By PATRICK WALUJO
My first reaction on hearing about the bombings was panic. I was still at home having breakfast when my driver rushed, choked in tears, telling me that there were explosions at the Ritz Carlton and JW Marriott, only a 10-minute drive away. I run a Indonesian private equity firm, which is partnered with U.S.-based TPG Capital.
We had put the head of TPG’s Southeast Asia business and a group of overseas bankers, who were in town visiting us, in the Ritz Carlton the night before. Both hotels are symbols of Jakarta’s reviving economy, which has thrived in recent years as Indonesia has restored political and financial stability following the fall of Suharto a decade ago. Our office is only a few hundred meters away from both hotels, which are part of a new central-business district full of sleek towers and restaurants.
Any of our staff could have been there for one of their regular breakfast meetings. A number of my friends also live in the residences operated by the two hotels. Luckily, my friends and colleagues were safe. Two of my colleagues had fortuitously left the Ritz Carlton only five minutes before the explosions. Then, the anger rushed in. Who are these people? How dare they do this to us? Early indications suggest that they are the same Jemaah Islamiyah fundamentalists who went on a terror rampage, starting with the Bali nightclub bombings in 2002 and ending in 2005. These terrorists for some reason seem to believe that by committing this crime, they will eventually make Indonesia yield to their cause.
These madmen will be disappointed. Indonesians are a resilient and unyielding people. It’s a question of Indonesia’s progress being interrupted not put in to reverse. We are today stronger and more united than in 2002 when the first series of terror attacks hit Indonesia. After a decade of economic and political crisis, Indonesia has emerged as a working democracy under President Susilo Bambang Yudhoyono with an economy that will grow 4% this year despite the current global financial crisis.
In the recent parliamentary elections in April and presidential polls earlier this month – the third-largest peaceful democratic vote in the world outside the U.S. and India – the people of Indonesia have made it clear that we are for democracy, stability, justice, harmony and prosperity. Confidence toward Indonesia among investors before the attack was arguably at its highest level since prior to the 1997 Asian financial crisis. The fight against corruption and hard work that resulted in improved prosperity had damped calls for religious revolution by a tiny fraction of the population.
Our security forces have been praised for rooting out terrorism since 2005. Indonesians can be confident that once again they will be successful in bringing the criminals to justice. Indonesia is serious about overcoming these recent security challenges and prove to the world that the country remains open for business. The combination of Indonesia’s abundant natural-resources, competitive cost structure, large and growing population, as well as improving governance make Indonesia one of the most attractive emerging markets.
(Wall Street Journal)
Popularity: 7% [?]