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EDITORIAL: Guarding Ahok’s legacy

  • EDITORIAL

    The Jakarta Post

Jakarta | Sun, May 14, 2017 | 07:35 am
EDITORIAL: Guarding Ahok’s legacy Bunches of balloons fill the front yard of City Hall in Jakarta on Monday (May 8, 2017). The balloons have been sent by supporters of outgoing Governor Basuki “Ahok” Tjahaja Purnama and Deputy Governor Djarot Saiful Hidayat as a token of gratitude for their time in office, as well as sympathy in the wake of their defeat in the recent election. (JP/Dhoni Setiawan)

Deputy Governor Djarot Saiful Hidayat, who was named acting governor of Jakarta after his boss Basuki “Ahok” Tjahaja Purnama was sent to jail on Tuesday for blasphemy, shoulders the tremendous burden of continuing the pair’s work throughout his remaining six months in office.

Djarot’s competence is being tested to ensure that the Ahok-Djarot governorship will leave a good legacy that will epitomize the impeccable job that earned them a good reputation: running a bare-knuckled, transparent anticorruption regime, providing more efficient public services, modernizing transportation systems and promoting cleanliness, to mention a few achievements.

Expediting projects started by Joko “Jokowi” Widodo, who was elected Jakarta governor with Ahok as his deputy in 2012, will not only lighten the load of incoming governor Anies Baswedan but, more importantly, will ensure the Ahok-Djarot legacy.

After seeing Ahok at the Cipinang detention house late on Tuesday, Djarot assured a sea of heartbroken supporters he would accelerate the major development programs as Ahok had cajoled him to do during their brief meeting that night.

Among the most urgent programs is the provision of low-cost apartments to house people displaced from their homes to make way for public development, the inauguration of the new Semanggi overpasses scheduled for Aug. 17 and the development of a new busway lane connecting Blok M in the south and Cileduk in the west.

Ahok also asked Djarot to anticipate price increases ahead of the Islamic Idul Fitri holiday in late June. Another pressing issue is the need to revise the 2017 budget together with the City Council.

Since part of the revised budget worth Rp 70 trillion will be implemented by the next governor following the transfer of office this October, naturally Anies must be involved in the drafting to ensure that the updated budgetary plans accommodate the programs he promised on the campaign trail.

Obviously, collaboration over drafting a budget will unlikely be easy amid lingering animosity between the supporters of Ahok and Anies. Ahok has rejected his rivals’ request to accommodate Anies’ programs in the upcoming revision of the 2017 provincial budget, apparently fearing this would complicate the drafting.

Ahok has harbored suspicion of the transitional team that Anies formed to prepare for a smooth transfer. The team aims to “harmonize” the incumbent’s budgetary plans with those of the governor-elect.

If there is anything the public should closely watch, it is a possibility of a conspiracy involving pay-offs to the political parties backing Ahok and Anies. Unscrupulous politicians may take advantage of Ahok’s absence.

A popular habit of Ahok and Djarot was to arrive at the office early to meet with people patiently waiting in line to air their grievances directly to them. This tradition began when Jokowi was governor.

Despite being incarcerated for a dubious crime, no doubt Ahok retains his popularity as a continuing stream of people from across the country shown by. Practically all by himself, Djarot now bears the responsibility of fiercely guarding the incumbent’s reputation that serves as a benchmark for other heads of government in Indonesia.

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