Indonesia Case Study
QUESTION 1: What political factors explain Indonesia’s poor economic performance? What economic factors? Are the two related?
The impeachment of the Indonesian dictator Suharto is widely considered one of the most exciting political happenings of recent years. After dealing with inflation and a bad economic depression during the final year of President Sukarno in the early 1960s, Indonesia experienced rapid and lasting economic growth for three decades under the New Order government of President Suharto. The economic growth was followed by a severe decline in poverty, as it went from 40% of the population in 1976 to 11% in 1996. However, looking only at the New Order’s economic accomplishment and ignoring its downfalls give us an unfair view of that time era. The general view in Indonesia is that after the Asian economic crisis, the New Order brought economic ruin to the country. For thirty years, Indonesia’s economy grew steadily under the ironclad rule of President Suharto – but at the heavy cost of internal suppression of dissent. This suppression of dissent robbed Indonesia’s economy of the vitality and incentives associated with a free-market economy in which individual property owners, who in the process of seeking to accumulate wealth enrich the entire economy and create economic growth. While Indonesia has since overthrown the dictatorial government, corruption and red tape remain rife at almost all levels of government in Indonesia. A World Bank study revealed how excessive red tape in Indonesia hurts business activities: An entrepreneur in Indonesia must wait an average of 151 days to complete the necessary paperwork to start a business, compared to 30 days in Malaysia and a mere 8 days in Singapore, severely hampering the Indonesian entrepreneur’s speed and desire to participate in the economy. In turn, the excessive red tape translates into long lines of government bureaucrats, whose low salaries make it