Saturday, August 22, 2009

P Siantar - An Observation

Recently we made a trip back to Pematang Siantar, some sort of annual visit for us, and spent a good week there with family and friends. The town has not changed much physically, but the variaties of shops have somewhat improved. I have made several observation during a week along there:

One observation is price hike. I have noticed an over the board increase in food prices. These days, the popular Mie Pangsit, is selling at least Rp10,000 (SGD 1.50); I consider this price expensive given the fact I could enjoy a bowl of noodle in hometown for 2/3 of that price though it is not similar noodle to compare.

Another observation is the frequent power outage. As far as i can remember, the power outage is a norm in Siantar so no surprise to find most big shops are having electric generators powered by fuel as backup. I wonder if this is a sign of power shortage to a growing economy of Indonesia or simply due to inefficiency in power distribution, or both?

Third observation is the condition of road. I have not notice any major improvement in the road condition from Medan-Siantar and Siantar-Parapat. What is needed is widening of existing road to accomodate the surge in traffic. There are compelling arguments for improvement in the road condition for this part of Sumatera Utara, among others, it is a major commercial area for a huge Sumatera and Lake Toba being a major tourist attraction.

Fourth, there is a visible sign of fast growing young middle class population in Sumut. For example, the number of motobikes on the road has increased rapidly. Mobile phones are selling like a hotcake. Consumption of meats is on the surge. More locals visit the popular local spots like Lake Toba during festive seasons. Bigger shopping mall like Sun Plaza has joint the skyline of Medan city, and good mixed of shoppers were visible at Hypermarket.

Lastly, I find the people in this part of Sumatera are enterprising, adaptive, and quick in response to opportunities. When I bought a few boxes of Kueh Lapis and knowing I am going to carry it overseas, the shop has a ready special box to cater for such special - the box comes with special string for ease of hand carry or check-in. Another example is a Chinese operates a Sundanese restaurant - the foods are delicious and very popular among locals. Then I saw a local distributor of Panasonic batteries having its Key Performance Indicators on softboard displaying target versus actual for each saleman. All these points to good things in Indonesia and my wish is the Pemerintah could elevate its governance standard, reduce corruption, avoid wastage, open to more feedback, be flexible, and continue to empower its people but at the same reigns in on extremism, then I would think the country can expect a better tomorrow.

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