage has more than 25 years experience in Indonesia. As a leading expert on Indonesian politics, economics and business affairs, Doug provides advice and guidance to Fortune 500 companies in Indonesia. Fluent in Indonesian, Doug is a well-known analyst, frequent public speaker and media commentator on Indonesian affairs. He is adept at presenting complex Indonesia country risk assessments to company boards in a compelling and understandable manner. Doug has written extensively about Indonesia as a Normal Country and the Implications for Australia for the Australian Strategic Policy Institute.

In addition to his AmCham leadership role, Doug serves on the Boards of the American Indonesian Exchange Foundation (AMINEF/Fulbright Commission), the Lontar Foundation, and the United States Cultural Center (@America) in Indonesia. Doug studied at the University of Maryland, the Australian National University, the Institute for Teacher Training in Malang, Indonesia, and received his Ph.D. from the University of South Carolina.

Welcoming Lieut General (Ret) Agus Widjojo to CAUSINDY 2014

aguswCAUSINDY is honoured to have Lieut General (Ret) Agus Widjojo joining the Defence and Security panel at this year’s conference. A highly prominent intellectual, General Widjojo has had much experience throughout the South-East Asia Region, holding a range of staff and command appointments in Indonesia. His research interests include security sector reform, the democratisation process and post–conflict reconciliation. CAUSINDY welcomes General Widjojo and we look forward to his contributions and insight on security issues for Australia and Indonesia.

About Lieutenant General (Ret) Agus Widjojo

Lieutenant General (Ret) Agus Widjojo graduated from the Indonesian Armed Forces Academy in 1970. He served tours as Staff Officer in the International Commission for Control and Supervision in Vietnam 1973, and in the Indonesian Battalion to the United Nations Emergency Force II in Sinai Middle East in 1975. He retired from active duty in 2003.

His two last active duty assignments before entering retirement were Chief-of-Staff for Territorial Affairs for the Commanding General TNI, and Deputy Speaker in The National Consultative Assembly representing the Military and National Police Faction.His works during his appointment as Chief of Staff for Territorial Affairs were closely related to the democratisation process and military reform in Indonesia in 1998 through 2004.

He holds Master’s degrees in Military Art and Science from the US Army Command and General Staff College, National Security from the US National Defense University, and Public Administration from George Washington University. He was a Deputy in the Presidential Delivery Unit as well as a commissioner in the Commission of Truth and Friendship Indonesia – Timor Leste. He currently sits as a member of the Advisory Board of the Institute for Peace and Democracy at Udayana University and Senior Fellow at CSIS Jakarta.

Jim Della-Giacoma to join CAUSINDY

JDG headshot (close cropped)CAUSINDY looks forward to welcoming Jim Della-Giacoma, who will be speaking on the Defence and Security panel at this year’s conference.

With his expertise in the South-East Asian region and experience across several different roles, we look forward to the insight and contributions Jim will bring to this year’s panel. Jim’s most recent research and writing has been related to Indonesia’s elections and democratisation process.

Jim is active on social media and collects his writing on his personal blog Reflections on Southeast Asia. You can also follow him on Twitter at @jimdella.

About Jim Della-Giacoma

Jim is currently a visiting fellow in the Department of Social and Political Change in the School of International, Political and Strategic Studies at the Australian National University’s College of Asia and the Pacific.

In the last two decades, Jim has been a Reuters correspondent, UN official, and head of the International Crisis Group’s operations in Southeast Asia while based in Jakarta. He has studied Indonesian at Universitas Kristen Satya Wacana in Salatiga and taken part in the Australia- Indonesia Youth Exchange Program (AIYEP) in Jambi in 1991-92.

A brief account of his time on AIYEP “Different Pond, Different Fish” was published in KYD Journal in April 2014. He is a regular commentator and essayist whose opinion pieces over the years have been also been published in CNN GPS, Crikey, Foreign Policy, Indonesia, The Lowy Interpreter, New Mandala, Nikkei Asian Review, Strategic Review Journal, and World Politics Review.

Q&A with Donny Eryastha

3e8586aOriginally from Bengkulu, Sumatra, Donny currently works as a Private Sector Development Specialist with the World Bank in Jakarta. Prior to his current work at AusAid, he worked as an Advisor to the Minister at the Indonesia Investment Coordinating Board. He has also worked at both ends of the financial industry, as investment banker and microfinance analyst.

We spoke to him about his experience in the Australia-Indonesia relationship, his career, and what it’s like to be a CAUSINDY delegate.

How did you first get involved in the Australia-Indonesia relationship? Where do you see it headed?

My first foray into the bilateral relationship was when I started working as a Senior Program Manager at AusAID in Jakarta. I managed the disbursement and implementation of Australian aid in Indonesia, focusing on providing technical assistance to the design and implementation of social protection programs.

The Australia-Indonesia relationship can only get tighter, with the increasing economic relationships between both countries and each country’s improved understanding of the strategic significance of the other country.

Where are you working at the moment?

I work as Private Sector Development Specialist at the World Bank in Jakarta, advising the Indonesian government on ways it can improve the country’s business climate and its investment facilitation processes.

