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Revisiting Indonesia’s Communication Strategy in Amplifying “New Bali” Tourism Project

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Bali has been praised into top tourist destination in the world for decades. Surfing on Kuta beach, enjoying tropical fruit drinks while watching the sunset, and exploring local villages are some of favorite activities that tourists usually do when visiting Bali. The beauty of the Bali Island and the local cultures it possesses have even succeeded in making Bali for the second time occupy the first position on the TripAdvisor Travelers’ Choice Award in 2021, after previously winning it in 2017.

The advantages of tourism industry bring economic benefits to Indonesia. Tourism plays an important role in the contribution of Indonesia’s gross domestic product, which is around 4.3%. However, due to the pandemic, the Indonesian tourism ministry stated that 75% of foreign tourist arrivals had decreased. As a means to revitalize the tourism industry, the Indonesian government launched the “5 new Bali” campaign in providing 5 travel destinations that are assigned to be the next Bali. The five super priority destinations are Lake Toba in North Sumatra, Borobudur Temple in Central Java, Mandalika in West Nusa Tenggara, Labuan Bajo in East Nusa Tenggara, and Likupang in North Sulawesi.

Public Diplomacy As “A Tailor-Made” Approach

Hans Tuch defines public diplomacy as a government’s communication process of engaging with foreign publics in order to increase understanding of its country’s concepts and principles, institutions and cultures, as well as national goals and policies. Shaping the international community’s perception about the potential of tourist destinations in Indonesia, apart from aiming to maintain a positive image of Indonesia, it also aims at other Indonesia’s national interests, such as economic recovery in tourism industry which not only centered in Bali.

In practice, there is no standard form of public diplomacy activities carried out by the state as an international actor. We can understand that historically, the implementation of public diplomacy activities was carried out flexibly and adapted to the resources of each country. In terms of tourism, Indonesia has three main sources that have the potential to become supporting tools in public diplomacy activities, beautiful archipelago, Indonesian popular cuisine, and local culture. Through this article, we will try to revisit the Indonesia government’s communication strategy from the aspect of public diplomacy in an effort to promote the “5 new Bali” project to international community, especially in the momentum of the Indonesian G20 Presidency.

Consisting of various beautiful tropical islands, Indonesia has hosted several international events. This opportunity is certainly used by Indonesia government to maximize its public diplomacy agenda in promoting the “5 new Bali” Project on the international stage. For example, in 2018 when Indonesia hosted the IMF-World Bank meeting, the Indonesia government offered several tour packages to the meeting delegates. Just imagine, with the number of meeting participants reaching 36,339 delegates, Indonesia can get a “free promotion” if the delegates upload it to their social media or through the power of word-of-mouth when the delegates return to their respective countries. Indonesia does not need to spend a lot of money to advertise. However, because at that time the meeting was held in Bali, the tour packages that were most in demand were Bali.

To avoid repeat the same mistake, Indonesia has specifically made several super priority travel destinations as locations for a series of G20 side event meetings so that they are not concentrated only in Bali. This is designed so that these destinations get exposure for their potential of local tourism. Local culture is the main value in Indonesia’s G20 presidency. For example, the 1st Education Working Group (1st EdWG) meeting was held in Yogyakarta. On the sidelines of the meeting, the delegates were invited to one of the icons of Yogyakarta tourism, namely the Yogyakarta palace to have dinner with 11 traditional cuisines. In addition, the delegates were also invited to experience the Pateha tea ceremony (Royal High Tea). On another occasion, the delegates of the Environment Deputies Meeting and Climate Sustainability Working Group (EDM-CSWG) learning “membatik”, the local term for painting on Batik, the traditional fabric of Indonesia that was part of UNESCO’s Intangible Cultural Heritage of Humanity.

