Roger Paget, Institutional Professor Emeritus of Political Economy and Asian Studies at Lewis and Clark College, spoke to the “Great Decisions” class at Portland State University on Friday, 2/17.
Paget spoke more about the problems facing the country than its recent successes. Indonesia, he said, is “among the most corrupt systems in the world.” The 500 richest persons in Indonesia have 600,000 times the wealth of the average Indonesian (compared to the 500 richest Americans having 20,000 times the wealth of the average American).
Paget doubts Indonesia will survive in its current form for more than several decades. The country was created as a colony by the Dutch. It has over 7,000 populated islands with a variety of cultures and ethnic groups. Many of those islands, cultures, and ethnic groups remain in a colonial relationship to the island of Java and the capital city Jakarta.
Related to the foreign language theme of this blog, Pagat said (and one of the audience questioners reinforced his view) that fewer Indonesians are learning the national language “Indonesian.” There is a rebellion going on and a shift to speaking local languages.
Wikipedia has this to say about Indonesian (here):
The official national language, Indonesian, a form of Malay, is universally taught in schools, and consequently is spoken by nearly every Indonesian. It is the language of business, politics, national media, education, and academia. It is based on the prestige dialect of Malay, that of the Johor-Riau Sultanate, which for centuries had been the lingua franca of the archipelago, standards of which are the official languages in Singapore, Malaysia and Brunei. It was promoted by Indonesian nationalists in the 1920s, and declared the official language under the name Bahasa Indonesia on the proclamation of independence in 1945. Most Indonesians speak at least one of the several hundred local languages and dialects, often as their first language. Of these, Javanese is the most widely spoken as the language of the largest ethnic group. On the other hand, Papua has over 270 indigenous Papuan and Austronesian languages, in a region of about 2.7 million people.
Indonesia is strategically important to the US, and Oregon, because of its large population size (and the eventual size of its market as Indonesians become more prosperous) and its location. Indonesian is the world's fourth largest country by population, after China, India, and the US (here). Jakarta, its capital, is the world’s fourth largest city (here). Parts of Indonesia forms one side of the Straits of Malacca, the world’s busiest and most important waterway.
Indonesian, as far as I know, is not taught in any Oregon public or private school. Rosetta Stone offers Indonesian online (although not to schools)(here). AFS sends students for a year of high school in Indonesia for $12,500. (ASSE, usually offering lower cost study abroad programs, does not send students to Indonesia.)