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The following Background, Historical, Political, Economic and General Information has
been sourced and combined, from the following Web Sites:
Reference: Austrade Web Online - www.austrade.gov.au
Aust. Dept of Foreign Affairs - www.dfat.gov.au
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The name Indonesia has its roots in two Greek Words: "Indos" meaning Indian and "Nesos"
meaning island. This is an excellent description of the archipelago, as there are an estimated
17,508 islands, some nothing more than tiny outcropping of barren rock, others as California
or Spain and covered in dense tropical jungle. Approximately 6,000 of these islands are
inhabited, with five main islands and 30 smaller archipelagoes serving as home to the
majority of the population. The main islands are Sumatra (473,606 sq.km), Kalimantan
(539,460 sq.km), Sulawesi (189,216 sq.km), Irian Jaya (421,981 sq.km), and Java (132,187
The world's largest archipelago, Indonesia achieved independence from the Netherlands in
1949. Current issues include: implementing IMF-mandated reforms of the banking sector,
effecting a transition to a popularly-elected government after four decades of
authoritarianism, addressing charges of cronyism and corruption, holding the military
accountable for human rights violations, and resolving growing separatist pressures in Aceh
and Irian Jaya. On 30 August 1999 a provincial referendum for independence was
overwhelmingly approved by the people of Timor Timur. Concurrence followed by
Indonesia's national legislature, and the name East Timor was provisionally adopted. On 20
May 2002, East Timor was internationally recognized as an independent state.
Before European intrusions into the islands by Portuguese, Spanish, and Dutch seeking to
monopolize the lucrative trade in spices and other marketable products, the more than 13,000
islands constituting the Republic of Indonesia were home to a diverse array of cultures and
civilizations that had been influenced by Hindu Buddhist ideas from India and by Islam, as
well as indigenous beliefs. Although the Portuguese and Spanish presence in the archipelago
had limited impact, the Dutch United East India Company (VOC, for this and other acronyms
see table A) established a trading post on the north coast of Java--what later became known
as Jakarta--seized control of the spice trade, and gradually asserted military and political
control over the archipelago. This process of colonization was well advanced on Java by the
mid-eighteenth century and largely completed in the rest of the archipelago by the first
decade of the twentieth century.
Under both the VOC and, after 1816, the Netherlands Indies government, Dutch policies
served essentially economic goals, namely the exploitation of Indonesia's rich endowment of
natural resources. Indeed, during the mid-nineteenth century, the Cultivation System on Java-
-the forced growing of cash crops-- brought the Netherlands considerable profits. At the same
time, however, a cycle of poverty and overpopulation emerged among Java's rural population.
Modern scholars have debated the degree to which this cycle can be attributed to the
Cultivation System. As a result of the cycle of poverty and overpopulation, by the beginning
of the twentieth century, the Dutch government sought to improve the welfare of the people
under what was known as the Ethical Policy. But, although education and welfare facilities
were expanded, the Dutch did little to promote self-government and did not recognize the
people's aspirations for independence.
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Indonesia was territorially a creation of Dutch imperialism: with the exception of Portuguese
(East) Timor, it encompasses all the territories of the old Netherlands Indies. Intellectually,
however, Indonesia was a creation of early twentieth century nationalists who sought cultural,
linguistic, and social bases for national unity. Although deeply immersed in Javanese culture,
Sukarno (1901-70), the most important pre-World War II nationalist and long-time president,
envisioned a new republic reaching far beyond the Netherlands Indies--a Greater Indonesia--
Indonesia Raya- -which would include northern Borneo and the Malay Peninsula.
