Indonesian diplomacy should aim to attract more foreign investment to help reach economic growth of 7 percent in 2014, President Susilo Bambang Yudhoyono told around 200 Indonesian envoys.
This growth level would help the country create more jobs and prosperity, Yudhoyono said when opening a week-long meeting involving around 200 of Indonesia’s ambassadors, consul generals and diplomats at the State Palace in Jakarta on Thursday.
“Our funding sources, either from the government or [the domestic] private sector, are only half of what we need to reach the target,” he said.
He said as Jakarta needed Rp 2,000 trillion (US$200 billion) of investment a year to support the target economic growth of 7 percent, envoys should look into establishing partnerships with the Middle
East, China, Europe or the US for investment.
With his popularity declining over a controversial local bank bailout, observers said Yudhoyono had to jolt the quality of his presidency by realizing campaign promises, including the economic growth of 7 percent by 2014 and creating more jobs in Indonesia during his term.
Experts said that the country’s economic growth would be stagnant, and instead of creating jobs, the economy could not absorb new job seekers, thus accelerating the unemployment level, now standing at 10 million people.
However, some critics doubted whether envoys had the training and capability to undertake such a daunting task.
“How can they do that?” Rizal Sukma of the Centre for Strategic and International Studies inquired.
In a separate meeting with ambassadors, Foreign Minister Marty Natalegawa said that Indonesia’s foreign policy should also be directed at contributing to world peace, promoting interfaith dialogue, securing food, energy and water availability, and solving and climate change issues.
He added Indonesia would continue to spearhead the enforcement of human rights, not only in Southeast Asia but worldwide, through experience sharing and workshop forums to increase the capacity of stakeholders.
“Indonesia will not dictate to countries in its efforts to transform rights enforcement in ASEAN and beyond.
We believe that change should come from within the country,” he said.
The statement can be interpreted to mean Indonesia will support ASEAN’s traditional norm of
non-interference, even when a member country, such as Myanmar, violated human rights principles, observers said.
They also expressed fear that the country would weaken its push for democratization in Myanmar.
Indonesia has been said to believe ASEAN is integral to upholding human rights principles, and championed the birth of the group’s human rights commission.
Previously, Indonesia pledged to highlight rights in ASEAN after local and international groups shunned the group’s human rights commission as a toothless body.
Jakarta said that it would ensure that in the next five years, the rights body would have a protection mandate to punish perpetrators.
Marty said that Indonesia would continue to push forward the demand for reform at the UN Security Council, which includes the addition of permanent members, because it no longer “reflected the present political constellation”.
He said Indonesia would look into the possibility of sitting as a permanent member once the reform process concluded.
“Once this reform process is over, Indonesia will seek to ensure that it plays a role commensurate with its standing in the world,” he said.
He said if the effort to create new permanent member seats failed, Indonesia would push for the creation of semipermanent member seats that would have longer terms than the current non-permanent member’s two-year term.