This May, two very similar leaders restart their leadership on refreshed mandates on the subcontinent of southeast asia.
Indonesian President Joko Widodo is freshly reelected to a second term, while Philippine President Rodrigo Dutertes political allies win big in midterm congressional and local elections in the Philippines.
Together, the Philippines and Indonesia make up half of ASEAN`S 600 million strong population. Both countries are seen as future economic powerhouses due to a rich young human and natural resource base.
The Philippines with an average annual growth rate of 6% over the last 8 years, and Indonesia, with slightly lower growth at about 5% are among asia`s best, and puts ASEAN at the center of new growth in the continent. If both countries sustain their growth, they will both reduce poverty considerably in the next ten years. Already, the Philippines is poised to enter middle income status by next year.
No nonsense approach
Both leaders have a similar no non nonesense approach to boosting the economy: infrastructure. Both Duterte and Jokowi have reached out considerably to China and Japan as development partners and have boosted their economic prospects as a result.
Both have focused attention the less performing regions of their respective countries. A new nexus seems to have formed between the two leaders and their countries.
Jokowi`s Kalimantan, Duterte`s Mindanao
As Jokowi wins a second term in office the announcement of a transfer of the administrative capital to Kalimantan on Borneo island brings it closer to the new growth areas of Celebes snd Sulawesi, frontier areas considered poorer than the affluent Indonesian islands of Java and Sumatra.
This also brings it to the borders of Malaysia`s Borneo-based frontier states of Sabah and Sarawak, and the Philippine island of Mindanao.
Duterte, in the same vein, has increased government budgets for programs in Mindanao, the poorest of the Philippines,` subregions and former hotbed of insurgency and secessionist movements.
The proximity of both countries to each other through these border states creates the fulcrum of a new locus for development, and possibly, new sea routes through the Pacific ocean taking trade straight to Japan and China avoiding the contentious South China Sea.
Seizing this new growth will not only lower poverty rates in these regions, but sustain the growth trajectory of each country. Being large asian countries, this growth will impact Asia`s over all economy, providing a strong link in Chinas belt and Road and the renewed Indian economy.
As both leaders have shown a capability to put vision and reform into concrete action, the hopes for further growth are strong going into the next five years. In the light of these refreshed mandates, the hope shines brighter for sustained growth in Asia.