Joko Widodo says the time has come to “work, work and work”

Oct 25th 2014 | JAKARTA

Indonesia’s new president – Taking the reins

EVERYONE loves a politician with a common touch—except that politician’s security detail. After Joko Widodo, or Jokowi, was inaugurated as Indonesia’s seventh president, he and his vice-president, Jusuf Kalla, rode through central Jakarta to the presidential palace in an open horse-drawn carriage, their wives following along behind. Tens of thousands of well-wishers lined the path, banners saluting “the people’s president”. As ever, he reached out to them. Only the security men in black suits failed to look elated.

More hard-bitten observers did not share the crowd’s optimism. They set the simple, almost innocent demeanour of this grass-roots politician against the ruthlessness of the old guard he beat. It is determined to fight hard to preserve its wealth and privilege—and parties sympathetic to his opponent in the presidential election, Prabowo Subianto, control the legislature. Such observers are writing Jokowi off as a decent man but a political naif.

Yet the demeanour masks canny political instincts. Since Jokowi’s victory in July, Mr Prabowo has attempted to frustrate him at every turn, starting by claiming spuriously that the election had been stolen. Leading up to the inauguration, Mr Prabowo, a former son-in-law of Suharto, the late dictator, along with Aburizal Bakrie, a tycoon who heads Suharto’s former party, threatened to boycott the ceremony. But Jowoki ran rings around them by making them look petty. They attended the inauguration after all, and when Jokowi mentioned Mr Prabowo by name, the former special-forces general snapped to attention and saluted his new commander-in-chief. The battles with the old guard are only beginning. But Jokowi intends to appeal to ordinary Indonesians if the parliament obstructs attempts to transform both the country’s corrupt, grasping politics and the lives of ordinary Indonesians. A common touch can pack a punch.

Jokowi promises to “move together to work, work and work.” He wants to offer free health care and 12 years of schooling to every Indonesian. More tourism across the archipelago can generate jobs. He says ports are in urgent need of improvement. And he thinks a little investment directed at 20m Indonesians dependent on small-scale fisheries would go a long way. Above all, he must cut the fuel subsidies that consume a fifth of the budget, redirecting the savings to education and the like. Falling oil prices give him the opportunity.

But first he needs a cabinet, and despite repeated assurances that one was imminent, as The Economist went to press its line-up had yet to be announced. Partly, the delay was because in the Javanese political way, nothing is brisk—even Suharto took forever over his cabinets. Partly, the new president has been trying to chop and change an unwieldy number of ministries: some want a new ministry for maritime affairs and port works, for instance.

But mainly, Jokowi has to balance a desire for a technocratic government in key areas such as finance and resources with the many demands for seats coming from his Indonesian Party of Democratic Struggle, the PDI-P. Its matriarch is Megawati Sukarnoputri, daughter of Indonesia’s founder, and room will presumably be found for her daughter. Not all potential cabinet appointees are placemen or hacks. But the names of several have been cause for concern when brought to the anti-corruption commission, charged with vetting a new cabinet—another source of delay.

  1. #1 by boh-liao on Saturday, 25 October 2014 - 11:25 am

    “He (AhCheatKor) is now compared to president Jokowi of Indonesia and is seen as inadequate.”
    “the real Najib stands out – ineffectual, intellectually less rigorous, muddled thinker”
    “While Indonesia is adopting openness and meritocracy and more democracy, Malaysia is reversing. Malaysia is introverted, becoming more tight-fisted, and petty.”

    Truly sad, M’sia rolling down hill fast

    M’sians, b ready – come 2020, with a bloated population n widespread poverty (compliments of d incompetent n corrupt gomen), dis 1DERful land might b exporting maids n unskilled workers 2 Indonesia, d Philippines, Singapore, HK, etc

  2. #2 by boh-liao on Saturday, 25 October 2014 - 11:35 am

    Whatever rakyat M’sia can say abt Indonesians, we CANNOT say dat they r NOT smart n courageous voters
    They r agents of CHANGE n they determined d fate, fortune, n path of their motherland
    Syabas, Indonesian voters!
    Indonesia – another giant WAKING up, following China n India

    M’sia – syabas too, we CONTINUE 2 TOP d global chart of corruption, incompetence, religious bigotry, racism, failure of d rule of law, twisted n failed judiciary

  3. #3 by boh-liao on Saturday, 25 October 2014 - 12:16 pm

    Here we also hv many 4-LETTER WORDs
    Play, play and play
    Main, main dan main
    Jiak, jiak, and jiak
    Sapu, sapu, dan sapu

  4. #4 by waterfrontcoolie on Sunday, 26 October 2014 - 9:39 am

    The fuel subsidy is an instrument both for political expedience as well as corruption as no one seems to know who is subsidized in the final count. If indeed, we have drawn a poverty line so that all those below this line will get their deserved assistance; we should place them on the web sites for all tax-payers to scrutinize them lest some politicians also conveniently list themselves! With the AEC about to be implemented; though I would think it will create enough chaos among the 8 ASEAN members; it may not take off! [Guess who are the 2 likely to be prepared? No prize!] We have wasted so much time with all the nonsense that captured our headlines we simply assumed that we will overcome those obstacles; maybe we deserve the shock rather than shiok sendiri! Based on the prevailing mentality of the leadership, it is a surprise that we have the audacity to sit in the UNSC!

  5. #5 by MooMoo on Sunday, 26 October 2014 - 1:03 pm

    Joko should learn from our Najib… spend spend spend is better

  6. #6 by john on Wednesday, 29 October 2014 - 11:11 pm

    The comparison is very SIMPLE. You’ve one elected LEADER, Jokowi TO LEAD ( in his words, to work for the Nation, People).

    And here, ah CHEAT Kok is no-leader at all, a CHEAT (at best), and far worst taking Altantuya unsolved case in consideration. And ah Cheat Kok is just using ‘PM’ position to safeguard himself, and using the Nation resources solely for this purpose.
    And, this simplicity comparison applies, same with BUMNO’s gangs in ‘governing’ ( rather, plundering the Nation ). Since, the days of Mamak Kutty, this Nation “leaders” are in name only, but take on different real meaning, purpose, direction, all mainly for their OWN-SELF gains ( plundering the Nation).

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