Joko Widodo, the 7th President of Indonesia has proclaimed Indonesia’s geography as an advantage and has clearly stated that his vision is to make Indonesia a global maritime nexus, in his speech at The East Asia Summit 2014. What are the key objectives of Jokowi’s Maritime Policy?
- A restoration of Indonesia’s maritime culture, especially connecting the link between Indonesia’s identity, the country’s archipelago, and livelihood.
- Improving maritime diplomacy, with an aim to Indonesia’s partners to collaborate together in solving cases of sovereignty, illegal fishing conflicts, and environmental problems such as maritime pollution.
- Revitalise Indonesia’s maritime economy by enhancing the country’s shipping industry, port infrastructures, and tourism.
- Refining the management of Indonesia’s fisheries and oceans, by creating maritime “food security” and sovereignty, and also the development of Indonesia’s fishing industry.
- Strengthen the maritime defenses of Indonesia, which will help preserve the country’s maritime security and wealth.
He established a new Maritime Security Agency (Badan Keamanan Laut, BAKAMLA) on 13 December 2014 with the purpose to limit illegal fishing boats that are equipped with large amount of personnel and act as coast guard for Indonesia. Furthermore, Jokowi collaborates with his Minister of Marine Affairs and Fisheries, Mrs. Susi Pudjiastuti to ensure the sovereignty of Indonesia’s maritime security.
Jokowi stated in an interview with The Wall Street Journal that nine-tenths of the 5.400 fishing boats in Indonesia are illegal, which costs Indonesia $3 billion annually. Moreover, Jokowi and Susi took actions to conserve Indonesia’s fisheries. On 5 December 2014, a Vietnamese fishing boat that was illegally hunting at Riau islands in Indonesia, was confiscated by Indonesia’s navy and destroyed? after the crew was removed. The Indonesian Navy also destroyed 2 illegal Thailand fishing boats on 28 December 2014. In addition, Jokowi wants to send a message that Indonesia takes serious actions against illegal fishing by sinking the ships.
One of Jokowi’s key tenants of maritime policy is improving interisland connectivity and refining port infrastructures of Indonesian archipelago. Indonesia’s archipelago has 6 million square kilometers with thousands of islands which are crucial to develop Indonesia’s maritime industry. There still exists a lack of interisland connectivity on Maluku, Eastern Indonesia, and North Maluku. Jokowi needs to build Indonesia’s port infrastructure in order to expand Indonesia’s maritime economy in the future.
Jokowi also needs to encourage maritime security and diplomacy especially in the code of conduct in the South China Sea between ASEAN and China. Jokowi is currently working alongside the Foreign Minister, Ms. Retno Surmadi to establish a more bilaterally driven, assertive, and self-interested strategy to Indonesian diplomacy.
To learn more about Jokowi and his maritime policy, visit the official website of Indonesia’s Ministry of Foreign Affairs.