Indonesia: Prabowo Victory & Jokowi Legacy, "Golden Indonesia 2045" GDP Vision and Middle-Income Trap & Societal Challenges - E389

· Indonesia,Podcast Episodes English


“It's very important to educate people, children, educate the Gen Z on civic duties and on what government is so that we don't fall back into this mindset that one person can save an entire nation, or one person is the key, because that is simply not true. There, I tend to say, if Indonesia falls apart, it's because 285 million people made that happen. The fact is, it's not true that just one person in electoral democracies is responsible. One of the big challenges of becoming a new voting population is realizing that they, too, now have a hand in where the country is going.” - Gita Sjahrir

“Every generation will always have their forms of idealism, and that's a good thing. I don't understand why we get so bitter and tell them not to want better things. That's so sad. That's our trauma talking. We got disappointed, so we feel the need to dump it on other people, but it's good that Gen Z has their own idealism. It's great that Gen Alpha will have its own idealism in the future. And that is what's happening as the world gets better, safer, and more aware. These days, you can't just look at an economic story because the richer and educated a country gets, the more you realize that you want other things in your life.” - Gita Sjahrir

“A typical person can probably figure out key decision makers and what they can do to stop something. Communities can stop and jumpstart things and they can understand that they have a duty. This is the part where there seems to be a disconnect in a lot of countries where leaders are 80 years old, but voters are 21. The key is, what are you doing to understand this very large population, because they're going to continue to exist. They’ll through an economic development story in which usually, if a country gets richer, you get better education. They'll also be more educated and understand certain things are not up to their standards anymore. And so, it’s so important to not see Gen Z as a quick win story, but to really be mindful that when you're building a country, you're building generations.” - Gita Sjahrir

Gita Sjahrir, Head of Investment at BNI Ventures, and Jeremy Au discussed three main themes:

1. Prabowo Victory & Jokowi Legacy: Gita underscored Prabowo's dedication to further Jokowi's economic initiatives, notably the ambitious relocation of the capital from Jakarta to Nusantara to stimulate balanced development across the archipelago. A key focus was on mobilizing Gen Z voters, whose significant influence in the election underscores the necessity for clear political messaging tailored for this digitally savvy cohort accustomed to prolific social media engagement.

2. "Golden Indonesia 2045" GDP Vision: The discussion extended to the campaign goal of aiming to position Indonesia as a beacon of economic prosperity, with substantial enhancements in GDP per capita, human capital, and global competitiveness. Gita highlighted this vision as part of a larger ambition to elevate Indonesians' quality of life through superior education and self-fulfillment opportunities.

3. Middle-Income Trap & Societal Challenges: Addressing Indonesia's societal hurdles, including poverty and child stunting, was central to their conversation. Gita and Jeremy emphasized the imperative for growth strategies that not only extricate Indonesia from the middle-income quagmire but also champion equitable progress. The importance of nurturing an informed citizenry was also stressed, to ensure a populace that recognizes its civic responsibilities and the consequential nature of their voting actions.

Jeremy and Gita also talked about the significance of legislative checks and balances, the role of foreign policy in shaping the country’s international relations, Singapore's view of the Indonesia electoral outcome and the importance of comprehensive educational reforms.

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(01:38) Jeremy Au:

Hey Gita, how are you this morning?

(01:40) Gita Sjahrir:

I'm good, how are you?

(01:41) Jeremy Au:

Good I think we're both like, oh, got our coffee set up. We finally fixed out all our technical issues and so ready to get started.

(01:48) Gita Sjahrir:

Yes, ready to speak about the future of Indonesia?

(01:50) Jeremy Au:

Yeah, I mean, if you want to talk about the past of Indonesia, like,

(01:54) Gita Sjahrir:


(01:54) Jeremy Au:

Welcome to the history podcast.

(01:56) Gita Sjahrir:

Right, right, right.

