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Out-of-towners: Gubernatorial candidates Joko “Jokowi” Widodo (left) and running mate Basuki “Ahok” Tjahja Purnama pose for the media on Tuesday in front the Jakarta General Elections Commission (KPUD) office in their trademark checkered shirts. JP/P.J. LeoWhen Surakarta (Solo) mayor Joko “Jokowi” Widodo emerged as one of the candidates for Jakarta’s next governor, incumbent Governor Fauzi Bowo was quick to label him an out-of-towner who knew too little about the capital.
But the eccentric mayor seems to have charmed many Jakartans, most of whom are migrants, who want a drastic change in the way the city of 10 million is managed. Though doubts linger over whether the mayor can deal with Jakarta’s myriad problems, several surveys have placed him as the strongest candidate besides Governor Fauzi.
A survey conducted by the Indonesian Survey Circle (LSI) shows that 20.9 percent of the survey’s 440 respondents would vote for Jokowi and his running mate, Basuki “Ahok” Tjahja Purnama. The LSI found that Jokowi was the only candidate whose popularity had increased. In the previous LSI survey, his electability was only 17 percent.
In comparison, the same survey found that incumbent Governor Fauzi Bowo’s popularity has slipped by 5.7 percent to 43.3 percent.
Jokowi, 51, is quite possibly the most popular mayor in the country.
He rose to fame in the capital when he promoted the Esemka car, an SUV assembled by students from a vocational school in his mayoralty, by using it as his official car.
The move drew criticism from senior officials in Jakarta, who prefer using luxury cars produced by foreign firms, with some of them dismissing his controversial move as nothing but a publicity stunt.
People in Surakarta, however, mostly have a positive view of their mayor. They initially doubted his ability to lead Surakarta as he was known as an antiques trader and had no experience in politics, but he went on to prove his critics wrong.
He has been commended for his success in relocating street vendors without using coercion by deploying members of the Public Order Agency (Satpol PP), as many regents and mayors do.
Jokowi held discussions with the vendors 54 times before eventually they agreed to be relocated. Jokowi has also revitalized an abandoned city park and established pedestrian walkways in Surakarta.
Jokowi became even more popular when he rejected the establishment of a mall that had already been approved by Central Java’s governor. The public considered his move as public-oriented policy. However, the incident only worsened the relationship between the two officials.
In 2006, he made Surakarta a member of the Organization of World Heritage Cities (OWHC) in order to preserve its historic culture. He has received many awards, including the 2010 Bung Hatta Anti-corruption Award; the 2011 Charta Politica Award; and the e-Government Indonesia Award in 2012 for using technology to better serve the public.
Jokowi is now the sole remaining Indonesian nominee for the World Mayor Prize, an award organized by the City Mayors’ Foundation.
When asked why he wanted to join the race for Jakarta governor, Jokowi said, “People must not always be at the bottom, they need to rise to the next level. If you are a colonel, you are supposed to struggle to be a lieutenant. You have to.”
Like Jokowi, his running mate, Ahok, 45, had been a businessman before entering politics.
Reputedly, Ahok is the main factor that could allow Jokowi to run for Jakarta governor. Prabowo Subianto, chief patron of the Great Indonesia Movement Party (Gerindra), proposed Ahok as a deputy governor candidate to the Indonesian Democratic Party of Struggle (PDI-P) as long as Jokowi was the gubernatorial candidate.
The PDI-P has 11 seats on Jakarta’s City Council, four short of the 15 needed to propose a gubernatorial candidate, while Gerindra only has six seats. Hence, the PDI-P and Gerindra formed a coalition to propose a pair of candidates.
Ahok, who never thought he would become a politician, began his political career in his hometown of East Belitung, Bangka Belitung.
He said he was inspired by his father’s dying words: “If you want to help others, you have to be a public official so you can make a massive change rather than being a businessman, who can only help one or two people.”
Ahok entered the race to become a Regional Legislative Council member in 2004. One year after being elected, he competed to become a regent in the same region.
Being both Chinese and Christian did not serve as a stumbling block to Ahok winning. He won in a region where more than 90 percent of the population are Muslim.
When he served as a regent, Ahok made some breakthroughs. He started by making education free for all students at elementary-, junior- and high-school levels. He also sent high-achieving students to continue their studies at universities in Jakarta and Bangka Belitung.
In leading East Belitung, Ahok, who was famous for being strict, cut the bureaucratic system by directly talking to community leaders to better understand the grass-root issues.
Ahok led East Belitung for one year only. He pushed his luck by running for Bangka Belitung governor in 2007, and failed. In the same year, however, he was named an anti-graft champion by the Administrative Reforms Ministry, the Indonesian Chamber of Commerce and Industry (KADIN) and the Indonesian Transparency Society (MTI).
In 2009, he became a member of the House of Representatives from the Golkar Party.
Both Jokowi and Ahok were successful in their hometowns but it is up to Jakarta’s voters to decide if they can handle the chronic problems plaguing the capital. (cor)
Joko Widodo (Jokowi)
• Place and date of birth: Surakarta, June 21, 1961
• Current occupation: Surakarta Mayor, Central Java (2005-2015)
• Address: Jl. Slamet Riyadi No. 261, Surakarta, Central Java
• SDN 111 Tirtoyoso Solo Elementary School
• SMPN1 Solo Junior High School
• SMAN 6 Solo Senior High School
• Faculty of Forestry at Gadjah Mada University (1985)
• Founder of a small manufacturing industry cooperation in Solo (1990)
• Head of the Energy and Mining Division at the Surakarta chapter of the Chamber of Commerce and Industry (1992-1996)
• Chairman of the Association of Indonesian Furniture and Handicraft Industry in Surakarta (2002-2007)
• Wife: Iriana
• Children: Gibran Rakabuming, Kahiyang Ayu and Kaesang Pangarep
Basuki Tjahja Purnama (Zhong Wan Xie/Ahok)
• Place and date of birth: Manggar, East Belitung, June 29, 1966
• Current occupation: Member of the House of Representatives Commission II on domestic governance, regional autonomy, state apparatuses and agrarian affairs (He tendered his resignation following his nomination for the Jakarta election)
• Address: Jl. KA. Bujang No. 22, Gantung, Belitung Timur, Bangka Belitung
• Jl. Muara Karang Blok P 8 Utara No. 27 Pluit, North Jakarta
• SDN No. 3, Gantung (1977)
• SMPN No. 1, Gantung (1981)
• SMA III PSKD, Jakarta (1984)
• Bachelor’s Degree from Trisakti University Jakarta, majoring in Geology (1990)
• Master’s Degree from Sekolah Tinggi Manajemen Prasetya Mulya, Jakarta (1994)
• Director of PT. Nurindra Ekapersada (1992-2005)
• Assistant to president director in the finance division of PT. Simaxindo Primadaya (1994-1995)
• Member of the Regional Legislative Council in East Belitung regency (2005-2006)
• Regent of East Belitung (2005-2006)
• Wife: Veronica, ST
• Children: Nicholas (14 years), Nathania (11 years), Daud Albeenner (6 years)