Jokowi and his plans for Indonesia

Jokowi and his plans for Indonesia
UNITY: Indonesian president-elect Joko Widodo flashing his ‘Salam 3 jari’ (three-finger salute) after delivering his victory address. The gesture symbolises the unity of his supporters and those of his rival, Mr Prabowo Subianto.


Mr Joko, 53, was a complete novice when he turned to a career in politics nine years ago.

He was then a furniture business owner, but he has since cultivated a clean, can-do image as a small-city mayor and then as Jakarta governor, reported Reuters. Since leading Jakarta, "Jokowi" has succeeded in finally starting a mass transit railway system for the traffic-clogged city, a concept first proposed over 20 years ago.

To many Indonesians, Mr Joko represents a clean break from the old elite who have clung to power since the 1998 fall of former ruler Suharto.

When he takes office in October, he will become Indonesia's first leader not to have emerged from the political or military elite.


Mr Joko has promised to shake things up as president. He told Reuters last week that he would make life simpler for investors by beefing up the country's threadbare infrastructure, untangling near impenetrable regulations and sacking ministers if they are not up to the job.

"If (ministers don't succeed), there are more than a thousand other good people in Indonesia to replace them. I can cut and then replace them. It's very simple for me," he said.

Mr Joko has set an easy-to-reach target of 7 per cent growth per year for the Indonesian economy, reported Xinhua.

He said he will immediately set a transition team to discuss top government positions and which issues to set as priorities.

One of these could be the massive fuel subsidies, which now cost about a fifth of the annual state budget but which economists say do more to help the wealthy than the 40 per cent of the population who live in abject poverty or in conditions close to it.

If (ministers don't succeed), there are more than a thousand other good people in Indonesia to replace them. I can cut and then replace them. It's very simple for me. - Mr Joko Widodo


Mr Joko's presidential honeymoon could be brief and he knows it.

In an about-turn yesterday, Mr Joko's rival, Mr Prabowo Subianto, announced that he planned to contest the election result. Mr Prabowo had withdrawn from the vote count and indicated he would not challenge the result.

Analysts do not expect a court challenge to succeed, given the size of Mr Joko's victory.

But it signals weeks of uncertainty as the court are likely issue a ruling on Aug 21.

Mr Joko also has to contend with Ms Puan Maharani, the politically ambitious daughter of former president Megawati Sukarnoputri and a powerful figure in the Indonesian Democratic Party-Struggle (PDI-P) that her mother heads.

Ms Puan is heir to a political dynasty that goes back to her grandfather and founding president Sukarno.

Said a PDI-P insider: "She believes that the party belongs to the family and she is the heir. There is a sense of entitlement."

The Puan faction believes Mr Joko has climbed up the political ladder too quickly and might push them out and overhaul the entire party.

The PDI-P is expected to hold its next national convention next May and Ms Puan is expected to try for party boss if her mother steps down.

This article was first published on July 24, 2014.
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