Wimar on Radio Australia on Jokowi and the Jakarta Post

21 September 2012

Jakarta's incumbent governor concedes defeat

Updated 21 September 2012, 15:41 AEST

In Indonesia, it seems Joko Widodo will be the next Governor of Jakarta, with early results suggesting he beat incumbent Fauzi Bowo in Thursday's runoff vote.

Hear full story: 

Jakarta's incumbent governor concedes defeat (Credit: ABC) 

An unofficial quick count suggests Jokowi, as he's known, won between 53 and 54 percent of the vote, with Fauzi Bowo netting only 46 to 47 percent.

Fauzi Bowo phoned his rival to congratulate Jokowi on his apparent victory.

Wearing his trademark checked shirt, Jokowi urged residents to help him build a "new Jakarta," before shaking hands with the cheering crowd as Queen's "We Are the Champions" played over loudspeakers.


Presenter: Liam Cochrane

Speakers: Wimar Witoelar, Indonesian talk show host, political commentator and former presidential spokesman.



WITOELAR: It's a vote of protest against the political oligarchy basically and bureaucrats with arrogance and no communications with the people. People are just tired of governors who do not respond to the press, who do not explain their actions. They might do their job, but they do not explain where they are. So now the public is exacting its vengeance to going to a candidate whose major strength,  maybe only strength is being open, communicative and perceived as being clean.
COCHRANE: It was expected to be quite a close race. Are you surprised by the relatively comfortable margin that he won by?
WITOELAR: Well no, because in the first round, he already won by.. he surpassed Fauzi Bowo by 10 per cent, so it is not a surprise. It's just a confirmation that this landslide really sends a message.
COCHRANE: He has talked about a vision for a 'new Jakarta'. What does he mean by that?
WITOELAR: I wouldn't put too much credence in his statements or promises. Most of them are not very difficult to attain and he lacks the data and as a challenger he has no access to real data. He also lacks the experience to run a major bureaucracy like Jakarta. But he has good intentions presumably and he does have the emotional support of the people. If he just capitalises on that and uses the people as his strength, he could turn the promises around and still be accepted by the people, because the people just want a governor who is one of them.
COCHRANE: Now obviously, in its own right, the election campaign for Jakarta is an incredibly important event, but it's also being seen as a proxy contest for the wider political ambitions, especially in terms of the presidential election in a couple of years. Can you run us through who was supporting both candidates in this governor run off?
WITOELAR: Two political parties supported them, but the only significant possible contender would be ex-general Prabowo, who stills stands to account for his role in the 1998 violence in the racial riots. So that is an unknown card. Does he really repent or  can he change his ways or not? It is up to him and Jokowi in the next few months, because when the public this is a new Prabowo. If that's the case, he would have a chance, but if still people see him as the man who allegedly was behind May '98 riots, then it's not easy to fool the public about such an important event.
COCHRANE: How seriously do you take the sort looking at these elections as I guess a glimpse of how the public might feel about different candidates and different parties at a presidential level?
WITOELAR: I take it very seriously, but the dominant serious message would be the public do not have loyalty to political parties, but they respond to character, to personalities. As you can see, the losing party was supported by all the major political parties, notably Golkar and Democrat Party, all the parties, except for these two, which have no people of their own, but the vice-gubernatorial candidate Ahok very skilfully managed a deal or an arrangement with Prabowo and so this campaign was very well funded and supported. PDIP has no money and PDIP are quite clumsy as campaigning, so I would see this as Prabowo's campaign. Now we have yet to see is this going to be Prabowo's administration or will it be a Jokowi administration. I sincerely hope for the latter.
COCHRANE: And in that sense, will the successes or failures of Joko Widodo reflect on Prabowo in terms of his campaign to be president?
WITOELAR:  Certainly, but don't forget we are only talking about the electoral success. From today on, it's administrative success which matters. Will he meet his promises? Will be surpass his background of experience? Will he be a competent governor? Expectations have been raised by his campaign and a lot of people are expecting something in return, not just for the city, but also for their role and it will be very hard to distribute political patronage in a city which is viciously competitive.
COCHRANE: Wimar Wtoelar, one thing that the well the new governor as it seems to be has succeeded in doing is to start a new fashion trend with his trade mark checked shirt. Is it true that this is becoming a bit of a phenomenon around Jakarta?
WITOELAR:  In all modesty, but honestly I must say that was my trade mark during my prize winning television shows in '97-'99. You are free to access your files. I was the man with the checked shirt and curly hair. Of course, I say that all in jest. It's fine for anybody to adopt each other's trends, but the important thing is that he gets away from the suffocating habit of wearing an official uniform. I just love that uniform. I'm digging out my old shirts, but I guess I gave them all away.

Insight: First impressions of Jakarta’s day of decision

Wimar Witoelar, Jakarta | Insight | Sat, September 22 2012, 1:19 PM
A- A A+

Paper Edition | Page: 2

The results of the quick count are in and although they are not conclusive in a formal sense, it is obvious that the challenger, Joko “Jokowi” Widodo, will win the election and become governor of Jakarta by a landslide margin against Fauzi Bowo.

This has not come as a surprise. The enthusiasm for Jokowi has been infectious and widespread, whereas Fauzi lacked spirited support, although he had almost all the political parties and the municipal service employees behind him.

The people on the street were ecstatic about having a candidate who was seen as one of them and who spoke the language of the common people. Jokowi did not confuse people with technocratic concepts and complicated 

It soon became evident that the election would not be based on programs or track records or on any rational basis. It was purely an election won on adrenalin, emotion and on a desperate hope to see a fresh face in national office.

This hope was satisfied in abundance by Jokowi. His is a fresh face. He did not engage himself in serious study of Jakarta’s problems but ran for the governorship by meeting the people with his heart on his sleeve and his smile and checkered shirt. The degree to which cynical political machinations had a part to play will be the subject of analysis in the times ahead.

After the elections, people will realize that they have not really defined expectations for the new governor. The people are so repulsed by the current political system that any promise of change is welcomed with open arms. It is enough that Jokowi was elected and more importantly it is enough that the incumbent, a bureaucrat who has been in office at various levels for decades, will no longer appear on billboards and TV. People will hardly miss the face that has become to reflect the arrogance of power and bureaucracy, with disregard to achievements that have been reached in various areas of Jakarta development.

We have yet to see whether Jokowi can be his own man, or whether he will succumb to the interests of the political parties that nominated him, the Great Indonesia Movement (Gerindra) Party and the Indonesian Democratic Party of Struggle (PDI-P). All other parties supported Fauzi and many felt satisfaction in seeing parties like the Golkar Party, the Democratic Party and the Prosperous Justice Party (PKS) trounced so convincingly in an election.

It remains to be seen whether the victors will come out as effective leaders of Jakarta. This will only happen if Jokowi’s supporters channel their campaign energy into support for his programs.

The final question is whether Jokowi’s main supporter, ex-general Prabowo (Gerindra’s chief patron), will emerge from the shadows of his role in the violence of the May 1998 riots.

Closure is required to make sure that Jokowi is not overshadowed by the fear of a recurrence of May 1998. It would be wise for him to ask Prabowo to deliver an unequivocal declaration of accountability and dispel the notion that he has ulterior motives in launching the new leadership of Jakarta.

The writer is a former spokesman for the late Abdurrahman “Gus Dur” Wahid, who was president of Indonesia from 1999 to 2001.

Print article only


« Home