The well-being of society remains one of the issues faced by Indonesia as a developing country.
For years since its independence, ensuring social welfare has been a top priority in every government program. However, this issue remains unresolved up to the present day.
Professor Todung Mulya Lubis, a legal expert who President Jokowi appointed as Indonesia’s Ambassador to Norway and Iceland from 2018 to January 2023, provided his insights during a public lecture titled “Welfare State in Historical and Constitutional Perspectives” on Friday (August 18) at the UGM Graduate School.
“The idea of social welfare has even emerged in the opening statement of the 1945 Constitution. Our founding fathers formulated an idea that was not capitalist, leaning more towards socialism,” expressed Professor Lubis.
“It clearly stated that resource management should be based on principles of kinship and the interests of society.”
According to him, from the old order to the new order, the ideas offered were quite good and moderate. The state attempted to formulate a centralized market economic system that could be used to meet collective needs.
Indonesia has long been known as a country with abundant resources. Unfortunately, economic management has not yet found the appropriate realization to prioritize the community’s interests entirely.
“For over 150 years, the idea of a welfare state has been debated, but our nation’s founders didn’t specifically address it. The focus of their discussions was on the form of the state, the People’s Consultative Assembly (MPR), the People’s Representative Council (DPR), the Jakarta Charter, and so on,” he said.
“Economic debates weren’t conducted extensively, seemingly emphasizing the sense of kinship.”
According to Professor Lubis, the Reformation era gave rise to several amazing concepts like cooperatives and State-Owned Enterprises (BUMN). But putting these ideas into practice became political fodder and was never really allocated or handled for the good of the group.
“Indonesia has so much oil. For the Pertamina project, for instance, how many hectares does it occupy? Where does all that money go? Is there a national agenda to save that money for future generations?” he said.
With his five-year experience as Indonesia’s ambassador to Norway and Iceland, Professor Lubis offered a stark comparison between the two countries.
Norway, one of the most advanced countries in Europe, has ensured all rights to life and the well-being of its citizens since conception.
He explained that Norwegian citizens never worry about the cost of living, education, and healthcare for their children because the state already guarantees these.
“Norway was an impoverished country in the 1960s. When they began drilling for oil, not a single cent of the sales was used for the Norwegian people or the state’s interests and politics. They saved all that money for their descendants. Meanwhile, Indonesia? The state system is still too corrupt; all state revenue is allocated for expenditures, with no saving,” he added.