(01:58) Jeremy Au:

Well, it looks like, since our last discussion, which was talking about the electoral process, we've seen that the, presidency has been won uh, by Prabowo. And so that's the big news that we have here. And so, yeah, some of the, multiverse possibilities has, sort of define the one track and now we can talk a little bit about what we think the next four, eight, years could look like, from a potential perspective. So yeah, what are your thoughts about this whole election so far and up in terms of process and where we're at?

(02:25) Gita Sjahrir:

Well, Prabowo's entire election campaign ran on the back of continuing Jokowi's success story. So, their entire vision and mission was about that. So there is some focus on moving the capital to a different city in order to have more stable and equal economic development between Java islands and the eastern islands.

And then there are also more conversations about industrialization and increasing people's educational level in order for us to have more competitive human resources in the future. So, so much of the campaign was about maintaining our current growth trajectory. And I think that probably explain why so many Gen Z's actually elected zero two. So that was his number in the campaign. Zero two for Prabowo and Gibran, his vice president running mate. And right now, I think people are mainly feeling well, at least the development story will still be there. At least we're still going for that economic growth.

(03:29) Gita Sjahrir:

And Indonesia itself has had this campaign that we'd like to run called Golden Indonesia 2045. So hopefully by 2045, we will have economic growth at a similar level to a developed economy. For example, having a high GDP per capita and having high human resource quality so that we are competitive with the global stage.

(03:52) Jeremy Au:

Amazing. So a lot to unpack there. You mentioned a number zero two. So could you share a little bit more about what zero two means?

(03:59) Gita Sjahrir:

Sure. Well, in Indonesia, when a president and vice president candidate run against each other, they get the number, so whatever number the elections body gives them, supposedly it's random. But I, I don't know for sure, to be honest, in the end, because we usually only have 2 or 3 candidates, well, actually, or more if you're looking at the past, because we've had a lot of elections since 26 years ago, then that decides what number do people choose on the ballot. So that's why months before the election, when they get the numbers, so, for example. One candidate will get 01. Another candidate will get 02. Another candidate will get 03. They will continuously use those numbers to campaign in order to create that positive correlation in people's mind between their vision and mission and the number so that by the time you get to the election and the polling place, you're not at a loss as to, you which one is it? Because you're they really reinforce that number and their vision and mission to you or whatever marketing positioning that they've done. And that you can then make that decision right on the day.

Also, very important to say that Indonesia has a very high elections participation rate, and our elections, we don't just elect the president and vice president candidate. We also elect a legislative and oftentimes people discount how important the legislative elections are. So, in our system, it is not important to just have a president, vice president. And if you choose that's it. Like these two people decide every single decision that happens in the country. And no one can do any checks and balances. And literally, there are no other powers. In Indonesia, it's not like that. We have a legislative system and that legislative system can definitely block any presidential initiatives or any type of laws and policies that are coming from the executive body. So that is where a lot of the checks and balances also happen.

(06:00) Jeremy Au:

So, if we were to look at the traditional system, I think in America, for example, they need two thirds, for example. Majority would be common like thresholds for certain types of resolutions. What kind of like thresholds are we looking at in the Indonesia system?

(06:15) Gita Sjahrir:

This also depends on what laws there are. So, for example, a president can give out these things called PERPRES or regulation by the president. So, for example, the regulation on the economic value of carbon is a PERPRES. It's a presidential, handed-down regulation. Now, of course, how that act is executed is a different story that can come from the ministerial. So technical level. So they then come out with, hey, this is how we are going to execute these laws. Now, certain laws that have to do with the execution of that law and how you enforce it, or will there be penalties and all the et cetera, et cetera, that happens, that can also trickle to the legislative body.

I'm not exactly sure the percentage because it depends on the sector, and it also depends on what laws that we are looking at, but basically, this is the part that can block laws or can pass laws through, and I think when people think of laws, they often think of, oh, the president has something that happens, but laws can also .Be complicated, right? Because it's about, okay, well, now that you've made up the decision, and that's your aim, how do you execute it? Do you have the budget to execute it? In which you would need the approval of the ministry of finance, which is its own technical, area, then what is the penalty if you don't enforce it? Then what is the carrot and stick measures that you need in order to maintain that law over time?

