Academic survey finds most Indonesians favor globalization
Abdul Khalik, The Jakarta Post, Jakarta, November 22, 2006
A majority of Indonesians believe that globalization has brought many benefits to them, with most people wanting the Indonesian government to take an active role in world affairs, a survey by an Australian institution says.
The Lowy Institute for International Policy, which conducted the survey in 10 provinces across the country with 1,200 respondents between June 19 to July 6, found that 61 percent of the people interviewed believed that the increasing connection of the Indonesian economy to others around the world was mostly good for Indonesia.
The level of trust in globalization was even on par with that neighboring Australia (where 64 percent of respondents trusted globalization), an advanced country with high growth because of its open economic system.
The confidence in globalization is reflected in the belief that Indonesia's relations with most of the major powers is increasing as well as in the demand that Indonesia's foreign policy be aimed at increasing cooperation in the Association of the Southeast Asian Nations and supporting the work of the United Nations.
Ivan Cook, the head of the survey team, said that the study found that almost 70 percent of the respondents had a perception that Indonesia's relations with U.S. were increasing or staying the same while 55 percent believed that ties between Indonesia and China were getting better.
"Except with Japan, the majority of Indonesians believe that their relations with their neighbors or major countries are increasing or staying the same," he told a seminar on the connections between Indonesia, Australia and the world at the Centre for Strategic and International Studies (CSIS) in Jakarta on Tuesday.
One of the commentators at the seminar, Endy M. Bayuni, chief editor of The Jakarta Post, welcomed the fact that most Indonesians thought positively about globalization.
"It's very revealing. It means that most Indonesians still believe in free trade," he said.
The survey also found that most Indonesians were outward looking, with over 70 percent of respondents saying that they were very interested or somewhat interested in news about relations between Indonesia and other countries.
Almost 90 percent of the respondents believed that Indonesia should take an active part in the world affairs.
In portraying Indonesians' attitudes to their neighbors and to regional and global powers, the survey found that the respondents feel most positive toward Malaysia (66 percent) and Japan (64 percent).
However, many of the seminar's participants were surprised and disappointed with the survey's finding that Indonesian and Australian relations were not improving, with a lack of understanding present on both sides.
According to the survey, most Australians see Indonesia as still essentially controlled by the military and a dangerous source of terrorism and believe that they have the right to worry about Indonesia as a military threat.
Meanwhile, most Indonesians see Australia as still seeking to separate the province of West Papua from Indonesia and trying to interfere in Indonesia's affairs too much.
The most surprising finding was that both Indonesians and Australians gave each other low rankings.
"I am amazed by this finding after all these years of building relations," said Hadi Soesastro, the executive director of CSIS.
Both Hadi and Jusuf Wanandi of the same institution, however, offered the explanation that Indonesia-Australia relations were very much driven by seasonal accidents, such as Timor Leste or asylum seeker problems.
"I think public opinion can't be used to measure the success of foreign relations as many others indicate its success," Jusuf said.
Australian Ambassador Bill Farmer and former Indonesian ambassador to Australia Wiryono Sastrohandoyo, another speaker at the seminar, both also believe that with person-to-person contact to continue intensively over the years, understanding between the two countries was still high.
"We grant more visas to Indonesia than Britain, the U.S. and Canada combined," Farmer said.
Endy urged the media to play an increasing role in raising the awareness of the importance of Australia for Indonesia and Indonesia for Australia.