In­done­sia’s Joko needs to rise above the party fray

The China Post - - COMMENTARY -

In­done­sian Pres­i­dent Joko Wi­dodo’s plans to carry out re­forms and grow the econ­omy have suf­fered a set­back be­cause of in­ternecine party strife. The rift be­tween him and his In­done­sian Demo­cratic Party -Strug­gle (PDI-P) is ex­cru­ci­at­ing to watch. While a lead­er­ship strug­gle within op­po­si­tion Golkar puts into ques­tion its join­ing his rul­ing coali­tion.

At the heart of the mat­ter lies for­mer pres­i­dent Me­gawati Sukarnop­u­tri’s in­sis­tence that Joko is a “ser­vant of the party” she con­trols. The yoke of be­ing a “pup­pet pres­i­dent” has dogged both Joko’s can­di­dacy and pres­i­dency to the ex­tent that he had to as­sert again that “the pres­i­dent has to serve the peo­ple.” This is, of course, his duty and it is in car­ry­ing it out stead­fastly that he serves the party -- by bur­nish­ing its po­lit­i­cal cred­i­bil­ity, rather than re­in­forc­ing no­tions of short­sighted and self-serv­ing agen­das as­so­ci­ated with the par­ties.

Joko was put in a need­lessly dif­fi­cult po­si­tion over Me­gawati’s choice of her for­mer body­guard for the post of na­tional po­lice chief. This proved to be un­pop­u­lar with the public as the can­di­date was un­der in­ves­ti­ga­tion for cor­rup­tion. It might not have come to that had Joko been the leader of his party and been free to ex­er­cise his judg­ment in the larger public in­ter­est.

Me­gawati is right to point out that he was not elected as an in­de­pen­dent. Nei­ther was he cho­sen to merely bend to a party’s will. His task is to shape poli­cies and prin­ci­ples for the bet­ter­ment of all In­done­sians. It would be also in the party’s in­ter­est to en­dorse the re­sults of his ef­forts rather than to be at odds with the Pres­i­dent in such a testy fash­ion.

‘Go­ing tougher’

Joko has man­aged thus far to gain sup­port in Par­lia­ment, in­clud­ing that of the op­po­si­tion, in push­ing through poli­cies such as cuts in fuel sub­si­dies and the na­tional Bud­get to re­duce deficits and free up funds for much-needed eco­nomic pro­grammes such as in­fra­struc­ture build­ing. But he will find the go­ing tougher if his hands are tied by In­done­sia’s frac­tious party pol­i­tics. Un­for­tu­nately, he also can­not count on a sound work­ing re­la­tion­ship with the largest op­po­si­tion party, given the power strug­gle within Golkar. Other op­tions like leav­ing PDI-P to form a po­lit­i­cal party are fraught with dif­fi­culty as well.

Ul­ti­mately, strong public sup­port will re­main Joko’s trump card as he presses on with re­forms while keep­ing an eye on risks that “arise mainly from a deeper-than-ex­pected slow­down in emerg­ing mar­ket trad­ing part­ners and surges in global fi­nan­cial mar­ket volatil­ity,” as the In­ter­na­tional Mon­e­tary Fund noted last month. To lead In­done­sia for­ward. Joko will need to rise above the fray of do­mes­tic party pol­i­tics. This is an ed­i­to­rial pub­lished by The Strait Times on April, 16th

Newspapers in English

Newspapers from Taiwan

© PressReader. All rights reserved.