Fauzi the common enemy in race for city’s top post
The political temperature in the capital rose as the incumbent faced the open criticism of his five gubernatorial contenders at the opening of official election campaign period in Jakarta.
The race for the gubernatorial post got off to a heated start as candidates launched their official campaigns at the City Council on Sunday in Central Jakarta.
Gubernatorial candidates took turns speaking in front of city councilors, their supporters and the media’s eyes and ears, elaborating their visions, missions and programs for less than half-an-hour each.
Incumbent Governor Fauzi Bowo, who went first in delivering his presentation, wasted no time in marking his ground. “I am not the new guy in this room. I’ve been working with councilors in this room for years to develop Jakarta,” Fauzi said, which quickly summoned cheers from his supporters and louder boos from his rivals’ supporters.
Fauzi, who won support from the largest faction in the council — the Democratic Party — was repeatedly forced to pause as yells got louder only minutes into his speech.
His remark “Jakarta’s people are civil and therefore should act civil”, addressed to his hecklers, only added fuel to the fire.
Supporters of Hidayat Nur Wahid — the gubernatorial candidate supported by the Muslim-based Prosperous Justice Party (PKS), the second largest council faction — were among the loudest howlers. As security personnel attempted to restore order, a brief scuffle ensued, with Hidayat’s supporters shouting ‘Liar!’ “Enough (with you)!’ as Fauzi attempted to continue.
Other candidates made use of their time to take a few jabs at the governor.
Some roasted the incumbent on his sour relationship with his deputy Prijanto, who tendered his resignation only seven months before the gubernatorial election and 10 months before his end of term. The resignation was apparently the culmination of several years’ of a widening political rift between Fauzi and his deputy.
South Sumatra Governor Alex Noerdin — endorsed by the Golkar Party and the United Development Party (PPP), which control a total of 14 council seats — commented on the disharmony between Fauzi and Prijanto. “Leaders should be united and get along with each other. If I get elected, I will be in harmony with my deputy,” Alex said.
Independent candidate Faisal Basri took a swipe at the incumbent by sarcastically greeting Prijanto, who represented the city administration, as “Governor Prijanto”.
Other candidates joined in the rally of criticism against the incumbent. “Between 2004 and 2007, Jakarta saw more busway routes established than between 2007 and 2010,” Surakarta Mayor Joko “Jokowi” Widodo said, comparing Fauzi and his predecessor Sutiyoso.
Hidayat Nur Wahid said that in many parts of the city, it was so difficult for residents to access clean water that they wanted to move out. “They said they’d rather leave the city to get better water access,”
Later in the evening, all candidates participated in a public debate at the Gran Melia Hotel in South Jakarta. The debate, also broadcast live by a local television station, was divided into two sessions in which the candidates presented their visions and missions before continuing with a question-and-answer session from the debate’s three moderators.
The moderators were economic analyst Hendri Saparini, Indonesia Transportation Society (MTI) chairman Danang Parikesit and Indonesian Sciences Institute (LIPI) political analyst R. Siti Zuhro.
The official campaign period will last until July 7, with Jakarta’s second direct gubernatorial election slated for July 11.
The city General Elections Commission (KPU Jakarta) had announced that a total of 6,983,692 people will be eligible to cast their votes at 15,059 polling stations across the capital.