The Japanese occupation in the early 1940s shattered the Dutch colonial regime and opened
up new opportunities for Indonesians to participate in politics, administration, and the
military. Although Tokyo's primary goal was exploitation of natural resources, especially oil,
vitally necessary for the war effort in other parts of Asia, the Japanese tolerated political
movements by Sukarno, Mohammad Hatta (1902-80), and others, especially on Java. With
the cooperation of some Japanese military officers, Sukarno and Hatta declared Indonesia's
independence on August 17, 1945, two days after Japan's surrender to the Allies. A revived
Dutch administration, however, was determined to reimpose colonial control or as much
colonial rule as they could manage. This not being possible, the Dutch sought to ensure that
an independent Indonesia was regionally fragmented and maximally amenable to Dutch
economic and other interests. This renewed oppression led the nationalists to wage a bitter
war of independence--the National Revolution--between 1945 and 1949, which resulted in
the shortlived federal Republic of the United States of Indonesia (RUSI) in 1950.
The new state faced ethnic, religious, and social divisions throughout the archipelago. Early
1950s' practices of parliamentary democracy ended with Sukarno's adoption of Guided
Democracy in the 1959-65 period. Sukarno had a vast mass following, but his power base
rested on the support of two antagonistic groups: the Armed Forces of the Republic of
Indonesia (ABRI) and the Indonesian Communist Party (PKI). What has been officially
described as a PKI attempted coup d'état on September 30, 1965, resulted in Sukarno's
displacement from power, a massacre of PKI supporters on Java and other islands, and the
rise of General Suharto to supreme power.
Suharto's New Order regime placed ABRI firmly in control of Indonesia's political system
and, to an extent, its economy as well. Friendly ties were restored with Western countries and
Japan, and Indonesia accepted large amounts of Western and Japanese aid and private
investment. Under rational economic planning policies, the country experienced orderly
development and increases in the standard of living for most of the population. But Suharto's
strong anticommunism and insistence on using the Pancasila as the ideological foundation of
all groups in society contributed to a tightly controlled, centralized system. The regime's
occupations of West New Guinea (which became Indonesia's Irian Jaya Province) and East
Timor (which became Timor Timur Province) were a focus of international criticism,
stemming from charges of human rights violations. Re-elected repeatedly to the presidency,
Suharto was regarded by many observers as indispensable to the system's stability and
President Suharto resigned in the face of mass protests in May 1998, bringing to an end the
New Order regime. His vice president, B J Habibie, assumed the Presidency until elections
could be arranged. General elections - the most democratic since 1955 - were held in June
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1999, contested by 48 parties. The Indonesian Democratic Party - Struggle (PDI-P), led by
Megawati Soekarnoputri, won the largest number of seats in the new parliament (153). The
former ruling party, Golkar, came second with 120 seats. Three other parties, the National
Awakening Party (PKB), the United Development Party (PPP) and the National Mandate
Party (PAN), each gained between 30 and 60 seats. Small parties picked up the remainder of
the 462 elected seats in the 500 strong House of Representatives (DPR) (38 seats were
reserved for representatives from the military and police).
In accordance with constitutional conditions prevailing at the time, the supreme parliament,
the People's Consultative Assembly (MPR), met in General Session to elect the president and
vice-president. The MPR was made up of the 500 members of the DPR, 135 representatives
from Indonesia's provinces and 65 representatives of community and professional groups
(since East Timor’s independence, its five former provincial representatives no longer sit).
PDI-P's failure to win a majority in its own right in the general election allowed an alliance of
Islamic-oriented parties - the ‘Central Axis' - to garner enough votes in the MPR to secure the
presidency for its nominee, Abdurrahman Wahid, in October 1999. Megawati Soekarnoputri
became Vice President.
During a Special Session of the MPR, Megawati ascended to the Presidency on 23 July 2001
following the impeachment of Abdurrahman Wahid. The MPR (People's Consultative
Assembly) elected Muslim-based United Development Party (PPP) leader Hamzah Haz as
Vice-President. Megawati's initial public statements sent positive signals that her
administration was committed to reform and tackling critical problems such as endemic
corruption. Her government agreed to generous autonomy packages for Aceh and Papua
(formerly Irian Jaya). It also signed up promptly to an IMF programme, suggesting that
economic reform would be invigorated.
Megawati's administration inherited a host of competing political and economic challenges.
