THE GLASS IS MORE THAN HALF FULL

The Jakarta Post - Magazine - - News - Endy M. Bayuni Ed­i­tor-in-Chief

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.

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