I have been in Jakarta for 3 days and this trip is fairly interesting in the sense that I could observe the impact of the global financial crisis on Jakarta (not Indonesia) for myself. It appears that until now, the impact has yet to be felt!
At the same time I observed more huge shopping malls are opened and was told that they do not have problems in attracting shoppers, yet. some Indonesian friends said that they expect the impact would be more apparent by the middle of the year.
At the same time Indonesians are bracing themselves for the general election on 9 April. Every day each political party is given the opportunity to hold massive rally to convince voter why they should be the chosen one. This country has certainly moved a long way that 38 parties are now participating in the election. A part from the traffic jam or macet which is quite normal for Jakarta, no untoward incidence happens at the rallies.
I met quite a number of Malaysians who are here for businesses and surprisingly most are quite upbeat about their business prospects here. Acknowledging the reality of the challenges that they are facing, the prospects somehow outweigh the risks.
One of the drivers for the optimism is the change in governance, particularly in the public sector. Since the President and his government demonstrated their seriousness in addressing corruption, by taking actions against people from the top levels as well as ordinary Indonesians, some real changes had been demonstrated.
One businessman explained to me the tender process that are now being used and how transparent it is. In addition to that, due to a Presidential order, a business gets paid in short time upon completion of contracts, otherwise the people who are administrating the contract would be investigated by KPK, the corruption eradication commission.
This is one of my many visits here and the level of optimism, especially from Malaysians who are running businesses here is really amazing. I could feel that Indonesia has certainly benefited from the reform process that had been embarked all the while. No doubt they are still a long way from where the would like to be, such as the ruling that the Corruption Court was improperly established. However, the resolve of the people in dumping corruption has driven politicians onto the bandwagon.