Jokowi gives palace tour to former subordinates

Jokowi gives palace tour to former subordinates
Indonesian presidential candidate Joko "Jokowi" Widodo gestures during a rally in Proklamasi Monument Park in Jakarta in this July 9, 2014.

Amid the build-up for the announcement of the Cabinet lineup, President Joko "Jokowi" Widodo reserved some time on Wednesday morning to give his former subordinates in the Jakarta administration a tour of his new workplace.

In an official send-off event, acting Jakarta governor Basuki "Ahok" Tjahaja Purnama and his wife, Veronica Tan, a number of high-ranking officials from the city administration who were with their spouses, as well as several City Council leaders, ate breakfast together at the former Jakarta governor's residence, which has been empty since Jokowi relocated to the Presidential Palace following his inauguration on Monday.

Jokowi greeted his former subordinates with a promise to make addressing problems in the capital city a priority for his administration.

Acting gubernatorial and foreign affairs bureau head Heru Budi Hartono said that Jokowi had called on the new public works minister to start construction on the Ciawi Reservoir in Bogor regency, West Java. The Ciawi Reservoir will act as a water catchment area in the highlands south of the capital city, helping to reduce the impact of floods in Jakarta.

According to Heru, Jokowi also asked city officials to hold meetings with the ministry next week to discuss the plan.

After the brief speech, the entourage went by VIP bus to the Presidential Palace compound on Jl. Medan Merdeka Utara in Central Jakarta.

Jokowi, accompanied by presidential staff members, gave his former subordinates a tour of the compound for about half an hour.

"Snacks were provided, but this is a work day, so after taking pictures together we left," Heru said.

Heru said that during the occasion, Jokowi had specifically asked Jakarta Public Order Agency head Kukuh Hadi Santoso to expedite the relocation of squatters from the east side of the Pluit Reservoir in North Jakarta. In 2013, Jokowi relocated thousands of squatters occupying the west side of the reservoir and built a public park, a jogging track and an amphitheater.

During his time as governor, Jokowi had often inspected the Pluit Reservoir, which was considered one of his "babies". However, thousands of squatters occupying the other side of the reservoir have yet to be relocated as the city administration is still preparing low-cost apartments to accommodate them.

"Pak Jokowi also said he will visit City Hall sometimes and join meetings on city programs that involve the central government," he said.

Ahok said it was his very first time entering the Presidential Palace, although he had been to the compound before.

"It's kind of cool having a boss and a friend who's a president," he said, adding that the Presidential Palace "was cooler than City Hall".

Jokowi had previously said he enjoyed living in the presidential compound, pointing out that it reminded him of Loji Gandrung, his official residence as Surakarta mayor.

City Council speaker Prasetio Edi Marsudi of the Indonesian Democratic Party of Struggle (PDI-P) said Jokowi had proven that he was the people's President. "The citizens can be as close as possible to the President and it is shown by him inviting us to the palace," he said.

Meanwhile, not much has changed at City Hall since Jokowi's departure last week, except that the walls where the pictures of Indonesia's and Jakarta's leaders usually hang have been left bare.

Heru said that Ahok would not relocate to Jokowi's office until his inauguration as governor.

"Pak Ahok also said he would not relocate to the governor's official residence on Jl. Taman Surapati," he said.

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