Jokowi rid­ing high

The Phnom Penh Post - - OPINION -

THE lat­est opinion poll shows al­most 51 per­cent of 1,000 In­done­sian re­spon­dents sup­port the vlog­ging (video blog­ging) President Joko “Jokowi” Wi­dodo and his Cab­i­net, even though over 40 per­cent of the re­spon­dents say their house­hold econ­omy has re­mained stag­nant in the past five years.

Jokowi’s pop­u­lar­ity is higher com­pared to the first poll re­sults of 2015 and last year, de­spite con­tro­ver­sial poli­cies such as the power to dis­band mass or­gan­i­sa­tions, and de­spite al­most 28 per­cent of re­spon­dents rank­ing “steep prices of ba­sic needs” as their main con­cern. How­ever, re­searchers at the Cen­tre for Strate­gic and In­ter­na­tional Stud­ies (CSIS) said Jokowi should be wary of his rat­ings po­ten­tially fall­ing un­der 50 per­cent as he eyes a sec­ond term.

In­ter­viewed in the last week of Au­gust, al­most 78 per­cent of re­spon­dents ex­pressed op­ti­mism over “the gov­ern­ment’s abil­ity to in­crease wel­fare”. This was con­sis­tent with over 83 per­cent say­ing they were up­beat about the gov­ern­ment’s abil­ity to de­velop in­fra­struc­ture, which Jokowi has re­it­er­ated is a top pri­or­ity; and al­most 78 per­cent were con­vinced about the gov­ern­ment’s mar­itime poli­cies.

The an­nual post-Ra­mad­han fes­ti­val, which fell in June, is usu­ally a source of gripes over hiked prices and trans­porta­tion woes. But in­fla­tion was steady and home­bound trav­ellers saw im­proved high­ways, com­pared to last year’s dis­as­trous con­ges­tion, which re­sulted in sev­eral deaths.

Since his days as Su­rakarta mayor in Cen­tral Java, Jokowi has es­poused can- did­ness and sim­plic­ity. His me­dia savvi­ness boosts his like­abil­ity. Fur­ther, though ear­lier dis­missed as a green­horn to Jakarta pol­i­tics, Jokowi has strad­dled po­lit­i­cal party lines, al­beit with crum­bling cred­i­bil­ity.

He has brushed off al­le­ga­tions of be­ing a dic­ta­tor – re­spon­dents mostly marked him as “demo­cratic”. How­ever, over 70 per­cent pro­fessed ig­no­rance about the gov­ern­ment’s power to dis­band mass or­gan­i­sa­tions with­out due process, and al­most 57 per­cent were un­aware that the gov­ern­ment has dis­banded Hizbut Tahrir In­done­sia (HTI), which cam­paigns for an Is­lamic state.

If most peo­ple are fawn­ing over the president with lim­ited ex­po­sure to di­verse sources of in­for­ma­tion, the sur­vey re­sults con­firm the dire need to strengthen checks and bal­ances. If the

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