Farewell, trio of trailblazers!
When Anies Baswedan is inaugurated as the new Jakarta governor for the next five years on Monday, Jakartans, especially, will miss three illustrious governors who reshaped the capital city over the turbulent past five years: Joko “Jokowi” Widodo, Basuki “Ahok” Tjahaja Purnama and Djarot Syaiful Hidayat.
Having three governors in the span of five years with lots of legacies, despite many unfinished jobs and lingering controversies, will be fondly remembered for many, many years to come. The trio has laid the foundation for accountable government, a meritocratic system and a more livable Jakarta.
After winning the 2012 gubernatorial election on the “new Jakarta” promise, Jokowi and his deputy Ahok took Jakarta by storm with their “revolutionary” meritocratic system in a bid to reform an inefficient bureaucracy perceived as corrupt. Another signature program is the “Jakarta smart card” scheme to help the poor with access to education and the “Jakarta health card” to give the poor free access to health care. Jokowi’s most daring mission was to revive the development of the MRT, which his predecessors had initiated but ground to a halt, due mainly to unresolved budgetary constraints.
Evictions of state land encroachers to make way for the revitalization of the city’s notoriously dirty rivers and lakes have met fierce resistance until today, although it is hard to deny that the initiative has remarkably improved the environment. Widespread inundation that would cripple Jakarta streets and residential areas has been significantly reduced in recent years, thanks to well-maintained waterways and gutters.
After Jokowi ascended to the presidency in 2014, his works were continued by Ahok, who was rejected by hardline Muslims simply for being a Christian and of Chinese descent. He signature schemes include integrated public services, e-budgeting and e-government systems — all meant to minimize corruption. He also started the construction of the light rail transit (LRT) system.
His legendary tendency to pick a fight with his political foes exposed the acute corruption that plagued the city administration and city council. In 2015, Ahok set Indonesia on fire when he revealed that city councilors had secretly added projects worth Rp 12 trillion to the provincial budget. It is a shame that his epic run came to a halt when he was sent to jail for blasphemy.
But his deputy and successor, Djarot, who led for the remaining six months before the five-year mandate comes to a close, proved that Ahok’s absence did not mean the end of the world. Djarot has raced against time to expedite the projects Jokowi and Ahok had started. He can lay claim to the successful completion of major works, like 100 child-friendly public spaces (RPTRA), the Semanggi Interchange and the renovation of the Monas (National Monument) area.
There are numerous jobs that the trio has failed to complete, as Djarot hands over the helm to Anies: The revitalization of the Ciliwung River, the MRT system, electronic road pricing and the desalination of seawater in Thousand Islands — just to name a few.
Jokowi, Ahok and Djarot have led Anies the way to transform Jakarta into a more livable megacity. Thank you, gentlemen!