These include the reform of the judiciary, bureaucracy and military, as well as the problem of
institutionalised corruption. The government must also address the problem of separatism, a
challenging economic reform agenda, and strains and pressures from the introduction of new
wide-ranging decentralisation reforms.
The DPR is developing an active role in Indonesia's political life. It has resumed its
constitutional role as the principal legislative body, a role which the Executive had largely
assumed during the New Order. The DPR committees have regularly summoned politicians
to appear before them and account for their decisions.
The August 2002 session of the MPR approved a package of constitutional amendments
finalising a comprehensive process of constitutional reform initiated in 1999. Key among
these amendments was a new system by which the president would be elected directly. Under
the amended constitution, presidential and vice-presidential candidates will be elected as part
of a joint ticket. In order to be elected in the first round of voting, a ticket must win more than
50% of the overall vote, as well as at least 20% of the vote in every province and the highest
vote in at least half of the provinces. If no ticket is able to fulfil these requirements, a second
round will be conducted between the two tickets with the highest votes.
The constitutional amendments also include endorsement of a new structure of the MPR
which effectively makes the MPR a joint sitting of the House of Representatives (DPR) and
the newly created Upper House of Regional representatives (DPD). In line with the principle
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that all members of the MPR/DPR should be democratically elected representatives, neither
the military nor the functional groups faction will be represented in the DPR from 2004.
Civil society has developed rapidly since the end of the New Order. The non-government
sector and the media have blossomed in response to the more liberal political environment.
These developments have dramatically increased the level of political debate within the
community, but have also led to greater activism on the part of radical groups.
Separatist demands from some Indonesian provinces - primarily Aceh and Papua - present a
challenge to the Indonesian government. Special Autonomy Laws for Aceh and Papua came
into effect on 1 January 2002. The Aceh Bill was based largely on a draft proposed by
Acehnese and its key elements are: the return of 70% of oil and gas revenues to the province
(these profit sharing ratios will be effective for 8 years, after which time the split will change
to 50/50); the implementation of syariah (Islamist) law for Muslims; and the direct election of
the provincial Governor by the people of Aceh. The Special Autonomy Law for Papua
provides for the change of the provincial name to Papua, returns 70-80% of the natural
resource revenues to the province, improves the political participation of Papuans, and
establishes a truth and reconciliation commission to examine past human rights abuses.
With the assistance of the Henri Dunant Centre (HDC), the Indonesian Government and the
Free Aceh Movement (GAM) signed a Cessation of Hostilities agreement on 9 December
2002 in Geneva. The COHA began to disintegrate when both sides allegedly violated its
provisions and the parties could not agree on the dates and venues of further negotiations. A
meeting between the Indonesian Government and the GAM was convened in Tokyo on 17-18
May by the Co-chairs of the December 2002 Preparatory Conference; Japan, the EU, the US
and the World Bank. The Henri Dunant Centre also participated. Efforts at the Tokyo
meeting to find new ways forward for Aceh were unsuccessful. President Megawati signed a
decree on 18 May which declared a state of military emergency in Aceh from 19 May for an
initial period of six months.
Australia has consistently urged the Indonesian Government to exercise restraint in Aceh and
Papua, and to use the special autonomy process to address local grievances. The 15 point
communique signed by Prime Minister Howard and President Megawati on 13 August 2001
"underlined the importance of a comprehensive approach to solving the problems in Aceh
and Irian Jaya through advancing the primacy of dialogue, greater respect for human rights,
and the implementation of special autonomy status within the unitary state of the Republic of
Indonesia". During his visits to Jakarta in February 2002 and February 2003, Prime Minister
John Howard urged President Megawati to give primacy to dialogue and effective
implementation of the special autonomy packages.
