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interesting article.

Will Indonesia Overtake The Philippines?
Updated:2005-05-26 14:20:43 MYT


I was at Singapore's Changi Airport (not to greet the First Gentleman) recently when a woman approached me, apparently confused. She showed me her boarding card and asked a question in Bahasa Indonesia.

I caught the word "di mana" ("where" in Indonesian) and figured she was asking for instructions. Actually she was the second Indonesian that morning to approach me for help to get to her boarding gate.

I was waiting, too, for my own flight to Yogyakarta, but I realised there were quite a few flights going out of Singapore to various Indonesian cities.

I did get the Indonesian women to their gates and from my elementary Bahasa Indonesia, I found out that they were working in Singapore as domestic helpers.

On my plane to Yogyakarta, from the shopping bags they had and their excited conversations, I estimated that at least half of the plane was filled with Indonesian helpers returning home.

The airport encounters brought a sense of déja vu to me. A few years back, I dreaded taking planes leaving Manila with lots of domestic helpers. Even before the plane would take off, I'd hear sobbing all around me, from young Filipinos being deployed abroad. Sometimes I'd hold my tears back as well, feeling the sense of helplessness they had.

I remember one Muslim Filipino who was carrying a little shoulder bag. As we landed in Kuala Lumpur, which was where we she was going to work, I asked her if she knew where to get her baggage. She looked at me incredulously, and pointed to her carry-on: "Ito na." [This is it.]

At foreign airports, I'd also have Filipinos approaching me, like the Indonesians, to ask for help around the airport. Again, I remember one Filipino who didn't know she had to take a connecting flight to her final destination. I had to instruct her to check the airport's clocks so she wouldn't miss her flight because she didn't have a watch of her own.

Thankfully, flights returning to Manila were joyous events, marked by animated conversations and carefree laughter. When the plane landed, there was wild applause from the returning workers.

These days I sense our overseas workers have become jaded. Working overseas has become so much a part of our life, and the collective experiences have made our workers airport-wise, street-wise, world-wise.

You see Filipinos strutting around confidently in groups, lugging duty-free goods. And when the planes land in Manila, it's rare now to hear applause. It's almost as if Filipinos are unhappy to be returning home.

Meanwhile, the Indonesians have slowly been moving in to get their share of the global labour market, especially for domestic workers.

There are now more than two million Indonesian overseas workers, almost half of them deployed in Malaysia while the others are found in Saudi Arabia, Taiwan and Singapore.

Filipinos probably still have an edge in some of these markets because we speak better English. (I was, in fact, surprised with the Indonesian women at Singapore's airport. I would have thought that after working in Singapore, they'd be able to speak in English.)

But we shouldn't think our familiarity with English will keep us ahead. In fact, in some circumstances, Indonesians may be preferred over Filipinos. Employers in the Middle East aren't too particular about English skills and prefer getting Muslim domestic helpers, and Indonesia provides a ready source.

But even in Hong Kong and Singapore, there's a growing demand for Indonesians, partly because they're perceived to be more docile and are willing to work for lower wages. That's global capitalism for you.

Besides the overseas workers sector, I do wonder if Indonesia will eventually overtake us in terms of economic development.

Among the original ASEAN (Association of Southeast Asian Nations) members - Singapore, Brunei, Malaysia, Thailand, the Philippines and Indonesia - we've lagged behind all the other countries, except Indonesia, somehow keeping a notch ahead of it.

But Indonesia has been surging forward, threatening to overtake us. I've visited Indonesia many times over the last 20 years and in the 1990s, I was amazed at their infrastructure and social development programs.

Indonesia was also adversely affected by Asian flu in 1997, but that might have been for the better: that crisis exposed weaknesses in the system brought about by corruption and cronyism. Even today, Indonesia remains hobbled by corruption - in Transparency International's corruption index, we rank 102nd in the world while Indonesia ranked 133rd, almost at the bottom of the list.

I looked up some statistics in the UN's Human Development Report and found Indonesia has a per capita gross domestic product (GDP) of USD3,230 while the Philippines' is USD4,170. In terms of the Human Development Index, which aggregates economic and social development indicators, we rank 83rd while Indonesia ranks 111th.

But my sense is that Indonesia is moving faster than we are. They do have the advantage of being an oil-producing country and having many natural resources. We boast of 7,100 islands and a land area of 300,000 sq km, but Indonesia has 13,000 islands (okay, so like here, many disappear with high tide) spread out over 1.9 million sq km.

Indonesians have a strong manufacturing sector. If you haven't noticed it yet, a lot of the glassware sold here now come from Indonesia and they're also now exporting wooden furniture to the Philippines. Some Indonesian companies have even become multinationals. One of these giants holds considerable shares in the Philippine Long Distance Telephone Co (and Smart Communications).

