Editorial: Anything, Elon

Editorial Omong-Omong

3 min read

After eight years of “much ado about nothing” and “all barks, no bite”, President Joko “Jokowi” Widodo could finally end his term with a real bang.

Right after a meeting with US President Joe Biden during an US-ASEAN talks in Washington, Jokowi travelled to Boca Chica in Texas on Saturday to hold a talk with Elon Musk, the chief executive officer of Tesla and SpaceX to woo the world’s richest person to invest in Indonesia.

During the meeting Jokowi extended an invitation to Musk to come to Indonesia in November when the president will host leaders of the world’s 20 largest economies in Bali’s G20 conference in an apparent move to show that Indonesia matters to the world.

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Responding to the invitation Musk, according to a statement from Jokowi’s side, said: “Hopefully in November, thank you for the invitation.”

While there is not a single statement from Musk himself, we hope that it is as real as what the president’s men would like it to portray to the public.

If this is not another “all talk no substance”, something usually promoted by his supporters and his paid social media troops to elevate his gimmick to look real, bringing the world’s richest man and global icon Elon Musk to invest in Indonesia with his technology and know-how could be a game changer for the nation and Jokowi’s biggest achievement yet.

Forget about Jokowi’s exaggerated success of building infrastructure, toll roads and big projects with endless complains from people whose land and livelihood being destroyed, or the highly controversial project of new capital slated in East Kalimantan, which draws endless legal suits, Musk investing in Indonesia is nothing we have ever seen as its profound impacts will soon be resonating to various other sectors within the life of people across the archipelago.

This is not just some tech or even giant companies or even world’s richest men. This is Elon Musk, a global icon in his peak with a global goodwill worshipped by billions of people worldwide as the new God.

This a person who is portrayed as the savior of the humanity with his green and inter-planets projects.

We are not talking about Musk per se here, or direct impacts of his investment, which will be massive in itself in term of state income and job creation, and more importantly how our engineers and scientists could absorb one of the world’s most advanced deep technologies could offer.

We are talking about how the world and global investors will see Indonesia. It is about how a trust coming from a person like Musk will be followed by whole of tech firms and scores of any other companies. How the image of Indonesia will be boosted in the world’s eyes and how such an investment will make Indonesia a better place as a whole.

As more and more real businesses come in, Indonesia will be forced to adapt itself to the business best practices and global standard of transparency, human rights and democracy. Our youths will have something within their grasp to chase and dream, forcing them to try hard and compete. Our idle scientists who study high-tech abroad and has nothing to do here will have a chance to prove themselves or apply what they have learned. Our diaspora who are working abroad can now go home, knowing they can achieve something in their homeland.

In other words, the multiplier effects of making Indonesia Tesla’s new production hub in Asia are huge for the Southeast Asia’s biggest economy, not just in economic term but social, cultural and political dimensions.

Why else have many Indians expressed their grief when the possibility appears that Musk picks Indonesia over India, calling it a missed opportunity?

We should just offer Musk to address G20 leaders in November if he comes, and hell, if Ukrainian President Volodymyr Zelensky and Russian President Vladimir Putin are coming and strike a peace deal in Bali, let’s just allow Musk to sponsor the meeting and get some credits, and share the Nobel Prize with him.

But in pure business consideration, Indonesia can offer anything Musk wants. Indonesia is home to some a quarter of billion people, most of them are young, which will provide any companies with cheap talents, and possesses some of the world’s largest deposits of copper, nickel and tin, which is a key metal for batteries to be used by electric vehicles (EV) produced by Tesla.

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No other countries can offer Musk with such cheap and abundant raw materials. Lessons of logistical upheavals in the past year have taught every company, especially Musk and Tesla, the importance of securing raw material supplies, and that the proximity is key.

Meanwhile, he has pocketed solid political support from the president, while positive and massive supports from Indonesian people which are coming fast, possibly can assure Musk’s investment in this part of the world.

So, instead of keep on discussing the t-shirt Elon Musk wore during his meeting with Jokowi or baseless and ridiculous accusation against his disrespect against our president, we should throw our support behind the president’s efforts to make sure Musk will feel welcome to come to Indonesia, and make him feel that this is the best investment he has ever made.

We hope in his part Musk is serious in pouring his money into Indonesia, not just wanting to increase his bargaining position vis a vis countries like India or other countries with bigger population. Indonesia and its people is the best for you, your Tesla and your SpaceX, Elon.

Editorial Omong-Omong

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