Honiara, the capital city of Solomon Islands, cannot be reached directly from any city in Indonesia. You have only 2 options: you go to Brisbane (Aussie) then Honiara, or you go to Port Moresby (Papua New Guinea), then fly using Air Nugini. Most people in Honiara knows Indonesia, and they simple called it the… Australian neighbor. Not really comforting, but it’s enough for some of them who don’t even know Hongkong.
I have once written about my experience when I spent almost 3 weeks in Solomon Islands, I don’t think I need to repost it.
Well, on my last day in Honiara, I bought a local newspaper (I can’t remember the name). There was a big headline there, titled “Why Not Indonesia?”. Solomon Islands has long been reliant to Australia and NZ for its international and diplomatic issues, and I am not sure, but I sensed some disappointment among the Solomon people.
The answer to the headline is a question. Is Indonesia rising and shining in global politics? Well to me, yes it is. But what about others’ opinion? I am sure, many seem to think so, especially considering its democratic success story, continued economic growth and increasing global profile and influence in a wide range of issues, from human rights, peacekeeping, its convincing role as UN security council member, to trade, and climate change.
Most recently, Indonesia was at the G20 Leaders Summit in Pittsburgh to voice not just Indonesia’s interests, but also the concerns of the Muslim world and developing nations. This is showing the forefront responsibility Indonesia has in its shoulder.
Meanwhile, Indonesia’s standing in Southeast Asia also appears unshaken. In fact, when the US signed ASEAN’s Treaty of Amity and Cooperation (TAC) in late July, some speculated that the move was meant to support Indonesia’s regional role rather than to benefit the whole region.
It is easy therefore to get caught up in the flurry of excitement as Indonesia seems ready to take on the mantle of global leadership. And I believe, that we should not overlook small countries like Solomon Islands, Fiji, Vanuatu, Samoa, as they have the same vote power in the UN seat. Taiwan has been losing its grip in the pacific Islands, and China becomes the new “friend” for them. Indonesia, can play a pivotal role in finding diplomatic ties, and no-string attached. Unlike what China and Taiwan did it in the past. I am sure, our friends in the pacific islands will welcome us, as I was warmly welcomed 2 years ago.