For the umpteenth time Yogyakarta Mayor , 55, is to receive an award for his outstanding achievement as chief of municipal public servants, as he prefers to call himself, the 2010 Bung Hatta Anti Corruption Award (BHACA).
Scheduled to be handed over on Thursday, the same award will also be presented to Surakarta Mayor Joko Widodo. The awards honor public servants for their integrity and leadership in creating transparency in their respective administration.
Under the leadership of , for example, Yogyakarta municipal administration has been considered successful in improving public services by establishing a one-stop service center, cutting down unnecessary red tape and eliminating illegal levies.
“I’m very grateful and honored to be personally nominated as a BHACA recipient,” Herry wrote in an email sent to the award’s selection committee recently.
In his email, Herry also suggested the panel of judges give the award to all employees at the Yogyakarta administration instead, as a collective that has been carrying out administrative reforms to create a good and clean municipal administration.
“Whatever achievement the Yogyakarta municipal administration has made, it is not just the result of my own thinking and efforts,” he stated.
Without support from all of the employees at the municipal administration as well as their sacrifices, none of these achievements would have been possible, he added.
A former entrepreneur — he owns the Margaria Batik chain stores in Yogyakarta, Herry is well known for his breakthroughs as a Yogyakarta mayor, a post he has held since 2001. He is now serving his second term after being re-elected in 2006.
Under his leadership, the administration has won hundreds of awards both at the provincial and national levels, ranging from education, health, investment and environment to public service sectors.
“For me, awards just confirm we are on the right track. I am aware there are many things that still need to be improved,” he told The Jakarta Post.
One of Herry’s most outstanding breakthroughs is the creation of the municipal Licensing Agency in 2005 that serves as a one-stop service center simplifying licensing for investors. It was the first and so far remains one of only two such agencies in Indonesia.
It was because of the existence of such agency that Yogyakarta was named the country’s most investor-friendly city in December last year by the World Bank Group’s International Finance Corporation (IFC).
“I was inspired by the one-stop service unit that was previously there,” Herry said about how he came with the idea of creating the new agency.
Only at that time, he added, licensing services still came under the agencies overseeing the respective fields of the proposed licenses.
With the establishment of the new agency, he said, all the licensing activities carried out under different agencies in the municipal administration were transferred to the new Licensing Agency.
That way, he said, it is also easier for him to evaluate the performance of all the agencies under his administration, as each of them can focus on the core activities they oversee without being burdened by licensing matters.
“Licensing is no longer considered as a side activity for different agencies because there is now a special agency specifically tasked with licensing,” said Herry, an alumnus of Gadjah Mada University’s School of Economy.
Given his background as a businessman, he said, he had long been obsessed with simplifying the licensing process in his administration.
“I experienced the frightening process of applying for a license. I didn’t want the people of Yogyakarta to undergo the same painful experience. I want them to know that obtaining license is easy, cheap, fast and affordable here now.”
Asked about what he wanted to achieve as a mayor, Herry said his ultimate goal was to engage his people and see them participate. “Development is nonsense without the people’s participation.”
By creating good governance, he added, people will see that the municipal administration deserves their participation and support.
“As long as we fail to create a transparent, accountable administration, we will never win the people’s trust. Without such trust the energy we need to develop the city will be much greater while the outcome will be smaller.”
Herry also pointed out the city administration’s accomplishments, which include a pledge to make Yogyakarta a city with a cultural, tourist and environmental edge, were basically aimed at making Yogyakarta a great place to live in.
“If you want to see Yogyakarta, don’t just go to Malioboro or the city’s other main streets. Look around the villages, as they show the real Yogyakarta life, not the artificial one,” said Herry, who once received award for successfully managing urban slums.
Herry’s biggest challenge when it comes to making Yogyakarta a great place to live in is instilling values of independence, cleanness, hard work and of public order into the minds of people and the values of serving into the minds of administrators. He said he did so by holding dialogues.
By creating a dialogue with street vendors, he was able to relocate hundreds of them to a newly built market that was later named Pasar Klithikan, or market for second-hand goods, a few years ago.
He also successfully moved the slum Ngasem bird market downtown to a new bird market built on the outskirts of Yogyakarta earlier this year.
So what is his recipe for success? “I like listening to many people,” Herry said.
It is also for that reason he has opened many channels of communication for people to communicate with him. “You can use SMS, phone calls, Facebook, email or even an interactive radio program to get in touch with me.”
He spends most of his time engaging in conversations with his constituents and meeting them. “Many of my ideas are inspired by listening to many people.”