Australia strongly supports Indonesia's unity and territorial integrity. The Government
believes that the best prospect for a sustainable resolution of the Aceh problem lies in a
negotiated settlement based on special autonomy within a united Indonesia. Our consistent
position has been that military action will not achieve a lasting resolution of the conflict. Mr
Downer and Australia’s Ambassador to Indonesia have made Australia’s position clear to
senior Indonesian authorities. Australia continues to urge both the Indonesian Government
and the Free Aceh Movement (GAM) to ensure the rights of civilians during the fighting and
to leave open channels for further dialogue with a view to ending hostilities.
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The relationship between Australia and Indonesia is a wide-ranging one encompassing
political, trade, people-to-people links and cultural exchanges. The breadth of the relationship
is one of its strongest attributes, with strong education and tourist links supporting an
increased understanding of both countries. Over 17,000 Indonesian students are currently
studying in Australia, making them one of the largest groups of foreign students in Australia.
Our cooperation with Indonesia to investigate the 12 October Bali bombing is a clear
indication of both nations’ commitment to cooperative, mutually-beneficial engagement and
to combating the scourge of terrorism. A Joint Investigation and Intelligence Team was
established during Mr Downer’s mid-October 2002 visit to Indonesia and has met since to
discuss ongoing cooperation efforts. Australia continues to be encouraged by Indonesia’s
commitment to pursue the perpetrators of the Bali attack.
There has been steady contact and two-way visits between Australia and Indonesia at head of
government and foreign minister levels. During Mr Howard’s February 2002 visit to
Indonesia, several new bilateral initiatives were announced, including a Memorandum of
Understanding on Counter Terrorism.
The inaugural Trilateral meeting between Indonesia, Australia and East Timor was held in
February 2002 and provided the impetus for further regional cooperation. Australia and
Indonesia also co-hosted a conference on people-smuggling in February 2002. A follow-up
people-smuggling conference was co-hosted in April 2003. Both countries participated in the
inaugural meeting of the South-West Pacific Dialogue in October 2002. Australia and
Indonesia co-hosted a regional conference on money laundering and terrorist financing in
The Australia-Indonesia Ministerial Forum - initiated in 1992 - provides an important
platform for the expansion of bilateral economic ties between the two countries. The mandate
of the Forum is to identify opportunities for commercial collaboration and to address
impediments to trade and investment. The Sixth Ministerial Forum was held in Jakarta in
March 2003. Seven Australian and 13 Indonesian Ministers participated in the Forum, along
with officials and representatives of the Australian and Indonesian business communities.
During the Forum, Australia and Indonesia released a Statement on Counter-Terrorism in
which both countries reaffirmed their commitment to combating the terrorist threat in the
region. Ministers attending the Forum also affirmed the importance of ongoing economic
reform in Indonesia.
Indonesia experienced modest growth in 2002 with an economic growth rate of 3.7 per cent.
Activity strengthened in the first three quarters of 2002, but slowed in the fourth quarter,
partly as a result of the Bali bombing on 12 October. The Indonesian government sustained
impressive fiscal consolidation in 2002 with a stronger Rupiah, lower inflation and reduced
Private consumption accounts for almost 80 per cent of the Indonesian economy and remains
the main driver of growth. It grew 4.7 per cent in 2002, but slowed in the latter quarters.
Declining investment has been a drag on growth since the 1997 crisis. Investment
expenditure is still around 20 per cent below pre-crisis levels and stayed flat in 2002.
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Corruption, excessive taxation, a weak legal system and security concerns have been the
main deterrents to investment.
Indonesia made some progress on its reform agenda in the last months of 2002. It signed an
agreement for the sale of Bank Niaga, sold a 42 per cent stake in state telecommunications
company Indosat and passed a law on the Anti-Corruption Commission. The IMF completed
the seventh review of its program with Indonesia in December 2002 and signed a new Letter
of Intent for 2003 on 18 March. Indonesia's current IMF program is scheduled to expire at the
end of 2003.
Indonesia, a vast polyglot nation, faces severe economic development problems, stemming
from secessionist movements and the low level of security in the regions, the lack of reliable
legal recourse in contract disputes, corruption, weaknesses in the banking system, and
strained relations with the IMF. Investor confidence will remain low and few new jobs will
be created under these circumstances. In November 2001, Indonesia agreed with the IMF on
a series of economic reforms in 2002, thus enabling further IMF disbursements. Keys to
future growth remain internal reform, the build-up of the confidence of international donors
and investors, and a strong comeback in the global economy.