So all of that, this is the part of the public policy realm where checks and balances can happen.

(07:53) Jeremy Au:

Yeah. So that would be what, two-thirds?

(07:55) Gita Sjahrir:

I am not sure exactly the number. And I definitely now realize I need to study up on Indonesian public administration, because unfortunately, my public administration background and degree is in the United States. So.

(08:10) Jeremy Au:

It's like, welcome to the Indonesia Political Science podcast.

(08:14) Gita Sjahrir:

Welcome, welcome to reminding me, I need to review this.

(08:18) Jeremy Au:

Yeah. But what's interesting, of course, is that there's a set of questions, which is, first of all, it's like, I think it's going to change. And then from the outside in is like, what was the baseline set of policies as well, because not everybody's familiar with Indonesia. Right? So, could you describe perhaps both of those aspects?

(08:34) Gita Sjahrir:

Sure. The baseline of the policies before our future president, so the one we just elected, has been a lot about economic development. And in order to understand the way things are set up right now, I'm going to take you a little bit back before we had an electoral democracy. So back then, during the Suharto era, because it was one very powerful person, what happens is there are a lot of economic policies that are very protectionist, very exclusive.

It is only meant for certain players, there are monopolies, because that was how it has been. Benefited the regime over time. So it was set up in that way. So, by the time the electoral democracy came, there was a huge reform that happened legally, politically, but because there's so much reform that is still going on until now because it requires dismantling also hundreds of laws. The really big reform that needed to happen was unlocking the key of power so that back then when it was the Suharto regime, it was really one key of power and then trickling down to very few keys of power, both for public sector and private sector.

And you're also in a situation where public and private sector are almost synonymous with each other, right? So, in order to say that you are the monopoly in this one sector in private sector, most likely you have very strong relationship with someone in public sector, and that was the way it was. Now, over the 26 years, what's been happening is kind of the separation between public and private sector. Of course, I'm not saying that means if you have connections, it won't help you. It does help you because again, like I said, you're dismantling a lot and it's only been 26 years. So, a lot of the reform then became about how do you have a healthy private sector that is not always dependent on needing to have a cronyism and needing to have connections with public sector.

That's still a journey. It is not done. It is still happening as we speak. But what we saw over the last 10 years has been a stronger private and public sector communication and relationship. So, some economic policies become more liberalized so that people can enter into the private sector and do business and thrive. And then there are still some things here and there where there may be protectionist policies in place because, for example, if it's a mineral resource that is in Indonesia, that can be political too, because then Indonesians will say, isn't that part of our land? Let's keep it to ourselves. And that tug of war will still happen, which happens in a lot of other countries too. So that is where we are, but I would say the last 10 years, the biggest reform has been that. So to have public and private sector have better communication discussion and also, liberalizing some of those policies so that newer players can come into private sector and thrive.

(11:27) Jeremy Au: Yeah. And what's interesting is that, I've been reading some of the Singapore analysis and I think the point of view of the establishment. And what's been interesting is that they also see proposed a continuity candidate, I think one of two aspects, right? One of course is the commitment to the domestic policies that you just mentioned. And you know, obviously, Singapore is very interested in the foreign policy of Indonesia because, that impacts Singapore's foreign policy. And I think what The Straits Times that I'll link in the transcript later, basically describes about how, there's really been a long history of partnership via the joint military exercise planning exercises for decades, actually. So there's a very much an old hand of many people in the Singapore establishment, especially the defense side, who have obviously rotated back into the civilian administration, who are very comfortable working with Prabowo. So that was an interesting kind of like point of view by the Singapore government.

And I think actually what he felt was that because of that, also they felt like proposed presidency would be more confident about foreign and international policy because, he's been out there for a while as well. So we should have been different from other candidates who hadn't had that same amount of global experience. So interesting to see the view of that from the different neighbors. So let's just see how it goes.

