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Southeast Asia

Good Local Governance and the Urgency of Quality Public Policy



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The progress of an area is very much determined by the ability and success in implementing development. The success of development is mainly determined by the factor whether or not a public policy is implemented according to community needs. Government policy has a high role in influencing the success or failure of improved community welfare. In the theory and practice of modern government it is taught that to create the good governance requires decentralization of government.

The condition of post-reform Indonesia has given the authority and power distribution independently to the regions to manage and manage their own households, which is known as regional autonomy and decentralization. Regional autonomy is a form of government response to the various demands of society for state order and governance. This is a signal that democratic life has developed in a country, due to the need for society to obtain better and more responsive policies.

One of the alternatives for realizing good and responsive policies is through regional autonomy. With the change in the strategic environment in the local government system in Indonesia. This is marked by the enactment of Law Number 22 of 1999 then changing to Law Number 32 of 2004 and becoming Law Number 23 of 2014 concerning Regional Government providing opportunities for regions, both provinces and districts / cities to have the authority to regulate and take care of the interests of the local community according to their own initiatives based on the aspirations of the community by not violating the prevailing laws and regulations.

Policy implementation is not part of a mechanism process, where each actor automatically does whatever must be done in accordance with the policy-making scenario, but is an activity process that is often influenced by several factors that are significant enough to achieve policy goals and objectives as well as conflicts of interest between the actors involved. , both as managers, field officers and target groups. To achieve the goal of regional autonomy, good governance is needed.

Good governance is a series of processes that are applied in organizations, both private and public, to make decisions. The implementation of good governance is a prerequisite for every government to realize the aspirations of society, achieve the goals and ideals of a state.

The implementation of regional governance by involving the participation of the wider community allows the creation of democratic regional government in the framework of good governance. Good governance refers to the process of managing government through the involvement of broad stakeholders in various fields, ranging from economic, social, political, natural resource utilization, finance, and human for the benefit of all parties, namely the government, the private sector, and the community in accordance with the principles of principles of fairness, honesty, equality, efficiency, transparency and accountability.

Good governance has the principle of comprehensive governance and is open to use by any government, therefore it must be applied in the administration of government at the regional level. And when the concept of good governance is included in local governance, it is then referred to as good local governance. Research on good governance in the regions has often been carried out by experts, for example Dewirahmadanirwati (2018) who examines “Implementation of Regional Autonomy in Realizing Good Governance”, Yoserizal and Yudiatmaja (2007, 2010) on “Government Strategy in Developing e-Government as an Effort Improving the Quality of Public Services: In the Perspective of Regional Autonomy “, Yoserizal and Tovalini K., (2011) on” Implementation of Public Accountability Principles and Their Relation to Bureaucratic Reform “,

However, research on how the relationship between the application of the principles of good governance by Government Administrators (Governors and Heads of Regional People’s Representatives Council) in improving the quality of public policies does not exist. Due to the absence of research on the application of the principles of good governance by Government Administrators (Governor and Chair of the Regional People’s Representative Council) in improving the quality of public policy, it is the academic concern of the author who voices to carry out this research. Where in general Indonesian researchers and scholars (even the world) still focus their studies on the application of the concepts and principles of good governance and their relation to public services.

So far, a large number of policies have been decided by Regional Government Administrators, but have not been able to identify the substantive problems of society. Whether it is the problem of poverty, education, health (stunting) and so on, under these conditions it can be assumed that the implementation of policies by local government administrators is positioned as not part of the mechanism process, where each actor will automatically do whatever has to be done according to the policy-making scenario , but rather as an activity process which is often influenced by several factors that are significant enough to achieve policy goals and objectives as well as conflicts of interest among the actors involved, either as managers, field officers or target groups.

