I answered a question on Quora about this topic, I put my answer on Quora into my blog as well
Many well-written answers have been provided, so I’ll just make it up here and there at some points according to my perspective
From a general point of view, I always say that it is INJUSTICE to compare Indonesia and Malaysia comprehensively, because the difference in area size and population number are very huge. However I’ll put this fact aside and continue my comments below
Yes, let’s make it clear, British are ‘better’ colonialist than Dutch. Especially in legacy. Say, education, law and political system, infrastructure, town and village facilities. I think we have many sources for this.
In Indonesia, we are VERY PROUD with the fact that we FOUGHT for our independence with flesh and blood sacrifice. Thus why some of us sort of underestimating other country’s independence which were results of ‘peaceful’ negotiation like Malaysia, India, etc.
But in retrospective, Malaysia especially gained a lot from relatively ‘smooth’ transition from colonialism and protectorates → Independence country. We just need to see one war, Surabaya 10th of November, how British troop (yes British, not Dutch, we murdered high-level British General prior to the war in October 1945) almost 100% destroyed the 2nd biggest city in Indonesia, which we remember as our National Hero Day. And we have SO MANY wars all over our huge archipelago
But what I want to point out from no.2 above, the war destroyed many things, we spent many decades to rebuilt the country, with so many political changes and even constitution changes from 1950 – 1968. And that before mentioning many civil wars/rebels courtesy of PRRI/Permesta, DI/TII, APRA, and the most infamous Communist Party (which is very regarded in the West as the most successful communist elimination in a country). We enter development years in Orde Baru era until 1998, but you know the history, our country’s ship were rocked again by tumultuous political and economy crisis, which had us changing our President 4 times in over 6 years.
Now let me ask you Malaysians, how severe were the extent of destruction of Kuala Lumpur, Melacca, Kuching, Penang, Johor Bahru, Ipoh, etc during your British colonialism and independence era? Yes, you get my point on this 🙂
Malaysia were blessed with clever leaders in the early, including Mahathir Mohammad who successfully carried your ship crossing the SEA financial crisis storm in the late 90’s. While in Indonesia because that same financial crisis and changing leaderships with political situation much in limbo, we went backward steps again to reform our country and tackle with huge corruption etc in the beginning of Millenium and we are still struggling until today.
Our 1st President Sukarno is a very strong character who we are still admire till today, thus one of the famous leader in the world that is respected by USA, USSR, SEA and South Asia leaders. But internally he spent most of his energy to lay foundations and re-conciliate our country system which infamously had no real functional shape when we declared our independence, let alone those colonialism war with UK and Dutch plus so many rebels he had to fight.
Still I actually don’t know why he really had a reservation over Malaysia, because as we can see now our two nations are much better together rather than at war. Maybe because those British influence which he really didn’t like (his famous quote to the Western aid/helps “Go to hell with your aid”
We now have President Jokowi who we believe can sail our ship to more prosperity as you can see how rapid our infrastructure development over the last 3 years, not to mention some development created by previous President SBY in his 10-years residency at office.
According to no 2–5 above, so from a neutral point of view, history wasn’t very KIND to Indonesia compared to Malaysia. That situation, no need for rocket science to take conclusion that it significantly affected the continuous national development. Your country Malaysia push the gas pedal from the very beginning to develop your nation to the extent that your teachers, engineers even got sent to Indonesia to learn when your country were still very young. While our country Indonesia SPENT so so many years to kick-start and kick-start again our development due to too many things happened on the course of our nation history as I explained above
Yes, the natural disasters have been taking its toll in development in many places in Indonesia, but nationally not all area are prone to big natural disasters. Java perhaps the most ‘safe’ island thus it developed so fast compared to other islands. But it is also result of injustice development by previous leadership who focused on Java advance and leave other island in less speed, thus making so many people moved to Java to make ends meet as more companies/industries are in Java (more than 60% Indonesia population are living in Java which in size is arguably only 10% of total Indonesia archipelago size).
Now our President want to make sure it wont happen again and he push the infrastructure development on other islands in high acceleration, including that border roads with Malaysia in Kalimantan/Borneo, which in the last 5 years were more feasible for an off-road big car rally rather than national border roads lol. 🙂