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From Konsula To Lemonilo

It’s May 2019 and Lemonilo is now more than 2 year old company. The core team is still the same: me, Shinta and Ronald. And I think back in Aug 2016, we pulled the plug on Konsula at the right time.

There are several lessons that we learned from our short journey with Konsula – which I hope I will get the opportunity to share more in this forum.

For sure, Lemonilo is very different than Konsula. Although it is still within health & wellness sphere, what we are doing now in Lemonilo is pretty much about preventing people from getting sick (while Konsula is all about curing the sick).

Our vision with Lemonilo is to democratize healthy living so that everyone can live a healthier life. And here are some of our product offerings:

  1. All-natural instant noodle (and this is the link to my personal favorite product)
  2. Apple cider vinegar
  3. Virgin coconut oil
  4. Almond milk
  5. Granola
  6. Various seasonings
  7. Potato chips
  8. Honey

A Month After Our Website is Launched

Our new Konsula website is finally launched on December 9, 2015. I am so blessed that everyone is putting all of their energy in this–talking about working with people with passions. Our site has started to be used by people who are looking for doctors and other medical professionals. We have received medical-related queries as well. Our in-house medical team is now answering those questions and start redirecting them to see the most appropriate doctors. It is because online consultation can only help as much and cannot provide a definite diagnostic.

Our team has mostly focused in West Jakarta and Tangerang area, areas not far from our home-base in Kembangan. However, we have started venturing out to other parts of Greater Jakarta and aiming to have 1,500 doctors signed-up with us by the end of this month.

Check out some of our doctors here:

  1. Dentists in West Jakarta
  2. Dermatologists in West Jakarta
  3. Pediatricians in West Jakarta
  4. Ophthalmologists in Jakarta
  5. General Practitioners in Jakarta
  6. Neurologists in Jakarta
  7. Orthopedics in Jakarta
  8. Nutritionists in Jakarta
  9. Psychiatrists in Jakarta
  10. Acupuncturists in Jakarta
  11. ENTs in Jakarta
  12. Veterinarians in Jakarta
  13. Obstetricians in Jakarta
  14. Internists in Jakarta
  15. Surgeons in Jakarta
  16. Cardiologists in Jakarta
  17. Physiotherapists in Jakarta

Check out some of our health facilities here:

  1. Hospitals in Jakarta
  2. Clinics in Jakarta
  3. Dental Clinics in Jakarta
  4. Pharmachies in Jakarta

Introducing Konsula

It’s been a while and now I’m back in Jakarta after spending 10 years overseas. It’s been an exciting so far as I and two other friends are starting a new medtech start-up. It’s called Konsula (, with a vision to break open access to healthcare for Indonesian people.

To achieve this, we are doing these two things:

  1. Providing a Konsula smart search platform that is designed to ease the process of finding and making appointment with doctors and clinics.
  2. Providing a practice management platform for health care professionals so that they can focus more on delivering the best health care services to their patients.

In the end, we are hoping to bring Indonesia’s health care sector into the digital era. We envision a time in which all clinics and hospitals in Indonesia are connected, and various medical systems are integrated.

I also recently posted a short story that motivates us to start Konsula:

Check us out!

Export Infrastructure and Monetizing Options for Lebanon’s Natural Gas

Abstract — Lebanon stands to benefit significantly from extracting and monetizing its potential natural gas reserves. However, significant uncertainty has resulted in stakeholders adopting a wait-and-see approach in decision-making and investment in the hydrocarbon sector. This paper aims to address this uncertainty by providing a structured framework to determine the conditions that make various export options under consideration feasible and attractive. Our analysis particularly focuses on the LNG option that Lebanon could use to ship its gas to market. This option is broad and the alternatives range from building an LNG liquefaction plant in Lebanon, deploying floating LNG vessel, leasing an existing underutilized LNG plant, to a brownfield expansion of an existing LNG facility in Egypt.

Full paper — Ardiant, J., Warfa, A., 2015. Export Infrastructure and Monetizing Options for Lebanon’s Natural Gas, in: Mediterranean Gas and Oil International Conference 2015 (MedGO’15). Beirut, Lebanon

An Acknowledgement

We express our gratitude to various faculty members and fellows at the Harvard Kennedy School of Government who have provided us with helpful and critical feedback to our Policy Analysis Exercise (PAE), the capstone project for Master in Public Policy (MPP) students, on which this paper is based on. Particularly, our gratitude goes to Professor Henry Lee, our faculty advisor, Professor Philip Hanser, our PAE seminar leader, Leonardo Maugeri, Professor Meghan O’Sullivan, and Professor Francisco Monaldi.