(12:35) Gita Sjahrir:

Yeah, Singapore is such an important ally for Indonesia too. And I think if there's one thing that Indonesia really treasures is our relationship and global and foreign policy with Singapore and ASEAN, right? Being the largest ASEAN country. So, I think when we're looking at Mr. Prabowo,. people also need to understand that his background was a very international, not just the joint military exercise, not just because he was trained in the US or whatnot, but his childhood, he grew up in different countries. So he speaks multiple languages. He's very comfortable speaking with foreign dignitaries. So those are the elements that makes a lot of international leaders comfortable with the current choice.

(13:18) Jeremy Au:

And it was interesting to see as well the US side. I think there were two sides that came out, right? I think one, I would say like The Economist was very much unhappy. I think they were, I think before the election, advocating against I wouldn't say in a very hard way, but definitely self advocacy. I don't know. Let me tell you, tell me how you read those articles. We'll link to them as well. So, but definitely not a fan, I would say of the Prabowo candidacy. And then I think the other side, I think it was that US side as well, was eh, we've got to do business, because I think they're very much concerned about the US-China relationship is the number one issue for them. And then, whoever they can work with is someone they will want to work with. Your thoughts?

(13:53) Gita Sjahrir:

To have these constitutional changes look very worrisome for a lot of external observers. And I understand that. But I think what a lot of people also don't realize is that Indonesia's democracy's still extremely young. It's extremely young with a populace that are still very young. So the majority of voters are younger people under 40. We're not even talking about Gen Z. We're just, they're just younger people. So they also don't have the same context of history. They don't understand really the extent of lots of things. You can't just say that about Indonesia or even other countries around us, you can say that, including about the, you know, EU countries and the U. S. by the way, because the U. S. candidates this coming year can be very, interesting, right? They're older. They also have a lot of baggage. They also have a lot of questionable track record. And I think just to see it from that lens and not always assume, hey, Indonesia, why aren't you having, Nobel Peace Prize winners and people who are of a different track record, the kind of people we like to see, how come those aren't there? And just being very realistic and also seeing where we are in this stage.

(15:04) Gita Sjahrir:

And the fact is for the U. S., you're right. They are also thinking it from a very logical standpoint, in the sense that this is one of the largest countries in the world is, a gateway to Southeast Asia in a way. So what's also the point of us trying to create friction with a country that we've been, we've been developing relationship with for decades. There really is no great benefit that the U. S. gets out of it, nor us. So I think it's just also important to see whenever we want to vilify a country or we want to assume the worst about a country to also think about other countries have their challenges too. We all have dark histories. We all have dark pasts and, just because things are not turning out the way other countries would like us to have, it doesn't necessarily mean that the future is done.

And a really big part of this that I also want to emphasize is how legislative-wise, Mr. Prabowo's party did not dominate. So they were not number one. They were not even ranked number two. And that is the part that gets very interesting because people thought, Oh, if you choose him, you must choose his party. And that is simply not true in Indonesia, the fact is the majority of people chose whatever party was strong in their region to begin with. So that's where I'm talking about.

Yeah, that's where I'm talking about the checks and balances. So they may like the persona and they may like the vision & mission of 1 presidential candidate, but it's not automatic that they will choose that candidate's party, which, I think, if you're coming from a very U. S. context and you're very deep in U. S. politics, you may assume that choosing a candidate means choosing the party. And that's not always the case in a lot of other countries, including Indonesia.

(16:45) Jeremy Au:

Yeah. I think that's interesting because that polarization, self sorting is obviously a lot more, significant obviously in the West, for example. But I think that's still new in Southeast Asia. I like what you said about, this is the past and let's look at what the future holds for us.

