By Collins Chong Yew Keat

KUALA LUMPUR, Malaysia: Indonesia’s President elect Prabowo’s visit to Malaysia reflects a new strategic maneuver for both Jakarta and Kuala Lumpur. Jakarta will need Malaysia’s alignment of support and policies, as both share similar threat settings and challenges in facing renewed and intense pressure and overtures from both the West and Beijing.
Malaysia being the chair for ASEAN for 2025 will bring significant impact to Indonesia’s regional leadership and the quest to maintain the non-aligned setting and the hedging model of maintaining regional stability.
As Jakarta realizes the urgent need to secure greater and more credible Western support and assurances in defence and deterrent capacity, it realizes that the most pressing priority will be to elevate the socio-economic and domestic support in bolstering the new Indonesia dream of being a major regional and global player.
It will need to have a mutually beneficial and long term sustaining symbiosis of economic, trade, technological, and  diplomatic partnership based on mutual trust and deep rooted historical commonalities with Malaysia.
This is vital as current settings of ties are periodically bogged down by systemic and structural deficiencies in a comprehensive spectrum of relationship across different levels
These include mutual wariness in hard power intent and capacity, competition over foreign strategic investments in critical sectors including green and digital energy and economy, cultural and national identity competition, and lack of coordinated joint responses for shared challenges in similar defence and resources settings including palm oil.
National interests and individual pursuits on advancing each other’s intent to be the natural leader and hub in critical sectors including digital and green automotive sector, green economy, high impact technology and cyber dominance and as the stable go to destination for supply chain and regional platforms for high skilled and high end investments, all provide individual silo-driven pursuits based on self drive  to be the regional leader in these domains.
Prabowo’s personal touch and friendship and affiliation with Malaysia are being counted on to further deepen trust and building long term shared interests in facing shard challenges.
Jakarta sees the long term future of Malaysia being the most important strategic neighbour, and will want to treat the country as a needed future driven ally instead of letting self interests and prolonged competition to distract and divert the agenda of Indonesia’s global dreams.
From Nusantara to building a solid joint deterrent capacity in facing future threats from a potential fallout from South China Sea dispute or greater security dilemma, both will need one another’s strength and key roles in strengthening the narrative of non-alignment and in consolidating the regional capacity of avoiding a spiralling threat settings.
Prabowo will also be keen to explore the opening for a joint and solidified front at a three pronged level with Malaysia, first being ASEAN leadership level, the OIC level and projecting a greater inroad into Global South and existing G20 domain.
To realise his agenda of cementing his vision for Indonesia and to differentiate from Jokowi, Prabowo will need to have a sustained and long term buy in and less frictions from Malaysia, and he realizes that a joint solidarity is more critical than a direct competition. 
He also foresees the importance of Malaysia in providing the stabilizing factor to the common theme of non-alignment, but maintaining a strategic hedging and balancing role with both the West and China, as both face similar dilemma of needing Chinese capital and investment and economic dependence and in needing Western security and defence counterbalancing support at the same time.
Malaysia is also playing a critical buffer and complementing roles in softening regional power equation and tussle, and Indonesia needed a fellow voice in strengthening its stance and returns of interest of maintaining the status quo of strategic neutrality.
Malaysia is thus seen as having a similar notion and policy responses, as opposed to the more confrontational Manila and a different geopolitical settings of Thailand, Cambodia and Vietnam with the Mekong region of contextual settings as compared to the archipelago's concerns and affiliations. Malaysia will thus give a strategic reassuring role in strengthening Indonesia’s quest.
Courting Both Beijing and Tokyo
Prabowo visited China and Japan before coming to Malaysia. His first stop in China sent a message to both regional players and external powers alike.
As with other regional powers, Jakarta is trapped in the China orbit, with Beijing being the primary source of  is making his first visit to a key trade partner of Jakarta since his victory in elections last month.
China is one of the biggest sources of foreign direct investment in Indonesia and has poured billions of dollars into projects into the country.
While Prabowo has reaffirmed its stance on protecting Indonesia’s interests especially vis a vis China during his campaigning, he has no choice but to be seen as tough and nationalistic in pandering to the glaring domestic political needs.
Post elections however, realities bite back hard and for him to realise his ambitions for the country, Chinese inflow of capital and investment and support in supply chain and other critical sectors remain unavoidable.
He will need to be seen to give assurances and message of support to Beijing’s regional economic agenda, but at the same time using this visit as a platform to reiterate Indonesia’s firm quest to protect its security and interests and readiness to ensure regional stability although it is not a direct claimant of the South China Sea.
Beijing needs Indonesia’s continuous stance on neutrality and non-aligned mantra and its vast geopolitical and security incentives and advantages in key geographical chokepoints as much as Indonesia will need Chinese capital and expertise in key future sectors in transforming its economic ambitions.
Beijing eyes Indonesia’s vast minerals and resources and Chinese companies have poured in money in extracting these resources including nickel and also spent highly on developing its infrastructure and transportation links, including Southeast Asia’s first high-speed rail line.’
Beijing will want Jakarta to maintain its status as the bedrock  of regional neutrality to deter any increased Western overtures.
The next visit to Japan highlights the counterbalancing tone and move by Prabowo in balancing the overtures to China.
Jakarta will need to have Tokyo’s increased regional presence and overtures, including the new OSA.
Based on trust, proven track record and consistent trustworthiness and values based model of assistance both in security and economic realms, Jakarta will want to be the regional lionshare of the receiving end of Tokyo’s new defence postures in the region in countering China.
For Jakarta, it will need to seek a diversified potential source of defence and security support partners other than the West and the US, and Japan provides the greater assured link as it is a Quad member and it provides strategic link up with Australia, another vital neighbouring power that is crucial to Jakarta’s regional security.
Japan needs Indonesia in terms of its vital geographical link up in ensuring Tokyo’s supply chain and maritime security, and in providing the next regional economic potential that will assure Tokyo’ thirst for energy, food and resource security.
Both Tokyo and Beijing are courting regional players, and Jakarta remains at the center of strategic calculations. Kishida will want Jakarta to support Tokyo’s stance of upholding the rules based order and to secure international law and norms. The security cooperation will be bolstered with the agreement last year to supply Indonesia with patrol ships, with Beijing in mind.
Indonesia is facing a new path of both rejuvenation and a cautious approach of sensing and galvanising a new opening of global power presence and in mitigating new threats to this desire, both from within the region and externally. 
*Collins Chong Yew Keat is a Universiti Malaya foreign affairs and security strategist.*