Tag Archives: Indonesia

Ultra-Matum: Can the West Withstand Brigata Curva Sud-Style Globalisation?

Back in the more innocent days of the early 2000s, the person who would become Mediolana’s Creative Director & CSO (‘CD&CSO’) was enjoying a leisurely coffee (or at least a simulacrum of coffee) in a Cambridge Starbucks with a member of that relatively rare specimen: someone he knew from his own course. Much of the accompanying conversation is of historical interest only, but one explosive idea from that otherwise gentle discussion has stayed with our CD&CSO, namely the notion that just as Japan had successfully copied and then vastly improved upon mid-twentieth century Western industrialism, both Japan and Asian countries more generally could do this and more in the realm of cultural production.

In other words, the J.League – the top tier of Japan’s professional football pyramid, still a novelty but already viewed as wildly successful – was merely a harbinger of things to come. J.Movies, J.Novels and J.Design would all equal and then surpass their Western equivalents in terms of both technical and artistic merit; this was a process that was going to define the next hundred years.

In 2017, this process is not merely underway, but is attaining a depth and breadth that constantly surprises. As the excellent recent COPA90 mini-documentary These Asian Ultras Will Blow Your Mind illustrates, it is now the case that PSS Sleman, a second-tier football club in Indonesia – replete with its own ultras, the already-fabled and disproportionately female Brigata Curva Sud – can produce chants, choreography and devotion on a level that the more uncritically consumerist parts of Europe seem to have forgotten exist.

The big corollary of these developments is the burning, largely unspoken question of our times: can the Western world – particularly the United States – really handle multi-directional globalisation, a form of interaction which supplants the traditional core-periphery model with a more level playing field amongst partner-type entities?

At the time of writing, this question seems a rhetorical one. But erecting trade barriers at a time when – as richly evidenced by capital flows small and large – psychological barriers to commerce are coming down is not the answer of self-assured nations. Only by moving up the value chain can (semi-)monopolistic and lucrative positions be maintained. The alternative – decline at the hands of faster, hungrier competitors who can replicate cheaper than you can produce – is nothing but a prescription for more empty populism.

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From the Rush Hour With Love: Jakarta ‘Escapes Death By Gridlock’!

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Fortress #ASEAN? Fishermen Show Up Inert South-East Asian Governments as #Rohingya Crisis Deepens!

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Maids of Honour: #ASEAN’s Largest Nation Bans Domestic Workers from Middle East!

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Research into Research Reveals Need for More Research: Indonesia Plans R&D Overhaul to Improve Competitiveness!

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Growing Pains: #Schools in World’s Fourth-Largest Country Face Multiple Challenges!

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Constructing Creativity: How Indonesia Can Use Education to Build its Creative Economy

Screen Shot 2014-05-16 at 22.47.34One of the more impressive interviews with a politician that our Creative Director & CSO has come across in recent months is a piece in the redoubtable Monocle magazine (December 2013-January 2014), which takes as its subject Dr Mari Elka Pangestu. Dr Pangestu – who is an alumnus of both the Australian National University and the University of California at Davis – is Indonesia’s first-ever Minster of Tourism and Creative Economy, a post that was established in 2011 and which is notable as a signal of intent: until relatively recently, the ‘creative economy’ domain has been thought of largely as the preserve of developed nations, and Indonesia’s inauguration of a government ministry that explicitly contains these words in its remit is a measure of how far the country has travelled since the end of the Suharto era (1998). Almost no other UN member state possesses a directly equivalent office of state.

Despite Indonesia’s presently generally low place in the value chain, Dr Pangestu presides over an economic sector that already contributes hugely to the nation’s coffers: 8% of total GDP, 10% of exports and 12 million jobs are clear evidence that the ASEAN giant could be a massive player in the creative industries in the decades to come. But in order to move beyond the well-worn territories of batik textiles and tourism, Indonesia needs fundamental change: the structural ingredients are not yet there for the country to punch at its weight. In particular – and after some contemplation – we at Mediolana believe that Indonesia should implement the following measures to align its education system with the needs of what many economists are describing as the lone obvious salvation for a still-stuttering global economy:

  1. Secondary Education. Indonesia’s secondary schools routinely prop up the Programme for International Student Assessment (‘PISA’) league tables: its fifteen-year-olds have come in the bottom ten nations for mathematics, science and reading for almost every single round of testing, the exception being the 2009 reading score of 402 – placing it 62/74. Logistical and administrative problems plague the country’s schools: Indonesia’s population of 240m people is spread out over a vast area, not all of which is easily accessible, and there are acute teaching staff shortages. But the extent of the dysfunction is still far too large. Significantly raising the salaries of teachers – and investing more of Indonesia’s burgeoning export revenues into secondary educational facilities – is simply essential.
  2. Tertiary Education. Looking for an Indonesian university in any international rankings list of repute is a thankless task: there is not a single Indonesian university in the 2013 Academic Ranking of World Universities, while in the QS ranking of Asian universities for the same year, Indonesian institutions are notable by their complete absence from the top 50. Universitas Indonesia – the oldest and arguably most prestigious such college in the country – must lead the way and aim for a top 100 place by 2025 by recruiting some of the world’s best professors and offering them contracts they cannot refuse. There is no time to lose.
  3. Critical thinking. The Indonesian government introduced a new national curriculum in 2013 – the eleventh since 1947 – which is more streamlined, and which some commentators believe could result in a more child-centred and ultimately beneficial approach to education provision. However, critical thinking needs to be given a much greater and more explicit emphasis at the higher levels of the programme. Indonesia’s creative economy will only begin to realise its potential once an educated generation which can think for themselves comes to the fore.

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