The Indonesian Government has forecast 4.0 per cent growth in 2003. While the impacts of
the Bali bombing were not as severe as first predicted, ongoing security concerns,
exacerbated by conflict in the Middle East, could have a further impact on consumer
confidence. Sectors prone to a slowdown include: transport and communication; hotel, trade
and restaurants; and the financial sector. Indonesia's ability to continue its economic recovery
will depend on the Indonesian government's continued response to the threat of terrorism and
commitment to economic reform.
The Indonesian government's response to the threat of terrorism has so far been encouraging.
Immediately after the Bali bombing, Indonesia announced an eight step approach to
combating terrorism, which included an increase in Indonesia's international cooperation on
terrorism; TNI assistance to the police in detecting and preventing terrorism; heightened
border security; and increased TNI protection of key economic infrastructure. The Indonesian
Parliament passed counter-terrorism legislation on 6 March 2003, which enables Indonesia to
act against suspected perpetrators of the Bali bombing. Key suspects in the Bali case have
been arrested and trials are expected to begin shortly. Indonesia and Australia signed a joint
statement on counter-terrorism at the Australia-Indonesia Ministerial Forum held in Jakarta
on 11 March. The statement reaffirmed both countries' commitment to combating the terrorist
It is also imperative that the Indonesian government continues progress on economic reform.
Key challenges of the reform program include corporate debt restructuring, privatisation of
state-owned enterprises and improved governance (especially judicial reform). Despite
progress at the end of 2002, the task ahead remains substantial. In particular, progress on
legal reform will be required in order to improve legal and regulatory certainty and enhance
Indonesia's attractiveness to foreign investors.
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Entry / Visas
It is advisable for ECU staff working in Indonesia to obtain a Business Visa. These are
available as single or multiple entry.
Australian tourists continue to enjoy visa-free entry to Indonesia. Australians currently
receive a free 60-day Short Stay Permit on arrival. The Indonesian Government is proposing
changes to its visa entry requirements, but it is unclear which countries will be affected by the
changes or when the new system will be introduced. For up-to-date visa information,
Australians should contact the nearest Embassy or Consulate of the Republic of Indonesia,
well in advance of travel. Indonesia requires at least 6 months validity remaining on passports
for visitors entering the country.
Australians in Indonesia are required to register with the local Rukun Tertangga (RT) Office,
the local police and if staying more than 90 days, the local immigration office. Australians
are also required to carry proper identification [Australian Passport or Kartu Ijin Tinggal
Sementara (KITAS) or Residents Stay Permit] and ensure their visa remains current at all
The Department of Foreign Affairs and Trade also offers an on-line registration service,
accessible via the internet, at http://www.orao.dfat.gov.au
International certificates of valid small-pox, cholera and yellow fever vaccinations are
required only from travellers coming from infected areas.
Reasonable medical facilities are available in major towns but once outside these areas,
medical services tend to be very poor. Make sure that you have adequate health insurance that
covers evacuation and consider inoculations against typhoid, cholera, Japanese encephalitis
and hepatitis. There is a risk of malaria in many parts of Indonesia and it is recommended that
you take advice regarding anti-malarials.
Tap water is not safe to drink and ice cubes should be avoided. Bottled water is widely
Australians in Indonesia should be aware that the smoke haze across much of the north-west
part of the archipelago, usually from July to October, could impact on their health and travel
plans. Kalimantan and Sumatra are generally the worst affected areas.
Airports – International
Indonesia has several international airports. Besides the Jakarta Soekarno-Hatta which serves
both as gateway to the country and hub to all of Indonesia's provinces, international flights
also arrive at and leave direct from Bali and Surabaya.