This is in line with Professor Utomo (2012) that “in implementation, administration is still considered an activity that has a reputation as sluggish, cumbersome, swollen, redtape, inefficient, routine, rigid, narrow, arrogance, complex procedures, formal measures. , and others that cause government activities to be ineffective, inefficient, unresponsive, and uneconomical

As with the principles of regional autonomy, it should be in line with the principles of good governance to create quality public policies in accordance with the needs of society. The principles of good governance according to the UNDP (United Nation Development Program) are: (1) participation, (2) legal certainty, (3) transparency, (4) responsibility, (5) agreement-oriented, (6) justice, (7) effectiveness and efficiency, (8) accountability, (9) strategic vision. These principles are inherent in governance in order to achieve what is expected so that good relations with the community can be felt.

Of course, policies are made through several stages, then up to policy implementation. Policy implementation is a practice from the government given for the purpose of meeting the demands of society. So that studies on the application (implementation) of the principles of good governance in governance, especially in shaping quality public policies need to be developed to find the right steps (policies) in regional planning.

Regional structuring has been regulated in Law Number 23 of 2014 concerning Regional Government Article 31 paragraph 2 which has six scopes, namely: (a.) Realizing the effectiveness of Regional Government administration; (b.) accelerate the improvement of community welfare; (c.) accelerating the improvement of the quality of public services; (d.) improve the quality of governance; (e.) increase national competitiveness and regional competitiveness; and (f.) maintaining the uniqueness of local customs, traditions and culture.

The quality of public policies through the application of good governance values ​​is largely determined by regional government administrators. Meanwhile, regional government administrators in accordance with Law Number 23 of 2014 Article 57 which reads “Provincial and district / city Regional Government Administrators consist of regional heads and DPRD assisted by Regional Apparatus”.

In relation to how the Regional Head (Governor and Regent / Mayor) and how the DPRD (Provincial, Regency / City) learn it (draft / draft amendments to the Perda on RPJPD and draft Perda on RPJMD to DPRD to be discussed with DPRD, as well as formulate and determine RKPD ) in carrying out the constitutional mandate, check and balance (mutual supervision and balance) depends on how the two regional government administrators apply the principles of good governance. Development as a process of change in society through policy making, where poverty must be eliminated, creativity and knowledge be increased, and health becomes prime for society.

Provincial and district / city regions have various development issues according to their household scope which must be handled appropriately by regional government administrators. Then broadly the author divides it into 2 (two), namely: (a.)Natural resources (SDA) include: land resources, marine and aquatic resources, forest and water resources, and mineral resources; (b.) Human resources (HR), including: education, manpower, religion, sports and youth development, women’s empowerment, health and social welfare.

However, until now, the condition of the region in accordance with the development issues above is still a serious note. So that to follow up on the various development issues above, regional government administrators must really apply the principles of good local governance in forming quality public policies so that they are appropriate to answer development issues, realize people’s welfare, and achieve state goals.

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Southeast Asia

Transforming Social Protection Delivery in the Philippines through PhilSys



Social protection helps the poor and vulnerable in a country, especially in times of crises and shocks that may threaten the well-being of families. When COVID-19 hit and quarantines began, the Philippines needed a massive expansion of social protection coverage to mitigate the impacts of the pandemic. Countries that already had good and inclusive digital infrastructure (including internet connectivity, digital identification, digital payments and integrated data ecosystems) were better equipped to quickly adapt their social protection programs to meet urgent needs. They also fared better in maintaining continuity of services when in-person interactions could be moved online.

For the Philippines, it presented a challenge, and strain was felt in the delivery of social assistance under the Bayanihan acts.

Fortunately, the country is moving to address digital infrastructure gaps, including through the development of the Philippine Identification System (PhilSys). PhilSys is one of the most complex – but also game-changing – projects undertaken in the country.

The Philippines is one of only 23 countries without a national ID system. As a result, Filipinos need to present multiple IDs (and often specific IDs that many do not have) when transacting, including with government, creating barriers to services for the most vulnerable among the population. Information across government databases is often inconsistent. These undermine the Philippines’ transition to a digital economy, society and government. The PhilSys will help address this by providing all Filipinos with a unique and verifiable digital ID (and not just a card), while also adopting innovative and practical data protection and privacy-by-design measures.

