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Jokowi and Presidency

It has been a week since the Indonesian Democratic Party of Struggle (PDIP) announced that instead of nominating its chairperson as it used to do, the party would endorse its most famous member, Jakarta Governor Joko ‘Jokowi’ Widodo, as a presidential candidate in the upcoming election.

Public is split into two: those who support the nomination and who are against it.

The supporters deem that Jokowi, who won the second runner up in the 2012 World Mayor Prize, needs to join the race to reach the nation’s top office because he represents a fresh figure and a young leader. Public also deem him worthy enough to grace all people of Indonesia with his humble characteristic, a rare trait among many nation’s contemporary political elites.

However, Jokowi's participation is met with lots of criticisms. Jokowi, who was elected as the Jakarta Governor in 2012, still has three more years until the end of his term at the capital city. His participation in the gubernatorial race in 2012 also drew criticism because at that time he was just starting his second term as Surakarta mayor. This is where Jokowi would be most criticized at i.e. he never finishes his term.

But then, if not Jokowi, who else?

At first, I was among those who were against Jokowi’s presidential candidate nomination. I was among those who thought that the former Surakarta Mayor should finish his term at Jakarta. I was firmed that Jokowi’s time would be in 2019.

Nevertheless, as the election drew closer, I personally saw no potential leaders. We are in a crisis of future leaders. Nearly all young and potential leaders are involved in high profile corruption scandals (Anas Urbaningrum and Andi Malarangeng to name a few).

Public surveys in 2012 were dominated by old figures like retired Indonesian Army (TNI) General Wiranto, Bakrie group leader Abu Rizal Bakrie (who by the way is allegedly responsible for the Sidoarjo mud disaster), former military elites Prabowo and former president Megawati Soekarnoputri. Tailing them are names such as former vice president Jusuf Kalla, eccentric and controversial minister Dahlan Iskan and former chief of Constitutional Court Mahfud MD. Young and intelligent figures such as Dino Patti Jalal, who served as the Indonesian ambassador for United States, and Gita Wirjawan, former trade minister, also appear in such surveys although securing insignificant supports.  Among that long list of names, Prabowo, the chief patron of the Great Indonesian Movement Party (Gerindra) always finished at the top of the surveys in that year.

Prabowo’s popularity seemed unchallenged until public surveys started to include Jokowi as a potential presidential candidate. Throughout 2013, nearly all surveys on who should be the next president always placed Jokowi at the top place, dethroning Prabowo.

It seems that I really dislike Prabowo … the truth is yes … I am afraid of what this country will become shall he become a president.

During my career as a reporter throughout 2012, I frequently chatted with victims of human rights abuse. I heard stories of students and activists who were abducted and ‘forced to disappear.’ Their stories really stuck in my head. And Prabowo is allegedly involved in various human rights abuse during the New Order regime. Even though it is never been proven, I believe allegations, and strong ones, would not appear for no reasons. I, for whatever reasons, do not want to be led by a man who has bad reputations (and Prabowo is indeed notorious out there. Some countries including US and Australia blacklisted him until now for his allegations)

If not Jokowi, then Prabowo will win. That is why I change my mind. I support Jokowi’s ticket for presidency. I prefer to be led by Jokowi who, so far, does not really have bad records except for abandoning his post two times. What is worse can happen? If chosen as a president, Jokowi, like it or not, will have to finish his 5-year terms.

Jokowi, I believe, will draw so many criticisms from his contenders and haters. They, for example, started to say that Jokowi is only a puppet whose string is pulled by Megawati. They all argue that Megawati has not relinquished her presidential ambition.

Responding to this criticism, I will argue that it is up to the public to watch over Jokowi as well as Megawati shall he become the nation’s seventh president. People’s power as the history has narrated has been proven as the most effective way to watchdog the government. Public should remain critical to Jokowi as much loveable as he is. People should keep an eye on him so that, if chosen as a president, he will still be the same Jokowi as we all know: a humble leader who is known for his strictness and yet softer approach to embrace all classes of society.

Credit: Lucky2000, blogger Kompasiana


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