We would also like to express our gratitude to our PAE client, the Lebanese Oil & Gas Initiative, for their trust, enthusiasm, and continued support. Our gratitude goes also to our 16 interviewees whom we met in our trip to Lebanon, for their time and willingness to answer some of our most pressing questions, and the invaluable insight that they provided in helping us understand Lebanon’s complex political and geopolitical landscape as well as navigating its nascent oil and gas sector. They are: Jeremy Arbid, Najla Farid Nakhle, Diana Kaissy, Laury Haytayan, Professor Carmen Geha, Matt Nash, Mona Sukkarieh, Husam Mohamed Beides, Walid Nasr, Nasser Hoteit, Joseph Maalouf, Marwan Fouad Abdallah, Vida Hamd, Alain Bifani, Sara Abou Atmeh, and Professor Raymond Ghajar.

We would like to thank various centers within the Harvard Kennedy School of Government, without whom this research would not have been possible: the Middle East Initiative, the Environment and Natural Resources Program, and Mossavar-Rahmani Center for Business and Government.

Finally, on a more personal note, this research will not have materialized without the support of Indonesia Endowment Fund for Education (Lembaga Pengelola Dana Pendidikan, or LPDP), who has generously funded the study of one of the authors, Johannes Ardiant, at the Harvard Kennedy School of Government.





Patching up fuel subsidy sinkhole in Indonesia’s budget

This article originally appeared in the opinion column of The Jakarta Post, October 26, 2014, and also being featured in The Straits Times, October 29, 2014

Syamsul has been fishing off the coast of Cilincing, North Jakarta for the past 20 years. But he soon might find it hard to get a good catch. “If the weather is really good, I can earn around Rp 1.5 million (US$120) in one trip. But, I don’t know what will happen if the government starts raising fuel prices,” he lamented.

He is not alone. Many other fishermen are fearing for their future as the new administration discusses the possibility of raising subsidized fuel prices by Rp 3,000, or 50 percent higher than the current price level. An average fisherman like Syamsul usually spends Rp 1.1 million each trip for 200 liters of diesel fuel. A 50 percent price increase will effectively cost him much more than what he earns.

But the fuel subsidy has become our annual budget sinkhole. For the 2014 fiscal year, the government allocated almost 18 percent of its total budget for fuel subsidy, an amount equivalent to $23 billion.

In contrast, the country allocated a meager 4 percent of its budget for health care and a little more than 10 percent for infrastructure. Such a gargantuan subsidy supposedly benefits the poor, but recent research shows that 70 percent of the subsidy goes to the rich.

It has also become a burden to the economy. Newly inaugurated President Joko “Jokowi” Widodo is set to scrap the fuel subsidy completely within four years. For the first time in history, the fuel subsidy might be a thing of the past.

However, without a proper cushion, I am afraid that this will only create greater problems for Indonesia.

Every country in the world has some sort of fuel subsidy to help the poor. The United States, for example, spent $37.5 billion on fossil fuel subsidies last year, according to a recent report from environmental group Oil Change International.

The subsidies are given in various forms, from tax breaks, loans at favorable rates and price control, to purchase requirements.

Instead of scrapping the fuel subsidy completely, the new administration should instead consider a new scheme that would better target those who need it the most. A recent example from our neighbor, Malaysia, might be worth considering.

The Malaysian government is mulling a new fuel subsidy scheme.

Under the new scheme, motorists with small incomes and small cars will enjoy a full fuel subsidy, middling motorists will get middling subsidies and the rich will not get any subsidy at all.

The government will use the MyKad (Malaysian identity card) or issue a new fuel card that contains subsidy eligibility information, a card that must be swiped at a fuel station before purchasing fuel.

Indonesia can adopt a similar scheme, plus some modifications to deter people from abusing the system, for example, by buying fuel at subsidized prices and reselling it to the people who are ineligible for subsidy — or the so-called arbitrage opportunities of price differences. To deter such arbitrage opportunities, instead of providing subsidy directly at the point of sale, the government can think of a subsidy scheme in the form of reimbursements or claims.

