The book has been available for a few weeks and I have already started receiving feedback. Most of it concerns the stealth nature of Indonesia’s remarkable rise over the past two decades. As I explain in the book, Indonesian stability and democracy was far from guaranteed in the aftermath of the fall of President Suharto in May 1998.
However two decades later, Indonesia today is a “global beacon of hope”, as Kishore Mahbubani notes in his endorsement of the book. Yet the world’s largest Islamic democracy hardly receives any attention. A friend in Washington D.C. remarked to me recently that Bali was better known in America than Indonesia.
Why this bias if it indeed is bias? Perhaps it is the news cycle. We have all been consumed with an over-dose of negative news in recent years – the never ending conflict in Syria, dysfunction in the Middle East, the rise of populism, and a backlash against global elites and globalisation. Not surprisingly, we have ignored or under-estimated positive developments which give us some hope about the future. A good start would be in recognising that we live in a complicated world where we often falter but sometimes get things right. Indonesia is a shining example of the later.