November 17, 2022
JAKARTA – The head of the Indonesian Chamber of Commerce and Industry (Kadin) has stressed the role of business in building bridges over deep divides between countries in an increasingly polarized world economy.
In an exclusive interview with The Jakarta Post on Tuesday, Kadin chairman Arsjad Rasjid, who is also CEO of Indika Energy, said that even though businesses were nonpolitical entities, they held immense responsibility to assist in building peace.
“The Russians are here, the Ukrainians [also], CEOs of companies [from both countries are] at the B20. You know, I met with them,” Arsjad said, referring to the Group of 20’s business dialogue forum, or Business 20.
He added that he preferred a “people-to-people” approach to negotiation, rather than a pragmatic business-only approach.
Yet world leaders did not apply this approach, said Arsjad, as “they have forgotten that the bottom line is people”.
Arsjad, who is Muslim, referred to Islam’s halal-haram dichotomy to describe the current state of global affairs, marked by politically motivated taboos against businesses engaging with their peers from countries considered adversarial.
The Arabic term halal means “allowed” or “not prohibited”, while haram means “forbidden”, and are used in predominantly Muslim Indonesia to determine the permissibility of certain practices or goods.
While noting that the government did not maintain such a black-and-white view on the world, he said the practice needed to “stop” for the sake of the global business community.
“I mean, this is business-to-business. These guys, they need to make money, too, to survive,” Arsjad underlined.
In his mission to build bridges, Arsjad has personally met with Pope Francis on several occasions in the interest of “interfaith dialogue”.
Mutual respect was one value currently lacking in the development of the global economy, Arsjad noted, and called for the international community to hed this value, “because it is [the people] who are suffering”.