And I really like the phrase that you said about Indonesia 2045 in terms of the goals. Could you share a little bit more about that? Like, obviously it's aspirational. So, that's a time in the future, but I'm just kind of curious, like, how is it being used? Is it more like a general manifesto or, yeah. I mean, cause I don't hear it on a day to day basis. Yeah.

(17:19) Gita Sjahrir:

Well, the words themselves are also in Indonesian, which is Indonesia Emas, which means Golden Indonesia. So I'm not very sure if we are using the English words as a clear sense of direction that we externally say to all the foreign medias. I don't necessarily think so. I think it's very much used internally. And I think a lot of it is to have this guiding principle that for the next 20 years, 21 years, we're going to aim to have a developed economy and whatever comes with developed economy. So higher GDP per capita, higher quality of human resources, the Golden Indonesia model even talks about having a Net Zero emission electricity grid.

So, basically, how do you get yourself to a level of a sophisticated economy? And I think very similar to a lot of countries that are experiencing a middle income trap, this is a fairly common aspirational model to aspire to. So, right now, golden Indonesia is really used in the public and private sector as a reminder that whatever it is that we're doing now, we really need to strive to get to a better and more developed Indonesia circa 21 years from now.

(18:31) Jeremy Au:

Yeah. And I think, that's the interesting part, right? Because, there's the American dream and then obviously there was also the China dream that Xi Jinping put out there. So I think Singapore has one as well. So I think it's interesting to see the various um, I would say manifestos or slogans I think that's there, obviously from a campaigning perspective. I guess one thing I'm curious about is, how does that play out across the different geographies within Indonesia? Because, it's large, there are multiple islands you mentioned earlier about, Java versus Eastern side. So how does this vision play out across, the different provinces?

(19:05) Gita Sjahrir:

Like I said in a previous previous podcast, Indonesia is naturally decentralized. So think of an area that is almost coast to coast US in a way, because if you get from one end of Indonesia to another, it's like almost a six hour flight. So it's very long and it's very decentralized and broken up and there are 17, 000 islands. The majority are not inhabited, but you're still looking at an immensely large amount of land. Not only immensely large, you also have extreme diversity, right? So there's what, I don't even know anymore, a thousand languages going on, multiple religions, ethnicities, et cetera, et cetera. So it's very diverse, very rich. But that makes managing the country also very challenging. And I think when we're thinking of Golden Indonesia, that could probably explain why our current president Jokowi has so much emphasis on having another capital city, which, although we all know will probably take decades because making anything, making any city is not instantaneous. You can't do it in a year, but there could be that emphasis because he's attempting to move the economic development story.

So that is not just based on this 1 region that we have right now called the Java, Bali islands that can actually spread out, right? So, for example, for the new capital, in a way, he envisions it to be similar to Washington, D. C. So the seat of government, and psychologically, for example, he's saying, well, what if you people in Java, where the center of economic trade have been happening so far, actually have to fly over here to get work done? Because right now, all the local governments have to fly to Jakarta to get work done, right? How come it's never the other way around? And so that's 1 of the ways. I don't think it's the only way, of course. But that's 1 of the ways. And that's also politically 1 of the easiest concepts to get, not just for voters, but also for other administrators. Like, it's a very clear picture. And then, of course, after that, you have industrialization, you have all sorts of social services in order to eliminate poverty. I think the last 10 years, they've done a great job of attempting to eliminate poverty in a lot of villages. Because again, we are looking at thousands of islands, and those are various levels of income, also various levels of economic activity, right? So that is the challenge in golden Indonesia.

(21:33) Jeremy Au:

Yeah. I was in D. C. And I think it was a great analogy that you just made because when I went there for the first time, honestly about a month ago, I thought it was fascinating to hear about history about that. And I think a lot of this criticisms about D. C. Is something that I hear, for this new capital city for Indonesia, because I think the calculations are the same, which is politically where is the center of gravity? So at the time, Washington D. C. was more in the center than on a coastline until they had an opportunity to build a city from scratch. And so obviously when they're, the monuments are there because, I can't imagine building those monuments in New York would have been impossible. For example, there's not enough space for Lincoln Memorial or, for MLK, Martin Luther King. And so I think it was just a fascinating part where I think Washington DC was, a city that was very focused on the governance of the country, which was interesting. I think we will see that in Malaysia as well, KL, they moved out of city as well.