Indonesia was born under a lucky star, because in the same year it also hosted the MotoGP Grand Prix which was held at the Mandalika Circuit, one of the locations included as a super priority tourism destination for the “5 new Bali” project. The Indonesia government through the Ministry of Tourism and Creative Economy immediately took quick action by initiating a program for the music community in Mandalika to perform at the MotoGP event. The program is devoted to the local music and art community in Mandalika in order to receive intensive assistance in the process of creating art works. Hoping that these local music communities can give an impressive performance when all eyes on the mandalika circuit because of the MotoGP Grand Prix.

Public Diplomacy Approach That Should Be Avoided: Hit and Run Strategy

Public diplomacy has a different essence from traditional diplomacy. While traditional diplomacy is primarily aimed at reaching agreements in a formal way (government-to-government), public diplomacy aims to increase awareness or engage with international community. This is why public diplomacy is often called “playing a long game” because to get international public attention in depth, it takes endurance and consistency. Indonesia’s G20 presidency provides a large platform for Indonesia to maximize public diplomacy activities. However, Indonesia needs to think about how to to promote the “5 new Bali” project after the G20 momentum. Environmental sustainability and building generic relationships can be two added values in the amplification of the “5 new Bali” project.

Environmental sustainability is key in the era of the modern tourism industry. According to the 2021 Agoda Sustainable Travel Trends Survey, 26% of respondents consider the government is the most responsible for environmental sustainability in the tourism industry. Based on this, the Indonesia government needs to show its concern and efforts in protecting the environment. One manner by consider the use of renewable energy in building tourism infrastructure. All single-use plastics should be banned completely. The issue of animal conservation can also be used by Indonesia to build a positive tourism image, one of which is conservation on the Komodo Island. This is an important benchmark that Indonesia can consider, because Komodo is an animal that can only be found in Indonesia so that it can attract the attention of the international tourist. Moreover, Komodo Island is only 2 hours away from Labuan Bajo which is included in the “5 new Bali” projects of super priority tourism destination.

Last but not least, the Indonesian government needs to build a more “generic” relationship with the international public. The government must work with non-governmental actors such as well-known international influencers to promote destinations that are included in the “5 new Bali” project. This collaboration with influencers is very important in the promotional strategy, because it will lead to higher brand awareness due to the large number of fans. With influencers, promotion will also be more effective because the public will not be skeptical of the “advertising” of this “5 new Bali” project and encourage decisions to purchase tourism packages. Another way that can be used is to hold international events. Glorious success for Indonesia government with the MotoGP 2022. In the future, Indonesia should be able to hold concerts in collaboration with international artists in tourism destinations that are included in the “5 new Bali” project. Hoping that with these two added values, the Indonesia government can continue to amplify the “New Bali” tourism project in a sustainable manner, even though the G20 momentum has ended.

Kenny Meigar is a Public Relations Practitioner in Indonesia. He pursued his bachelor degree in International Relations at Universitas Islam Indonesia and continued his career journey as a public relations consultant. His interests are strategic communication, public diplomacy, and nation branding.

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Southeast Asia

China’s Stranglehold on South East Asia: Shaping the Future of the Region

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A global order characterized by multiplexity entails a diverse array of state and non-state actors actively influencing the norms of governance according to their distinct cultural perspectives. In stark contrast, a hegemonic world order is marked by the dominance of a single power that propagates a uniform narrative. China’s ambitious pursuit of hegemony in the Indo-Pacific region, particularly Southeast Asia, faces a formidable hurdle due to its unsophisticated and unsubtle approach to international relations.

Beijing’s diplomatic, economic, and military initiatives over the past ten years and beyond have undeniably increased China’s influence throughout Asia. Since the founding of the People’s Republic of China in 1949, China’s relations with Russia, as well as those with developing nations of Central Asia, India, Southeast Asia, South Korea, and Japan, have reached an all-time high. This expansion of Beijing’s influence and Asia’s response to Chinese initiatives are inescapable in the long run. Undoubtedly, China is the dominant nation in continental Asia, and it has a thriving economy that, while competing with those of other Asian nations, also drives overall economic growth.

