CSIS Advocates a Unified Approach to Maritime Policy

March 8, 2016, Jakarta Post

Indonesian President Joko “Jokowi” Widodo outlined his maritime doctrine during the East Asia Summit at Naypyitaw, Myanmar, on November 2014. He described his vision of Indonesia as that of a ‘global maritime fulcrum’ (poros maritime dunia) that must assert itself as a force between the Indian and Pacific Oceans. In this doctrine, the president views the sea as playing an central role in the nation’s future.

He further specified his doctrine into five key pillars: rebuilding maritime culture, managing and maintaining maritime resources, developing maritime infrastructure and connectivity, sustaining and expanding maritime diplomacy, and finally, improving maritime security and naval defense.

A year and a half into President Widodo’s administration, various policy stakeholders-from the navy, civilian agencies and ministries, to port managers and shipowners — remain unaware of the doctrine’s specific policies or implementing documents. Indeed, Indonesia has yet to produce an overarching and coherent national ocean policy outlining the policy steps necessary to develop his vision into reality. As such, these different government agencies and policy stakeholders tend interpret and implement the maritime doctrine differently, which has led to overlapping and contradictory policies across the board.

As the leading research institute focusing on Indonesia’s strategic affairs and development, CSIS believes that providing a platform to address key policy questions surrounding the global maritime fulcrum — the country’s most geo-strategically developed national doctrine thus far – is an imperative.

CSIS Executive Director Philips J. Vermonte asked “What common understanding do we need when it comes to President Jokowi’s maritime policy? What institutional changes and regulations are required to realize his vision? Which organization or agency can coordinate the country’s vast and wide-ranging maritime affairs with a ‘helicopter view’ of the entire policy landscape?”.

These questions, which point to a lack of strategic coherence, political certainty, and institutional stability in the maritime domain, took a center stage during a recent public seminar held at the CSIS auditorium on March 3.

Prominent speakers and panelists from numerous government institutions and the policymaking community attended the one-day event. Ambassador Afif Havas Oegroseno, Deputy Coordinating  Minister for Maritime Affairs, Professor Rokhmin Dahuri, former minister of ocean affairs and fisheries, and Dede R. Martin, executive director of PT. Pelabuhan Indonesia II, were some of the notable speakers. The panelists focused on various policy challenges pertaining to Indonesia’s ocean governance, including institutional development, regulatory management, and infrastructural connectivity.

While the speakers speak of different challenges within different policy areas, the event was designed to encourage all stakeholders to seek a common vision of the president’s maritime doctrine. “We can’t solve maritime issues sectorally. We need a multi-sectoral approach, which requires a strong, national authority to manage these different sectors. Our goal at CSIS is to ensure that the event can help us formulate such an approach,” Vermonte said.

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