Simply put, everyone will pay the normal fuel price at the point of sale and the eligible will receive a monthly reimbursement prorated to their level of subsidy.

Another modification would be needed to enable small business owners and fishermen to access fuel at subsidized prices.

Opponents of this idea would argue that without cutting the fuel subsidy drastically, if not abolishing it completely, Jokowi would not have the fiscal space to fund all of his signature programs, such as free education and health care.

This argument is misguided. Why should all the funding for those programs come from the government’s coffers alone?

It is now a good time to further strengthen Indonesia’s investment climate and attract private institutional investors to invest in our public infrastructure.

High hopes for the new administration remain, even for Syamsul, who will be most affected by the subsidy cut.

As he is ready to fire up his diesel engine again, he is optimistic that the new administration will bring a fresh new approach to policymaking.

“Although the subsidy will be cut, I believe that Pak Jokowi has a good solution for the lower- income members of society like us.”

The writer is master in public policy candidate at Harvard Kennedy School, Cambridge, Massachusetts.

Five Indonesian Delegates Tackled Youth Unemployment in Y20 Forum

This article originally appeared in Global Indonesian Voices, 1 August 2014

On 12-15 July 2014, five young Indonesians attended the Youth 20 (Y20) Summit which was hosted by Australia as delegates. This year’s Y20 Summit was attended by 110 delegates from twenty G20 member countries and five guest countries—Mauritania, Myanmar, New Zealand, Singapore, and Spain. The Indonesian delegates—Almag Pradana, Donny Eryastha, Dyah Ayunico Ramadhani, Johannes Ardiant, and Zeva Sudana—came prepared with key policy issues that they believed are important for today’s youths, not only in Indonesia, but also worldwide.

This was Indonesia’s fifth involvement in the forum—the first one was in Vancouver 2010, followed by Paris 2011, Washington DC 2012, and St Petersburg 2013. Every year, five different members of delegates are selected from a competitive pool of talents through a written application and an interview process. The policy focus also shifts every year. For example, in last year’s St Petersburg Summit, the focus had been the global financial crises and efforts to strengthen the global financial system in response to the crises. This year’s summit has taken another step to improve youth employment and mobility worldwide as well as to establish framework for a more sustainable development.

Before the Summit, each country’s delegates had worked on their own policy priorities and then, facilitated by an online platform, all delegates discussed with each other to reach a consensus on several top policies to be put on the table.

Looking at Indonesia’s contexts, our youth unemployment rate is comparatively higher than our peers in Southeast Asia, which now stands at around twenty percent. The problem of youth unemployment in Indonesia is mostly caused by the gap between skills required by the market and those possessed by the youth—a mismatch between supply and demand. Consequently, in this year’s summit, the five Indonesian delegates have been very successful in spearheading policy recommendation effort to improve skills among youths to meet job market demand.

Besides, these delegates have also managed to push other key recommendations on topics such as rural development, female empowerment and accreditation of professional qualifications to ease labor mobility, diversification of national energy sources, and expansion of energy access in the least developed regions.

Policy recommendation is just the first step that these delegates have taken. Another task waiting for them is to make sure that these proposals are communicated to relevant stakeholders in the government: be it line ministries, government agencies, or local government. We must make sure that our voices are being heard by the incoming government and our suggestions are being considered in the planning of the government’s medium- and long-term plan as well as youth-related programs.

Johannes Ardiant

G20 urged to mitigate unemployment

This article was written by a colleague, Dyah Ayunico Ramadhani, after our participation in Y20 Summit 2014 in Sydney, Australia, and originally appeared in The Jakarta Post, July 23, 2014

Around 120 youths from G20 member countries gathered in Sydney on July 12–15 for the Youth 20 (Y20) Summit to formulate recommendations on how to solve global economic challenges, most importantly those impacting the youth. Indonesia was represented by five youth from different backgrounds.

Currently there are more that 651 million unemployed youths worldwide. Moreover, in each G20 member country, the youth unemployment rate is double or triple the unemployment rate of adults.

Acknowledging the substantial youth population and its immense role in the economy, Y20 has been established as an official G20 platform to ensure there are formal channels for youths to be heard and accommodated.