(22:24) Gita Sjahrir:


(22:24) Jeremy Au:

So I thought it was interesting to see that yeah, it's a common decision. So I'm not sure why it catches so much flak for some reason. I was like, no, I think it's a common decision. I mean, lots of countries move their capital city outside their economic city actually. So one interesting aspect as well that I'm curious about is, when you look at the future, obviously, how do we see this generationally play out?

So Gen Z is happening. We talked about TikTok in the last episode. So, for example, I guess everyone's going to go on TikTok now, I guess, in the next five years, is that going to be one of the key takeaways? Like, how do we see the generational change perhaps? And maybe electioneering, maybe that's why we were saying it, but also perhaps, how they communicate one another.

(23:03) Gita Sjahrir:

Yeah, and that is why it is so important for any country to invest into education. Well, this time around, Prabowo's candidacy, they have the most people elect them from Gen Z. So Gen Z was the biggest voters of Mr. Prabowo's camp. And a lot of people are just scratching their heads. They don't understand. But again, for me, it's actually quite understandable because comparatively, Mr. Prabowo's entire thing was about maintaining the current level of economic development. So maintaining whatever Mr. Jokowi is doing well and continuing to do it until we hit, the same development story as a developed economy. And so that's actually very easy for a young, especially first time voters to understand. And

(23:48) Gita Sjahrir:

comparatively, if you're looking at the other candidates, they're also strong. Like, they are people that the mass respect. But in terms of story and in terms of how easy it would be for a typical first time voters to understand, it just requires more understanding of what their vision and mission are, what are they looking to do, what their policies are. And in general, when you're dealing with a very large and enthusiastic voting population, clear messages, just win.

(24:15) Jeremy Au:


(24:16) Gita Sjahrir:

Clear messages when also, I think the more social media consume, unfortunately, like the lower our attention span is, so any candidate that can capture that attention span for a while, and also with a very attractive, clear messaging, we'll just probably rise up.

(24:33) Jeremy Au:


(24:34) Gita Sjahrir:

I think, when we're looking at politics, it's very important to just educate people, just educate people, educate children, educate Gen Z, especially educate Gen Z on civic duties on what government is, so that also, we don't fall back into this mindset that, hey, one person can save an entire nation, or one person is the key, because that is simply not true. There, I tend to say, well, if Indonesia falls apart, it's because 285 million people helped make that happen. So, I refuse to believe because of the way the systems are set up. The fact is, it's it's not true that just one person in electoral democracies are responsible. One of the big challenges of becoming a new voting population is realizing that they, too, now have a hand in where the country is going, whether they like it or not, right? And it's from lots of things. It's not just from electing presidential candidates or legislative candidates. It's also not just from paying taxes, but it's lots of things. So what are you doing in your community? How are you understanding how development story is playing in your area? Like, what is being done in your cities? What can you do, in order to. Let your aspirations ring out, like, do, for example, in your cities or in your communities, or even in your town level, how things get passed, because a lot of things happen also in Indonesia at the regional level.

So a typical person can probably figure out, which key decision makers and also what they can do to stop something. So communities can stop things, by the way, and communities can also jumpstart things and just being more aware of that and understanding that you have a duty. And I think this is the part where, there seems to be a disconnect in a lot of countries where you're, your leaders are 80 years old, but your voters are 21. Right? And then the key is, what are you doing to understand? This very large population, because they're only going to, they're going to continue to exist. Now with better health care and also higher, life expectancy, they're going to be productive longer too.

