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Indonesia Consul General Aims For “People-To-People” Connections With The U.S.

Nov 3, 2017

Indonesia, a country made up of 17,000 islands, is home to approximately 260 million people. The archipelago nation has the 4th largest population on the planet, and with 203 million followers of Islam, it is the world’s largest Muslim-majority country.

Indonesia’s new Consul General in Houston, Nana Yuliana, recently visited Oklahoma for the first time. During a visit to the University of Oklahoma, she spoke with Suzette Grillot on KGOU’s World Views about her home country, and why it matters to the United States.

Yuliana spoke about growing economic cooperation between Indonesia and the United States.

“Indonesia is one of a few countries that President Trump expects to increase the imports from the US to Indonesia,” Yuliana said. We can get a win-win solution between ... between both countries in terms of economic sectors.”

Yuliana says Indonesia is one of the few economic partners with the United States that actually has economic balance surplus.

Indonesia is a newer democracy. The country has chosen a motto -- Unity in Diversity -- to help unite its diverse citizens.

Yuliana said the holy days of recognized religions are respected by the state. The country has 700 living languages, but one language -- Indonesian -- is the country’s official language. A unifying language, Yuliana says,  brings all of Indonesia’s ethnicities together.

“Pluralism, democracy and tolerance are key issues in the moment in uniting the people of Indonesia,” Yuliana said.

Through her work as consul general, Yuliana is trying to strengthen the bilateral relationship between the two countries, and to promote economic cooperation, tourism, trade and investment.

“Mostly what we are doing in presenting Indonesia is promoting people-to-people connectivity,” Yuliana said.

INTERVIEW HIGHLIGHTS

On countering terrorism

We have a regional organization mechanism what we call by, ASEAN. ASEAN is a very strong regional organization in the region itself. So we have a very strong cooperation in countering terrorism. Beside that, we also have a very close cooperation with our neighbor countries like with Australia, with the U.S. also in countering terrorism. We have what we call by a Jakarta Center of Law Enforcement in countering terrorism, and also improving our capacity in and dealing with the threat of terrorism. So through ASEAN, and also through bilateral cooperation, we try to curb radical groups and also counter terrorist attack. Of course when there was an attack, it will affect tourists coming to Indonesia. But from our data it will only affect a very short time and after that, the visitors come again to Indonesia. In our data, most tourists are coming to Indonesia at the moment is from China, and also from Japan and also Australia, the neighbor countries. We would like to invite more tourists also from the U.S. coming to Indonesia.

On Indonesia’s linguistic diversity

Regardless that there are a lot of dialects, a lot of ethnic groups in Indonesia, but Indonesian language becomes united, it becomes an element to unite the people in Indonesia. Indonesia is a very democratic country at the moment. I think the third largest democratic country in the world after the US and also India. And we also promote tolerance for one another. Local language is also studied by the schools in Indonesia. So we leave them grow. But then there should be united language. And, a lot of activities also to unite the people. So pluralism, democracy, and tolerance are key issues at the moment in uniting the people of Indonesia.

On Indonesia’s economic growth

This is based on research from McKinsey Global Institute in 2013. Indonesia can be the seventh largest economy in the world. And then also we will have around 135 million members of the consuming class, meaning we have a big, big purchasing power, because the hub of new population will have a power in the purchase of goods and things. And also 71 percent of the population in cities producing 86 percent of the GDP. So by 2030, Indonesia will reach one of important economic power in the world.

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FULL INTERVIEW

Suzette Grillot: Consul General, Nana Yuliana, welcome to World Views.

Nana Yuliana: Thank you very much Suzette.

Grillot: It's great to have you here. You're visiting this is your first visit to Oklahoma. You recently came to the United States as the new consul general for Indonesia in Houston. And so you're representing the state as well, covering all of the Indonesian population here. But let's just refresh our memories a little bit about Indonesia, since I know you represent your country here in the United States. I mean because I think we often forget that Indonesia is a string of islands, 17,000 islands make up the country of Indonesia, and it has the fourth largest population in the world, approximately 250 to 260 million people, stretched across all of these islands. And also the largest Muslim country in the world, right. So what is it now that you're here representing your country in the United States, what is it that you would like for us to know politically, economically, socially, culturally about Indonesia?

Yuliana: This is true that what you said. Indonesia is the biggest archipelago country. If you look at the map, Indonesia is surrounded by waters, by ocean. We have 17000 islands because archipelagic then there are a lot of a lot of us more islands that we count as well. But there are five biggest island in Indonesia, like in Java Island, and then Sumatra Island. We have also island in Kalimantan, and in Sulawesi, and Papua itself. So that five biggest island we have in Indonesia,

Yuliana: I just arrived in Houston last month as a new consul general of Indonesia. So mostly what we are doing in presenting Indonesia, is promoting people-to-people connectivity because of course the political affairs would be covered by a new nation embassy in Washington D.C. But people-to-people connectivity is very important because US also has a very huge population. And through people-to-people connectivity is including also to university-to-university partnership. That's why our time to visit the Oklahoma University is very significant as an element to strengthen the bilateral relation between Indonesia and also the US. And beside that also we have to do cooperation in economic sectors, tourism, trade and also investment. Vice President of the US visited Indonesia this year in April. And also the vice president, Mike Pence, emphasized the importance of economic co-operation between Indonesia and the US. So far actually the balance of economic surplus in Indonesia. So Indonesia is one of a few countries that President Trump expects to increase the import from the US to Indonesia, also, so we can get a win-win solution between the countries, between both countries in terms of economic sectors.

