With reports on Chinese workers coming to Indonesia and taking work from locals feeding an already anti-foreigner sentiment among some businesses, President Joko Widodo suggested having foreign workers run some of the country’s state-owned businesses.
President Jokowi explained that leaders of state-owned enterprises (SOEs) should be strongly driven and able to promote healthy competition to encourage the maximum development of the nation’s SOEs.
Speaking at the State Palace yesterday, the Indonesian president suggested having three to four “bule” professionals spearheading SOEs in order for locals to learn, get motivated and be able to compete with foreigners.
To illustrate his point, Jokowi referred to the United Arab Emirates, whose accelerated development was attributed to most of its SOEs being run by foreigners since the mid-1970s.
Jokowi said he heard the explanation on the Arab country’s fast development straight from Sheikh Mohammed of the United Arab Emirates himself.
The president also pointed out Singapore’s excellent educational system today, which many believe was the result of allowing foreigners to run their schools early on.
Jokowi clarified, however, that while foreigners will be allowed to temporarily manage some of the country’s SOEs, ownership of these enterprises will remain with the state.
With what some critics might describe as distrust and paranoia toward foreign workers among the Indonesian public, many find it interesting that the president would suggest foreigners to come into play at all, particularly with the country’s most powerful companies.
While this could be the president’s idea of a strategic move to help boost Indonesia’s overall economic standing, he should be able to take into consideration how the archipelago has so far outlined strict regulations on foreign workers that have so far resulted in a considerable shortage of highly skilled manpower.