And they're going to, go through an economic development story in which usually if a country gets richer, you get better education. They'll also be more educated and understand certain things are not up to their standards anymore. What are you going to do with that? And so I think it's just so important to always not see Gen Z as a quick win story. So let me try to win their hearts in one election and then screw them. But to really be mindful that when you're building a country, you're building generations. It's about the people first. It's not about the country, because countries are just countries. One of the best books on this is, Ben Anderson's Imagine Communities. And it's about that, because communities in a way are, a societal structure. It's made up and then legally we set it up so that it becomes a country. But in the end. You must always think that all this ruling, all these policies, all these ideas, all this golden Indonesia 2045 are for people. It has to trickle down to the people level.

(27:44) Jeremy Au:

Right. And, one interesting aspect about that, of course, is I'm curious if you have any thoughts on Generation Alpha?

(27:50) Gita Sjahrir:

Oh my gosh. Oh, but they are my, my niece and my nephews.

(27:54) Jeremy Au:

Any suspicions on how, any suspicions on how it's going to turn out?

(27:58) Gita Sjahrir:

Well, I think every generation will always have their other forms of idealism. And that's a good thing. I don't understand why we get so bitter and tell them, Oh, don't want better things. That's so sad. That's just our trauma talking, right? We got disappointed, so we feel the need to dump it on other people, but actually, it's good that Gen Z has their own idealism. It's great that Gen Alpha has its own idealism in the future. And that is just what's happening as the world gets, hopefully, better, safer, and more aware. These days, you can't just look at an economic story because the richer a country gets again, the more educated, the more you realize that you want other things in your life.

And I think You know, as a leader, your job is also to make sure that your people can self actualize, that your people are not just literally physically surviving, but that they're thriving. And I think oftentimes, for countries that get stuck in the middle income trap, totally understand why these. Want to focus on first, of course, you have to eliminate poverty. People have to physically live like that's extremely important for in Indonesia, for example, there's going to be aggressive measures against stunting because that's just such a heartbreaking, issue in our country where children literally do not have enough to eat and live. Like babies are being fed, in very impoverished situations, rice water because the mother physically are too starving to give breast milk. So you need to get that done. Poverty needs to be eradicated. And every baby born should have a shot at being developed healthily, like physically and mentally, right? But then after that, after you have that, then it's time to raise the standards.

And what can you do to help your populace become more educated? What can you do so that they self actualize? What can you do so that they thrive in whatever sector that they want to go in? So that every person who is born isn't thinking, Oh, no, because I'm born in this situation, I'm going to continue like this for generations to come. So that they at least, as you said earlier, we have the American dream. We have this dream and so that they also have their dream. Right? So that when they're born, they're not thinking, Oh, no, I'm stuck here. But they can think, where can I go next in the future? I think so much of creating these policies are about setting the stage so that people can self actualize. Hopefully, and hopefully we can do it by 2045 or at least get there.

(30:25) Jeremy Au:

Right. I think you mentioned middle income trap several times now, in this podcast and past episodes actually. So I was kind of curious about maybe what's the concern here and what it is to be a middle income trap as well.

(30:36) Gita Sjahrir:

Yeah. So middle income trap is literally what it sounds, which is when a country physically can't get out of the middle income stage. So, in terms of GDP per capita, for example, the hover under $10,000 GDP per capita, and, they still have poverty in certain pockets. They have, issues with educating their masses. So it's very uneven. So there's a lot of inequality, but the baseline isn't pretty good education. The baseline is, it's kind of bad and low level of education, so this is usually where if you're able to have private education, then yeah, sure, you might have a tutor from England, but then, many other areas, people are literally fighting to survive.

So, these are usually the things that come with countries that are in these middle income situations, and so they're fighting to find ways to move up. Now, the challenge is, how do you move up? And ensure that everybody moves up with you, because it's not always a given that if you increase your GDP, therefore, everyone must get better. Now, you have to figure out how does, the money trickle down, how does capital empower everyone else, including from the bottom. And I'm a really big believer that you have to work on the most marginalized, the people who are experiencing the most challenges in order to be able to lift everyone up.

