3 Valuable Takeaways From My Weeklong Tianjin Experience

In Uncategorized on August 24, 2015 at 2:44 am

Tianjin artwork

Reading time: 7 minutes

I want to share my weeklong experience in Tianjin – China’s 3rd biggest urban city, after Beijing and Shanghai – participating in AEON Asia Youth Leaders 2015. This annual event called out Asia’s top student leaders from Indonesia, Vietnam, China, Japan, Thailand and Malaysia to take part in environmental-based projects throughout the week. This article features 3 valuable lessons I learned from the program. Enjoy!


Well it was pretty random at first because I never knew about this program. But thankfully for me, I got to know this opportunity by winning The Most Outstanding Student (Mapres) award in Universitas Indonesia in May 2015. As a reward, I could undergo a fast-track selection to get scholarship for AEON Asia Youth Leaders 2015 in Tianjin, China. All I had to do was writing an essay and did a medical check up for health proof.  And voila, thank God I’m selected to go! The event itself took place last week from August 16 – 22, 2015. AEON Indonesia sent 5 Mapres winners from my university and 12 top high school students collaborating with Ministry of Education & Culture.

The program featured 5-day lecture, leadership program, group work, site visit, citizen interview, city tour, and presentation when each team should produce campaign/public policy initiative regarding Tianjin waste management. In general, the event was organized very professionally (and very fun too!)

Couple of days before departure, an explosion occurred in Tianjin (see more info here). My family was kinda worried about that, but the organizer explained that everything would be alright cause all the events would take place in the downtown areas, >70 km away from the explosion in port area. So this trip to Tianjin better be something memorable right?

All in all, I feel like sharing these 3 valuable lessons that I got from AEON Asia Youth Leaders 2015 event:

1. “If you come late, I’ll leave you”

I mean, this takeaway might be so classic. Despite Indonesians high tolerance towards bad habit of being late, I myself have been exposed to many international experiences that taught me on how being punctual is the key. However, never in my life I come to an event that 100% of its rundown occurred timely without any delay, not even 1 second. All the program schedules were designed so thoughtfully so that no time lag is allowed.  Most importantly, they just didn’t do it by default – they programmed it. We received wake up call in our room every morning, all meeting time and schedules for the next day were always communicated the night before, and they would leave the ones who came late. It wasn’t an empty threat like we do here in Indonesia like “If you come late, I’ll leave you” when in fact it’s almost impossible to do that cause maybe both people will come late for many reasons and in the end tolerate each other’s lateness LOL. During the event, the organizer really left the students who came late so they must take taxi to catch us up to the next venue. In the final day, the organizer was so punctual and didn’t allow participants to enter the room for final presentation if they came late.

In the end, we all enjoyed the beauty of this punctuality. All programs were run smoothly without delay, everyone could get some rests early and no one was waiting like a fool without knowing when the event is gonna be started. It was like a perfect execution. It’s probably attributed to the fact that AEON is Japanese company in which Japanese highly value time discipline. Whatever the reason, it’s like a really hard slap in the face – more than a wakeup call – for myself to start appreciating time and habituate myself to be timely. I cannot allow lag of time in execution and must practice self-discipline to start something remarkable.

2. Management-consulting working style is kinda preferable for big team size

Each team consisted of 10 people coming from all represented countries. It was a bloody hard job to unite different opinions and perspectives. For me, a perfect brainstorming should not exceed 5 people in a group. So dividing a big 10-people group into two smaller 5-people group helped a lot. As a project leader, I learned a lot from this experience on how to structure work and divide tasks when your team was complete strangers that you hadn’t met before. I felt really thankful because I could apply all my consulting skill set in problem solving and work plan to manage the team in producing the deliverables. And on top of everything, listening is always the hardest part. I learned a lot how to listen and let other people talk; something that’s more difficult when the group size is bigger. I think, the mission was accomplished perfectly as our group was crowned as Runner Up!