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Jakarta (CGK) - (Soekarno-Hatta)20km (12 miles) northwest of the city (travel time – 45
Halim Perdana Kusuma (HLP) -, Jakarta's second airport, 13km (8 miles) southeast of the
city (travel time – 45 minutes).
Denpasar (DPS) - (Ngurah Rai), 13km (8 miles) south of the city, is the main airport on Bali
(travel time – 30 minutes).
International Airport Departure Tax - Rp50,000
There are direct regional flights from Singapore and Malaysia to several destinations
including Medan, Padang, Pekanbaru, Solo, Lombok, Makassar (Ujung Pandang), Manado,
and from Australia to Kupang and Bali.
There are numerous domestic airports all over Indonesia providing a vast network of travel
options. In addition to the above, the more popular destinations include the following:
Ujung Padang (Sulawesi)
Domestic Airport Departure Tax - Rp11,000
Getting Around in Indonesia
Roads: On Java, Bali, Lombok, parts of Sumatera, Kalimantan and Sulawesi are good for
inter-province travel by car or coach. Rail travel is available all across Java, short distances in
North and South Sumatera. Metered taxis or cars can be hired in all large cities. For a
leisurely and quaint sight-seeing drive, try the andong or becak in Yogya or other types of
Taxis: In most bigger cities and some towns as well, taxis are available, though only in
Jakarta, Bandung, Semarang, Surabaya, and Bali metered taxis are commonplace. In other
cities and tourist areas one can hire cars, usually chauffeur-driven and paid by the hour or for
each one-way trip. Taxi reservation stand is available inside the International arrival hall. An
airport surcharge, plus toll road fees will be added to the metered fare. It is safer to order a
taxi by phone, but if you hail a taxi on the street please do the following :
Note the taxi’s company name
Note the taxi’s number and the driver’s ID
Make sure the driver agrees to take you to your destination. If the driver tries to bargain
instead of using the meter or claims his meter is broken, get out of the taxi and find
another one. Or you can negotiate an acceptable fare.
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At any railroad station as well as bus terminal there will be public transportation available of
one kind or another. For Taxis the flag-fall rate is RP 3000 and for buses fare are various
from RP 1200 or RP 1800 (Non Air Conditioned Buses) and RP 3300 or RP 3500 (for Air-
Situated completely in the tropics, Indonesia is known as the "belt" of emeralds across the
equator. It has warm tropical weather with mostly sunshine and intermittent rain. The dry
season lasts from June to September, and the rainy season from December to March. The
transitional period between these two seasons alternates between gorgeous sun-filled days
and occasional thunderstorms. Even in the midst of the wet season temperatures range from
21 degrees (70°F) to 33 degrees Celsius (90°F), except at higher altitudes which can be much
cooler. The heaviest rainfalls are usually recorded in December and January. Average
humidity is generally between 70% and 100 %.
Dress is informal in Indonesia but try to wear unrevealing clothes at all times as a mark of
respect to the country's predominantly Muslim values. Beach attire is tolerated around the
resort areas but outside these regions bearing flesh is considered immodest. Visitors to
temples are expected to wear a sash (you can normally rent these if you don't have one) and
women should make sure that their arms and head are covered before entering.
English is widely spoken in government and business circles and by the younger generation.
Many older Indonesians speak Dutch as a second language.
Each ethnic group has its own language. Altogether, more than 580 languages and dialects
are spoken, including Javanese, Sundanese, Arabic and Chinese.
Bahasa Indonesia has existed as an official language for the past 70 years, and is still in the
process of developing, with new words constantly being added. For simplicity's sake, the use
of English words is common, particularly in the banking, insurance and technology sectors.
However, the government wishes to promote Indonesian language development and cut out
the use of foreign words.
Although 95 per cent of the population are of Malay origin, there are some 300 minorities,
including Melanesian, Proto-Austranesian, Polynesian and Micronesian; there are
approximately four million ethnic Chinese. Indonesia encompasses the Islamic people of
Aceh on the northern tip of Sumatra, the densely populated main island of Java, the tourist
resorts of Bali, the island of Flores and the primitive tribes of Irian Jaya in the east.
