I took as my premise in Part 1 David Attenborough’s definition of democracy: “What we mean by parliamentary democracy is surely that we find someone we respect who we think is probably wiser than we are, who is prepared to take the responsibility of pondering difficult things and then trust him – or her – to vote on our behalf.“
I share that idealistic notion, yet neo-capitalism (aka ‘globalisation’), the legacy of Margaret Thatcher, is the reality in much of the world, including Indonesia. This was foretold sixty years ago in Aldous Huxley‘s 1958 Preface to Brave New World.
“Impersonal forces over which we have almost no control … are being consciously accelerated by representatives of commercial and political organizations who have developed a number of new techniques for manipulating, in the interest of some minority, the thoughts and feelings of the masses.”
I concluded Part 1 of this series with the suggestion that the rakyat (citizenry / masses) are mere disposable serfs. “Because national economic development remains superior in local developments, the private sector seems to have more power than local participants.”
So, who determines “national economic development”?
There is obvious collusion between the Indonesian business-political and judicial ‘elite’. There are State Owned Enterprises (SOEs) in many fields, yet what could be expected to be ‘public’ concerns, e.g. hospitals, roads, transport, are privatised. There are vast sums at stake, both in the awards of construction contracts and in the provision of the services to manage them.
Not all the collusion is corrupt on the scale of Rolls-Royce (pdf), or that of the Constitutional Court judge and former Justice and Human Rights Minister Patrialis Akbar. I term much of the business sector’s “manipulation” as ‘moral corruption’ because certain activities are a mask, a thin veneer to deflect attention from how a decreasing number of oligarch controlled conglomerates are amassing the wealth of the nation.
The 2015 World Bank report Indonesia’s Rising Divide (pdf) gives these stats:
– a mere 0.2 percent own 74 percent of the land.
– the richest 1 percent own 50 percent of the country’s wealth.
In essence the report states that “fifteen years of sustained economic growth in Indonesia have helped to reduce poverty and create a growing middle class. Yet growth over the past decade has primarily benefitted the richest 20% and left behind the remaining 80% of the population – that is 205+ million people.”
Huxley’s “some minority” regularly feature in the Forbes List of the 50 Richest Indonesians. Most have made their fortune from the land they ‘own’: palm oil plantations, tobacco, mines et al.
In 2007, Law No. 40, 2007 on Limited Liability Companies was promulgated. Through it, Indonesia became the first nation in the world to adopt a mandatory approach to Corporate Social Responsibility (CSR). It took another five years for implementing regulations to be passed into company law.
Government Regulation 47/2012 stipulates that all companies that manage or utilise natural resources or that impact natural resources are required to bear a social and environmental responsibility which is harmonious and balanced with the surroundings and the local society according to the values, norms and culture of that society.
Obligations include the preservation of the function of the environment pursuant to the law along with its implementing regulation regarding natural resources or matters pertaining to natural resources as well as the ethics of running a company.
So, is it effective? Or do the One Percent offer a nationalistic veneer through publicity of the ‘good’ they are doing on behalf of the country?
For my analysis, read Civil Rights 2b (Business People) – coming soon
But you could start with this (pdf) ….