The youth not only face regulatory and education-related challenges when it comes to gaining decent employment within their country but also in attempts at enjoying numerous social and economic opportunities globally.

Amusingly, the process of formulating the set of recommendations was not only carried out during the four-day conference but also through more than three months of discussion and negotiations facilitated through an online platform. Every delegate from the G20 countries proposed their own country’s priorities and deliberated with each other to reach a consensus on the set of recommendations that would be best put forward to the G20 country leaders.

The approach taken was through three-policy frameworks: growth and job creation, global citizenship and mobility and sustainable development.

If we look at the Indonesian context, youth unemployment is mostly caused by the skill gap between skills required by the market and those possessed by the youth. On the other hand, female participation in the workforce is still way behind that of men, be it in numbers or even in how much they earn.

Moreover, if we look at specific sectors, for example, agricultural labor — which still contributes to a large proportion of our gross domestic product (GDP) — it is currently made up of workers aged an average of 40 years old. Whereas, to reach the target of 2 percent economic growth set by the G20 countries, active participation of all members of society in all strategic industries is required.

Consequently, the Indonesian delegation has consistently been successful in pushing through the agenda of up-skilling youth to meet market demands, female empowerment and prioritizing investment in rural areas and agriculture industries as priority issues in the Y20 Communiqué. The final Y20 Communiqué has also been presented to the treasurer of the Australian government, Joe Hockey, recently after the Summit concluded.

One thing undoubtedly conveyed by all delegations is that the Y20 2014 Communiqué is just the start of our commitment to fighting for the cause in each of our countries so that in the G20 Leader Meeting on Nov. 15-16, youth issues can be a priority action item.

Most importantly, how can each of us get involved? There are two crucial matters that should be of concern in the next three months before the meeting in Brisbane takes place.

One is mainstream youth-related issues with key stakeholders involved in the G20, namely the Business 20 (B20), Civil Society 20 (C20), and also Labor 20 (L20).

Secondly, it is imperative to engage and urge relevant government institutions, be it local government, central government or even legislators, to consider the Y20 recommendations during the planning of their youth-related programs, particularly for the five-year agenda of the incoming government.

We need to all believe that youth do not only play a great role in the future of our economy but also as strategic actors that need to be involved in shaping the policy of our current economy.

Dyah Ayunico Ramadhani

Should big-bang decentralization continue?

This article originally appeared in the opinion column of The Jakarta Post, March 8, 2014

Too much proliferation leads to profligacy. Under Soeharto, at least, there was only one person to bribe, but with decentralization, there are now more than 500 of them.

Proliferation of new administrative regions ( pemekaran wilayah), however, is set to accelerate again. In December 2013, the House of Representatives recommended the creation of 87 new municipalities, districts and provinces, the largest of such expansion since decentralization began in 1999.

Proponents argue that by carving up more jurisdictions into smaller administrative units of local governments, government accountability and quality of service provision will improve. However, the opposite might be true. Redistricting resembles a tangled mesh. When new administrative regions are formed, money starts to flow and many structures are duplicated since the government wants to maintain some organizational structure at the local level to execute its authority.

Qualitative and quantitative evidence suggests concerns over governance quality at the local level. Service provision has been found to be improving in some districts and provinces, but has languished in others.

Many local administrators simply lacked the appropriate technical capacity and competency. Audit data from the Supreme Audit Agency (BPK) shows that the percentage of budget compliance deviation is significantly higher among local governments compared with the central government. This may provide some indication of the quality of financial management between the center and the regions.

A more visible sign is that there has been more corruption cases brought against former or current heads of local governments — the latest one being Ratu Atut Chosiyah, the first democratically elected female governor in Indonesia. She was recently indicted in a graft case involving Akil Mochtar, the former Constitutional Court chief justice.

Although nobody has yet to show empirically that corruption in Indonesia is worse now than before, the sheer number of cases is disturbing. Gamawan Fauzi, the home minister, was quoted by local media in July 2013 as saying that 298 heads of local government have been jailed for corruption since 1999. More allegations of local corruption can be due to increasing transparency and political liberalization or because there is indeed more corruption.

Big fishes aside, petty corruption is also profuse among lower ranking officials. Many of us have faced a situation where authorities extorted fees higher than sanctioned to get things done.

