How Indonesia Plays An Important Role In Asean Politics Essay

Indonesia is a prosperous country among the 11 countries in Southeast Asia, Indonesia is standing for the largest economy in Southeast Asia as well as the largest market to attract the investors from other regions. As you can see Indonesia’s condition nowadays is very great as well as prosperity. However, Indonesia has straggled many difficulties such as used to under the control of the Dutch and Japanese and war with the Dutch.

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On 17 August 1945, the independence of Indonesia was declared by Sukarno, but the Dutch rejected the declaration of independence, then the Dutch reoccupied Indonesia in the middle of 1946. However, the government of Indonesia treated to the reoccupation of the Dutch because young people of Indonesia received an excellent military training during the Japanese occupation. Finally the Dutch gave fully independence to Indonesia in 1949, and then Sukarno was assigned to be the first president of independent Indonesia. He introduced a new policy into the political system of Indonesia which was called “Guided Democracy”, then the Communist Party of Indonesia (PKI) endeavored a coup, but it was crushed in the 1965. Suharto was assigned to be the second president of Indonesia in the 1967, and he took control over the military and the government __Authoritarianism. Since there was an oil embargo in 1973, the price of the oil quadrupled. Also Indonesia was one of the world’s largest suppliers of Oil, they really enjoyed gaining benefits from that time. Suharto was assigned to be the president of Indonesia for the second mandates. Until 2004 Susilo Bambang Yudhoyono is elected to be the president of Indonesia.

Before the emergence of ASEAN, the Association of Southeast Asia (ASA) was formed up by Thailand, the Philippines, and the federation of Malaya with Prime Minister Rahman of Malaya was the initiator, but it failed because of the political deputes between members nations. Then on August 5 1967, Thailand, Singapore, Malaysia, Indonesia, and the Philippines gathered in Bangkok and signed on the Bangkok Declaration to declare the establishment of ASEAN. These five countries were accounted as original members of ASEAN, and the new members of ASEAN are Brunei (January 8, 1984), Vietnam (July 28, 1995), Laos (July 23, 1997), Myanmar (July 23, 1997), and Cambodia (April 30, 1999) (ASEAN-JAPAN CENTRE). Indonesia is one of the fathers of ASEAN, so how does Indonesia operate in ASEAN?

Role of Indonesia in ASEAN

Since ASEAN was sought on August 8, 1967, ASEAN concentrated on Indonesia’s regional international relations. ASEAN was created by Indonesia, Brunei, Malaysia, Singapore, Thailand and the Philippines and took place at Thailand. These countries helped to reduce intra-ASEAN conflict, organize the ASEAN positions and shape a regional multinational framework to facilitate the economic cooperation. The achievement of ASEAN singed a charter with a strong foundation for establishment of an ASEAN community and fortify ASEAN’s role in dealing with variety of architectural changes in the global cooperation. In the changing architectural of global cooperation and disagreement is the role and bargaining the power which can be seen in Indonesia that put into term that must be mutually agreed. The idea that establishment of the ASESAN community, Indonesia will hurt due to lack of bargaining power of economic and political. Indonesia was recognized since the collapse of new order and economic crisis was delayed in 1997. At that time, Indonesia was seen as an ineffective country in the middle of some ASEAN member countries. But later on, Indonesia began to point out its power again with the various accomplishment of reach. In the role of politics and security, Indonesia became the head country the implement democracy in a state. Indonesia was assigned clearly at the front guard of honor and human rights as well. Moreover the success of Indonesia is to implement a democratic government in order to make Indonesia as a democracy country. In the role of human rights, Indonesia is the first country in ASEAN that has a commission on human rights. In the economic role, Indonesia began to show its economic stability growth. This can be seen that Indonesia has capability to help the economic crisis better in 2008. The achievement of Indonesia in the economic was recognized by other countries. More importantly, Indonesia was assigned as one of the G-20 members. Theses success of Indonesia is a surely priceless asset to fight for Indonesia’s national interest, not only for ASEAN but also international public. In ASEAN, Indonesian initiated to propose the establishment of an ASEAN community that not only depends on economic cooperation, but also other parts which should be considered such as political cooperation and security and socio-cultural cooperation. In addition, Indonesia is fighting with many important elements such as enforcement of political cooperation and security and democratization and respect for human rights which were issued by the ASEAN charter. To explain the bargaining power of Indonesia in ASEAN, it was regarded as the beginning of negotiation. Indonesia proposed to include elements of human rights and democratization but these elements were protested by all ASEAN member countries. Shortly after, with a strong argument relied on the experience of democracy and respect for human rights, these element were finally interred charter (Foreign Affairs Blues.)

