a population of almost 200 million people on 13,667
islands, Indonesia is the world's largest archipelago
located between the continents of Asia and Australia,
and between the Pacific and the Indian Oceans.
Only 35% of the population live in urban areas,
but there are more than 30 cities with 100,000+
population. Plus, five cities have a population
of over one million. They are Jakarta, Surabaya,
Bandung, and Semarang, and are all located on Java.
To truly understand the socio-political culture
in Indonesia, one needs to understand Java.
the population has a significant Malay heritage,
it is also diverse with over 300 distinct cultures
residing within its borders. With each culture
comes a unique language or dialect; however Bahasa
Indonesia, the common language of the country,
unites everyone. In tourist areas and population
centers English is the most commonly spoken second
language. Though the large majority of Indonesians
follow the Islamic faith (86.1%), the intensity
of their observance for their faith varies due
the large diversity within this nation. Christianity
a distant second (8.7%). One important historic
note is the strong sentiment against the Chinese.
Keep this in mind and be sensitive to this reality.
someone says yes, does he or she mean yes or no. Indonesia
is a gracious culture that is polite. Wanting to
be agreeable and never wanting to embarrass another,
the native language Bahasa Indonesia has 12 words
that "say yes but really mean no.
Unless you are fluent in Bahasa Indonesia, using
English or another language will not convey the correct
message. Even with a correct translation, though
the literal translation for these 12 words would
be yes, the culture requires a polite, agreeable
response. Since saying no to someone is impolite,
don't assume a positive response means you have agreement.
Hofstede Analysis for Indonesia
The Geert Hofstede analysis for Indonesia
has very high power distance with offsetting low individualism.
This establishes an authoritarian structure where rank and position
are very important. With the majority of the population Islamic,
religion and faith enter into decision making on a more subjective
basis than in most Western cultures.
has Power Distance (PDI) as its highest ranking Hofstede
Dimension at 78.
The high Power Distance (PDI) is indicative of a high
level of inequality of power and wealth within the
society. This condition is not necessarily forced
upon the population,
but rather accepted by the society as part of their
cultural heritage. The average Power Distance for
Asian countries is 71.
second highest Hofstede ranking for Indonesia is
Uncertainty Avoidance (UAI) at 48, compared to the
greater Asian average of 58 and a world average of
64. This reflects a more moderated influence of this
Dimension within the Indonesian society. Generally,
a high Uncertainty Avoidance (UAI) indicates the society’s
low level of tolerance for uncertainty. In an effort
to minimize or reduce this level of uncertainty, strict
rules, laws, policies, and regulations are adopted
and implemented. The ultimate goal of this population
is to control everything in order to eliminate or avoid
the unexpected. As a result of this high Uncertainty
Avoidance characteristic, the society does not readily
accept change and is very risk adverse.
one of the lowest world rankings for Individualism
with a 14, compared to the greater Asian rank of
23, and world rank of 43. The score on this Dimension
the Indonesian society is Collectivist as compared
to Individualist. This is manifest in a close long-term
commitment to the member 'group', is that a family,
extended family, or extended relationships. Loyalty
in a collectivist culture is paramount, and over-rides
most other societal rules and regulations. The society
fosters strong relationships where everyone takes
responsibility for fellow members of their group.
has the largest Muslim population of any country
in the World with 88% of their population
practicing the Muslim faith.
The combination of these
two high scores (UAI) and (PDI) create societies
highly rule-oriented with laws, rules, regulations,
and controls in order to reduce the amount of uncertainty,
while inequalities of power and wealth have been
allowed to grow within the society. These cultures
likely to follow a caste system that does not allow
significant upward mobility of its citizens.
these two Dimensions are combined, it creates a situation
where leaders have virtually ultimate power
and authority, and the rules, laws and regulations
developed by those in power, reinforce their own leadership
and control. It is not unusual for new leadership to
arise from armed insurrection – the ultimate
power, rather than from diplomatic or democratic change. More Geert Hofstede Details
by Stephen Taylor - the Sigma
WORLD FACTBOOK 2011
Imam explains Islam
By IMAM SHAMSHAD A. NASIR
is the name of the religion that was founded 1,400
years ago by the Holy Prophet of Islam, Muhammad.
Islam is an Arabic word which means peace, love
and complete submission and obedience to God. There
is no difference between Islam and Muslims. Islam
is the religion that a Muslim follows, just as
Christianity is the religion which a Christian
Muslim is someone who has accepted Islam and lives
his whole life according to the teachings of Islam.
A true Muslim is one who is loving and caring,
promotes peace, and is fully obedient and submissive
to the will of God.
demands from its believers that they establish
peace in the world, promote love and make such
examples of themselves that others, knowing that
they are Muslims, feel at peace and harmony in
that knowledge. This is the true Islam and what
it means to be a Muslim.
Holy Prophet of Islam has said that a true Muslim
is one whose actions and words do not harm his
When Muslims greet each other, instead
of saying, “good morning” or “hello” they
say “Assalamo Alaikum,” which means “May
peace be upon you and may God's blessings be with
you.” This greeting makes a Muslim aware that
he has to spread love and peace wherever he goes.
There are many attributes of God, one being “AsSalam” meaning “the
Bestower of peace and love.” Man has been created
to fashion himself to the attributes of God and Muslims
must try to adopt this attribute of God.
someone calling himself a Muslim and a follower
of the Holy Prophet does not promote peace and
love in his actions and does not follow this teaching,
he cannot be a true follower of the Holy Prophet.