On the side I lead Indonesia Mengglobal, a non-profit aimed at improving Indonesians’ access to quality global education.

How did CAUSINDY change your perspective on the Australia-Indonesia relationship?

CAUSINDY exposed me to a group of talented young Australians and Indonesians, each with genuine interests and areas of expertise in the other country. Interacting with them invigorated my optimism toward the future of the Australia-Indonesia relationship, as I could see first hand the growing and tightening bond between the two countries at the people-to-people level.

What advice would you share with anyone thinking of applying this year?

Don’t think twice, just apply! :0) I had a very fun and enriching experience last year and you should try to join this year! Make sure to highlight your exposure to Australia-Indonesia relationships when preparing your application.

Looking beyond ‘Beef, boats, and Bali’

This article by the Indonesia Institute’s Ross Taylor first appeared in The West Australian in September, 2013.

The PM-elect Tony Abbott got off to a good start in building trust and a good working relationship with Indonesia. His telephone conversation last week with Indonesia’s president, Susilo Bambang Yudhoyono, (SBY) has set the scene for both countries to co-operate in the implementation of the coalition’s ‘turn back the boats’ policy.

Indonesia knows that good relations between our two countries are critical at this time throughout the region, and particularly as both the USA and China are now positioning themselves as the regional superpower.

The danger for Australia’s incoming government however, is that Indonesia has a democratic electoral system as robust as that in Australia, and as Indonesia now heads into its own national pre-election period, a ‘turn back the boats’ policy could easily become a strong point of nationalism in Indonesia used by opposition parties, for domestic political purposes, to portray Australia as the big and arrogant southern neighbour.

And the suggestion by Mr Abbott that Australia would buy old fishing boats and pay village wardens to ‘dob in’ people smugglers is seen by most Indonesians-including senior government officials-as silly and quite offensive to Indonesia.

Mr Abbott will therefore need to handle this matter with great skill and diplomacy because at some stage, if the coalition government desires to build a deeper relationship with this emerging giant of 240 million people situated on our doorstep, the focus will need to move beyond not only the ‘boats’, but also beyond the other two dominant issues that sucks any oxygen out of larger and more significant issues facing our two countries: Beef and Bali.

The term ‘Beef, Boats and Bali’ was coined on the recent ABC ‘Q&A’ program that was filmed live in Jakarta. It was a phrase that did in a way summarise how many Australians see our relationship with Indonesia; a relationship built upon misperceptions, fear and a narrow community mindset that is trapped in a twenty year-old time warp.

The PM-elect and his soon-to-be foreign minister may therefore, as a first step, take a look at a snapshot of how Australians view today’s Indonesia. The recent survey conducted within Australia by our own Department of Foreign Affairs revealed a community perception of Indonesia that is insightful but disturbing in its misunderstanding of our near neighbour:

  • 50% see Indonesia as a military threat to Australia.
  • 53% see Indonesia as having an undemocratic political system.
  • 50% see Indonesia as having laws based on the Islamic code.
  • 20% of Australians see Bali as an independent nation,
  • and the two words most associated with Indonesia were ‘Holidays’ and ‘Muslims’.

Ironically, very few Australians see Indonesia as it really is: the absolute opposite of the above. These misperceptions are often fuelled by politicians who seem only to focus on the ‘three B’s’, and also some sections of our electronic media who appear interested only in the latest Bali holiday disaster.

The second thing that Ms Bishop should consider doing is to attend the inaugural Conference of Australia & Indonesia Youth in Canberra next month. Thirty youth leaders from both countries will attend this event that has the appropriate title, ‘Our turn to decide’. They are right, as these young people can provide our foreign minister with an honest and achievable vision for the future, and some good starting points.

These could include making it easier for our youth to move more freely between our respective shores; to be able to work, holiday and learn without bureaucratic red tape that makes it simply too hard at present for many young people.

We need to look how more young people from Indonesia can undertake temporary work here in the hospitality and tourism sectors, and how young Australians can live and study in Indonesia. In this regard the coalition’s reverse ‘Colombo Plan’ is an excellent initiative.

As part of the review of our foreign aid budget for Indonesia we need to ensure the focus is on how to lift the living standards and education of young people into the 21st century. Indonesia is already number three in the World for Facebook usage and number two for Twitter, yet online banking using smart phone technology is almost non-existent. Their youth are ‘high tech’ savvy, but the country’s internet infrastructure is rundown and outdated. Here is an opportunity for Australia to make a difference.

So whilst the immediate challenge for Mr Abbott and Ms Bishop will be about turning around the boats, there must be a broader agenda to completely review the relationship to move beyond the too often used cliché, of needing, ‘to build closer ties’ because without a coherent plan they indeed become ‘just words’.

The ‘Indonesia Strategy’ as developed by DFAT provides the framework for a substantial upgrading of the bi-lateral relationship. Australia and Indonesia are very different in many respects but we are also natural partners. Therefore the sooner we start to look beyond ‘Beef, Boats and Bali’, the sooner we will genuinely strengthen the relationship, starting by re-focusing on our young people, language skills, technology, and exchange programs. Then business, cultural and educational opportunities will flow to benefit both countries, and the region.