3. Get connected with fellow Asians is the key!

I mean, I have attended so many conferences in different corners of the world. I have met and befriended with many North Americans, Europeans, Latin Americans, Asians, Australians, Africans, New Zealanders, and even Pacific People. But one thing that I haven’t taken a closer look at is my own neighboring countries – the Asians. I realized it because 100% of the participants in AEON Asia Youth Leaders 2015 are all Asians. I felt like I’m suddenly embraced with a very relatable cultural setting. At first, I felt like I didn’t belong to the group because of the language barrier. I might attribute myself as ESL (English as a Second Language) person, but reality is there are more EFL (English as a Foreign Language) people in Asia than the ESL. That’s why understanding culture – better yet language – is beyond important if one wants to do business in Asia. Each country literally has unique cultural attribute that’s exposed in the way one talks, eats, prays, thinks, communicates, and does things. And it was not something theoretical; I experienced it myself through human interaction. This cultural differences at first made our group discussion slower because many language misinterpretation and miscommunication took place. But that’s Asia, after all. The diverse yet developing people are my family to whom I’m gonna do business with for the next decades. So I have to try understanding them. I realize that I shouldn’t only look up to the West for inspiration or reference cause the the future belongs here in Asia. So, I promise myself to engage with more Asian-based events or business conferences in the future 🙂

Lastly, the city itself was really modern and vibrant – except the crazy pollution of course! Find some of my pics below:

Team G!

Team G!

Italy Street at Tianjin

Italy Street at Tianjin

Team Indonesia!

Team Indonesia!

Making dumpling experience!

Making dumpling experience!

AEON Asia Youth Leaders 2015

AEON Asia Youth Leaders 2015

Tai chi experience!

Tai chi experience!

Tianjin ancient city!

Tianjin ancient city!

Special thanks to AEON 1% Club Foundation for this extraordinary experience! Also, thanks to Team Indonesia and especially Team G for being a new family to me! Hope to see you all again!


Generating Sustainable & Inclusive Economic Growth Through Public–Private Partnership (PPP)

In Ideas Journal on March 30, 2014 at 4:34 pm

“Strengthening growth and creating jobs is our top priority and we are fully committed to taking decisive actions to return to a job-rich, strong, sustainable and balanced growth path” – St Petersburg G20 Declaration –


Indonesia has experienced a robust economic growth compared to OECD and BRIC countries, even during the 2008 financial crisis. Based on real GDP growth from 2000-2010, Indonesia was ranked 3rd, only behind China and India, with 5.2% growth. Currently, Indonesian nominal GDP is ranked 16th worldwide, and Bank Indonesia predicted our inflation rate to stay below 9% for 2014. McKinsey & Company in its report ‘Unleashing Indonesia Potential” also stated that by 2030, Indonesia will be the 7th largest economy in the world with 135 million people in consuming class. To achieve this, Indonesian government has created “Masterplan for Acceleration and Expansion of Indonesia’s Economic Development” (known as MP3EI), projecting Indonesia to be a developed nation by 2025.

Many nations have relied heavily on fiscal and monetary policies to bolster their economies, particularly in the aftermath of the global financial crisis. Coordinating policies to maximize growth and minimize unintended effects will remain a critical role of the G20 in 2014. But we also need new approaches to ensure growth is sustained in the years ahead. Creating more employment opportunities will bolster confidence, and it’s the only lasting way to lift people out of poverty and build national prosperity.

For Indonesia, an even regional distribution is a prerequisite to reach exponential growth through creating employment, otherwise people will prefer coming to the city and the upcoming growth will be kept centralized – and inclusive. In regards to that matter, one of long-term phenomena in Indonesian regional development is interregional disparity. As of 2010, the GDP distribution was concentrated in Java (58.1%), even worse that it was before in 1960 (54.5%). These facts consequently lead to a huge gap of Human Development Index (HDI) in every region.

Realizing this, it is – indeed – important to create new economic corridor outside Java, as an extension of the center of economic growth. To that extent, it is imperative to build infrastructure and facilities evenly to connect all the regions, and to accelerate the growth attempt. Given the limited infrastructure budget within Indonesia’s APBN (in 2013 APBN, it was lower than subsidy budget), then it is undoubtedly critical to involve private sector in financing the development project, especially through public-private partnership (PPP). Through PPP, government could connect areas and making growth possible to take place in providing grids or water – and in the long run – triggering the economic activity in that certain area.

