What will Indonesia look like in 2010?
Dedy A Prasetyo
Four scenarios for Indonesia in 2010 were
launched on 1 August 2000 at the Proclamation Statue in Jakarta. A
quarter of a million copies were slipped into newspapers around the
country. They contained four pictures
of what Indonesia might look like, in the form of stories entitled 'On
the edge', 'Into the crocodile pit', 'Paddling a leaky boat', and 'Slow
These were not predictions of the future,
nor were they strategic plans. They did not describe some utopian
future or even one we would quite like, but simply possibilities that
might occur because of what we do today.
One of several approaches to picturing the
future is known as scenario planning. Scenarios are a tool to help us
perceive different futures, each of which is influenced by decisions we
make today. Put simply, they are a combination of stories - written or
oral - that make up a bigger plot. A scenario gives a
multi-perspectival picture of a complex future. Precisely because the
future is unpredictable, scenarios are good planning tools.
Creating a scenario is a dialogical process
that brings together different visions and interests. The aim is to
bridge the gap between key analyses of present day problems and various
possibilities in the future.
Our view of 'the future' usually contains
three elements: what is likely to happen, what I would like to see
happen, and what might happen. The first leads to prediction, the
second to subjectivity (wishful thinking). But scenario planning
emphasises the third - what might happen.
Scenario building has been much used in
international business, but it has also been used at the national
level. Perhaps the most famous example of the latter is the South
African Mont Fleur process. In 1991/92 South Africans came up with four
scenarios of what might happen there in ten years time (2002). In
1997/98 Columbians produced Destino Columbia, with four possible
futures for the year 2013. Most recently, Guatemalans built three
scenarios that they named Vision Guatemala. The small island state of
Singapore has been using scenario planning since 1993. Japan has three
scenarios for the year 2020.
The steering committee for Future Indonesia
2010 consisted of about thirty individuals - academics, human rights
workers, politicians, economists, businesspersons, religious figures,
military, and others. They were supported by the Future Indonesia
Working Group, including Asmara Nababan, Marzuki Darusman, Binny
Buchori, Emil Salim, HS Dillon, Felia Salim, Emmy Hafild, as well as
some facilitators - Daniel Sparringa, MM Billah, Edy Suhardono, and
Rudolf Budi Matindas. These groups wrote the preparatory studies and
then spread the word to many different groups all over Indonesia.
It all began with a meeting in Bogor early
in 1999, where activities were set in train to eventually come up with
the Future Indonesia scenarios (Indonesia Masa Depan). The idea was to
stimulate discussion, fresh thinking, and debate among Indonesians
about the future of their country. We hoped that some collective
consciousness would be born within society that tomorrow is the result of our actions and decisions today.
We also hoped people would not stay trapped in mutual recriminations
over the problems of today or yesterday, but would set out on a
constructive journey in search of the alternatives stretched out before
us in the future. This way, we hoped, the Indonesian public would take
part in thinking about Indonesia's tomorrow, and become involved in
creating that future.
Various groups within society, each as
varied as the other, then began taking initiatives. They engaged in
dialogue, while avoiding dogmatism. It began in East Java in July 1999,
where about thirty quite different individuals from all over the
province came together. For three days, they tried to build future
scenarios for Indonesia in 2010, from an East Java social perspective.
Similar dialogues followed in other cities
and regions, among them Medan, Mataram, Riau, Makasar, Samarinda,
Pontianak, Palangkaraya, Bali, Yogyakarta, West Java, Kupang, Jayapura,
Central Java, and Jakarta. Fourteen dialogues were held in all.
The results of all of these dialogues were
then compiled and synthesised in a national dialogue meeting attended
by representatives from each region.
A great number of fresh ideas came out of
this dialogical process, as did much anxiety and sharp criticism about
what kind of future Indonesia was heading for. Among the matters most
often raised in the discussions were these: centralisation and
decentralisation, injustice, religious conflict, the growth of
democracy after Suharto (including cynicism about it), law enforcement,
gender issues, constitutional amendments, national leadership,
environmental and cultural exploitation, state involvement in the
economy, relations between Javanese and non-Javanese, and the role of
the police and military.
All these issues could be divided into two
groups - those that mainly concerned people in Java and outside Java.
Participants within Java focused more often on the rule of law, whereas
those outside Java focused on (de)centralisation. However, civil
society issues concerned everyone, whether within or outside Java.
New ideas are not always readily accepted,
and so it was with this dialogical project. Depending on their region
of origin or their personality, people responded in many and varied
ways. People outside Java often felt suspicious there was some hidden
agenda at work in the project. Inside Java, on the contrary, suspicion
was far less. It generally revolved around the question of who would
benefit from this dialogue, where the money came from, and whether
there was a 'conspiracy' behind it. It was an exhausting process that
now and then broke out into frustration when confronted by these
various 'bad' thoughts.
Very clear explanation was especially
required when speaking about the concept of the scenario. Unless
misconceptions were cleared up here at the very beginning, they were
likely to reinforce already existing prejudices. However, as the
dialogue proceeded, suspicion, pessimism and cynicism tended to recede.
Sometimes the dialogue closed in quite a touching atmosphere, as people
said with tears in their eyes that their suspicions had been unfounded.
Whichever wise person said that democracy is expensive and exhausting,
said a true thing.
Scenario planning is a clever instrument to
explore the views that live within society. Straight from the heart,
these views can then become the basic capital for a strong civil
society in Indonesia. Ironically, the Future Indonesia dialogues often
threw up some strange contradictions. At a moment when so many
participants had the opportunity to represent the strength of civil
society, they often spoke like government spokespersons. As a result,
it was hardly surprising if at times the vision put forward was no real
alternative to the dominant vision produced and reproduced by the
state. Even more saddening was the discovery that many participants
seemed to retain the New Order perspective that there is only one
truth. This made it very difficult to make the necessary linkages
leading to a new future.
However, scenario planning is a vital tool
in learning democracy. In several regions, the dialogue forum became a
medium for reconciliation between various elements of society that had
hitherto been at odds with one another over the spoils of office. Even
if they did not become a collective movement, the forums bore witness
to a new possibility and created a space that brought people together
without regard for the attributes of power, politics, ethnicity,
religion or social standing. Let us hope that this kind of dialogical
process can continue, drawing on the lessons that have already been
learned. The choice is ours - we, the people of Indonesia. And
Indonesia's future is made today.
Dedy A Prasetyo (email@example.com)
was a program officer with the Working Group for Indonesia Masa Depan.
He is a law student at the University of Indonesia in Jakarta.