Role in establish ASEAN

As we have known that Indonesia is one of the five original countries which created ASEAN in 1967. If we look back at the history background in the case of Indonesia and Malaysia war, during 1962-1966 we can see that both countries had a conflict over the creation of Federal of Malaysia that took place on the island of Borneo which called Kalimantan Island. In this war, British meddled in the conflict of these two sides. The war was much complicated which make us hardly to believe that Indonesia agree to form a regional group with Malaysia. But later on, under Indonesia President Suharto, Indonesia eventually agree to accept the Malaysia. In addition, Indonesia agreed to shape ASEAN in meaning that Indonesia agreed to accept the establishment of Federation Malaysia and moreover; the tension between Indonesia and Malaysia war was not happened anymore in 1966. More importantly, the period of the cold war, ASEAN can break out easily owning to ideology crash. At that time, Indonesia had a crucial role to reduce this crash. Indonesia had participated with other ASEAN member countries in order to prevent the epidemic of communist and strengthen the ASEAN’s role become stronger.

A.1. Case of Indonesia and Malaysia War

The Indonesian-Malaysian confrontation happened during 1962-1966 was Indonesia’s political and against to the establishment of Malaysia. It is also known by Indonesian and Malaysian name Konfrontasi. The creation of Malaysia was the integration of Federation of Malaya (now west Malaysia), Singapore and British Borneo (now west Malaysia) in September 1963. The confrontation was an undeclared war which took place at the frontier area between Indonesia and East Malaysia on the island of Borneo which is known as Kalimantan in Indonesia. But Sabah and Sarawak were religious, ethnic, and political variety and there were some area which against to joint Malaysia that Indonesia attempt to exploit. Owing to the fact that terrain in Borneo was challenging and there were a few roads, both sides depend on foot soldiers and air transport. The British and Malaysian armed forces provided a main element of the effort with played by Australian army, navy air forces from combined Far East Strategic Reserve. Firstly, Indonesian overran into East Malaysia relied on local volunteers trained by Indonesian army. The crucial military forces turned to Malaysia were British yet, their first activities were unsuccessful. Then, the British reacted to increase Indonesian activities. In 1965 British began to convert operation into Indonesian Kalimantan under the code name Operation Claret. Meanwhile, Indonesia had little armed forces into west Malaysia. The time of August 1966, under Indonesia President Suharto’s rise to power. Eventually, a peace agreement influenced Indonesia and then Indonesia accepted the existence of Malaysia.

Role in maintain ASEAN

Indonesia is a big brother of ASEAN, it responds a lot so that maintains the relationships among the members of ASEAN. Indonesia involved in the Cambodia and Thailand dispute.

In case Cambodia-Thailand territory dispute, Indonesia, chairman of ASEAN, asks both parties to sit and talk in order to seek the solution. After negotiate many times, the clash still occurred and the situation still worse. Responding to this issues Indonesia had seek an agreement which Indonesia sent observers to conflict area in order to prevent fire.

The problem was never solved until Cambodia asked UN for help. It showed that Indonesia failed to solve the problem. Yes, it is right Indonesia failed to solve the problem, but it is not Indonesia’s mistakes; It is because of the international law “must respect to the state sovereignty” and ASEAN as well. ASEAN is regional group and it haven’t enough power yet to intervene in its members conflict. In addition to the failure of solving the problem, the present of Indonesia in this dispute is really important because until the dispute end it saved many life that live along the border.This failure experience will effect positively on our future ASEAN.

Participation of Indonesia in the bright future of ASEAN

Indonesia can be call a big brother of ASEAN because of it population, size of territory and also located in one of the busiest trade route in the world called Malacca. Indonesia is not only a member of ASEAN, but also a member of G20 which make more voice of ASEAN in the group of rich countries submit and bring ASEAN to the high ranking group. With the membership of Indonesia, ASEAN gain more bargaining power and reputation in the international affair as well as the world politics (The Jakarta post, 2011)

Another point, ASEAN goals are to create the common market in order to attract investors and promotes economic development. The strong market that can attract investors is depended much on population which is the important point. According to Indonesia population is 242.3 million people in 2011 and it is more than one-third of the ASEAN total population which is around 600 million people. Beside population, Territory is another attracting point for investors. state that Indonesia has 1,903,650 sq km that contains much resource for producing such as coal, iron, oil and so many types (The Columbia Electronic Encyclopedia, 2011).


To summary, Indonesia is seen as a big brother of ASEAN because Indonesia has the largest economy in Southeast Asia as well as it has more 240 million people, so it has a potentially huge market. If you look at the past, you might see that Indonesia had a crucial role to help countries in Southeast Asia walk away from Communism. Indonesia is not only the significant player in establishing ASEAN, but also be a meditator in negotiation of Cambodia and Thailand conflict so that prevent clashes between members and maintain the relationships among the members of ASEAN. Not only now but also in the future, Indonesia will be the one who participate the most in ASEAN prosperity.