Articles

Fresh, independent faces on offer

By Wimar Witoelar
26 January 2012

 

Dahlan Iskan, Jokowi and Sri Mulyani
By Wimar Witoelar
Discussing presidential candidates before their formal candidacy fills the grey area between politics and gossip. The arguments scattered and lack expertise or even information. Still it is a popular sport and sells media time, so people are always encouraged to speak up by the media. As a result you end up with a mix of political aspirants and media celebrities, with commentary by talking heads who will talk about anything without admitting that they are talking about nothing, which in itself is its own art form.
We are more than two years away from our next presidential elections and one year away from the time of formal announcements. Yet at this moment in time we announce our very informal survey and report that we have three fresh candidates: Dahlan Iskan, Jokowi and Sri Mulyani. We do have slightly more experienced politicians but good people such as Mahfud MD, Yenny Wahid, Anies Baswedan. 
Then of course we have the seasoned politicians-cum-business people, people who made their fame and fortune through pragmatism: Aburizal Bakrie. Megawati (or stand-in), Prabowo and others.
We can see that there are several distinct types of candidates, and many many more kinds of voters. Whatever you may say, this is clearly democracy at work – with a vengeance. In the end voters will decide. Many eligible voters did not exercise their voting rights last time because you are free to vote or just stand by. The popular acronym for non-voters is “Golput” for Golongan Putih (White Category). Recently this has been interpreted into a different meaning: Golongan Pembagi Uang Tunai  (Those who distribute cash), with obvious reference to money politics.
We might face an erratic presidential election in 2014 because the ordinary person now has very little confidence in the political system. The president is often the object of ridicule, much of it with little ground except that President SBY has the knack of engaging in counterproductive public imaging. The parliament is an even less respected institution, regarded as a major source of corruption and cartel politics. The judiciary invites no trust due to their repeated shows of complicity in manipulative schemes of power and money. Between the three of them, corruption is still the order of the day. No wonder politicians and political institutions are perceived as interest-driven in for money and power. Many citizens switch off their political sensitivity while adding to their depression by watching politically controlled television news with heavy negative bias against their opposition. But there is an undefined number of potential voters who are beginning to realize that the way out of this despair is to identify fresh faces. New candidates who spark the imagination. In a climate of hopelessness, glimmers of promise can arouse real hope. They are people with currently rare qualities of Jujur, Tegas, Mampu (Honest, Firm. Capable)
Three such people are Dahlan Iskan, Jokowi and Sri Mulyani. They come from different backgrounds, carry different track records and are on different career paths. Dahlan Iskan made his mark as a successful self-made man who built the Jawa Pos group into a media empire. The East Java company is now a national media network leading in regional distribution, using an effective mix of market segmentation and non-partisan news reporting. Dahlan Iskan is a colorful individual known for forthrightness and can-do attitude. He survived a terminal case of cirrhosis by going to China where he got a liver transplant from a 21-year-old. Based on his professional competence and personal audacity, he made a career jump from entrepreneur to technocrat by being recruited as CEO of PLN (the State Electrical Power Company). After just enough time to show positive impact he was moved to the broader post of Minister of State for Public Enterprises where he is now busy revamping the effectiveness of public corporations.
In the popular lexicon, Dahlan Iskan is a hero. Another hero in the public eye is Jokowi, mayor of Solo in Central Java. While his scope of work is considerably smaller, his style and performance capture the public imagination. He uses his public position as a tool for municipal development rather than personal grandeur. Forestry graduate Joko Widodo is the mayor of Solo for two terms 2005-2015. Many doubted his talent when he first ran for public office from a profession as a dealer of home furniture and garden accessories. But in his first year of mayor he already proved to be capable of progressive measures. He borrowed ideas from European cities that he made a point to visit and study in detail. He successfully gave Solo a brand as "Solo: The Spirit of Java". His measures are quite real, notably the relocation of secondhand street vendors to open up green space. This was done without friction. He opened up schemes for investors to engage with public needs and opened up routine public interaction on local television stations. His public relations are excellent and the national news magazine Tempo selected Joko Widodo as one of the Ten Top Public Figures of 2008. He has yet to make the quantum leap to the national stage but has already captured the public imagination. He is a hero,
The third name, Sri Mulyani, is more of a reluctant hero, growing through rigorous achievements rather than public relations. In fact, she jumped to national attention because of the negative PR by her adversaries who control national news television and mass political parties. Her quiet competence as an economist and manager of Indonesia’s financial success have withstood severe attacks directed against her on a daily basis since 2009, when she confronted a powerful businessman-cum-politician without flinching. Public reaction came to her rescue largely through social media and intellectuals, who later assembled a civil society group and a political party. While Dahlan Iskan has a national base of recognition and Jokowi has a solid municipal base, Sri Mulyani is a world figure who has been consistently featured as one of the best finance ministers in the world, legitimized in unchallenged form by her appointment as Managing Director of the World Bank. Her professional quality is so dominant that many are not aware that she has a strong public heart, being one of the pillars of the 1998 Reform Movement. In fact her favorite saying is ‘Never Stop Loving Indonesia.’
Having three heroes does not necessarily mean having three presidential candidates. They have a long way to go. Dahlan Iskan and Jokowi need to have political support generated from their public base of admiration. Sri Mulyani needs to complete her World Bank service before announcing her candidacy. And the party that plans to nominate her, SRI, needs to overcome government legalistic obstacles to formalize their active network in 33 provinces, nearly 500 Kabupaten and thousands of Kecamatan. But the seeds of political insurgence have been planted. Three potential candidates have won the public imagination. And imagination is the most powerful political capital. Without imagination, politics is business as usual perpetuating the corrupt political-business oligarchy.
end

