The most important lessons I learned in Indonesia

WHAT MATTERS MOST - Atty Josephus Jimenez - The Freeman

Dateline: Yogyakarta, Island of Java, Republik Indonesia, 11 September 2015. My five-day business and leisure trip to this vast Republic of 17, 508 islands has paid off. It was actually sponsored entirely by my HR community friends in ASEAN, which is tapping me and my long career in HR and labor and industrial relations, to spearhead, on behalf of the private sectors of the ten member-nations, to work on a vision of ASEAN LABOUR CODE. I am coming home rich with insights and new perspectives on the many beautiful things about the Philippines' best friend, Indonesia. I learned a lot more than I taught them by my lectures. Indonesians have the right values and proper perspectives in life and nationhood.

In the context of Philippine and Indonesian politics, I learned that to be president of this biggest Islamic nation in the world, one has to have twelve qualifications and none of the eight disqualifications. On the qualifications, Law No. 42 of this country, promulgated in 2008, requires that a presidential candidate should believe in the one and only God; must be Indonesian citizen since birth and has never attempted to become a citizen of another country; a permanent resident; must be at least 35 years of age; must be educated up to a certain required level; a registered voter; a registered taxpayer; has paid taxes for at least the last five years. In the Philippines, we allow anyone to run as long as he knows how to read and write.

In Indonesia, a presidential candidate must be physically and mentally fit to perform the duties, and must have reported all his wealth to the Corruption Eradication Commission. Above all, he or she must be faithful to the Pancasila, the 1945 Constitution, and must adhere to the vision of the Indonesian Declaration of Independence. And, the most important is that, he has a vision, a mission and a complete program to execute the office of the President of Indonesia. In the Philippines, any Tomas Dikoy or Tokmol can run for the highest position, even those with records of mental instability, and those who could not even complete their studies. We require a lot of credentials for policemen and teachers but we allow nincompoops and morons to become president.

Anybody who has done any of the following cannot run for president in Indonesia: those who betrayed the nation (treason); or involved in corruption and criminal activity; or has debts that may create a burden to the state; or has been declared bankrupt by any court; or has been involved in any despicable act; or has been sentenced to jail; or has been a member of the Communist Party. Those who have already been president for two terms cannot run again. In the Philippines, the most despicable, if he has money, even stolen money allegedly, the most inexperienced if she looks fresh and is a daughter of an actor, the most inept and incompetent if his family name is ilustrado or haciendero, can run for president. The truly qualified can never win. If he has no money.

President Joko Widodo, that bicycle-riding president of 250 million Indonesians is a son of a carpenter from Suraharta, who had to work in his father's wood carpentry shop at the age of twelve. He is not an haciendero but he worked his way to graduate from a forestry school. He was wounded and scarred in life's many struggles. That is why he has empathy. He knows the plight of the poor. He is truly committed to genuine agrarian reform. He rose from the ranks, from being mayor of Suraharta from 2005 to 2012, then as governor of Jakarta from 2012 to 2014. He won a convincing majority in 2014 over richer and more influential rivals. He is a genuine leader. He was elected because he deserves it, not because of sympathy when his mother died.

Today, Indonesia is number 34 out of 188 countries according to the World Economic Forum's Global Competitiveness Index. It is a respected member of the Group of 20 top nations of the world in terms of economy. Its per capita income is much higher than the Philippines despite the fact that its population is more than double than that of our country's.

It is the most influential member of the OEC. Its government thrust has achieved tremendous leaps in the improvement on public and private governance and in infrastructures. It is rated in the whole world as number 36 in government efficiency. There are problems, of course, who doesn't have. But Widodo is on top of them as a very effective leader and decision-maker. We used to be better than Indonesia. But our leaders and ourselves blew it. "Sayang." Indonesia and the Philippines have the same word: ''Sayang''.














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