Indonesia should change its views on the sea, experts say

Indonesia should change its views on the sea, experts say
International relations expert Dewi Fortuna Anwar said the publication of the two books was timely as maritime security had become an important geostrategic issue, as seen in discussions at various forums such as the Jakarta International Defence Dialogue and Singapore's Shangri-La Dialogue.

Military and political experts on Wednesday called on the next Indonesian government to shift the country's maritime paradigm to enable Indonesia to become a new sea power.

The call was made at a discussion session marking the launch of two books written by Indonesian Navy chief Adm. Marsetio - entitled Sea Power Indonesia (Indonesian Sea Power) and Paradigma Baru TNI AL Kelas Dunia (The Indonesian Navy's New Paradigm: World Class Navy) - at the Navy Staff and Command School (Seskoal) in Cipulir, South Jakarta.

In the first book, Marsetio tries to revive awareness on the Indonesian maritime vision of seeking glory in being a great seafaring nation, while the second book outlines supporting instruments to attain the Navy's goal of being a reliable and respected world class navy.

During the discussion, military observer Salim Said cited several points in history that had weakened the country's sea power, and added that many considered the sea as a divider rather than a connector of islands.

He said that Sultan Agung, the founder of the Mataram kingdom, which spawned into the kingdoms of Yogyakarta and Surakarta as well as the principalities of Mangkunegara and Pakualam, retreated inland after defeating coastal Javanese kingdoms.

Another moment was when the Dutch East Indies Company (VOC) defeated local sea powers and limited the size of local ships.

"Bugis sailors lost their sailing skills as their ships were much smaller," he said.

International law expert Hikmahanto Juwana said that sea power should not be reduced to a mere military force, or even sea force, as it also included other components of society, especially trade power.

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