Briefing of President of the Republic of Indonesia to Participants of the Short Education Program of the 24th Class (PPSA XXIV) and Alumni of 2023 Regular Education Program of the 65th Class (PPRA LXV), the National Resilience Institute of the Republic of Indonesia, October 4, 2023
Assalamu’alaikum warahmatullahi wabarakatuh,
Good morning, may prosperity be upon all of us,
Greetings of Virtue.
Distinguished Coordinating Minister for Political, Legal and Security Affairs, Minister of State Secretary, Governor of the National Resilience Institute (Lemhanas) and all staff;
Distinguished participants of PPRA LXV and PPSA XXIV 2023;
Distinguished Ladies and Gentlemen.
We have just been informed about two issues, namely, first, dealing with ASEAN digital connectivity and second, regarding the digital leadership road map. I really agree with what has just been said that we must anticipate all changes, all global dynamics which change very quickly every day, including technological and digital changes.
At every meeting in ASEAN and at the G20, this [topic] continues to be discussed because the changes happen very quickly, technology [advancement] is faster than regulations. While the technology has advanced so greatly, the regulations don’t yet exist. And that does not happen only in our country, but even big countries are also struggling to catch up with the pace of existing technological changes, especially digital technology.
But, as I have often said, don’t be afraid of changes. Even though we are afraid, changes will certainly take place, so there is no need to be afraid of changes. Don’t be allergic to dynamics either because there is no room in this world without dynamics. And we must now start to get used to these things, even though sometimes we are also surprised. While we haven’t yet finished learning one thing, another one has emerged. While artificial intelligence has just come out and we are just learning what it is, generative artificial intelligence and other kinds of new technology already arise.
And we can’t stop digitalization. No, we can’t. It is already around, and we can’t stop it. We can’t stop technological change as well, we can’t either. They will keep emerging and keep coming. And, if we can’t stop them, what should we do? That means we have to adapt quickly. We have to adapt quickly and we also have to keep track [of the advancements] and innovate. If not, we will lag far behind.
And, we have to create the strategy, especially the tactical one, and a tactical vision, not a vision that is too far-fetched but cannot be implemented. We have to create a tactical strategy and a tactical vision that can be quickly implemented because the goods are already spread quickly everywhere.
Then if we look at the potential of our digital economy, in Indonesia the potential is enormous. According to my notes, in 2020 it reached US$44 billion, in 2022 it reached US$77 billion, in 2025 it will be US$146 billion, and in 2030 it is estimated to reach US$360 billion. That means more than Rp5,000 trillion in 2030. That figure [can be achieved] if we can complete the negotiations on the Digital Economy Framework Agreement in ASEAN by 2025, the last figure, namely the US$360 billion, will be doubled. That means US$720 billion. If converted into Rupiah, it is equal to Rp11,250 trillion. So, the economic potential is quite enormous.
What is the Digital Economy Framework Agreement? In ASEAN, what should we discuss? We should discuss digital trading rules. We have to prepare for this. We don’t need to discuss the global rules for the beginning, but the rules in the scope of ASEAN at first. Let’s prepare digital trading rules, let’s prepare digital payments, and protect data security carefully and properly.
I was surprised yesterday that after the meeting, I was informed about an application, which name I don’t need to mention, which in just a matter of months, around 123 million people have logged in. It attracted so many people in just a matter of months, because the purchases were very massive. What does it mean? Our consumers’ behavior has already been controlled, their tendency has already been controlled, their orientation has already been predicted, and we are too late. So once again, the rules regarding digital commerce, digital payments, data security, and also the mobility of our digital talent are somewhat undetectable. We see that now digital nomads from all over the world are gathering in Bali. It will do us good if we can take advantage of them.
But I often have to remind you that because our potential can reach Rp11,250 trillion, please take extra care so that we won’t just become a market. The potential is around, but we only become a market. Therefore, we have to be players. Preparing these players really needs hard work because our time is quite limited. My friends said that the time [available to us] is only two years, starting from last year, the middle of last year, only two years. How we can prepare our digital talents is not an easy thing.
