Shanty Shamdasani's Journey Towards Politics

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More and more executives are turning to politics; Miss Shanti Shamdasani is one of them. After 20 years as a senior executive with multinational corporations across Southeast Asia, she is running for seat in the Lower House. She talks to us about the difficulties of staying “clean” and not “paying to play” on the campaign trail, her thoughts on how to improve the e-commerce sector and her stance of the latest Indonesia-Australia Free Trade Deal. Here are the main takeaways from this interview:

 Entering Politics

·     Shanti believes that entering politics is important for her to understand the forces behind policies and regulations. She also believes that a clean play in politics is possible. So far however, it hasn't been easy. She had faced some difficulties on the campaign trail as candidates are often asked to make "donations" in order to obtain approval to speak in some Jakarta neighbourhoods. Shanty has refused to "pay to play" but instead has focused on campaigning in neighbourhoods that lack such requirements. "I had to stop campaigning until my team could identify areas that wouldn't ask for donations every time I try and speak to voters. I will only speak in communities and areas that genuinely believe in my values and agenda to provide free education and online business skills, instead of how much I can pay for their votes."


·     She casts doubt on whether her expertise alone can be of use to win the hearts of voters. Despite this, she does have a plan on how Indonesian e-commerce can be optimised and improve the lives of SME owners. She believes that one way to improve this is through improving the know-how of local traders so that they are prepared to compete in the digital economy. 

·     Another way to improve the system is to modify the taxation system into a vendor collection model—where all online transaction from locally registered vendors should be connected to the Directorate General of Customs and Excise. Meanwhile for foreign companies, she believes that data protection is an important safeguard system and that makes the revision to GR 82/2012 crucial to enable the GoI to record all transactional data for the use of tax collections.

Indonesia-Australia Trade Deal

·     Any FTA is supposed to be good to expedite trade and to open new markets and Indonesia and Australia has had a good long-term relationship, she says. The issue that arose after Scott Morrison’s plan to recognise Jerusalem, is an example of value clashes that usually supersedes everything else at times. But compromise should be made by both parties since both are keen on this trade deal she believes. 

Shawn Corrigan