Once an election is approaching, we will spot many large billboards along the road displaying faces of the candidates ready to fight for the Democratic party.
Like it or not, people are suddenly faced with politicians they might not be familiar with.
Though they have been elected, their works remain unheard of for having a non-populist track record. In the last elections across the archipelago, we found a growing trend of young businessmen trying their luck in politics.
As a teaching staff at a university, I am amazed by young people being successful entrepreneurs. Seeing my former students thriving in businesses makes me proud. I am not jealous to know that they earn 10 or 100 times my income. However, I feel dejected when the young entrepreneurs began to flock to political parties instead of expanding their capacity to become big businessmen and conglomerates. This nation is getting away from the hope of creating a tough business class in the future. How can true entrepreneurs emerge from the beginning if they are stuck in political preference as opposed to devoting themselves to spreading the spirit of entrepreneurship across the country among young people?
The young entrepreneurs’ decision to make a sudden swerve to be young political candidates falls into a fallacy because it will make the ethos and dynamics of entrepreneurship run in place, a mere discourse that’s no longer moving. Entrepreneurship can play an important role in promoting youth independence. In fact, countless young people are at the top of various sectors such as business, ICT, education, energy, and entertainment. Despite their young age, these people are veritable reservoirs of inspiration to many youths in the country. It becomes more relevant when the wealth or fame they achieve is closely related to their independence and not to their parent’s wealth. Hendy Setiono, Raffi Ahmad, Atta Halilintar, and Gilang Widaya Pramana represent a small number of young people who have succeeded in standing on their own two feet as entrepreneurs.
Therefore, the decision of numerous young entrepreneurs to enter the political arena will probably close their chances off of being high-class entrepreneurs and conglomerates in the future. Chairul Tanjung, Chairman of CT Corp, and Basrizal Koto, CEO of the Basko Group, could position themselves as crazy rich people today, not start their careers as politicians at a young age. Instead of being preoccupied with shaping a political party, Chairul Tanjung, better known as CT, has been chased by many parties as a supervising board and presidential candidate. CT does not budge and is growing his conglomerate bigger and bigger instead.
These young entrepreneurs might take MNC Group CEO Hary Tanoe and Lion Air President Director Rusdi Kirana’s cases as precedent for business people going into politics. Both comparison and justification seem irrelevant and forced. Both MNC and Lion Group are well-established conglomerates, characterized by a solid system, not relying on the CEO figures and having thousands of employees. When the business has been in an established position and achieved the point of no return, the departure of a CEO or company owner to explore other ventures would not have a huge negative impact on the business.
The choice of young entrepreneurs stomping out of the business world and coming into politics implies that they have lost their priorities. In many ways, politics cannot be separated from economic issues. However, for the sake of national independence, economic issues, entrepreneurial ethos, and competitive climate need to be strengthened holistically and fairly. In this context, politics often backfire, given the tendency of politicians to affirm their groups’ interests and ignore the needs of different groups.
The politicians’ exclusive ways of thinking and acting are in stark contrast to the way businessmen think and work, closer to inclusivity. An entrepreneur operates on the principle of “seeking as many friends as possible and reducing as many foes as possible”. In business, seeking foes is tomfoolery. For entrepreneurs, everyone is a consumer who must be respected because they are the main target of the products for sale and services to offer. The cordial attitude of businessmen evokes a friendly nature in anyone. Their experience in dealing with the diversity of consumer behavior makes them treat visitors in full nuance, not black and white. The necessity of placing consumers as assets encourages businesspeople to get used to fulfilling consumer demands like entertaining visiting guests.
Before it is too late, we hope young entrepreneurs will not be lulled to change the course of business they have set. Politics does not interfere with their business is a misguided thought because there will be a conflict of interest. Stay focussed again. Just because you feel successful in one area, it does not mean that you will be capable of doing things in another one.