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Jakarta Post

Living under two suns

  • Editorial Board

    The Jakarta Post

Jakarta   /   Wed, August 1, 2018   /   08:15 am
Living under two suns President Joko "Jokowi" Widodo (right) is talking to Jakarta Governor Anies Baswedan in the Becakayu toll road sections 1B and 1C, Jakarta, Nov. 3, 2017. (Antara/Rosa Panggabean)

Walking under the ruthless, scorching sun along a treeless street in Jakarta during the dry season is already painful. We cannot imagine the level of destruction if two suns shine down on the capital city.

While the Earth rotates around one sun, Jakarta citizens are starting to feel the brunt of living under matahari kembar (twin suns) — two leaders who rule Jakarta as an autonomous province and as the seat of national government. 

President Joko “Jokowi” Widodo, who was elected in 2014 after serving as Jakarta governor for two years, leads the country from Jakarta. Governor Anies Baswedan took office last October following a bitterly contested election he won over Jokowi’s ally, Basuki “Ahok” Tjahaja Purnama, and has since exercised his power to fulfill his campaign promises.

Since Anies decided to contest the gubernatorial election, we already anticipated that his ascendancy to the Jakarta office would constitute a political mismatch due to the silent animosity between him and President Jokowi. The two were close friends during the 2014 presidential election campaign until Jokowi dismissed Anies as the education minister in 2016, reportedly without any clear reasons.

Jokowi and Anies have met in public several times and appeared as if nothing was wrong with their relationship. But several recent events indicate they have yet to come to terms with each other. 

In mid-February this year, event organizers prevented Governor Anies from accompanying President Jokowi, who was presenting the President Cup trophy. The organizers later apologized for the mistake, only after a war of words related to the incident dominated social media.

New controversies have arisen as Jakarta is gearing up for the Asian Games, which kicks off on Aug. 18, but the city is far from ready to welcome guests from 45 countries across the continent. Seeing the Jakarta administration’s decision to cover up the smelly, garbage-filled Sentiong River across from the athletes village in Kemayoran, Central Jakarta, as failing to be a solution, the Public Works and Housing Ministry provided 28 portable pumps to divert the flow of the murky river to the Sunter River nearby in a bid to reduce the foul odor.

Earlier, the ministry decided to speed up the work on roads and sidewalks on Jakarta’s thoroughfare of Jl. Sudirman.

The central government’s apparent intervention in Jakarta affairs climaxed when the State Civilian Bureaucracy Commission announced its recommendation that Anies reinstate 16 Jakarta officials, including five mayors and a regent, who he had dismissed. The commission said the replacement did not follow procedures. Anies, unsurprisingly, was angry with the move, which he said was politically motivated.

It’s safe to say there is a gap between Jokowi and Anies and they share the responsibility to improve their communication, putting the well-being of the public behind their egos. Their continuing feud will only do more harm than good. Perhaps the public is eagerly waiting until Aug. 10 to know whether they will finally fight head-on in the upcoming presidential election, but such ambitions should not sacrifice the people.