It’s just a matter of whether the new PM and his foreign minister are willing to seriously invest in a new and more vibrant relationship with our close – and very youthful – neighbour.

All the indications are that they will.

Ross Taylor AM is the Chairman of the Indonesia Institute (Inc) and Australia’s 2013 ‘Presidential Friend of Indonesia’.

Building the youth relationship

In this new series, we’re speaking to young Australians and Indonesians who have had personal experience in the bilateral relationship. For our first post, we spoke to Clare Price, a young Australian with a background in communications and media.

What is your background with Indonesia?

Sebenarnya hubungan saya dengan Indonesia terjadi lewat Ibu saya. Dia bekerja sebagai guru bahasa Indonesia sejak saya kecil, dan dari awal ibu menginginkan saya belajar bahasa Indonesia. Saya belajar bahasa Indonesia di SMP dan SMA kemudian di universitas juga. Pertama kali saya ke Indonesia adalah pada saat saya berumur 10 tahun, saya ke Bali dengan ibu saya, dan tentu saja saya jatuh cinta dengan pulau Bali. Ketika saya umur 15 tahun saya mengunjungi Sulewesi Selatan juga.

My mum introduced me to Indonesia. She worked as an Indonesian teacher, and encouraged me to study the language. I studied Indonesian in primary, secondary school, and at university. I visited Indonesia for the first time when I was 10, to Bali, and was blown away. I also visited South Sulawesi at 15.

Your blog gives an amazing snapshot of life in Jakarta – and some of the most interesting are the everyday observations. What were the highlights?

Ada banyak hal sehari-hari di Indonesia yang menarik. Misalnya, kegiatan-kegiatan yang terjadi di setiap tepi jalan di Indonesia yaitu kaki lima yang jual makanan yang eksotik, dan ribuan orang yang habiskan waktu di tepi jalan, nonkrong namanya. Ketika saya tinggal di Jakarta ada seekor penyu yang besar sekali yang tinggal di dalam pasar ikan di ujung gang saya. Penyunya suka makan pepaya. Hal lain yang menarik adalah masyarakat kreatif di Jakarta yang besar, selalu ada eksibisi seni,foto dan band-band lokal yang main juga banyak orang-orang yang ingin berbagi ide-ide serta kreasi dalam dunianya.

In Indonesia, there are so many interesting things happening in everyday life: activities on the side of the road, kaki lima and people sitting and chatting with friends everywhere. In Jakarta, a huge turtle lived in the fish market at the end of my street, I used to feed it papaya. Another interesting aspect of life in Jakarta is the city’s huge creative community – there’s always an art or photography exhibition opening or local band playing.

How do you see people-to-people links between Australia and Indonesia growing?

Hubungannya antara orang Australia dan orang Indonesia akan terus tumbuh di masa depan, sebenarnya pada saat ini hubungannya sudah kuat sekali. Indonesia dan Australia adalah tetangga, dan karena itu, seharusnya bekerja sama dan berbagi pengalaman-pengalaman terkait perdagangan, pembangunan, politik dan pendidikan.

The people-to-people links between Australian and Indonesian will continue grow – building on what’s already been established. Indonesia and Australia are neighbours, and will always have trade, development, politics and education links.
What role do you think aid plays in shaping Indonesia’s perceptions of Australia?

Pasti program bantuan dari Australia akan membentuk persepsi orang Indonesia tentang Australia. Juga hal lain seperti budaya, politik dan olahraga membentuk persepsi tersebut. Apa yang paling penting adalah program bantuan Australia di Indonesia adalah program yang berhasil, yang mengurangi kemiskinan, memperkuat pelayanan-pelayanan kesehatan, membangun sekolah-sekolah di daerah yang terpencil dan menghentikan serta mencegah penyebaran penyakit seperti HIV/AIDS.

Absolutely Australia’s aid program affects Indonesia’s perception of Australia – along with cultural differences, politics, and sport. What’s most important is that Australia’s aid program in Indonesia continues to reduce poverty, strengthen health services, build schools and prevent the spread of diseases such as HIV/AIDS.
Indonesia is developing rapidly: where do you see Australia’s aid program in 10 years’ time?

Mudah-mudahan Indonesia tidak akan memerlukan program bantuan Australia di sepuluh tahun ke depan. Dan saya pikir AusAID pasti punya harapan yang sama. AusAID mau mendukung Pemerintah Indonesia sekarang dengan mengurangi tingkat kemiskinan di seluruh Indonesia, tetapi AusAID juga punya harapan besar bahwa Indonesia menjadi negara yang lebih daripada negara berkembang sehinggah tidak memerlukan program bantuan lagi.

Those working in aid hope to work themselves out of a job! The aid community works with the goal that Indonesia won’t need Australian aid in 10 years. AusAID is willing to support the Indonesian government in its efforts to reduce poverty, but as Indonesia is growing at such a rapid pace, aid wont always be required.