The new partnership agreement between the Philippine Statistics Authority (PSA) and the Department of Social Welfare and Development (DSWD) for DSWD’s adoption of the PhilSys is a milestone for the Philippines’ social protection and digital transformation journeys. DSWD will be the first agency to utilize the secure biometric and SMS-based identity authentication offered by the PhilSys to uniquely identify and verify its beneficiaries. Pilots with the Pantawid Pamilyang Pilipino Program (4Ps) and Assistance to Individuals in Crisis Situations (AICS) program will begin within the next few months, before PhilSys is used by all DSWD programs.

Adopting PhilSys will enable DSWD to further accelerate its digital transformation. By automating verification and business processes for its programs and services, DSWD will be able to improve the impact while reducing the costs of social protection programs. PhilSys will assist with identifying and removing ghost, duplicate and deceased beneficiaries to address leakages, fraud and corruption, and thus boost transparency and public trust. The unified beneficiary database that DSWD is developing with the help of PhilSys will contain up-to-date and consistent beneficiary information across all programs.

The World Bank is supporting these DSWD initiatives through the Beneficiary FIRST (standing for Fast, Innovative and Responsive Service Transformation) social protection project.

Importantly, these changes will translate to benefits for Filipinos.

Those who interact with the DSWD will face less paperwork, queues, hassle, costs and time. With their PhilSys ID, they will also have better access to a bank or e-money account where they can potentially receive payments directly in the future, promoting financial inclusion. Indeed, more than 5 million low-income Filipinos have already opened bank accounts during PhilSys registration. And the resources that DSWD saves can be redirected to addressing the needs of beneficiaries who live in remote areas without easy access to internet and social protection programs.

Beyond the advantages for social protection, the digital transformation PhilSys will catalyze in the public and private sectors can be fundamental to the Philippines’ pivot to reviving the economy and getting poverty eradication back on track. Success in utilizing PhilSys for social protection will have a significant demonstration effect in accelerating digital transformation by other government agencies as well as the private sector.

But digital transformation is not easy. It is not about simply digitizing things. It is about re-imagining how things can be done for the better, with technology as an enabler. Digitizing bad systems or processes just leads to bad systems or processes digitalized. Digital transformation therefore depends on and can only be as fast as process re-engineering and institutional and bureaucratic changes to overcome inertia.

Digital transformation must also be inclusive to avoid exacerbating digital divides or creating new ones.

The effort will be worth it. And the World Bank is firmly committed to scale up our support to the Philippines’ digital transformation agenda. A digital Philippines will not only be more resilient to future shocks – whether they are natural disasters or pandemics – but also be poised to take advantage of the opportunities brought by COVID-19 (shift of activities online) and those that lie ahead in the post COVID-19 world.
 first published in The Philippine Star, via World Bank

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Southeast Asia

Bringing “the people” back in: Forest Resources Conservation with Dr. Apichart Pattaratuma



With a lifetime dedicated to forest conservation, Dr. Apichart Pattaratuma reflected back on his career and what forest management means to Thailand. In the year 1978, he received the prestigious United Nations and Ananda Mahidol Foundation Scholarship to attain higher education at the College of Forest Resources, University of Washington, Seattle, USA. After graduating in the year 1985, he returned to Thailand with a commitment to teach and research at the Department of Forest Management, Faculty of Forestry, Kasetsart University until his retirement with full professor position. The excerpts below encapsulated a conversation between Dr. Pattaratuma and Dr. Rattana Lao on forest conservation.

Beyond the classroom: An anthropological perspective

I dedicated my life to study the anthropological aspect of forest management to His Majesty King Bhumibol Aduyadej of Thailand. I studied cultural dimensions of forest management in many areas of Thailand. I began with Huay Hin Dam with Karen hill tribe (Pra-ka-ker -yor) Suphanburi Province. I tried to review the international literature on land use and combine it with in-depth interviews with the hill tribes to understand the cultural dimensions of their livelihoods. I observed how they built their houses and how their managed their forest. There are three characteristics of the Karen tribe. Firstly, they lived on small plots of lands and their houses are very small. Secondly, they conserve their forest land with water resources. Thirdly, they refrain from using pesticides. Culturally, there is a clear division of labor amongst men and women. While men will clear the lands, women will cultivate agricultural goods such as papaya, guava and banana. There is limited drugs use.

