GLOBE ASIA January 2014Published by BeritaSatu Media Holdings
GlobeAsia defines its Man of the Year as the person who is likely to exert the greatest influence on the nation in 2014. We closed 2013 with our 50 Most Influential List of individuals who made an impact last year, but in this issue we shift our focus to what lies ahead.
There is no escaping the fact that 2014 will very much revolve around politics. Indonesians will go to the polls to elect their new president as well as the next parliament. And given the number of scandals and corruption cases leveled against politicians and government officials in 2013, Indonesians will be looking for honesty, integrity and transparency in their new elected leaders
It can be argued that faith and trust in elected leaders is at an all-time low. The government seems rudderless and unwilling to make hard decisions. That can only be expected given that no politician wants to make unpopular decisions so close to an election.
That is exactly why Jakarta Governor Joko Widodo is unique and different. Not only is he pushing ahead with some unpopular decisions, such as relocating squatters from river banks into low-cost housing, he has made it publicly plain that he is against the central government’s plan to introduce low-cost cars given the traffic gridlock in Jakarta and other major cities
It is not often that elected politicians speak the plain truth and are unafraid to make some tough choices. We need leaders who are not merely populist but effective and willing to do the necessary even if it means raising the public ire. Most importantly, elected leaders must represent all Indonesians, not just the majority.
Indonesia is today under threat from various directions. We have a vibrant democracy but it risks running amok with the rule of law being sidelined. We have an economy that is still buoyant but risks being sidetracked by runaway consumption in place of investments in infrastructure and industry.
The country is crying out for leadership. Jokowi, as the governor is affectionately referred to, is best placed to provide it. A humble man, he is not afraid to take on powerful vested interests. He has stood up against goons in religious robes and kick-started the long-delayed mass transportation system. He has cleared the streets of illegal parking and warned public bus owners to obey traffic rules.
The bottom line is that he has brought a sense of order back to Jakarta by standing firm and using his persuasive powers to convince citizens to follow his lead. In a short span of time, he has achieved much, which is why the calls for him to run for the presidency are growing louder. Whether or not he will run is inconsequential because in an era where politicians are happy to just talk, Jokowi has demonstrated that he is unafraid to act.
He will therefore cast a large shadow over Jakarta and the nation in the coming year as governor of Jakarta and possibly as the next president of Indonesia.