Yuliana: During a G20 meeting in Hamburg, our president, and both our presidents, president of Indonesia and also President Trump met in July in 2017, and also there are two at least issues that they cover, especially in economic issues, and also in the terrorism cooperation. Indonesia has a best practices, best experiences in countering terrorism. We suffer we experience also the threat and also the attack of fundamental and radical groups. So through intelligence cooperation, this is also very important as a significant element to both countries Indonesia and the US.

Grillot: How is the relationship then with the US regarding this issue? I mean I know Indonesia has experienced some high profile terrorist incidents. There was the very large bombing in Bali for example. I mean tourism is so important to your country that you know terrorism obviously is it's never a good thing, but it's obviously something that really affects a major sector of your economy. Politically and on the issue of terrorism, how are you working with your neighbors on these issues?

Yuliana: We have a regional organization mechanism what we call by, ASEAN. ASEAN is a very strong regional organization in the region itself. So we have a very strong cooperation in countering terrorism. Beside that, we also have a very close cooperation with our neighbor countries like with Australia, with the U.S. also in countering terrorism. We have what we call by a Jakarta Center of Law Enforcement in countering terrorism, and also improving our capacity in and dealing with the threat of terrorism. So through ASEAN, and also through bilateral cooperation, we try to curb radical groups and also counter terrorist attack. Of course when there was an attack, it will affect tourists coming to Indonesia. But from our data it will only affect a very short time and after that, the visitors come again to Indonesia. In our data, most tourists are coming to Indonesia at the moment is from China, and also from Japan and also Australia, the neighbor countries. We would like to invite more tourists also from the U.S. coming to Indonesia. Indonesia at the moment contribute a lot of budget to the human resources development. We would like to encourage all our students to study more in the US, and I also expect that the American students also can visit Indonesia because Indonesia is one of the biggest in Asia, it is the biggest country in ASEAN. We have 10 member countries of ASEAN and Indonesia is the biggest country. Jakarta also is a headquarters for ASEAN secretariat. So for students or for young people and millennials who want to see how Indonesia grows, I think Indonesia is the right place to visit.

Grillot: I noticed something that was very interesting and that is your national motto in fact is unity in diversity that you recognize that you are a very diverse country. You've got a dominant Muslim religion. But you have over a hundred hundreds of languages. So linguistic and ethnic backgrounds in your, you know very large country. So there’s a lot of diverse things to study and learn, but can you maybe speak on that issue of diversity a little bit? And the kind of the way in which you do find unity and diversity in Indonesia?

Yuliana: Yes. “Unity in Diversity” is our motto, what we call Bhinneka Tunggal Ika in our language. The government, the state recognizes five religions: Muslims, Catholics, and then Buddhists and then also Hindu and also Confusionism. So those five religions, we recognize their religious days, and when they celebrate their religious days, we, it is a national day for us. So we respect the religious holy day. The second thing of course we have one language, Indonesian language, national language. Regardless that there are a lot of dialects, a lot of ethnic groups in Indonesia, but Indonesian language becomes united, it becomes an element to unite the people in Indonesia. Indonesia is a very democratic country at the moment. I think the third largest democratic country in the world after the US and also India. And we also promote tolerance for one another. Local language is also studied by the schools in Indonesia. So we leave them grow. But then there should be united language. And, a lot of activities also to unite the people. So pluralism, democracy, and tolerance are key issues at the moment in uniting the people of Indonesia.

Grillot: You mentioned that Indonesia is a democratic country. It is a fairly new democratic country of the past couple of decades. So it's still making its transition. It's also a country that was hit hard by the Asian financial crisis back in the late 90s. So how is Indonesia coming along kind of politically and economically in terms of its development today? Where are we headed, I guess in terms of the future of Indonesia?

Yuliana: Our growth at the moment is very stable and increasing. We reach 5.2 percent a year. This is based on research from McKinsey Global Institute in 2013. Indonesia can be the seventh largest economy in the world. And then also we will have around 135 million members of the consuming class, meaning we have a big, big purchasing power, because the hub of new population will have a power in the purchase of goods and things. And also 71 percent of the population in cities producing 86 percent of the GDP. So by 2030, Indonesia will reach one of important economic power in the world. We invest a lot at the moment in human resources development. Our national budget contribute structure is at 20 percent now for human development. We send a lot of students all over the world. So this is a big investment for Indonesia to prepare our future generation, and to be in Indonesia in the world.

Yuliana: And also we reduce now a lot of our procedures like for investment from a very long time to get the license for investor, especially for the foreign investors. But now, with President Jokowi come to the administration, the investment surface reforms conducted and three hour surface to issue a license for foreign investment. The banks allow wants and also we have around 16 economic package, now to streamline the process of attracting foreign direct investment coming to the country. So we are very optimistic that Indonesia, in terms of political stability. At the moment, I think Indonesia is one of the stable country. And we get support also from our neighbors, and also in term of economy. Our president Jokowi administration, at the moment focusing on the infrastructure building. This is also to support our tourists coming to Indonesia.

Grillot: Wonderful. Well thank you so much Consul General Yuliana, it's really great to hear about your country. So thank you very much for being here today.

Yuliana: Thank you very much.

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