Muslims pray five times a day, asking God
for his love.
pray, “Oh God! You are Peace and from you,
is Peace; Blessed are you, O Lord of Majesty and
RELIGION OF ISLAM
Islam is a religion from God for the whole
of mankind and the name Islam was given to the Muslims
by God himself in the Holy Quran.
day have I perfected your religion for you and
completed my favour upon you and have chosen for
you Islam as religion.”
Holy Quran has been sent for the guidance of mankind.
It is full of wisdom and commands.
umbrella is an essential wardrobe component in
rainy season (September - February).
heat and humidity require packing enough clothing
to always appear clean & fresh. You may have
to change your clothes several times a day to maintain
should wear long-sleeve blouses and skirts that
cover the knee.
meeting in a more formal office should wear a suit
are limited to clothing colors that are muted or
dark. Leave brightly colored clothing at home.
should wear coat and tie until appropriate to dress
more casually. Follow the lead of those you are
generally wear dark slacks, long sleeve and light
colored shirt, and tie (no jacket).
suit" requires men to wear a business suit.
This term may be included on an invitation.
may find in a very casual business office that
a short sleeve shirt and no tie would be appropriate.
must always cover their upper arms when wearing
a casual blouse.
may be worn for very casual, but never shorts for
men or women. Even though the climate is warm and
humid, proper attire even for very casual appearance
will always dictate your choice of clothing.
not crook your index finger to call someone over.
This gesture is offensive.
not put your hands into your pockets when talking
physical contact between men and women is made
in public, except a possible handshake.
on time for any meetings. The meetings traditionally
start late, and your Indonesian business associates
will probably arrive late. However, you are expected
on time, and should never make any comment about
the meeting starting late or any person arriving
stand with your back to an elderly person or a
high ranking official. As you enter a room be aware
of the people who will be in that room with you.
rise when your host/hostess enters the room.
food on your plate signifies you are impolite,
so eat all the food you are served.
use your right hand for eating, when touching someone,
or handling money/papers.
is impolite while eating dinner. Conversation is
reserved for before or after the meal.
show the soles of your feet/shoes or touch anything
with your foot.
touch another person's head, this includes a child's
head (such as a pat on the head).
eat while walking in public, or chew on a toothpick.
Yawning in public is inappropriate (cover your
mouth if you must yawn).
your hat and sunglasses when going indoors.
though small, are frequently given.
are not opened when given. This practice shows
the recipient is gracious, not greedy.
dictates specific rules for appropriate gifts.
Muslim, Hindus, and the Chinese culture each have
rules regarding food, alcohol, and other items.
Make sure your gift is not offensive to the person
you are giving it to.
may politely refuse a gift three times before accepting
it. When the gift is accepted, tell the recipient
how happy you are with his or her acceptance.
not give gifts of alcohol or pork. This would also
include perfume since it is made with alcohol,
and any leather product made from pigskin (Muslim).
not give gifts containing beef or items made of
not give gifts or pictures that show dogs. They
are considered unclean.
Chinese New Year, give children and people you
frequently deal with, who are not government employees,
a gift of money. The money must be an even number
of new bills, and presented in a red envelope (Chinese).
not give a knife, scissors, clock, handkerchief,
or straw sandals (Chinese).
not give a gift that numbers four or shows a crane
or stork. In selecting the gift and the gift wrapping
paper stay away from the colors white, black, or
gift of an umbrella means you do not want to see
that person again (Chinese).
sending a gift to someone in Indonesia, see gifts to Indonesia
hands upon greeting and leaving, and always using
your right hand. The handshake is limp and lasts
religious reasons (Muslim and Hindu) men and women
do not touch in public in this culture.
do not offer a handshake to an Indonesian man.
However, should a man extend his hand, always shake
hands. Some Indonesian men may follow western business
rules in a business setting.
do not offer a handshake to an Indonesian woman.
Reciprocate, however, if she initiates.
Chinese may bow, or combine a bow with a handshake.
are not to be rushed. They carry importance and
your business card follows introductions. A person's
name is very important. Develop a habit of paying
close attention during introduction.
a business card to each person you are meeting.
Offer your card with the printing positioned so
the recipient can read it. Your right hand holds
the card, with your left hand supporting your right
wrist. Your card will be received with both hands.
is taken to carefully read the card.
presented another person's business card, follow
this same ritual.
write on a business card.
carry your business cards, or place another person's
business card in a back pocket.
your business cards in English, with the reverse
side printed in Indonesian.
each person using his/her title plus full name.
A title may be an honorific title or an academic
title. Rank and status is very important in this
important honorific title is for Muslims who have
made a pilgrimage to Mecca. Haji is the
title for a man, Hajjah is for a woman.
Madam, Mrs. or Miss is used if a person does not
have a title. A man is addressed as Pak (Mr.)
or Bapak(Sir) . A lady is addressed
are normally called by their first name, as in
Mr. Robert or Miss Susan, rather than using their
Chinese women keep their maiden name.
peace and is a traditional greeting.
but" means no when someone is speaking
allow your voice to get loud, whether in anger
anger in public through tone of voice, loudness,
or body language is always inappropriate.
not use red ink when writing, or having printing
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Page authored by: Stephen Taylor