As Indonesia seems to have internally stabilised to a certain degree, its foreign policies and conduct of international relations have become a subject of global as well as regional interest. How does Indonesia view its neighbours Malaysia and Singapore as well as major powers like the United States, China and Australia? Dr Dewi Fortuna Anwar shares her observations and insights on this.
Q: Because of its colonial past and bitterly-fought war for independence, Indonesia was well-known for its fierce anti-Western nationalism. Will, or will not, Indonesian nationalism articulated in the past pose a mental obstacle among young Indonesians to cope with the challenges of globalisation which include the need to acquire skills in Western languages, management styles and diplomacy?
A: As mentioned earlier, Indonesians have a strong sense of nationalism. In foreign policy this has manifested itself in the 'free and active foreign policy' and Indonesia's refusal to be party to any defence alliances throughout the Cold War period. Indonesia is particularly sensitive to the presence and role of foreign military powers in its areas of jurisdiction.