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Jakarta Post

One year in, Anies Baswedan still has much to prove

  • Fachrul Sidiq

    The Jakarta Post

Jakarta   /   Tue, October 16, 2018   /   09:09 am
One year in, Anies Baswedan still has much to prove Jakarta Governor Anies Baswedan during an interview with 'The Jakarta Post' at City Hall on March 14. (JP/Wienda Parwitasari)

Last year, Anies Baswedan started his job as Jakarta governor amid controversy. Shortly after being inaugurated on Oct. 16, 2017 by his former boss President Joko “Jokowi” Widodo, Anies sparked controversy with his racially infused speech in which he used the term pribumi (indigenous).

Many lambasted him given the sectarian tensions that had dogged the divisive 2017 Jakarta gubernatorial election. But he shrugged off the concerns and set out to convince the people of the city that he aimed for reconciliation and a united Jakarta. Under the “Move Forward” slogan, Anies, with former deputy governor Sandiaga Uno, laid out his priority programs in a list of 23 pledges he made on the campaign trail. One year in, he has checked several off the list, but questions remain as to how he will transform Jakarta for the better.

The former education minister gained praise from supporters for revoking reclamation permits for 13 man-made islets in the controversial project in Jakarta Bay as one of his pledges. He has also been lauded for repealing the business permit of the notorious Alexis hotel and providing shelters for residents of evicted Kampung Aquarium in North Jakarta. On Friday, he also launched 780 apartment units in Pondok Kelapa, East Jakarta, under his zero down-payment housing program, which will provide affordable housing for residents.

However, there has been little progress in addressing Jakarta’s perennial problems such as flooding, traffic gridlock, waste disposal and housing, experts say. 

Suryono Herlambang, an urban expert from Jakarta-based Tarumanegara University, said that while the first year of leadership was crucial in forecasting the direction of the city, what Anies had done so far had yet to reflect a vision to improve the city.

“There’s a certain pattern, in which regional heads use the first year of their leadership to capture people’s attention by creating something visible only rather than addressing the core problems,” Suryono told The Jakarta Post on Monday. “It would be concerning if what Anies did was all about political implications,” he added.

He pointed out that Anies had invested much time in addressing partial problems, like Tanah Abang market and traffic management, when he was supposed to address the bigger picture of street-vendor management in the city.

Anies, who frequently criticized his predecessor Basuki “Ahok” Tjahaja Purnama for the latter’s eviction policy, has failed to eliminate the practice, albeit greatly reducing it, under his leadership, according to data from the Jakarta Legal Aid Institute (LBH Jakarta).

Rita Padawangi, a senior lecturer at Singapore University of Social Sciences, praised the governor for keeping the promises to his constituents, particularly to groups such as the Network of Urban Poor (JRMK) and Jakarta Pedicab Driver Union (Sebaja), which made political agreements with him during the election. However, she added that Anies needed to do more to ensure a commitment to protecting the rights of the poor in the city. 

“I have yet to see a long-term vision to protect the city’s kampungs,” she said.

The Indonesian Democratic Party of Struggle (PDI-P) faction at the Jakarta Legislative Council slammed Anies for failing to fulfill his campaign promise to side with ordinary people, as the policies he had introduced had not benefited them.

The party pointed out that six of Anies flagship programs, OK OCE, OK OTrip, the zero down-payment housing scheme, river revitalization, pedicab operations and public service improvement, had all been backpedaled on with no significant progress.

The PDI-P said the OK OCE, a program aimed at creating at least 200,000 new entrepreneurs by 2022 had failed to reach a target. As of this month, only 1,811 business units have obtained permits. Similarly, only a small number of angkot (public mini van) operators have been integrated into the OK Otrip public transportation scheme, which has been rebranded as Jak Lingko. 

“The zero down-payment housing scheme is not targeting the poor but the middle class who earn at least Rp 4 million [US$263] monthly. So it won’t solve the city’s housing backlog,” PDI-P faction head Gembong Warsono said on Monday.

The Prosperous Justice Party (PKS), which backed Anies and Sandiaga along with the Gerindra Party, came to Anies’ defense saying that it would not be fair to judge Anies based only on his first year.

“It is important for a leader to fulfill their promises. I believe what he has achieved so far is the foundation for greater improvement in the future,” councilor Abdrrahman Suhaimi said. 

Anies did not make any statement on Monday regarding his first anniversary, which will fall on Tuesday.