The political reforms that Indonesia has introduced since 1998 have been duly noted by the United Nations, but these have done little to improve the country’s international standing in human development progress.
The Human Development Report 2002, published by the UN Development Program (UNDP) on Wednesday, recognizes Indonesia’s efforts to forge a democracy by removing press restrictions and increasing the role played by civil society.
But when it came to its ranking on the human development index (HDI), Indonesia remained at 110th, the same position it held in 1995, according to the report.
Indonesia, with a score of 0.684, is behind Vietnam at 109th and China at 96th, but ahead of India at 124th.
“”Indonesia is specially mentioned in the report as an example of where free press and civil society activism have allowed people to participate in policy decisions and debates,”” according to a statement from the UNDP office in Jakarta.
“”The report also notes that Indonesia has abolished restrictive press laws and has engaged in the deregulation and privatization of media markets,”” it said.
The report acknowledges the role played by civil society in promoting public participation and representation, particularly during the 1999 general election.
But the report did not only highlight the positive aspects of Indonesia. The role of the military, corruption and public spending in Indonesia also came under scrutiny.
“”More than three years after the restoration of democratic rule, the military and police still maintain effective control over security policies and practices.
“”Indonesia is among the countries cited by the HDR 2002 as an instance where public spending is often skewed in favor of rich people. Almost 30 percent of public health spending is directed toward the richest, while only 12 percent is on the poorest,”” according to the UNDP office.
The report also noted that “”corruption, abuses of power, intimidation by criminal elements — all weaken democratic accountability”” in the country.
Indonesia is regarded by the report as being “”on track”” in tackling poverty, and of meeting its commitments to the Millennium Development Goals of halving poverty globally, promoting education and gender equality, and reducing infant and maternal mortality rates.
But the UNDP office cautioned that the collective progress of the country masked the fact that many provinces in Indonesia were falling behind in their commitments to fighting poverty.
The Indonesia Human Development Report 2001, published in January and prepared by the UNDP office in Jakarta, found wide discrepancies between the provinces in meeting poverty reduction goals.
Halving the poverty rate in Aceh, for example, would require 150 years based on the trends from 1993 to 1999, 130 years for West Nusa Tenggara and 122 years for North Sumatra.
Provinces expected to meet this goal the quickest are Yogyakarta (11 years), East Java, Jambi and East Kalimantan (13 years), Central Sulawesi (15 years), West Java and Papua (17 years).
Halving the poverty rate in Jakarta would take 20 years from 1993, meaning the job would only be completed in 2013.