Singapore, Malaysia more powerful than Indonesia...for now: Study

Singapore, Malaysia more powerful than Indonesia...for now: Study
PHOTO: The Straits Times

Indonesia is not the most powerful nation in ASEAN, according to the latest study by the Lowy Institute, which ranks the largest Southeast Asian country behind Singapore and Malaysia in terms of power.

But the country, the study says, may surpass its two neighbours by 2030.

The Asia Power Index 2018 ranks Indonesia as the 10th strongest among 25 countries in the Asia Pacific region after Singapore (eighth) and Malaysia (ninth). The United States and China still dominate the region, followed by Japan, India and Russia.

The index by the Lowy Institute measures a country's power by eight categories: economic resources, military capability, resilience, future trends, diplomatic influence, economic relationships, defence networks and cultural influence -- each having a different weight in the final scoring. Economic resources and military capability are weighted heavier than other categories.

Indonesia scores 20.0, a far cry from the US with 85.5, China with 75.5 and Japan with 42.1. Singapore scores 27.9 and Malaysia scores only slightly higher with 20.6.

Although Malaysia scores less in economic resources and military capability than Indonesia, its economic relationship and defence network is better: showing that resources are not all that matters in terms of power. The same applies to Singapore, which Lowy notes to have made up for its small economic and military size with "an influential network of regional relationships".

Military capability, economic relationships and defence networks are three categories where Indonesia ranks 13th, comparatively lower than other categories. However, Indonesia's military is currently undergoing a modernization process to meet its minimum essential force (MEF) requirements, expected to be completed by 2024.

Countries with scores above 70 are classified as superpowers, countries with scores between 40.0 and 70.0 are major powers, those with higher than 10.0 are middle powers, and below 10.0 are minor powers.

The report notes Indonesia as one of the underperforming countries in its power-gap index. Comparing a country's actual resources with its influence, the index categorizes countries as overachievers or underachievers. Japan tops the power-gap index, performing much more efficiently than the US or China. Other notable overachievers include Singapore, Australia and South Korea.

But it is not all doom and gloom. Indonesia is predicted to leave its Southeast Asian peers behind in 2030, ranking at fourth in the future-trend category behind China, the US and India.

Lowy measures future trends by a country's economic, military and demographic resources in 2030.

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