However, to ostensibly stop China from becoming a regional hegemon, the United States and its Asian allies seek to maintain a delicate balance of power in the Indo-Pacific. They worry that Beijing will gradually persuade its neighbors to turn away from the United States, accept Chinese preeminence, and abide by Beijing’s preferences in key foreign policy decisions. Thus, a dominant power wielding its power in this way makes itself less vulnerable to blockades and other forms of coercion while also gaining the respect of weaker states within its sphere of influence, even in the absence of direct rule. The lack of local threats makes it easier for the regional hegemon, should the need or desire arise, to project power into other global domains. Furthermore, despite being a key component of hegemonic ordering, China’s increased economic and financial power in South Asia has not yet resulted in the creation of a regional structure that is in line with its own security, economic and ideological interests.

In particular, India has surpassed China in both size and proportion of young people due to its rapidly growing economy and population. Significant increases in defense spending show that many of China’s neighboring countries are actively engaged in vigorous balance efforts. In addition to the United States, other nations, such as Australia, India, and Japan, are working together. These countries will probably respond with even more resolute measures as their worries about Chinese hegemony grow.

Despite that, South Asia has historically rarely been a focus of American efforts to establish global hegemony. However, under Xi’s leadership, China has increasingly manipulated its role as a regional benefactor, showing a tendency to use force and take sides, particularly in relation to India’s territorial disputes with its neighboring states. The goal of China’s engagement policy is to maintain its strategic advantage over maritime communication routes. This strategy has forced the region into a precarious balance in which economic cooperation and strategic implications must be carefully navigated. The region has shown assertiveness on a few issues and has chosen to co-opt each other’s interests despite China’s materially inferior capabilities.

Due to its lack of cultural legitimacy as a superpower and its preference for extensive economic activism, China’s pretended win-win scenario for Asia as a whole has been called into question. As they interact with the prevailing norms at various levels of state and society, as well as state and non-state actors, the sectors that support China’s aspirations for hegemonic dominance are constantly contested, opposed, renegotiated, and reproduced. Furthermore, China’s rise has unquestionably been imperative to maintain global economic growth, with its market playing an important role.

In a world where our omnipotence in all fields is no longer absolute, Americans will face difficult adaptation challenges. We can adapt to change, though, because we have a flexible and resilient nature. Both the United States and China will continue to pursue their respective national interests as they see fit. In summary, since multiple countries, not just the US or China will participate in power sharing, the future world will likely be more complex than the past and will be characterized by increased “democratization.” There will be numerous opportunities for nations with reliable ties to both Beijing and Washington to control their level of involvement in international affairs. There shall be no dominant force and there shall be no such thing as a “G-2”.

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Southeast Asia

Indonesian Media Perception of China After Brokering Saudi-Iran Peaceful Restoration

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In some degree, we have agreement that regional instability in the Middle East occurred as a result of the reckless US strategic acts thus far. Libya and Iraq invasions have created a chaotic environment for the region everywhere, causing the Middle East not decent to live in. All the more, the long-drawn quarrel between Saudi and Iran which respectively represents the school of thought in Islam, namely Sunni and Shia, not only does harm to the two, but also stir a proxy war across the region. Such two conditions exacerbated the plight for people in Arab Peninsula. Therefore, the more US intervention declining in the Middle East, as well as the rapprochement between two sworn enemies of Saudi-Iran, the more it will open the chance to actualize peace in the region.

Perhaps, it is too early to discuss the impact of the Saudi-Iran restoration on Indonesian Muslims perception toward China at the current time. Meanwhile, it does not mean the event is improbable to have any effect at all since global political phenomena often spark a strong leverage on Indonesia’s domestic politics, especially for Muslim issues. The hottest one was the Indonesian public rejection of Israel’s football team arrival which eventually led to Indonesia being disqualified by FIFA as the host of the world cup under-20. The occurrence is the outcome of the long series of global political phenomena, in particular in the Middle East where Israel up to now still expanding its territorial settlement, seized some Palestinian regions that augment Indonesian public anger. Moreover, according to Anthony L. Smith (2003) findings, Indonesian Muslim society also will never forget how the anti-terrorism campaign launched by the US in the post of World Trade Center bombing on September 11, 2001, discrediting and containing anti-Islam stereotypes, renders ultimately anti-American backlash. Indonesian Muslim fury against the US, the study found, is often triggered by the US double standard in managing the conflict in many places where they deem the US has a bias in its foreign policy.

