THE GLASS IS MORE THAN HALF FULL
Going by the trends in 2016 and the prospects of 2017, we have every reason to be cautiously pessimistic. Just exactly how bad the world will get, economically and politically, is something we have been hearing from doomsayers in the lead up to the New Year. Now we are already in 2017, we simply have to live out the year as best as we can.
One thing we can be sure of is that the world is far from being stable or becoming stable. If anything, it is going in the other direction. The war in Syria is still far from being resolved; other tensions are heightening, including in the South China Sea. No one can say for sure that we will see a global economic recovery, with some suggesting that the world economy is settling into a new normal.
The emerging contest for power between China and the United States will receive a massive injection of uncertainty with the changing of the guard at the White House later this month. Incoming US president Donald Trump is so unpredictable that he will likely deliver many surprises. Some may be pleasant, but prepare for mostly shocks. We have been accustomed to having China or Russia play the wild cards. This time, it is the US, economically and militarily the world’s most powerful nation.
Here at home, the situation is not so bad and provides us with a glimmer of hope, perhaps enough to turn our view of what is essentially a half-empty glass to a half-full glass. Things were not that great in 2016, but they were not bad either. Indonesia weathered the economic and political challenges that buffeted 2016 perhaps more successfully than many other countries around the world.
The Outlook 2017 report tries to provide a realistic picture of Indonesia in the new year without falling into the trap of the negativism that pundits have touted ahead of the changeover. We have assembled a number of prominent thinkers and writers, including our regular columnists, to share with us their predictions of what to expect in 2017 and to offer policy prescriptions for Indonesia to help it navigate through turbulent waters and come out better than the year we have left behind.
Certain developments in 2016 give Indonesia reason for this optimism. The country has become politically more stable with President Joko Widodo now very much in charge. The economy grew by a decent 5 percent in spite of a bad year and in 2017 we can look forward to cashing in on the dividends of the economic reform packages introduced in 2016. Indonesia has continued to play its role as a member of the international community through its active and independent diplomacy.
There is no reason why some of these positive trends will stop in 2017. With appropriate actions, some of which are laid out in the articles in this report, Indonesia can turn the glass into something more than half full.