Population has been a problem for Indonesia, which now has 220 million people, many of them crammed into the island of Java (where major cities like Jakarta and Yogyakarta are located). An ambitious government transmigration program many years ago helped to disperse the population to other islands, but mainly it's been a family planning program that has helped Indonesia to move forward.

Their annual population growth rate in 2000 was 1.4% while the Philippines' is more than 2.0%. The family planning program played an important role in helping Indonesia fight poverty. Today, while 37% of Filipinos live below the poverty line, in Indonesia the figure is 27.1%.


In 1975, the difference between the Human Development Index of Indonesia and the Philippines was 0.186. By 2004, this had been reduced to 0.061. The Indonesians are racing ahead but rather than thinking of all this as one big competition, we should look for ways of working together, learning from each other's experiences in fighting corruption and promoting human development.


By Michael L Tan
Philippine Daily Inquirer/ANN
 

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It already has. The Indonesian economy is growing at a faster rate this year while Indonesia's nominal (as opposed to PPP) GDP per capita is about $200 higher than the Philippines'. Their economic growth is also expected to slow down next year, as opposed to Indonesia's accelerating growth. In the long-term, Indonesia has a lot more potential because of its fiscal discipline which is in contrast to the Philippines' fiscal woes.
 

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Alvin created the thread back in May. For some reason I was just reminded of it and dug it up on page 3.
 

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Discussion Starter · #5 ·
Zorobabel said:
It already has. The Indonesian economy is growing at a faster rate this year while Indonesia's nominal (as opposed to PPP) GDP per capita is about $200 higher than the Philippines'. Their economic growth is also expected to slow down next year, as opposed to Indonesia's accelerating growth. In the long-term, Indonesia has a lot more potential because of its fiscal discipline which is in contrast to the Philippines' fiscal woes.
hmmm...the Phillipines have suffered from poor economic management and generally unstable political environment..it was actually the laggard of South East Asia back in the 80s/90s. Do you think this is caused by 'too much' democracy?
 

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it probably will, because the indonesia economic is growing in a very fast rate, and Philippines is still surfering with the political problems

but i think Vietnam will overtake Indonesia within a few years

According to Manila Standard daily, Vietnam is already destined to overtake the Philippines (on GDP/capita, according to an ADB forecast, it will do so in seven years).
 

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I have almost the same experienced with the writer.

It was in Dubai airport. there is a girl .. ( indonesia foreign worker ) who don't speak english. Seeing me that I said to her in Indonesia.
You know what is going on ? She missed the plane . She didn't have any mobile, she didn't know who to contact.
Poor little girl.
then I ask her to use my mobile to contact her friend in Dubai to pick her up.

then there was another one. confused with ticket in the hand. Seeing around, seem that she need a help desperately.
It so happens that she didn't know where to connect her flight.

Poor Indonesian ..... they don't speak English.
While phillipino .... mostly speaking English.
 

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macgyver said:
then there was another one. confused with ticket in the hand. Seeing around, seem that she need a help desperately.
It so happens that she didn't know where to connect her flight.
Couple of years ago, while waiting for my connecting plane in Jeddah Airport (Saudi Arabia), I saw a group of 20 confused-looking Indonesian TKWs being led along the airport concourse like a herd of goats in "Pasar Hewan." (I knew they're Indonesian because they spoke Javanese among themselves). Get this, they all clinged to a long rope (held by an Arab/Pakistani "supervisor") to make sure they don't stray/get lost in that huge airport!

It was pretty humiliating to see your fellow citizens being subjected to that kind of treatment. But what can they do? It's probably better for them than staying in their Kampung doing nothing.
 

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firmanhadi said:
Couple of years ago, while waiting for my connecting plane in Jeddah Airport (Saudi Arabia), I saw a group of 20 confused-looking Indonesian TKWs being led along the airport concourse like a herd of goats in "Pasar Hewan." (I knew they're Indonesian because they spoke Javanese among themselves). Get this, they all clinged to a long rope (held by an Arab/Pakistani "supervisor") to make sure they don't stray/get lost in that huge airport!

It was pretty humiliating to see your fellow citizens being subjected to that kind of treatment. But what can they do? It's probably better for them than staying in their Kampung doing nothing.

Yes , Most of them are speaking javanese. and some are able to speak arabic.
There is one that is .... say .... a bit Ok in appearance.
Was " digodain" ama orang-orang arab. .... and they spaek each other using arabic.

Poor I don't understand arabic, and I don't understand their conversation :)

Must be " what's ur phone number " kind of question I would guess ... he he he :) :)
 

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yes it will,,, im very optimics that indonesia will overtake the whole asean country in one decade,, philippine will suffer and it probably will be the poorest country in SEA if the government still facing the political problems and budget deficit
 

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macgyver said:
I have almost the same experienced with the writer.

