The Jakarta Post
Jakarta Governor Joko 'Jokowi' Widodo has stressed that the lunch he hosted on Friday for city councilors at his official residence was just a friendly get-together. His deputy, Basuki 'Ahok' Tjahaja Purnama, however, could reap much from Jokowi's dining-table diplomacy as he was able to rebuild relations with the United Development Party (PPP) faction, which had previously boycotted two meetings with the deputy governor.
The governor, whose lunches have proven popular with people from low-income brackets, proved that the way to the hearts of city councilors, who are often at odds with his program, was through their stomachs.
'There is nothing special here, this is just a get-together and luncheon. There is no agenda whatsoever,' said the governor.
The City Council Speaker Ferrial Sofyan, however, insisted the legislators had not come merely for lunch but for a more serious purpose.
'While Pak Governor said there is no agenda at all, for our colleagues there are so many things to discuss,' said the politician. Ferrial also suggested a strategy for the governor, recommending that he simply say 'yes' to the councilors' ideas.
'Just say 'yes' Pak,' the speaker joked, as quoted by Kompas.com.
Dozens of councilors, including Ferrial and six members of the PPP faction, were treated to various traditional lamb dishes, such as satay, tengkleng and tongseng (lamb soup from Central Java), and refreshing desserts like iced cendol (rice flour droplets in iced sweetened coconut milk), in the lush garden at the rear of the house.
'The lamb satay was specially requested by the speaker,' the governor explained.
The guests enjoyed the garden party for about an hour before rain forced them indoors where they had afternoon tea.
Over the tea, Ahok expressed his gratitude to all of the councilors for their cooperation during his and the governor's first year in office.
'Some people may think we don't get along but as you can see we are having fun today. There are no hard feelings,' he said.
Speaking to reporters, Ahok denied that the lunch was part of a political lobbying strategy by what Ahok described as the 'dynamic duo', referring to himself and Jokowi.
'This isn't lobbying. This is merely a hobby. I love to eat and we love garden parties,' Ahok said while enjoying his meal.
The relationship between the city's executive and legislature has been marred by a number of disputes over the past year, including when dozens of councilors threatened to use their interpellation rights to question the governor over his popular healthcare program for Jakarta residents earlier this year.
'We want to show that the city administration and councilors actually have a harmonious relationship. We're partners after all,' Jokowi said.
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