It’s liberating to do research beyond the classrooms. To observe real live, real changes. I learnt more than I set out to do and they are all interrelated to a bigger picture.

Intersectionality between culture, migration and forest management

Karen hill tribes migrate in a cluster. There are more than 3 families migrating together to the new fertile forest land. They will migrate together when land is exhausted. This is most evident in the borderland between Thailand and Myanmar. Back then they did not have official documentation but slowly they do. There has been an influx of hill tribes from Myanmar to Thailand due to political conflicts from Myanmar. From my observation, they are very conscious about forest conservation and resources management. They said: “no forest, no water”. They are compelled to protect the forest from pesticides in order to keep the water clean and their health well. They are very logical. Although they grow rice, it’s very subsistent and only for household consumption. They don’t grow rice for commercial purpose. This is the land use for Karen hill tribe.

I also studied in Kampeangpetch, Nan, Chiang Rai, Phrae and Lumphun. Each place is diverse and the situation is really different. Some local tribes are preserving of the forests, others are more detrimental. We need an in-depth study to understand the cultural dimension of land use for each tribe.

The heart of forest management

People. It’s the people. People must particulate in the forest management. Otherwise, it is very difficult. When we go into each location, we must approach people and bring them into the conversation. I have tried to do all my life. Civil servants must approach people, not other way around. People are looking up to our action. They look into our sincerity and commitment. If they see that we are committed to study about their livelihood, they will share the right information and they will help.

Indonesia is a good example of successful forest management. The state get people involved. In every kilometer, there are four actors involved in protecting the forest: soldiers, policemen, villager and forester. They help each other protecting the wildlife and forest resources.

Can legal change help the people?

Legal relaxation can help lessen the pressure between man and forest. Before the legal requirement was very strict. Any kind of forest intrusion would be caught including small hunters gatherers. I think that is too strict. That put people against the law. People should be able to go into the forest and pick up some mushroom and bamboo and some wild products to lessen their poverty and hunger.

As long as people are still hungry, it’s very hard to manage the forest. There must be a way to balance the two: people livelihood and forest management.

Capitalists invasion

Much of the legal attention is paid to small farmers use of the forests. However, the real issue is big corporations invade the forest. This is very significant. Deforestation happens mostly from large scale corporation rather than small scale farmers. There are many loopholes in the system that lead to systemic corruption and mismanagement of land use. Many wealthy houses are built on large scale timber to exemplify wealth and status. It saddens me.

Would the next generation get to see large tree in the forest?

Less likely.

What can we do to protect the forest?

There are many organizations that responsible for the forest protection such as Royal Forest Department, Department of National Parks, Wildlife and Plant Conservation and Department of Marine and Coastal Resources. But the manpower are not sufficient to cover the large area of forest in Thailand. There are not enough permanent manpower to go on the ground and protect forest resources, while the intruders to National Parks are equipped with more advanced weaponry.

To protect the forest, the state must be committed and the people must participate in the process.

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Southeast Asia

Possibilities for a Multilateral Initiative between ASEAN-Bangladesh-India-Japan in the Indo-Pacific



In the Indo-Pacific context, there are multiple partners all aiming for economic fulfillment along with maritime security and safety. Countries ranging from the Indian Ocean to the South China Sea seem to be more worried about the freedom of navigation and overflight as Chinese aggressiveness is rampant and expansionist is a scary idea. The region from India to Bangladesh has a huge potential of interconnectedness and if connected to the Southeast Asian countries, it would also help in India’s Act East Policy and India’s neighbourhood first policy and further help out in strengthening relations to the far East as in Japan. All these countries combined can create an interconnected chain of mutual and common interests with balanced ideas of economic, military, social, political and people to people exchanges which would in turn help develop a multilateral.