 

Fresh, independent faces on offer

The Jakarta Post, 'Insight'

                         

 

Discussing presidential candidates before their formal candidacy fills the grey area between politics and gossip. The arguments are scattered and lack expertise or even information. Still it is a popular sport and sells media time, so people are always encouraged to speak up by the media. As a result you end up with a mix of political aspirants and media celebrities, with commentary by talking heads who will talk about anything without admitting that they are talking about nothing, which in itself is its own art form.

We are more than two years away from our next presidential elections and one year away from the time of formal announcements. Yet at this moment in time we announce our very informal survey and report that we have three fresh candidates: Dahlan Iskan, Joko Widodo (Jokowi) and Sri Mulyani Indrawati.

We do have slightly more experienced politicians and sound people such as Mahfud MD, Yenny Wahid and Anies Baswedan. Then of course we have the seasoned politicians-cum-business people, people who made their fame and fortune through pragmatism: Aburizal Bakrie. Megawati Soekarnoputeri (or stand-in), Prabowo Subianto and others.

We might face an erratic presidential election in 2014 because the ordinary person now has very little confidence in the political system. The president is often the object of ridicule, much of it with little basis other than President Susilo Bambang Yudhoyono has the knack of engaging in counterproductive public imaging. The House is an even less respected institution, regarded as a major source of corruption and cartel politics. The judiciary invites no trust due to their repeated shows of complicity in manipulative schemes of power and money.

Between the three of them, corruption is still the order of the day. No wonder politicians and political institutions are perceived as interest-driven in for money and power. Many citizens switch off their political sensitivity while adding to their depression by watching politically controlled television news with heavy negative bias against their opposition. But there is an undefined number of potential voters who are beginning to realize that the way out of this despair is to identify fresh faces. New candidates who spark the imagination. In a climate of hopelessness, glimmers of promise can arouse real hope. They are people with currently rare qualities of Jujur, Tegas, Mampu (Honest, Firm. Capable)

