Some limited progress for Democracy in Indonesia
The guy on the left is Fauzi Bowo. Or more colloquially known as "Foke". The guy with the fat head giving him an awkward sideways hug is Nachowi Ramli, the Deputy Governor.
Fauzi Bowo has been the Governor of Jakarta since 2007, but yesterday he lost an election to another man who will be the new Governor of Jakarta. This is a good thing..
Indonesian politics is disappointingly bereft of substantial issues. There is very little big picture stuff. All candidates make acknowledgement of the most obvious problems and promise that they will be fixed yet a grand vision for the city is never presented to voters. Most voters don't hope for too much more than a city without problems. Yes but HOW will you create a city without floods, gridlocked traffic, a thick haze of pollution and increasing income inequality?
Such fundamental questions never get asked or answered.
However today there is some reason to be a little bit hopeful for Indonesian Democracy. Before the election nobody expected Fauzi Bowo to lose his position as Governor. The Indonesian political elite was clearly right behind Mr Fauzi. The powerful Golkar and National Democratic parties were both supporters of Mr Fauzi. Nobody in the chattering classes, from any of the national magazines of newspapers thought there was any change Fauzi would not win a second term.
Yet lo and behold, there was an upset. Fauzi Bowo is no longer Governor of Jakarta. He has been beaten by Joko Widodo, a wildly popular former furniture and property salesman turned city mayor from the central Java city of Solo. Whether or not Joki Widodo proves to be a good Governor of Jakarta remains to be seen. His ideas and plans for the future have not been well explained.
But Fauzi Bowo, the man that Jokowi has unseated as Governor, was clearly a big jerk and Jakarta is better off without him. Watch the following Youtube video. It shows Fauzi Bowo recently having a walk through a suburb of Jakarta recently destroyed by fires.
Fauzi asks someone, who has recently lost their home and perhaps all their worldly possessions to a fire, who will you vote for in the coming Gubernatorial elections? Me or Jokowi? The hapless Jakartan replies that he voted for Jokowi.
Fauzi replies "well in that case perhaps when you rebuild your house, you should build it in Solo rather than Jakarta"
What a scumbag thing to say to somebody who has just lost their home. Real leaders represent all the people. Not just the narrow sectional interests that put them there. Perhaps Indonesians are starting to realize this and discard Soeharto era rubbish like Fauzi Bowo.
Which brings me to another good reason why Joko Widodo will probably make a shit loads better Governor than Fauzi Bowo. Fauzi was a Soeharto man. Remnants of Soeharto's New Order have to slip away into the shadows of history post haste if Indonesia is to make any progress. These Soeharto era political figures are on the wrong side of history and the sooner Indonesia sweeps them away into the history books the better. Jokowi possibly represents real generational change. He is over 10 years younger than his predecessor but Jokowi is more than just generational change in a literal sense.
He was born into a poor family. Foke was born into a rich family. Jokowi has taken real political and personal risks in his life. He is a self made man who had to struggle in business in order to accumulate his wealth. Foke was born into it. Jokowi, from all accounts, has ruffled feathers in Solo and has come to power in Jakarta promising to make changes. Foke on the other hand has never taken a personal or political risk in his life. Or so it is easy to imagine.
In his student days he was a member off the Anti-Communist organisation at his University. How courageous! Picking on communists during the Soeharto regime! What brave inspiring politics!
So while the recent Gubernatorial elections in Jakarta might have been light on policy, the choice facing voters was stark enough. A spineless Soeharto man or somebody who represents actual generational change. God knows Jakarta needs somebody willing to take risks, make tough decisions and turn the city around. If you ask this expat, they made the right decision.