Who can lead this Multilateral Initiative and Why?

Japan can be the prime crusader for this multilateral as it has excellent relations with all the parties and is the pioneer of the free and open Indo-Pacific. Japan has excellent diplomatic, economic and infrastructural relations with all the possible partners as it provides ODA loans, aid and assistance. Japan being the pioneer of Free and Open Indo-Pacific can be guiding force for this multilateral in the maritime domain which would help create a new regional grouping consisting of South Asia and Southeast Asia primarily based on maritime. Japan is the only developed country among all the other players and with its expertise, it can surely guide, help, support and take along all the countries. Japan most importantly is a non-aggressive nation and believes in mutual respect unlike China. Japan has no dept trap issue unlike China. Japan is known for quality in infrastructural development and with their expertise in science, technology and innovation can well lead these countries. Japan’s reputation of honesty, no corruption and extreme detailed paper work is commendable.

What are the benefits from this Multilateral Initiative?

This multilateral would help connect the Indian Ocean (India) to Bay of Bengal (Bangladesh) to the South China Sea (ASEAN) and the East China Sea (Japan)- would help in the creation of water interconnected network from South Asia to Southeast Asia. This could be the first regional maritime grouping covering South Asia to Southeast Asia. This maritime grouping can create a network of ports which could also become an economic hub and intersecting points of investment and infrastructural development (already Japan is investing in a big way in all these countries). India’s Northeast would get a greater economic, infrastructural and people-to-people exchange as it would connect India to Bangladesh and Myanmar. Mekong Ganga Economic Corridor already exists and could pave the way for Bangladesh and Kolkata greater port exchange which could be developed as nodal points in Bay of Bengal and would help in easy and cheaper freight. These countries can also aim for the strengthening of defence and security relations in the domain of maritime and can also aim for a logistics support agreement and a network from Indian Ocean to Bay of Bengal to South China Sea to East China Sea and would help tackle Chinese aggressiveness and China has been mapping the waters in all these waters and so, to protect one’s territorial sovereignty and integrity, defence relations must be build.

An ecosystem based on Digitalization, Science, technology and Innovation can be formed which would help create a united cyber security law and all this could ultimately lead to the 4th Industrial Revolution. South Asia and Southeast Asia would be lucrative markets and labour distribution and generation of employment can be done through the ports, logistics network, economic and trade exchanges and interactions. This multilateral would form a resilient supply chain in the region of South Asia and Southeast Asia in the domain of Indo-Pacific. Marine economy can be a major factor of this multilateral initiative as it would be a major success in the maritime domain. This multilateral can also work on vaccine diplomacy and work on future health hazards mechanisms.

Why Bangladesh must think of adopting the Indo-Pacific Strategy?

Bangladesh must adopt the Indo-Pacific strategy and create its own objects and call it the SAMODHRO NITI. Bangladesh has the capability of being an excellent maritime power and it is a major leader in the Bay of Bengal and to be an effective part of this multilateral. The Bay of Bengal Industrial Growth Belt (BIG-B) would be a key binder. Bangladesh must realise that China by building dams on the Brahmaputra River would actually create issues for Bangladesh’s fishery catchment areas as it would get inundated with salt water and to stop that Bangladesh must work to strengthen its position to tackle China. Also, China could also create water issues for Bangladesh and Bangladesh must look at ways to safe guard its water resources. Thereby, Bangladesh must work towards countries who face similar issues with China. The Indo-Pacific Economic Corridor is an excellent example of cooperation but this Multilateral if formed can be a stronger initiative and Bangladesh benefits from it as being a hub of textile, leather and pharmaceuticals and this Multilateral has all the efficiency of becoming an economic hub which would benefit Bangladesh too. If Bangladesh adopts an Indo-Pacific Policy, then its market in Japan, the US and Europe would become stronger due to shared interests and can also sign a Free Trade Agreement with EU like Vietnam did.

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