(32:00) Jeremy Au:


(32:01) Gita Sjahrir:

Again, back to initiatives like the new capital or, industrialization or, urban development, et cetera, et cetera. Those are basically, I would say, medium term solutions in a way, in order to lift up, people in those pockets, people in those areas, how do you get them? So that economically and educationally. They move up with the country because if you're talking about GDP, for example, in Indonesia, GDP is actually already quite large, of course, for a country this big, maybe can be larger, right? But the question is, as we continue to grow, then how do you bring everyone else with you so that you don't have poverty levels and very low education levels and, all of these factors that tend to come with countries that don't make it to the developed economy stage.

(32:51) Jeremy Au:

Yeah, I mean, this is, sounds similar as well to the China story in terms of economics, right? I think there's a tremendous amount of growth. So they did a tremendous job on the economic growth side. But with the administration of Xi Jinping, I think there's a big focus on not growing the pie, but also how to make sure it's fairly allocated.

But it seems like, some of the measures they've done, the cumulative exposure of that has been to create that unemployment crisis that are facing right now and the slowing of economic growth. So I think it's like Goldilocks, like you don't want to have VR too hot, too cold, like what's that middle set of policies that lets you do both, which is like have that growth, but also allow that social mobility and also let it be equitably distributed, perhaps across geographies, across social class, and it's not an easy band of policies to go for, so not an easy job, obviously, for the policy folks in any country.

(33:38) Gita Sjahrir:

For anyone.

(33:39) Jeremy Au:

For anyone, right. And also, and just because it's a good policy doesn't mean that it's politically possible as well.

(33:44) Gita Sjahrir:

I love by the way, I love that you mentioned that. I really love that you mentioned that because I think sometimes as just mayor citizens, I'm just a mayor citizen in a way. I'm not a president. For example, there are a lot of things going on in the background that requires an entire master degree just to understand. And those are a lot of the intricacies that happen. So, again, though, as the world also becomes more transparent. In a way, you can thank social media for that. Right. And how news get disseminated faster. I do believe policy makers in the future have a responsibility to also explain a backstory in a way that is easily digestible and understandable for the populace because whatever it is that anyone tries to hide these day and age is not happening.

(34:30) Gita Sjahrir:

So whatever it is that people think they can get away with, like, welcome, to the age of digitalization, in which don't be too surprised if someone airs your dirty laundry the next day, and it'll be some random person that you've never met in your life based in a completely different country. Right? So I think people also need to understand as the populace gets younger and also have different ideals, they need to still serve that populace. So they also need to perhaps, like, shift the way they communicate, think of communicating in different formats, in different ways not just on by, writing essays in foreign affairs, but also TikTok videos.

(35:09) Jeremy Au:


(35:09) Gita Sjahrir:

Or YouTube or something. No, this is important because the fact is like, I've always said this, if leaders don't communicate well, then people will just assume. And you do not want to let people make assumptions about your story because then it's just not yours and let them run to town with it because no one knows what background any of us have in order to create these stories too. So that's what I'm always saying, like, maybe the way leaders need to communicate now, and I think, like, for example, places like the U. S. where, you have 70 and 80 year olds running yet. They also have, younger people. How are you communicating things? How are what format is it in? What language are you using? Are you able to do it in a way that's simple and exciting and easy to understand so that they're interested in learning more. Right? Because if you can't get people to get excited about whatever it is you're saying, no, they're not going to tune into your one hour YouTube because there's no point. So it's about hooking people to want to know your story.

(36:08) Jeremy Au:

Right. Well, if Biden is on TikTok, then so should you, right? So.

(36:12) Gita Sjahrir:

Oh my gosh that's wild. You're right. I forgot about that.

(36:16) Jeremy Au:

On that note I think this is a great way to tie things off. Thank you so much, Gita for sharing what the future of the Indonesia political system, but also what the future of the economy looks like going forward now that the election is over.

(36:26) Gita Sjahrir:

Wish us luck for Golden Indonesia.