The New Rich in Southeast Asia

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The term 'new rich' is used to describe the new wealthy class that has emerged out of the industrial change in Asia , and in the last twenty years have fully integrated themselves into modern consumer culture . The most significant changes of rapid industrialization and urbanization in Southeast Asia is the substantial growth of the new rich. The new rich are further internationally orientated; they express their individuality through a blend of cultural beliefs and global cultural trends. Doubtless the emergence of the new rich in Indonesia during the period between the 1980s and 1990s has had dramatic socio-economic implications for Indonesian society. This essay will focus on the new rich in Indonesia, analyzing its origins, social relations, consumption and lifestyle, and religion and rituals.

At the end of the colonization by the Dutch in Indonesia, the traditional rulers and the colonial government made changes to allow wealthier families' children to get further study in Dutch such as medicine, law and engineering. This was the beginning of the formation of a modern Indonesian ‘new rich’. After independence, the new government began to recruit more civil servants, which provided opportunities for educated people with government jobs. The creation of the new rich can be seen as one direct effect of this increase of the civil service. Some research said that the most government officials were members from the new rich. . The inequality between some of newly rich families and different level poor families were perpetuating the gap between them. The 'New Order Regime' encouraged extended education, the expectation of fixed income and the expansion of consumption, forcing wealthier classes into a newer and more consumer driven class. . The culture of the new rich lies in a division between themselves and the lower sections of the society. . The nobility in Indonesia was slowly replaced by an educated class; this 'intelligentsia' emerging from the new rich circle. Those people were distinguished by their Western-style dress and foreign language speaking, usually Dutch or English. . The new rich have successfully taken advantage of the new opportunity provided by the opening up of the economy in the mid-1970s. Many of them have benefited from integration into the private sectors, such as skilled sectors, and growing number of groups who receive high wages on an international standard. Since the 1980s, they have invested in capital goods and publicly exposed their new patterns of consumption. Most of the new rich are village-based state clients. Pinches states:These leaders-cum-state-clients are expected to be loyal to the government and to promote extension programmers and state directive faithfully. In exchange, they get privileged access to credit schemes and government programmes, and the ideological support of high authorities in their search increased wealth and power. They make up a large share of the new rich.

Industrialization and the growth of the new rich have offered a wider range of expectations for the broader civil societies. Some writers claimed that the social transformation sweeping industrializing Asia's spell the beginning of the end for authoritarian rule. A ‘grand coalition’ of elites has emerged, particularly a neonatal alliance between the party, such as the trade union, and the new rich. The ‘civil society’ that is being built is only for the elite to exclude the rest of the population. Goodman and Robison have stated thatThe emergence might also bring with new conflicts, because they have to bear new forms of simple juxtaposition of the new rich and the state as inherently hostile is an inadequate basis for analysis.

Moreover, most of the new rich do not want to be separated from their state protection. They might act as the agents of social and economic change, but they could not indicate the procedural democratic development. They hope to live in privacy and to spend money as much as...
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