Sat, 06 Aug 1994

I was misquoted

Your reporter misquoted me on two crucial points in the article concerning middle class and development in Indonesia (The Jakarta Post, Aug. 5, 1994, Page 1).

I did not say that there were 16 million university graduates in Indonesia today. In fact, as of today, there are less than three million university first degree (Sarjana) holders out of 189 million Indonesians. (Indonesian-language daily Kompas, Aug. 5, 1994, survey on university graduates and their employment prospects). I did say that foreign private research sources maintain that roughly 16 million Indonesians living primarily in urban centers had a monthly household bill of between US$250 and $500. Even that seems high, in view of the fact that there are no more than 3.5 million Indonesians who own credit cards, according to consumer banking sources.

I did not say that a large majority of Indonesians did not understand democracy. I did say that the best way to promote civil and political rights was a sustained attack on poverty and improve basic needs (housing, health care, basic education) so that the social economic base of civil and political freedoms can be enhanced.

Assuming that 30 percent of middle class Indonesians is a prerequisite to the functioning of a civil society, I estimate that it would take another 20 years before 50 million out of 210 million Indonesians in the year 2015 make it to the ranks of the middle class. Hopefully, most of the 50 million would be committed to broadening the political and economic base of Indonesian society. We have a long way to go.



Note: Thank you for your correction.

-- Editor