The facts provided above describe how magnificent the impact of Muslim-related issues on Indonesia is, not exceptional for Saudi-Iran relations. The Saudi-Iran relations recovery at least gives the consequence for Muslim adherents in Indonesia in some ways. Apart from shedding a lesson about how to deal with many cases of intra-domestic Muslim intolerance, the event also opens a new horizon upon the importance of China’s role in shaping a world to be more harmonious. China’s fruitful action as a peace mediator between Saudi and Iran has drawn the feeling of respect and impressed of Indonesian society. However, it is unprecedented imaginary the report regarding the reconciliation of the two sworn enemies in the Middle East surprised the whole public in the world. That is spectacular due to the sudden occasion that happened thanks to China’s benevolence. China is neither actor in the region nor a Muslim country nor a member of the Organization of Islamic Cooperation. Consequently, due to its significance, it inevitably, too gets a spot in Indonesian media coverage. As reported by Indonesia’s distinguished newspaper, Kompas, in its editorial titled “China’s Charm and Iran-Saudi Relations” (03/13/2023), in spite of China’s strategic interest in the Middle East, the pacification between the two camps due to China’s line of duty deserved to get applauded. Kompas is not partisan media and it becomes an important reference for the Indonesian public reading.

Kompas opened its news lead with the sentence “Global power could reconcile (hostile parties), not exploit” referring indirectly to US’ failed role in the Middle East so far. Conversely, China’s tacit approach without fanfare and non-invasive has actually been effective. In other parts of its news, Kompas praised China and mentioned that China is worthy to get appreciation by saying “Saudi Arabia and Iran agreed to reopen diplomatic relations that had been broken since 2016. This was made possible because of China’s commendable kindness”. Unmitigatedly, Kompas also claims that the US has failed in the Middle East, “Liberal hegemony has failed.  China offers itself a simple, no-frills peace. China’s economic strength and Arab oil play a role, but peace is a core. Common prosperity could be achieved if there is a stable and peaceful situation. Salute to China”.

Kompas’ news coverage at one blow, albeit indirectly way, describes Muslim happiness inside the country. Indonesian Muslim congregations are enthusiastic to look forward a harmony in the Middle East. Engulfed the conflict in the Middle East often has an impact on Indonesia’s domestic political stability as abovementioned earlier. Thus, the apparent communion between Sunni and Shia, either Saudi or Iran, will also give a trickle-down outcome in intra-religious life, especially Islam in Indonesia. While well-known as benign and plural Muslim, undoubtedly in some cases Sunni-Shia hostility has oft occurred in Indonesia. Achieved current rapprochement between Saudi and Iran, least would open much maneuvering room for dialogue and learning for wrangled fringe in Indonesia to take advantage and similar steps.

Once again, thanks to China. Now, we are still waiting for another surprise upon China’s role in making the breakthrough to realize the comprehensive win-win solution between Israel and Palestine in the Middle East. This expectation also has ever conveyed by Haedar Nashir, Chair of Muhammadiyah – one of the most distinguished moderate Muslim organizations in Indonesia besides Nahdlatul Ulama – it was addressed long-far before the Saudi-Iran rapprochement. He hoped China is actively engaged in freeing Palestine “We hope that China as a big country can defend the rights of the Palestinian people like other nations” (Republika, 2/2022).

