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Rahsia Kebangkitan Indonesia & Philippines / Secret To The Resurgence Of Indonesia & Philippines


Here are some graphs on the GDP and GDP growth rates for Malaysia, Indonesia and the Philippines. There is little doubt that Indonesia (and to a slightly lesser degree the Philippines) are on an upward trajectory in their economic development. 

Indonesia is now the largest economy in South East Asia.  Indonesia is the first South East Asian country to join the US$1 TRILLION club – meaning Indonesia’s GDP is above US$1 Trillion. 

Malaysia and the Phillipines are in the US$300+ to US$400 Billion range. 

Here is a collage of GDP percentage growth rates for the three countries. Ithink if you click on the image it will zoom in.

As you can see Malaysian and the Philippines have a saw tooth, up and down movement in GDP growth rates – both before and after 2000. After the year 2000 the Indonesian growth rate is much more even and has stabilised. Why? 

That huge dip in all three countries was during the Asian Financial Crisis circa 1998-2001.  

1998 was the year Indonesian dictator Suharto fell – after 31 years in power.  The Indonesians finally arrived at a ‘Never again’ moment in their history. 

They rewrote their constitution. Political parties were not allowed to use religious names or project religious identities during campaigning. So there is no Parti Lebai Penipu in Indonesia. 

10 days before elections all political campaigns must stop and political parties are responsible for removing all campaign banners, flags, stickers and any other type of campaign materials. The streets must be clean.  The 10 days are for cooling off. After this cooling off period the people will go to vote in a calmer and more relaxed manner.

The Indonesians also restricted the President to two FIVE year terms only. The president can serve a maximum of 10 years – if he is re-elected. 

I believe this restricting the president to TWO TERMS has had a gigantic effect on Indonesia’s stability and economic growth. 

Here is a comparison of the presidents who have ruled Indonesia and the Philippines (since after Suharto and Marcos respectively) versus the prime minister of Malaysia over the same period.

         INDONESIA                                              MALAYSIA

  • Suharto 1967 -1998 (31 yrs)                    Dr Mahathir (1981)
  • BJ Habibie 1998 – 1999  (2yrs)                Dr Mahathir
  • Gus Dur 1999 – 2001  (3 yrs)                   Dr Mahathir
  • Megawati 2001 – 2004   (3 yrs)                Dr Mahathir
  • Susilo Bambang 2004 – 2014 (10 yrs)    Badawi / Najib
  • Jokowi 2014 – present                             Najib / Dr Mahathir / Muhyiddin

         PHILIPPINES                                            MALAYSIA  

  • Ferdinand Marcos 1965 – 86 (21yrs)       Dr Mahathir  (1981)
  • Corazon Aquino 1986 – 1992  (6 yrs)      Dr Mahathir
  • Fidel Ramos 1992 – 1998  (6 yrs)             Dr Mahathir
  • Joseph Estrada 1998 – 2001  (3 yrs)       Dr Mahathir
  • Gloria Arroyo 2001 – 2010  (9 yrs)           Dr Mahathir / Badawi / Najib
  • Benigno Aquino 2010 – 2016  (6 yrs)      Najib 
  • Rodrigo Duterte 2016 – present             Najib / Dr Mahathir / Muhyiddin

After the fall of Marcos the Philippines also made drastic changes to their Constitution. In the Philippines the president is limited to just ONE SINGLE TERM of SIX years as president.

Hence in both Indonesia and the Phillipines they have had regular changes of leadership. Indonesia has had FIVE presidents since Suharto fell in 1998. 

The Philippines has seen SIX presidents since Marcos fell in 1986.

This regular change of leadership – which also causes an almost complete change in Cabinet Ministers, in the leadership of the Civil Service, the Armed Forces etc generates fresh blood and new thinking in the entire spectrum of leadership in Indonesia and the Philippines. The level of corruption has also decreased in both Indonesia (and to an extent in the Philippines).

Hence we see that in Indonesia there has been a significant calming down of the country and a settling in into the new democracy in the post Suharto age. Since Megawati became president, followed by Susilo Bambang Yudhyono and now Joko Widodo or Jokowi Indonesia has been on an increasing trajectory in its economic growth.

Over in the Philippines the Gloria Macapagal Arroyo presidency saw the last military rebellion in 2003. Arroyo served NINE years as president (instead of the maximum six years) because as Vice President she succeeded Erik Estrada for three years and then ran on her own ticket (and won) for the presidency again. 

Arroyo was succeeeded by the very popular Benigno Aquino III and now with Rodrigo Duterte as president the Philippines has calmed down to the task of nation building and building the economy.  

Clearly democracy has arrived in Indonesia and the Philippines and the frequent change of leadership (because the term of the president is restricted) keeps generating new thinking and fresh leadership ideas. 

It is way past the time for Malaysia to also limit the term of the prime minister.  I first proposed that the term of the prime minister be restricted to no more than two terms around the year 2000.  

If the BN government had amended the Constitution and restricted the term of the PM to two terms, maybe they would still be in power. It is not too late. 

The Malay proverb says ‘sekali bah sekali pantai berubah‘. Meaning every tide changes the coast line.  But the practical implication is  Apabila pembesar atau pemerintah berganti, maka peraturan-peraturannya pun akan berubah.

In the English language there is a more apt saying : ‘Politicians are like baby diapers. The more frequently you change them the better.

We need a complete overhaul of our system. 

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