Lucky you if you have never faced that situation, either out of ignorance or affluence. On average, households reported paying more for basic services than the charges that were set out in local regulations. For example, households spent twice as much as the official cost to obtain an ID card (KTP).

The central government has also raised the amount it spends on assistance apportioned to local administrations to Rp 593 trillion (US$52 billion), a third of total government expenditure in 2014. Roughly half of that sum is spent on salaries, which can be meted out to family members and allies.

Growth in the newly created administrative regions is also wanting, coupled with increasing regional imbalance. North Sumatra, Aceh, areas of Kalimantan, East Nusa Tenggara and Papua require more attention to bring them up to the level of growth similar to that of other parts of Indonesia.

Advisor to the Home Ministry, Reydonnyzar Moenek, revealed a disappointing evaluation of the new administrative regions, in which as many as 78 percent of the 57 3-yearold administrative regions had failed to develop.

It is premature to conclude that further proliferation of local governments leads to better accountability and improvement in service-delivery outcomes. Instead of accelerating, the Indonesian government must stop and ponder.

Clear criteria must be drawn up to justify the creation of new municipalities, districts and provinces. Assessments against these criteria must be published and verified to ensure transparency and accountability.

An agency must be created to effectively coordinate between various intergovernmental organizations and between the central and local governments. In particular, there are some services to promote economic growth, such as electrification, public infrastructure and environmental mitigation, which require the attention of cross-jurisdictional authorities. The agency should also engage in evaluating the effectiveness of decentralization.

Bureaucratic reform and institutional capacity building must take priority. The central government could harness local governments’ strong dependence on fiscal transfers from the center to create fiscal incentives tied to the promotion of these reforms.

The popular joke today, “Piye kabare? Enak jamanku to?”( “How are you doing? Wasn’t it better during my [Soeharto’s] time?”), is probably an innuendo to what many Indonesians are feeling right now.

Although things may seem to be only getting worse, Indonesia should not return to the old authoritarian regime.

The only option that Indonesia has is to improve.

The writer, formerly a research assistant at the National University of Singapore, is studying public policy at Harvard University’s John F. Kennedy School of Government in Cambridge, Massachusetts.

Readers Forum

The Jakarta Post Feb. 26, p2

If there is one person in Indonesia that has the strongest emotional bond with this republic and will not risk the country’s future for mere political ambition, that person is probably Megawati Soekarnoputri. It is her father’s legacy that has given her a sense of responsibility to preserve the unity and sustain the progress of this nation.

It was for this reason that she decided to run for the presidency in the past, and it is also for this reason that she will not run again. She will instead endorse Jakarta Governor Joko “Jokowi” Widodo. (By Johannes Ardiant, Cambridge, Massachusetts)

Your comments: 

At first I was against Jokowi running for president. I felt he was needed in Jakarta to finish his term. Now I feel that with Basuki “Ahok” Tjahaja Purnama taking over, Jakarta will continue on the road it is trying to travel.

I don’t know about the will of history but I do know it looks to be the will of the people that want to turn the corner and head with their chins held high into the future with a more honest and forward-thinking political system.

X Simaging

Yes, it is the will of history for Jokowi to take control of this nation, just like what Megawati’s father used to say: “I leave this country to you, etc.”

Sukarno traveled a long and winding road to save this nation. He was arrested, thrown into jail and exiled. Against all odds, he bravely proclaimed independence after which the problems and challenges mounted until finally he died.

Robby Kaware

I pray for Jokowi. The Indonesian Democratic Party of Struggle (PDI-P) is the only party to endorse pluralism, supporting the nullification of mentioning religion on identity cards.

C Folk

Is Jokowi the will of history?

This article originally appeared in The Jakarta Post, February 26, 2014

If there is one person in Indonesia that has the strongest emotional bond with this republic and will not risk the country’s future for mere political ambition, that person is probably Megawati Soekarnoputri. It is her father’s legacy that has given her a sense of responsibility to preserve the unity and sustain the progress of this nation.

It was for this reason that she decided to run for the presidency in the past, and it is also for this reason that she will not run again. She will instead endorse Jakarta Governor Joko “Jokowi” Widodo.

