As usual at this time of year, we at GlobeAsia consider the ranks of the powerful in Indonesia. A few new faces enter our list, a few leave, usually to retire from the front ranks of the public arena, although an occasional few make a come-back.
The end of this year is a particularly important moment in our nation’s development, a time at which it is worth reminding that power is not a magic wand, and that to be effective it has to be properly used.
Obtaining power should only be the beginning of the story: it is what is done with it that matters most.
What is needed at the present time is competence in decision-making. Power certainly influences people, but to exercise power properly a leader inevitably has to make decisions.
Another factor in the proper use of power is the ability to make decisions at the right time. A decision that is too rushed – before all factors can be weighed – is as bad as one that is too late, and which misses the critical moment. The ability to make decisions at the right time is the mark of a successful holder of power.
In our present complex societies, people with power need to establish a scale of priorities. In Indonesia’s current context, it can be argued that the most critical priority for the nation should be to start rebuilding our creaking infrastructure before it collapses under the weight of overuse.
The problem, of course, is that no such start has been made. Somehow, infrastructure has been left off our list of priorities. In turn, failure to deal with infrastructure has created a new problem to add to our list: the cost of taking goods from one place to another. Logistics in Indonesia today makes up an average of 27% of production costs, far higher than in many competitor countries.
It need not have been this way. After all, in his first full year in power, President Susilo Bambang Yudhoyono launched a major infrastructure summit that was supposed to set the ball rolling. Regrettably, he has spoken at quite a few more such summits in the time since then, with still no sign that anything much is being done.
Our parliamentarians, who also enjoy power under a mandate from the people, have also failed to act on what should be a national priority. The bill on land acquisition for important public projects is lost somewhere in the legislature, but appears nowhere near ready to reveal itself and let us get on with the work that is so urgently needed.
It appears, then, that there is something seriously wrong with our capacity to decide on priorities and then to form decisions with a sense of urgency. Power, it is sad to say, is meaningless unless it is exercised in a rational and timely manner.
Click here to see the list