Survey: Singapore among top countries admired by Indonesia, but China and the West fare worse

Singapore’s appeal to Indonesia lies in how safe, clean and economically successful it is, said Chief Economist of PermataBank Josua Pardede. - Reuters

JAKARTA (The Straits Times/Asia News Network): Singapore’s economic success, safety and cleanliness have placed it among the top countries admired by Indonesians, along with Saudi Arabia and Turkey, according to a new study. But the US and Europe fared poorer than Russia, while suspicions of China left it the least admired country.

The Indonesia National Survey Project by the Iseas–Yusof Ishak Institute found that 89.1 per cent of 1,620 respondents said they respected Singapore, which came in third after Saudi Arabia at 95.7 per cent and Turkey at 90.1 per cent.

When asked which country is important to Indonesia, Saudi Arabia also ranked highest, with 97.4 per cent of respondents. This was followed by Singapore at 90.8 per cent, and Turkey at 90.4 per cent.

Saudi Arabia’s popularity stems primarily from hosting Islam’s two holiest places, the Kaabah in Mecca and the Prophet’s Mosque in Medina, said Visiting Fellow at ISEAS’s Indonesia Studies Programme Dr Burhanuddin Muhtadi.

“Every year, Muslims from all over the world visit this country on pilgrimage,” said Dr Burhanuddin, one of the three academics who worked on the survey. Turkey’s high ranking also stems from it being a Muslim country.

Singapore’s appeal to Indonesia lies in how safe, clean and economically successful it is, said Chief Economist of PermataBank Josua Pardede.

“Indonesians have a positive perception of Singapore because it is considered as tourist destination since Singapore is the closest country in terms of distance. Singapore also offers a safer and cleaner urban landscape, with law enforcement,” he said.

“In terms of state of economy, Singapore is considered a developed country in Asean, which could be a benchmark for Indonesians.”

Singapore’s bilateral trade with Indonesia was S$59.1bil (US$44.6bil) in 2021, a 21 per cent increase from the year before. The total value of Singapore’s investments in Indonesia was US$9.4bil in 2021. Since 2014, Singapore has also occupied the top spot on the list of Indonesia’s investors.

The study, conducted face-to-face in July 2022, polled respondents across all 34 Indonesian provinces. It is published once every five years.

Besides Dr Burhanuddin, the other two researchers are Dr Siwage Dharma Negara and Dr Hui Yew-Foong, who both coordinate ISEAS’s Indonesia studies programme.

The study’s authors noted that Russia was seen more positively than the United States and the European Union. According to the data, 86.8 per cent of the respondents said they admired Russia, compared to 81.8 per cent for the US and the 86.5 per cent for the EU.

Dr Burhanuddin said that anti-American and anti-Western sentiments are among the reasons why Indonesians placed Russia above the West.

“These feelings are based on the perception that America and the West have treated Muslims unfairly,” he said, highlighting foreign policy in the Middle East, including the Israeli-Palestinian conflict.

China was the least admired, with 78.2 per cent of respondents saying that they looked up to it.

According to the study, 34.1 per cent of respondents said that they considered China’s impact on Indonesia to be negative, with 27.1 per cent seeing this positively.

“As China assumes its newfound status as a global economic powerhouse, Indonesians tend to remain suspicious of China’s overtures,” said Dr Hui.

The study found that 60.3 per cent of respondents saw China’s Belt and Road Initiative in a bad light.

The multi-trillion-dollar investment scheme involves development and programmes in over 100 countries to create a modern version of the ancient Silk Road trade route from Asia to Europe.

Some Indonesians could perceive the initiative as a “financial debt trap for other countries”, including Indonesia, leaving them heavily indebted to China.

“Domestically, Indonesians may be wary of competition from Chinese foreign workers, who make up almost half of all foreign labourers in Indonesia,” added Dr Hui.

Article type: free
User access status:
Subscribe now to our Premium Plan for an ad-free and unlimited reading experience!

Singapore , Indonesia , Survey


Next In AseanPlus

Anwar: Maiden visit to China greatly beneficial to Malaysia
Asean News Headlines at 9pm on Saturday (Apr 1, 2023)
Singapore’s largest outdoor skate park opens at redeveloped Lakeside Garden
North Korea accuses Ukraine of having nuclear ambitions - KCNA
Indonesia to lead the way as Asean aim to switch to local currency use in region to avoid crisis
106-year-old Philippine tattoo artist is Vogue’s oldest ever cover model
Thailand's economy to grow 3.6 per cent in 2023, says World Bank
Philippines agrees 2,000-MW offshore wind deals with Danish investor
Vietnam’s fashion designs introduced in London
Singapore: 49-year-old man arrested after making ‘wrong turn’ into Woodlands Checkpoint; drugs, knives found in car

Others Also Read