This belief was further reinforced after Megawati appeared in a dialogue on a national television program recently. She gave a clear signal that she knows her time is over. Shedding tears, she said that she only wanted Indonesia to be great. She also recalled vividly her father’s admonition to take very seriously the matters of the state: “If it is the problem facing the country, you have to seriously cogitate, because then [your decision] will have a tremendous impact [on the people of this country].”

It might be true that her Indonesian Democratic Party of Struggle (PDI-P) will reveal its presidential candidate only after the legislative election in April in order to “protect Jokowi from smear campaigns against him that could intensify once his candidacy is confirmed” (The Jakarta Post, Jan. 20, 2014). Even now, such aspersions have intensified, with many exploiting the current Jakarta flood crisis to discredit him.

Nevertheless, such a move will pose a big risk of having the party unable to meet the presidential threshold — winning 25 percent of the popular vote — in order to advance its candidate without the need to form a coalition. The PDI-P’s share of the vote has steadily declined, from one-third in the first post-Soeharto general election in 1999 to a mere 14 percent in the last 2009 election. In this year’s election, it is predicted that many voters will turn away from the Democratic Party and vote for PDI-P and other parties instead. Without a confirmed presidential candidate who could sway more voters, however, it would be hard for the PDI-P to win a quarter of the popular vote.

If the PDI-P could find a way to fight slurs against Jokowi and proclaim his candidacy before the legislative election, it could easily walk away with 25 percent of the popular vote, if not more. Such a result would allow Jokowi to form a strong government that would not require a lot of political compromises and coalitions, which effectively translates to more freedom in choosing the right people for various ministerial appointments.

The big question now is how the PDI-P can neutralize those criticisms directed at Jokowi.

In that televised dialogue, Megawati said she told Jokowi when she asked him to run for Jakarta’s governorship, “DKI Jakarta is not the same as Solo [Surakarta].” This republic is also not the same as Jakarta. The problems that this country is facing are much more multifaceted.

Some critics have, thus, pointed out that Jokowi is largely unproven as a national politician and his experience of running Jakarta and Surakarta is “no match for the complexity of managing the armed forces and police, or overcoming an obstreperous legislature representing the vast and culturally diverse provinces.” (The Wall Street Journal, Jan. 14, 2014) However, none of the past Indonesian presidents elected to their first term had such experience. Having experience as a past president also does not guarantee one’s future performance, history testifies.

It is also important for a president to make strategic moves by achieving visible quick wins in order to amass enough political capital for a broader reform. Jokowi successfully transformed Surakarta from a crime-ridden city into a regional center for arts and culture, leaving behind visible footprints, from city-wide health insurance to a new city-walk and wide pedestrian walkway (the Post, Nov. 18, 2013).

During his first year in Jakarta, Jokowi focused on flood mitigation, traffic improvement as well as health care and education issues. He dredged canals, rivers and reservoirs; added more buses to the Transjakarta bus system; and launched the health card (KJS) and smart card (KJP). These projects have started to show significant visible improvements for Jakarta. For example, Jakarta’s area affected by flood in 2014 has been significantly reduced to 1,425 hectares, from 2,143 hectares in 2013.

Many critics would love to see Jokowi to finish his term in Jakarta and not to behave like a psyllid (kutu loncat or a bug that symbolizes disloyalty). Unfortunately, there are no better candidates than Jokowi in this year’s presidential election. If the PDI-P fields Jokowi as its presidential candidate, his deputy governor, Basuki “Ahok” Tjahaja Purnama, will legally replace him as Jakarta’s governor.

Jokowi’s election to be this country’s number one will not mean the end of his contribution to Jakarta. Instead, the combination of having Jokowi on the top and Ahok as Jakarta’s governor will provide the necessary synergy — sufficient political capital and support — for Ahok to continue revamping Jakarta and to push for bolder reforms in the capital.

Jokowi is no psyllid either. It took his own party and former vice president Jusuf Kalla to convince him to run for Jakarta’s number one spot, and now, it would probably take more people to convince him to run for the presidency.

For many, Jokowi has become a leader even before he is elected as their president. It’s just a matter of time until he marches from being the will of the people to being the will of history.

The writer, formerly a research assistant at the National University of Singapore, is a graduate student in public policy at Harvard University’s John F. Kennedy School of Government in Cambridge, Massachusetts.