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Jakarta Post

Civil servants discouraged by Ahok'€™s iron fist

  • Dewanti A. Wardhani

    The Jakarta Post

Jakarta   /   Fri, October 2, 2015   /  06:20 pm

'€œPeople don'€™t resist change. They resist being changed!'€ said American systems scientist and senior lecturer at the MIT Sloan School of Management, Peter Senge. His words described well the situation of civil servants currently working at the Jakarta administration under the leadership of Governor Basuki '€œAhok'€ Tjahaja Purnama.

Ahok, who took office last November, has constantly attempted to carry out bureaucratic reforms in his administration.

His first move was to get rid of officials who, in his eyes, were mediocre or underperforming. Civil servants in Jakarta are now rotated at least every two months.

Ahok'€™s moves, however, have created uneasiness among his subordinates.

One civil servant, who requested anonymity, said the governor'€™s policies to achieve bureaucratic reform were often random and not based on clear standards.

'€œWe fully understand that the governor aims to improve services at the Jakarta administration [...] However, we feel that his ways to achieve that goal are not correct,'€ the civil servant told The Jakarta Post on Friday.

The staff member, who has served at the administration for five years, said he and his colleagues could not meet Ahok'€™s standards and were concerned about the future of their careers. He argued that Ahok did not have clear standards on who would face demotion and promotion.

'€œWe have no idea on the criteria for a civil servant to be demoted. No matter how hard we work, there is always a chance that we could face demotion,'€ he said.

He added that many of his colleagues were demotivated and discouraged by the governor'€™s policies and chose to not work as hard as before.

'€œIf the city administration is a train, Pak Ahok is the locomotive and bureaucracy is the carriages. If the carriages cannot follow the locomotive'€™s speed, then the train won'€™t work. The city administration cannot carry out its programs,'€ he said.

Ahok has implemented several improvements in his administration, such as holding open recruitment for middle-ranking officials, including for subdistrict heads and school principals, and increasing civil servants'€™ salaries to prevent rampant corruption.

Yogyakarta-based Gadjah Mada University public policy expert Wahyudi Kumorotomo said the Jakarta administration'€™s current dynamics might cause instability. He said that it was important to maintain stability in order to ensure the sustainability of policies and services.

'€œThe constant reshuffling of city officials may have negative effects on civil servants. They will feel uneasy and nervous, and this will negatively affect their performance,'€ he told the Post over the phone on Thursday.

He added that the administration'€™s new allowance system was still improper as it was position-oriented as opposed to performance-oriented. As stipulated in Gubernatorial Regulation No. 193/2015 on regional performance allowances, the higher a civil servant'€™s position is, the higher the monthly allowance they will receive.

'€œThe amount of allowance should be determined by the level of difficulty of a position. For example, a non-echelon staff member who works as a public service officer should receive higher allowances compared to their superior who signs papers behind a desk,'€ Wahyudi said.

Ahok acknowledged that many civil servants would be demoted, but argued that hardworking staff members would encouraged to work even harder. He admitted that he had wrongly demoted officials more than once, but said he would rathefr wrongly demote an official than keep the wrong person in the wrong job.

The reform efforts have received a warm welcome from Jakartans.

Resident Noriko Adhyanti praised the services at the Rawamangun One-Stop Integrated Services Agency (BPTSP) in East Jakarta, where she renewed her identity card last month.

'€œI used to view public services in the Jakarta administration negatively. I thought that there would be many middlemen and that the officers would ask for illegal fees. To my surprise, the office provided good and quick services and the officers were friendly,'€ Noriko said.

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