“HOPE” yay or nay?

On October 20th, 2014, Joko Widodo was elected as Indonesian seventh president. His track record as mayor of Solo and former Governor of Jakarta brought him to be the number one person in Indonesia. As a president, Joko needs to deal with a lot of problems as well as find solutions to fix them by making effective policies. The strong vision of Joko Widodo for Indonesia in the next 68 years to go is including developing world-class human capital; creating an internationally influential nation values pluralism; being a global center of education, technology, and civilization; zero corruption; building quality infrastructure, and having a globally integrated economy.

The central foreign policy pillar under Joko Widodo’s leadership tends to focus on the global maritime axis to protect Indonesia’s sovereignty, boost its maritime defenses, tackle regional piracy and improve connectivity Indonesia to the world. All goals are quite clear to project Indonesia’s national identity through Indonesia’s interest by strengthening the security and economy aspect as well as its diplomacy. But the implementation of those policies is not going to run well and will stand as a theory if there is no support from coherent foreign policy especially when it comes to the idea of maritime security networks such as fishing, mining, and trade activities. The most important thing is about maritime policy which is the combination between domestic policy and foreign policy which means the foreign policy should support the existence of domestic interest specifically when we focus on neighbor relations under the archipelago matter. To defend Indonesia’s territorial integrity as the form of sovereignty, the coordination among ministry should be clear before the policymakers do their job for the next years to come.

Putting policy into both the regional and international levels naturally reminds the consequences in terms of implementation and implication. Some of these consequences are good and some are not like we were expecting before but we need to be ready for every single possibility ahead. As long as we have a strong pillar and we have a base to create policies, the implementation and the implication will follow the process as the result of the new presidential administration of Indonesia. Acknowledging Indonesia’s position in Southeast Asia and the Asia Pacific, well prepared maritime policies will help Indonesia to be a better problem solver in both domestically and globally, in its backyard. In the meantime, the capabilities will strengthen the position of Indonesia in ASEAN as well by empowering the overall potential of ASEAN to combat international security issues including piracy, trade and water environment. All of that is strongly related to Indonesia’s interest to maintain stability in both domestic and regional scale.

When we looked back into the former president of Indonesia Susilo Bambang Yudhoyono presidential era, the foreign policy of previous administration was often criticized as lacking of coordination and coherence direction under the strong line of “a thousand friends, zero enemy” while current president Joko Widodo’s foreign policy to be more nationalistic by trying to strengthen the domestic first before spreading power globally under the idea of maritime axis. We can see the status quo is to keep progressing so far. The implementation of this policy can be seen through Indonesia’s action in capturing illegal fishing in Indonesian waters. The consequence is still there for sure. Proactive reaction of Indonesia somehow creates tension among neighboring countries which possibly will hampering the cooperation among ASEAN nations. But still, strong value of the centre pillar of Joko Widodo’s presidential will always be there in order to keep sovereignty and to maintain security.

For all of the plans that have been made by Joko Widodo, Indonesia really needs sustainable policies in order to foster Indonesia’s betterment under his leadership. The larger context of his policies is not only focused on Indonesia’s interest but need to concern about Indonesia’s friendship with other countries as an implication of Indonesia’s foreign policy under Joko Widodo’s presidential. The recent issue was about drug smuggling policy which ended up when Joko Widodo authorized the executions of some foreigners on death row and also the issue of human rights in Papua which caught international attention. Those issues try to send a signal in order to introduce a new figure of Indonesia and changes to Indonesian policy. Friendship is important for international cooperation but still needs to filter which friend will support the domestic interest of a state.

As a Joko Widodo created his own quote “What’s the point of having many friends but only get the disadvantages?”. The quote might remind us of Indonesian-Australian diplomatic relations for the past 2 years after the spying scandal did by Australia towards Indonesia. This incident broke their relationship for sure since Indonesia believed that Australia disturbed Indonesian sovereignty. That’s why during Joko Widodo’s administration, he bought strong maritime sovereignty strong line in order to defend Indonesia’s national security globally. Meaning that Indonesia really takes the maritime axis as a weapon to prevent Australia’s further action that might hamper Indonesia’s sovereignty. If we think out of the box, it could be preventive action for Australia to enter Indonesia’s waters to send asylum seekers or even people smugglers back home. It’s so interesting by seeing both countries try to show their powers on regional scale in terms of power transition.

Acknowledging Indonesia’s position in the Asia Pacific, the implication of the new maritime axis policy is a bit tricky for border relationships with neighbors especially the recent clash with China related to Natuna Islands. Aggressive Beijing’s policy towards sea issues can be seen in the case of the South China Sea. Maritime power in both countries more or less will affect another side of cooperation among them which is the economy matter as China became a primary source of foreign direct investment in Indonesia. It’s kinda dilemma for Indonesia’s interest in the economic aspect while Indonesia needs to be proactive in order to protect its sovereignty in the security aspect. The relations between Jakarta and Beijing will be a bit awkward when Japan also try to expand the influence to Indonesia as well plus Japan along with Vietnam and the Philippines (re the main countries that have territorial disputes with China) would love to stand behind Jakarta by strengthening their relations while they against China for sure.

If we pay attention to the international level regarding the new Indonesia’s global maritime axis implication, actually some foreign countries welcomed it positively especially Japan which believes the potential marketplace in Indonesia is getting better. That’s why for the past couple of years, Japan invested so much money in Indonesia and Japan became one of the biggest investors in Indonesia since Japan realized that Indonesia is the perfect place to sell maritime equipment. Another country that supported Indonesia’s maritime axis policy is the United States as one of the important partners of Indonesia for military purposes. United States was happy to cooperate with Indonesia in collaborating to boost maritime security and defense programs. But if we analyze this phenomenon to detail, Japan and the United States are having the same interest to balance the power of China in the Asia region as the form of competitive superpower hegemony among them. Especially in responding the new Indonesia’s global maritime axis policy, they compete to win Indonesia’s attention since they have the same interest towards Indonesia whether economically or even politically not because of strategic geographical location only, but also because Indonesia turned out to be an influential key player in ASEAN and Asia Pacific region. In the end, Joko Widodo administration needs to consider many things in implementing Indonesia’s center policy in order to respond to external regional and global scale. The regional power transition is part of global political aspect which led to the stabilization of international positive vibe among countries. Joko Widodo tries to proof it.

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