PPP has been widespread in infrastructure development in Asia and considered as an effective way to achieve better value for money in delivering infrastructure projects (Ki et al., 2010). Some countries have adopted PPP due to fiscal deficit, budgetary pressure, demand– supply gap, and inefficient public services to infrastructure, while other countries choose PPP for operational efficiency, innovative technological and management skills, and more active involvement of private players in public services (Hwang et al., 2012). The nature of PPP projects makes risk an important factor in the project procurement. Most PPP projects are involved with risks that are difficult to control and analyze. Hence, risk management is critical for both public and private parties in PPP projects to attain their objectives. In addition, it is necessary to balance the risks and rewards of public and private sectors in PPP projects (Grimsey and Lewis, 2002).

Indonesia has successful public-private partnerships in the resources sector. For instance, the Central Java Coal-Fired Power Plant partnership offers a guarantee that covers the National Electric Company’s obligations to investors and any government force majeure events, helping to allay institutional investors’ perceptions of the riskiness of long-term infrastructure investment in Indonesia. This project has raised nearly $3 billion in foreign direct investment, and the 2,000-megawatt facility is expected to improve access to electricity for 7.5 million people. However, in general, take-up of public-private partnerships remains low, and Indonesia could consider several measures to tackle this.


Here are several recommendations for PPP development in Indonesia:

1.) Deepening local bond markets

Debt market of Indonesia is relatively small, — at about 15 percent of GDP—compared with the equity market. Indonesia’s infrastructure requirements would be better served by non- bank financial institutions, such as insurance companies and pension funds, which have longer-term funding structures but that today have only about one-quarter of the government bond market. So, to this extent government need to create a more sustainable figure in financing tools for PPP through deepening the local bond markets that are still very potential to be developed.

2.) Regulatory Mechanism

It is critical for government to control local regulation upon PPP by ensuring a fair, clear, and understandable contractual agreement. When the contract is executed, government needs to commit to take cognizance of the risk controlling. Thus, it is also important to have a singe body / agency to supervise PPP implementation in Indonesia, where most countries have a single lead PPP agency to achieve consistency and ensure the replication of best practice. Today, the supervision is still under Coordinating Minister for Economic Affairs, and Head of BAPPENAS.

3.) Combining fiscal policy through tax holiday or tax cut

We are talking about size – we want to attract more investors to do PPP. Hence, government needs to combine PPP practices with fiscal policy approach by giving tax holiday for the certain period, given to the company doing PPP in the future. If it is deemed too hard, then government may try to do tax cut as a softer approach. These alternatives are intended to make PPP projects in Indonesia more attractive for private sectors, especially foreign investors.

In the end, it is clear that PPP – in the short run – will be a gate towards inclusive development in minimizing interregional disparity in Indonesia, while opening a lot of employment opportunities since we are aware that those potential projects in PPP will involve many parties – contractors, labors, consultants, and even auditors. This will stimulate economic activities in the short run. Meanwhile, in the long run, it will not only support Indonesia’s connectivity by opening up its outer area, but also triggering economic activities as well as entrepreneurship because the infrastructure will be available there. This attempt is also in line with The Report of the High Level of Eminent Persons on the Post-2015 Development Agenda, under Goal No. 8 to create jobs, sustainable livelihoods, and equitable growth.



Abednego, M.P., Ogunlana, S.O., 2006. Good project governance for proper risk allocation in public–private partnerships in Indonesia. International Journal of Project Management 24 (7), 622–634.

Hwang, Bon Gang. 2012. Public private partnership projects in Singapore: Factors, critical risks and preferred risk allocation from the perspective of contractors. International Journal of Project Management 31(2), 424–433

Chowdhury, A.N., Chen, P.H., Tiong, R.L.K., 2011. Analysing the structure of public–private partnership projects using network theory. Construction Management and Economics 29 (3), 247–260.

Grimsey, D., Lewis, M.K., 2002. Evaluating the risks of public private partnerships for infrastructure projects. International Journal of Project Management 20 (2), 107–118.

Masterplan Percepatan dan Perluasan Pembangunan Indonesia. 2011. Coordinating Minister of Economic Affairs.


Unleashing Indonesia Potential. 2011. McKinsey & Company .


In Literature Journal on November 14, 2013 at 5:11 pm


Indikator-indikator tentang risalah kesempurnaan, nyaris hancur

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Niscaya ia adalah makhluk surga, kreasi Tuhan nyaris tanpa cela


Ia bagai permaisuri, dalam tahta keanggunan sejati

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Satu hal: malaikat hari ini sedang berada di bumi