And, we should not only become consumers. Among the 123 million consumers I have mentioned earlier, we are only a part of them. And be careful. What is more worrying is because 90 percent of the goods are imported, not our own products. If we put our own products on e-commerce, it is still good, but 90 percent of the goods are imported because their prices are very low. Even clothes, how much were they sold yesterday? Rp5 thousand [a piece]. This means that there is predatory pricing. Some people have started to burn money with the main aim of taking full control over data and behavior. We all have to understand this.
Once again, don’t just be consumers, but we must become producers. It means that if we have an application, those who can join are producers of goods that are domestically produced. It is good if we can export our products to other countries. No need to go so far, try at first to dominate ASEAN [market]. Never let ourselves get carried away, in a matter of months, I don’t want ourselves to be exposed to modern era colonialism. Never let ourselves get exposed to colonialism in this modern era. If we stay unaware, we will unexpectedly find ourselves to be already colonized economically. Maybe at first the price is still low, like Rp5,000 a piece. Once the product enters our market in a very great amount, everyone buys it and finally becomes addicted to it, then the price is increased to Rp500 million, leaving no choice to consumers. We can’t do anything anymore, because we are already dependent on it.
Therefore, we must really protect our digital sovereignty, we must protect it properly. I have already said that the regulations must be able to catch up [with the advancements]. And, when it comes to regulatory matters, we tend to make things difficult and complicated so that in months or even years we haven’t yet finished making the regulations while the technology is advancing very fast. That’s the problem. Once again, we must protect our digital sovereignty and really defend our local content and local goods. If we still cannot make our goods contain 100 percent local content, then at least 90 percent or 80 percent local content.
Take good care of our digital assets, as well as our data, information, market access, everything. It can be used for political cause. Our digital experts said carefully, “Sir, please be alert. If we fail to protect our digital data, maybe in 2029 somebody else can take full control of [people and determine] who will become the president.” How powerful consumers’ behavior can be, and it can be detected very accurately.
Once again, data, information, market access are the gold and diamonds of the digital world. Because now is the era of AI (artificial intelligence), the era of big data analytics, the era of machine learning which can predict human behavior, and even when it comes to politics, you can direct people by only using, once again, data and information. And big countries are worried about this.
At the last G20 meeting in India, six big countries, whose names I don’t need to mention, talked to each other and got worried. It seemed very much to me that they were worried about AI. And, they admitted that they were late in preparing the regulations while the technology, especially the digital technology, has come a long way. That’s what happened to those six big countries. If we are not agile and quick in preparing the regulations, the same will happen to us. That’s what I often fear. We really have to know what the challenges ahead are and we understand how difficult the future will be. Therefore, we have to do this and that, and the time is very limited. The solution could be like this or like that, so please formulate it immediately.
For this reason, I often say in many forums that national leadership in 2024, 2029, and 2034 is the key to whether our country, Indonesia, can move forward or not. Because we have a demographic bonus and those matters that I have mentioned earlier. Because now we know everything is digital, all online. Therefore, we must really have this digital Indonesia road map. The strategy, the direction, the targets must all be detailed. They have to be tactical and detailed, because we can no longer make something that looks big and far-fetched but can’t be implemented.
Once again, let’s create the digital Indonesia road map, which regulates the sky toll road, digital infrastructure, digital government, digital economy, digital society. Once again, it must contain the target, the direction, the strategy. Sometimes problems come up, that’s normal. Yesterday we had a problem concerning BTS (base transceiver station), we had thought about placing BTS in peripheral areas, remote areas, but a problem arose and we resolved it. That means we’re going backwards again, although I’m sure we can also resolve the problems on the ground eventually.
So the focus is on the solution, not the problem. And, if there are challenges, problems, look for solutions. If there are obstacles and you get stuck, find a way out. If you’re still stuck, then study again, try another method, and proceed like that to produce a solution, produce recommendations, carry out strategies, and implement policies.
That concludes my briefing on this auspicious occasion. I congratulate those who have graduated and those who will also graduate tomorrow. Good luck with your job to serve our nation and state.
Wassalamu’alaikum warahmatullahi wabarakatuh.