The Chinese community around the world are welcoming the Year of the Ox, celebrating their New Year with new hope for prosperity, good health and peace. In Indonesia, the Chinese New Year is an official public holiday. So there is a recognition for this celebration for a minority race in a country that is predominantly muslim. This is a good start. I do hope that in the near future, there will be more recognition on the status of Chinese in Indonesia. In fact, irregardless of whatever race, religion or color, so long as you are a citizen of Indonesia, you should be given equal rights as a citizen and be treated as equal. Respect to all citizens is an important element to forge this country in unity and in progress.
The Global economic crisis that has started last year will have a greater impact this year on the economy of Indonesia. I think Indonesia will still be experiencing positive economic growth of say 4% and is not going down in recession like in many countries such as US, Japan and Singapore. However this does not meant that all is well in Indonesia. In fact, Indonesia is still struggling to manage its high unemployment rate and the poverty of the lower income group. The recent lowering of fuel prices and transportation cost does help to alleviate the cost of living for its citizens. But more needs to be done, and can be done. Indonesia must do its best to attract foreign investments and promote tourism. The government of the world largest archipelago cannot afford to rest on its laurels on this 2 major tasks. Attracting more foreign investments and tourists into Indonesia will result in the creation of thousands of jobs for its people. The global tourism market is worth more than US$900 billion. Now that is a lot of money here. So how can a country that is so huge and beautiful like Indonesia be looking at tourist target arrival of just 10 million visitors? I am sure the Indonesian government can do much better in promoting this country as a top tourist destination in Asia. A friend of mine who runs a business in Jakarta told me that if the government could lower the unemployment rate to say 4%, then there will be less demonstrations in the streets of Jakarta. That is because everyone will be so busy working or running their businesses. Who on earth will have the time to demonstrate? Whatever free time that the people have, will be for the family, shopping, drinking coffee in nice cafe or enjoying leisure activities.
The government of Indonesia must act decisively with its pro-business policy. It has to focus to eradicate all laws, by-laws or unnecessary red tapes that hinders investments in this country. It must act to welcome visitors and tourists in this beautiful country. I think the central government did well in Batam recently. It has acted decisively to make it a free trade zone – now that is good news for businesses. The Ox in the chinese calendar symbolize a hardworking animal that is persistence in performing its tasks. No matter how tough the problems may be, it never gives up. I do hope that the government and the people of Indonesia will forge ahead to handle this economis crisis together. Constant street demonstrations will not resolve anything. In fact, it simply disrupt businesses and the daily lives of the people. There are many ways to be heard without gathering in the streets screaming and shouting to draw attention – whatever issues it may be. The government should be seen as acting sincerely for the people. Do not issue any laws that discriminate people, whether of race or social status. Don’t put in laws just to gain popularity or votes. Some political parties in Indonesia have proposed sharia laws to be implemented in Indonesia. That is totally stupid and these political parties are just like clowns in the circus. Indonesia is not a homogenous country with just one race, language and culture. This country has so much cultural diversifications and languages that it has make it so unique as a nation in Asia.
Finally in this new year, the Year of the Ox, I would liked to wish everyone in Indonesia – Good Health, Prosperity. Peace and Success.
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