Islam (87 per cent), Christianity (10 per cent), Hinduism (mainly in Bali) (2 per cent) and
Buddhism (1 per cent). Indonesia has the world's largest Muslim population, though Hindu-
derived and indigenous religious variations are common. Religious violence has spread in
line with political uncertainty. Animist beliefs are held in remote areas.
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Education is compulsory for nine years from the age of seven. The overall literacy rate is
about 85 per cent, up from 54 per cent in 1970. Free universal primary education has been a
long-term aim of the government. Almost 100 per cent of eligible children attend such
schools, compared to only 40 per cent when President Suharto came to power in 1968.
Secondary education consists of two three-year cycles; almost 48 per cent of eligible students
are in secondary education.
Tertiary education has also expanded, with 11 per cent of eligible students in school, up from
1 per cent in the late 1960s. The vast majority of tertiary institutions are privately owned,
although there is a network of state institutions around the country. The quality of these
universities and colleges varies enormously and large numbers of Indonesian students go
overseas for their tertiary education. Despite improvements, the Indonesian education system
is not supplying enough technicians and scientists for the country's ambitious plans.
Government offices open from 08.00 am - 15.00 pm, Monday to Thursday, 08.00 am - 11.30
am on Friday. Business office hours vary. Some from 08.00 am to 16.00 pm, others : 09.00
am to 17.00. Most office closed on Saturdays. Bank hours are 08.00 am or 08.30 to 16.00
hours - mostly Monday to Friday.
Many of Indonesia's main cities have department stores, supermarkets and large shopping
complexes. Retail hours vary considerably, though most shops open from 09.00 am to 21.00
pm, seven days a week. All department stores and many shops have fixed price policy,
however, bargaining is expected in traditional markets and smaller shops.
A Government Tax of 11% is added to bills and many restaurants and larger hotels also add a
10% service charge. Additional tipping is optional and 5-10% of the bill is acceptable. Tip
porters at your hotel or the airport around Rp2,000 per bag.
Indonesia stretches across three time zones: Western part of Indonesia (Sumatra, Java, West
and Central Kalimantan) + 7 GMT, Central part of Indonesia (Bali, South and East
Kalimantan, Sulawesi, Nusa Tenggara) + 8 GMT, Eastern part of Indonesia (Maluku and
Irian Jaya) +9 GMT.
When it is 12 noon in Perth, it is 11am in Java.
The local currency is the Rupiah. Major world currencies, either banknotes or travellers
cheques, are easily exchanged at banks and moneychangers in major tourist destinations. It is
advisable to carry sufficient amounts of Rupiah when travelling to smaller towns or outer
provinces. Banknotes are available in denominations of 500, 1000, 5000, 10000, 20000,
50000, 100000, while coins come in denominations of 25, 50, 100, 500 and 1000. (You'll
need to show your passport to exchange money, and make sure you count what you're given).
Major credit cards are accepted at most hotels and restaurants in main cities.
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Most hotels use 220 volts 50 cycles and two-pronged plugs. However it is not uncommon to
find some hotels using 110 volts, particularly in the provinces. Check before using an
appliance. Some hotels supply adaptors on request.
Customs and Etiquette
Indonesians are trained to cope with stressful, interpersonal situations differently than
Westerners. They tend to be non-assertive and continue to smile and maintain a calm
appearance as they withdraw from a quarrel. When they avoid your gaze, it doesn't mean that
they are afraid of you. Under most circumstances, eye contact is avoided, particularly if it's
prolonged. Handshaking is customary, for both men and women, on introduction and
greeting, smiling is a national characteristic.
Traditional customs form a major part of family and community life. The use of the left hand
to give or receive is considered ill-mannered. Likewise crooking your finger to call someone
is impolite. Aggressive gestures and postures such as crossing your arms over your chest or
standing with your hands on your hips while talking, particularly with older people, are
regarded as insulting.