It was in Dubai airport. there is a girl .. ( indonesia foreign worker ) who don't speak english. Seeing me that I said to her in Indonesia.
You know what is going on ? She missed the plane . She didn't have any mobile, she didn't know who to contact.
Poor little girl.
then I ask her to use my mobile to contact her friend in Dubai to pick her up.

then there was another one. confused with ticket in the hand. Seeing around, seem that she need a help desperately.
It so happens that she didn't know where to connect her flight.

Poor Indonesian ..... they don't speak English.
While phillipino .... mostly speaking English.
we usually call ourselves Filipino or Pilipino
 

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Alvin said:
hmmm...the Phillipines have suffered from poor economic management and generally unstable political environment..it was actually the laggard of South East Asia back in the 80s/90s. Do you think this is caused by 'too much' democracy?
from my point of view... the fact that there is political turmoil is not primarily because of democracy or even the so called "excess" of it. the problem lies in the type of democracy that we have which is still primarily elite-democracy where popular election and democratic exercises are mere ways of validating elite rule. in fact the economic woes that we are experiencing may be caused by lack of participation of the lower classes in economic, social, and political fields. for example, the philippines experimented with free trade during the 60s but despite that, the primary industries were still controlled by the few who also exercised political power. and in the event of economic trouble, the ruling elite who have a stake in the industries themselves would be more responsible for it. the influx of freedom did not create problems such as disunity, poverty, or criminality. these freedoms merely shed light on these problems which existed from the beginning. some people blame the excess freedom of speech for politcal disunity among the various elite factions. but i reality these things existed prior to the introduction of those freedoms but were not readily seen due to subtle censorship by the elite trying in vain to manipulate public thought and keeping the general populace relatively pacified.
 

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^^They always get that wrong!

The Philippines is a very sad story. We were Asia's second largest economy during the post-war era of the 60s. Mismanagement, natural disasters, economic crises, and, I agree, too much democracy have hampered the Philippines' growth. The 90s was a so-so decade for our country. The economy started to accelerate until the tragic finanacial crisis in 1997. But in 2004, the Philippines registered a 6.1% growth, followed by 5.1% in 2005. Projections for 2006 indicate that the Philippine GDP growth may hit 6% again. By 2025, our nation is expected to become a first world. As for Indonesia, my expectations are just as high. They just have a little problem with English. Filipinos who can speak and write English range from 70-90% of the population, depending on the survey source. The middle class are slowly assimilating English as a household language with more and more children learning English earlier than Filipino (almost 50 million speak English lingua franca). This is a challenge for Indonesia.
 

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^^ as i said, you have to first ask if what kind of democracy is prevalent in the country. you can't assume that the country which is a democracy is immediately egalitarian or has freedom. there may be freedom of speech but no freedom to attack established elite institutions.
 

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Discussion Starter · #17 ·
cosmoManila said:
^^They always get that wrong!

The Philippines is a very sad story. We were Asia's second largest economy during the post-war era of the 60s. Mismanagement, natural disasters, economic crises, and, I agree, too much democracy have hampered the Philippines' growth. The 90s was a so-so decade for our country. The economy started to accelerate until the tragic finanacial crisis in 1997. But in 2004, the Philippines registered a 6.1% growth, followed by 5.1% in 2005. Projections for 2006 indicate that the Philippine GDP growth may hit 6% again. By 2025, our nation is expected to become a first world. As for Indonesia, my expectations are just as high. They just have a little problem with English. Filipinos who can speak and write English range from 70-90% of the population, depending on the survey source. The middle class are slowly assimilating English as a household language with more and more children learning English earlier than Filipino (almost 50 million speak English lingua franca). This is a challenge for Indonesia.
I must say that Filipinos are among the warmest and friendliest people I know. But yeah, sad story with the country, failing to achieve its true potential time and time again...the people are great though, but those in positions of power , maybe not so great.
 

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Korea and Japan barely can say "yes" and "no" yet there country is Developed.:)
well lets just wrap this up by saying that we hope for both countries (Indonesia-Philippines) to be better than the SEA countries that are doing good now :)
 

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English can be helpful but I don't think it makes any noticeable impact on development in countries with large populations. It's only key for countries that rely on their status as transportation, communication, and business hubs; places like Hong Kong, the UAE, Singapore, etc. For a large country the most important thing is a competent government that implements sound policies while making strategic investments into that country's future. It is true that China, South Korea, and Japan have a higher demand for English teachers than anywhere in the world, but that is a result of their economic development, not the reason for it.
 

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its good to hear indonesian's government to reduce poverty to 8% in 2009 from 16% in 2004 and to reduce unemployment from 9.5% in 2004 to 5.1% in 2009
from those statements... its very clear that indonesia is moving very fast,,
 
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