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The Effectiveness of the Declaration of the Convention on the Rights of the Child in Combating Child Labor in Indonesia

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Initiated by the United Nations regarding the importance of Human Rights in dealing with the protection of children’s rights, then giving birth Declaration of the Convention on the Rights of the Child on November 20, 1958. The formation of the convention on the rights of the child certainly formulates universal values ​​and legal norms as an umbrella for countries to protect children, therefore, this convention contains international agreements on human rights by inserting civil rights, economic rights , and cultural rights therein. There have been many who have signed the ratification of the Convention on the Rights of the Child in the world, except Somalia. In the Convention on the Rights of the Child there are 54 regulatory articles. As a body that strives for child protection, are member states that ratify children’s rights consistent in seeking child protection and is this convention on the rights of the child effective for use (Human Rights, 1989)

Indonesia has ratified the Convention on the Rights of the Child by Presidential Decree Number 36 of 1990. With the signing of the Convention on the Rights of the Child by Indonesia, legally Indonesia performs its obligations to fulfill and protect the basic rights of children. This ratification was strengthened by the Indonesian government by passing Law No. 23 of 2003 concerning child protection based on the rule of law to protect children. The convention on the rights of the child was ratified by Indonesia because the level of child welfare in Indonesia is very low. Like many child labor activities (Lestari, 2017).

Child Labor in Indonesia

The phenomenon of child labor also occurs in Indonesia. It is recorded that 9 out of 100 children aged 10-17 work in the informal sector and 88.77% of children who work are unpaid. Children who should get rights such as going to school and playing are forced to do work that should be done for adults. The problem of child labor is of particular concern to the world community. This is because the existence of child labor can have an impact on the health and welfare of these children (ILO, 2015).

Many child workers in Indonesia work in the agricultural sector. According to International Labor Organization (ILO) there are around 1.5 children working in oil palm, rubber, and tobacco plantations. The ILO also noted that East Java and Central Java are regions with the highest rates of child labor in Indonesia with an age range of 10-14 years. This has an impact on the health of these children, because working children have to inhale pesticides from prohibited fertilizers. In addition, there are many cases of children being injured as a result of being exposed to oil palm thorns (Kemenpppa, 2021).

Is the Convention Declaration on the Rights of the Child Effective in Addressing Child Labor in Indonesia?

There are still many problems regarding child labor in Indonesia, a big question is whether the convention on the rights of the child that has been ratified by Indonesia is applied to handling child labor. If you look at article 32 in the convention on the right of the child it states that:

1. The state must recognize and protect the rights of children from attempts at economic exploitation, such as work activities that endanger or interfere with the child’s education, endanger physical health, mental, spiritual, moral or social development,

2. The ratifying State shall take legislative, social and educational measures to ensure the application of this article with purpose having regard to the relevant provisions of other international instruments, States Parties will in particular:

a) Determine the minimum age or minimum age to be accepted for work;

(b) Provide suitable hours and conditions of work;

(c) Establish appropriate penalties or other sanctions to ensure the effective implementation of this article (Human Rights, 1989)

In fact, Indonesia cannot apply several regulations from the 54 articles in ratification. Indonesia seems to have forgotten the regulations contained in the article that has been explained. Indonesia has also legalized the law regarding child labor contained in Law No. 13 of 2003 article 68 concerning the prohibition to employ children. However, the law that is made well is from regulations declaration of the Convention on the Rights of the Child as well as domestic laws. Until now child labor inIndonesia is still at 1.05 million working children. The regulation was made without any reports on whether the regulations and efforts made by the Indonesian government based on legal conventions on children’s rights were effective (Lestari, 2017).


There is a declaration Convention on the Rights of the Child actually very helpful to work on the rights of children around the world. The established legal laws are also very good. However, it turns out that the application of existing laws is not enough to be used optimally in Indonesia in dealing with child labor, even though Indonesia has also made statutory regulations that regulate child labor. There are suggestions that can be conveyed for the implementation of child protection, namely that the government should comply with the rules contained in the ratification article regarding children’s rights. Then there is synchronization of programs to fulfill the protection of children’s rights. Strengthen the law by conducting regular monitoring and evaluation of child protection programs. The Indonesian government must be firm in making improvements or changing programs in order to achieve child welfare. Declaration of the Convention on the Rights of the Child must also strengthen regulations so that countries that commit violations are at least given strict sanctions.

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