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President Jokowi: Making Indonesia Axis of The World’s Maritime

Yogyakarta (15/11) – Indonesia’s newly appointed president Joko Widodo (Jokowi) stresses much on making Indonesia the axis of the world’s maritime. This emphasizing is reasonable due to Indonesia’s strategically located geographical position which has not been optimized by previous rulers. Jokowi expressed his thoughts during a session held in the Konferensi Tingkat Tinggi (KTT) ke-25 ASEAN in Nay Pyi Taw, Myanmar on Thursday (13/11) evening. “As a maritime country, Indonesia has to justify itself as axis of the world’s maritime, having a strategic power of being in between two oceans,” Jokowi stated. Located between two continents and two oceans, Indonesia has a big potential to be the “head port” or “passing port” of ships passing by, something that hasn’t been thought by previous rulers. Furthermore, it’s location near the equator and also being passed by the so-called “Ring of Fire” gives Indonesia rich natural resources which can be used fully to boost its occupants’ prosperity.

“Usahakanlah agar kita menjadi bangsa pelaut kembali. Ya, bangsa pelaut dalam arti seluas-luasnya. Bukan sekedar menjadi jongos-jongos di kapal, bukan. Tetapi bangsa pelaut dalam arti kata cakrawala samudera. Bangsa pelaut yang mempunyai armada niaga, bangsa pelaut yang mempunyai armada militer, bangsa pelaut yang kesibukannya di laut menandingi irama gelombang lautan itu sendiri.” – Presiden RI pertama, Soekarno, dalam sebuah pidato tahun 1953

(We have to try and make our country a shipmans’ country again. Yes, a shipman’s country in its widest means. Not only being a silly worker on-board, but to be a shipman in means of ocean firmament. A shipman’s nation which as a strategic force, economic force, a shipman’s nation which competes with the peculiar beat of the sea itself.) – Indonesia’s first president, Soekarno, on a speech in 1953

As given in his speech, the newly appointed president which is deemed as Indonesias’ first president who comes from “a normal citizen,” or a wong cilik, brought 5 main pillars supporting Indonesia’s future position as the core of world’s maritime.  The first pillar, is that Indonesia will rebuild its marine culture to bring a realization that Indonesia is not only a marine country (negara kelautan) but a maritime country (negara maritim). Blessed with a wide range of islands, more than 17.000 to be precise, Indonesia has to realize its position that its prosperity cones from the sea. Second, Indonesia will proactively guard and manage its sea’ potential, building a stable sea sovereignty in the process. Third, Indonesia will prioritize in building maritime infrastructures to boost connectivity; a deep seaport, 26 new ports and a sea tollway will be build as soon as possible. Fourth, through maritime diplomacy, Indonesia invites other countries to  work together in order to solve marine problems, economically, socially and politically. Lastly, as a country that will become the core of the world’s maritime, Indonesia has to build a solid guard of maritime force. “We are doing this not only to focus on our stance as a developing country trying to guard our sovereignty and marine resources, but also as our responsibility to the world to guard the safety of marine activities,” Jokowi said in a closing statement.

The idea of making Indonesia the focus of the world’s maritime has received positive responses from several bodies. Susi Pudjiastuti, Indonesia’s Minister of Marine and Fishery gives full support to the idea, as well as the Badan Informasi Geospasial (Geospacial Information Body) of Indonesia. Overall, marine bodies of Indonesia sends their full support to the idea. Jokowi has shown clear steps in realizing this by appointing Susi, a middle-school graduate which causes an uproar during the appointment, as minister. Susi has shown her capability of boosting Indonesia’s marine growth by making bold steps which surprises the media. Susi released a moratorium to limit big ships (more than 30 GT) to pass through Indonesia’s seas on Tuesday (12/11) as a pre-gong to Jokowi’s statement the day after.

However, the five pillars Jokowi stated will unlikely be able to be realized without fundamental changes in Indonesia’s marine system. In the near future, we hope that the government will be able to minimize the layered bureaucracy in Indonesia’s marine systems.  Furthermore, concrete and stable steps must be taken so that Indonesia can come back to realize their stance, not only as a marine country, but also a maritime country.

After Soekarno, Indonesia’s first president, Jokowi is the second person concerned in marine and maritime sovereignty in the history of Indonesia.

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