Three such people are Dahlan Iskan, Jokowi and Sri Mulyani. They come from different backgrounds, carry different track records and are on different career paths. Dahlan Iskan made his mark as a successful self-made man who built the Jawa Pos group into a media empire. The East Java company is now a national media network leading in regional distribution, using an effective mix of market segmentation and non-partisan news reporting. Dahlan Iskan is a colorful individual known for forthrightness and can-do attitude. He survived a terminal case of cirrhosis by going to China where he got a liver transplant from a 21-year-old. Based on his professional competence and personal audacity, he made a career jump from entrepreneur to technocrat by being recruited as CEO of PLN (the State Electrical Power Company). After just enough time to show a positive impact he was moved to the broader post of state-owned enterprises minister, where he is now busy revamping the effectiveness of public corporations.

In the popular lexicon, Dahlan Iskan is a hero. Another hero in the public eye is Jokowi, mayor of Solo (Surakarta) in Central Java. While his scope of work is considerably smaller, his style and performance capture the public imagination. He uses his public position as a tool for municipal development rather than personal grandeur. Forestry graduate Joko Widodo is the mayor of Solo for two terms 2005-2015. Many doubted his talent when he first ran for public office from a profession as a dealer of home furniture and garden accessories.

But in his first year of mayor he already proved to be capable of progressive measures. He borrowed ideas from European cities that he made a point to visit and study in detail. He successfully gave Solo a brand as "Solo: The Spirit of Java". His measures are quite real, notably the relocation of secondhand street vendors to open up green space. This was done without friction.

Jokowi opened up schemes for investors to engage with public needs and opened up routine public interaction on local television stations. His public relations are excellent and the national news magazine Tempo selected Joko Widodo as one of the Ten Top Public Figures of 2008. He has yet to make the quantum leap to the national stage but has already captured the public imagination. He is a hero,

The third name, Sri Mulyani, is more of a reluctant hero, growing through rigorous achievements rather than public relations. In fact, she jumped to national attention because of the negative PR by her adversaries who control national news television and mass political parties. Her quiet competence as an economist and manager of Indonesia’s financial success have withstood severe attacks directed against her on a daily basis since 2009, when she confronted a powerful businessman-cum-politician without flinching. Public reaction came to her rescue largely through social media and intellectuals, who later assembled a civil society group and a political party.

While Dahlan Iskan has a national base of recognition and Jokowi has a solid municipal base, Sri Mulyani is a world figure who has been consistently featured as one of the best finance ministers in the world, legitimized in unchallenged form by her appointment as Managing Director of the World Bank. Her professional quality is so dominant that many are not aware that she has a strong public heart, being one of the pillars of the 1998 Reform Movement. In fact her favorite saying is ‘Never Stop Loving Indonesia.’

Having three heroes does not necessarily mean having three presidential candidates. They have a long way to go. Dahlan Iskan and Jokowi need to have political support generated from their public base of admiration. Sri Mulyani needs to complete her World Bank service before announcing her candidacy. And the party that plans to nominate her, SRI, needs to overcome government legalistic obstacles to formalize their active network in 33 provinces, nearly 500 Kabupaten and thousands of Kecamatan. But the seeds of political insurgence have been planted. Three potential candidates have won the public imagination. And imagination is the most powerful political capital. Without imagination, politics is business as usual perpetuating the corrupt political-business oligarchy.

 

 

 

 

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3 Comments:

  1. From Kinanti Desyva on 27 January 2012 11:32:23 WIB
    this article really helps me getting to know the presidential candidates. ini mungkin yang ngga keliatan di media lain :)
  2. From Priya on 12 February 2012 21:01:11 WIB
    Akankah Indonesia kaaelhngin orang cerdas lagi? Akankah Sri Mulyani mengikuti jejak BJ Habibi.
  3. From Wibi on 30 June 2012 19:51:22 WIB
    Jokowi on the right track nih. Semoga menang di perhelatan gubernur DKI ya pak!

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