Scarves should be worn around the waist when entering Balinese temples. Never touch
anyone's head. Indonesians regard the head as the seat of the soul, and it therefore is sacred.
Despite the wide cultural and ethnic variations within Indonesia, there remains a rather
standardised set of customs and practices which, if followed, should cover most situations
Some "Dos" and "Don'ts" in Indonesia.
It is normally advisable to wear modest clothing, particularly for women. The only
exceptions to this apply in sport, when regular sports clothes are acceptable.
Indonesians usually eat with a fork and a spoon, rather than a knife and fork (as knives
are traditionally considered to be weapons and therefore not appropriate to use in the
company of relatives and friends). The left hand is generally considered to be unclean. As
a result one should not pass food or other items, including money, with the left hand.
When eating or drinking with Indonesians, always wait, even after the food or drink has
been served, until the host has invited you to eat or drink. Even then it is best to wait until
the host has begun to eat or drink.
Most Indonesians are Muslims. As a result, they will normally not eat pork or any other
derivatives of pigs. Some Muslim Indonesians may, however, consume alcohol. In
general it is better, if offering alcoholic drinks, to ensure non-alcoholic alternatives are
Other issues which need to be taken into account in a largely Muslim country is that
Government offices close for the afternoon at lunch time on Fridays, although offices will
normally be open on Saturday mornings. In addition during the Muslim fasting month of
Ramadhan, Muslims are obliged to fast from dawn until dusk. As a result, most people
and activities tend to slow down during this period.
Besides modesty in dress, modesty in behaviour is also a respected practice. Therefore,
excessive displays of anger, affection, laughter, frustration or sadness are not considered
favourably. Standing in an aggressive manner (e.g. with hands on hips or pointing directly
at someone with index finger) should also be avoided.
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It is also important not to embarrass people, particularly in front of their subordinates,
even in jest. Indonesians are not used to such behaviour and have great difficulty in
accepting the loss of face that such behaviour is considered to cause.
Indonesians place great favour on consensus and will normally try to avoid a debate or an
open show of disagreement. If there is a choice on a matter to be made, even on a small
issue like eating out, Indonesians, particularly Javanese, will tend to talk around the issue
until common ground can be found, for example on the food type and how far they are
prepared to travel. At this point in time a consensus decision is reached and no one has
really lost face during the process of deliberation.
A 10% service charge and 5% tax is added to all hotel bills.
The following hotels are listed on the National University Travel Consortium web site
(www.nutc.com.au). University rates have been negotiated with these hotels and are
inclusive of all charges and taxes.
Name Rating $ Min room Approx Location
Atlett Century Park 3 IDR 350,000 64.85 Central Jakarta area
Ciputra Hotel 4 US 46.00 69.70 At end of toll road - airport
Hotel Sahid Jaya 4.5 IDR 500,000 92.95 CBD Jakarta area
Aston Apartment Hotel 5 US 70.00 106.06 Business district of CBD
Pan Pacific 5 US 67.60 102.42 Central Jakarta area
Consular Assistance and Registration
Australians should register and may obtain consular assistance from:
Jalan H R Rasuna Said Kav C 15-16
Jakarta Selatan 12940 Indonesia
Telephone (62 21) 25505555
Facsimile (62 21) 5261690
Australian Consulate General
Jalan Prof Moh Yamin 4
Denpasar Bali Indonesia
Telephone (62 361) 235092
Facsimile (62 361) 231990
Limited consular assistance, which does not include the issue of Australian passports, may be
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Jalan R A Kartini 32
North Sumatra Indonesia
Telephone (62 61) 4157810
Facsimile (62 61) 4156820
The Department of Foreign Affairs and Trade also offers an on-line registration service,
accessible via the internet, at http://www.orao.dfat.gov.au
The Department of Foreign Affairs and Trade in Canberra may be contacted on (02)
Reference: Austrade Web Online - www.austrade.gov.au
Aust. Dept of Foreign Affairs - www.dfat.gov.au
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