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South Sumatra Governor Alex Noerdin, who has been nominated by the Golkar Party as candidate for Jakarta governor, is not a typical Indonesian politician.
The country has been known for producing talk-more-do-less politicians, but they do not include Alex, a leader who is known as a “man of his word” back in his hometown.
As a politician, the 61-year-old is used to mockery, including that of well-educated Jakartans about his campaign slogan “Tiga tahun bisa!” (it can be done in three years!) in which he promises to solve Jakarta’s chronic traffic and flooding problems within three years.
When campaigning to become regent of Musi Banyuasin, at the time one of the least developed areas of South Sumatra, Alex promised to provide free public healthcare and education services to the poor, a promise that was greeted with derision by other politicians.
Yet when Alex eventually won the election and took office as Musi Banyuasin regent, he not only managed to fulfill his seemingly unrealistic campaign promises, but also led an “economic revolution” in the regency by building much-needed infrastructure, such as roads, community health centers, schools and sports facilities.
By the time Alex ended his tenure as regent in 2008, Musi Banyuasin’s regional budget was more than
Rp 1.2 trillion (US$127.2 million), a significant rise from the Rp 300 billion when he first took office in 2001.
After a highly-acclaimed stint at Musi Banyuasin, Alex tried his luck at becoming South Sumatra governor and made an identical campaign promise — free healthcare for South Sumatra’s poor.
Again, he managed to prove that his campaign promises were more than lip service. So successful was his healthcare program in South Sumatra that the then health minister Siti Fadilah Supari labeled him as “a governor who should be an example to all governors in Indonesia”.
Nevertheless, his political career is not unblemished, in spite of his dazzling achievements in Musi Banyuasin and South Sumatra.
His name cropped up in the trial of Mindo Rosalina Manulang, a former staffer of high-profile corruption convict Muhammad Nazaruddin, in the Jakarta Anti-corruption Court. The case’s indictment read that Alex, whose province hosted last year’s SEA Games, allegedly requested a 2.5 percent “commitment fee” for the Rp 191 billion project to develop the Jakabaring sports complex in Palembang.
In addition, an audit conducted last year by the Supreme Audit Agency (BPK) found that grants worth Rp 45.3 trillion from the Indonesian Sports Council (KONI) for South Sumatra’s SEA Games “could not be accounted for”.
Alex has repeatedly denied allegations of corruption during his leadership of South Sumatra.
Within Golkar Alex’s nomination came as a surprise to many. Priya Ramadhani, an in-law of the party’s chairman Aburizal Bakrie, and Tantowi Yahya, a television host turned lawmaker who is highly popular in the capital due to his celebrity status, were considered favorites for the nomination.
Sources say that Golkar, rumored to be in austerity mode because of financial woes surrounding Aburizal-affiliated businesses, turned to the Palembang-born governor because of his personal wealth, valued this year at Rp 19.69 billion.
Alex and Aburizal reportedly struck a deal, in which the former agreed not to use the party’s money to finance his campaign for Jakarta governor.
The reports were denied by Ade Komaruddin, a Golkar executive who heads Alex’s campaign team. Ade, however, admitted that Alex’s wealth was one of the reasons behind his party’s decision to nominate him. “But [Alex’s wealth] was not the major reason we nominated him; our coalition of parties also preferred him to Pak Priya or to Pak Tantowi,” he told The Jakarta Post recently.
Apart from Golkar, Alex and his running mate Lt. Gen. (ret) Nono Sampono were also nominated by the United Development Party (PPP) and the Prosperous Peace Party (PDS). The three parties hold 18 of the 94 seats in the City Council.
The nomination of Nono, who has held prestigious positions in the military such as the chief of the National Search and Rescue Agency (Basarnas) and chief of the Presidential Security Force (Paspampres), sparked a rift within the Islamic-based PPP.
Some in the party preferred PPP politician Lulung Lunggana, reputedly a former Tanah Abang gang leader, as their vice-governor hopeful. PPP members questioned Nono’s loyalty as he had already tried to become the capital’s governor through other parties.
In a fit-and-proper test held by the Indonesian Democratic Party of Struggle (PDI-P), Nono competed against Surakarta Mayor Joko “Jokowi” Widodo, who eventually went on to win that party’s nomination. He admitted to the media that he had also lodged applications to the National Mandate Party (PAN) and the PDS.
Alex faces an uphill battle in trying to bring his hometown success to Jakarta, the country’s most populous province, which is seen as posing totally different challenges compared to South Sumatra.
Various surveys describe Alex and Nono as long shots in the election citing their single-digit electability that indicates they have little chance of making it to the second round. (sat)
Place/date of birth: Palembang, Sept. 9, 1950
Current occupation: Governor of South Sumatra
• Graduate of Trisakti University School of Industrial Engineering (1980)
• Graduate of Atmajaya University School of Law (1981)
• Head of Palembang Municipality Tourism Agency (1990-1994)
• Head of Palembang Municipality City Planning Agency (1994-1998)
• Head of South Sumatra provincial administration Tourism Agency (1998-1999)
• Regional Secretary of Musi Banyuasin (1999-2001)
• Regent of Musi Banyuasin (2001-2008)
• Governor of South Sumatra (2008-2013)
Wife: Sri Eliza
Children: Dodi Reza Alex, Deni Akendra Alex, Luri Elza Alex
Place and date of birth: Madura, March 1, 1953
Current status: Retired Navy lieutenant general
• Graduated from the Naval Academy (1976)
• Hangtuah University School of Fisheries, bachelors in fisheries studies (2003)
• Bogor Institute of Agriculture (IPB), master’s in marine engineering (2007)
• Chief of the Presidential Security Force (Paspampres)
• Commander of the Naval Academy
• Commander of the Marines Corps
• Commander of the Indonesian Military (TNI) Academy
• Chief of the National Search and Rescue Agency (Basarnas) (2011-2012)
Wife: Norma Riana
Children: Taufik Bagus Moerdianto, Sheila Destaria Moerdianti, Agustini Moerdiana