Jakarta Governor Election

It's gonna be an interesting day this coming Thursday for the people of Jakarta. This Thursday, the people of Jakarta will be voting for their governor. It is actually round 2 of the election. In round 1, there were 5 other candidates contesting the incumbent governor. Candidates applied in pairs, the governor and vice governor. The rule states that if no candidate gets more than 50% of the vote, the top 2 pairs will go to round 2. So here we are now, the incumbent governor, Fauzi Bowo, and his pair, Nara, who are natives of Jakarta versus the seemingly favorite of the people, Joko Widodo (Jokowi), a Javanese man who is the mayor of Solo (a city in Central Java) and his pair, Basuki / Ahok, a Chinese guy who is a Christian.

In round 1, it was already predicted that the election would go to round 2. However noone predicted that the pair Jokowi and Ahok would come on top. It wasn't indicated in any of the pre surveys. So the result of round 1 seems like a blindside by the Jakartans, the kind you relish in Survivor. I had a grin in my face when I followed the news at that time. I did wonder if it was simply a case of surveys not properly done, which is not surprising if you know how things work in Indonesia. I wasn't actually surprised with the result. Simply because noone in my Facebook friends post anything about the incumbent, while there are a few who post links or declare support for Jokowi. So it seems to me that there are just more people who support Jokowi and they really try to rally support for him. That is also the reason why this election captured my attention.

Since I live in Singapore, I cannot participate in the election even though I am registered in Jakarta. Since I don't live in Jakarta, I have tried to refrain from putting my opinion into this. I probably only spend at most 1 month in a year in Jakarta. I do not experience the daily torture of things like traffic jam, pollution, and bigger issue like flood. I cannot make a proper judgement if the incumbent governor is really ineffective. At the same time, I think noone can really guarantee that Jokowi and Ahok will be better and Jakarta will go into its golden era. They do have a very good track record in their jobs and have been very transparent in how they use their budget. However I think it's really an issue of a small towner coming to manage a chaotic big city. Will all their experience which are not relatively that long prove enough to handle the big Jakarta with all its problems which were accumulated from many years of mismanagements?

There are many reasons why people make their decision. On the eve of the first round, my mother sent me a text to tell me that she's voting for Jokowi because his pair is a Christian Chinese guy. She's voting based on racial line. Ahok happens to be from an island nearby to where my parents come from, so I think they perhaps feel a certain affinity that there is this person who comes from perhaps similar background with ours, who are putting himself forward to contribute himself to the country. You can see in the history of Indonesia, there are not many Indonesian Chinese who have taken major position in the country. So I guess my parents feel he needs all the support we can give. I have a feeling all the little Chinese kids will be told by their parents over and over to try and be as successful as Ahok :P

When my brother was here, he surprisingly told me that he voted for independent candidates in the first round. It's surprising because our family never really talk about our thoughts in politics. Independent candidates are candidates which are not backed up by any political party, unlike the incumbent and Jokowi. Candidates who are backed by political parties may need to return the favor in the future and in what ways it will happen is worrying. My brother and I share the same sentiment that we're uneasy with the fact that Jokowi is supported by Prabowo Subianto, an ex-general who is linked to human rights abuses during his military days. Prabowo himself has declared his intention to run for presidential election 2 years from now. To borrow Singapore's lingo, he brings kiasu-ness to a new level. I actually have to say that I think his attempt this early to get the people to know him is actually a really good idea. It seems he has also been backing up other governor candidates all over Indonesia, which I think can be beneficial if he really becomes the president of Indonesia, it will be like he has all his people placed in important places. Is he good enough to be the next president? I'm not feeling it.

Back to Jakarta governor election, the point was my brother did not vote for the incumbent. I do not know if he will give his vote to Jokowi for the second round. I hope he will. I came from a place in which I felt that I have no right to make a choice, having not lived in Jakarta currently, the stake is not high for me. However seeing how the campaigns progressed, I really hope that Jokowi + Ahok will win. The worse part about the campaign was when the religion and racial issue of Ahok was being brought up. There was an Indonesian celebrity who gave a talk during the muslim's friday prayer, telling them that a muslim cannot chose a leader who's not a muslim. I googled that Al Quran verse. It seemed to me that the line was more that muslims cannot choose a leader over them who's not a muslim without good moral character and integrity. That statement from that celebrity which happened to be backed up by many people have garnered many criticism from many people, many muslims themselves. There were arguments that our country is not an Islamic country so to use Islamic teachings purely never fits the concept of Indonesia. Some also says that if we only have 2 choices between a muslim without much integrity and capability and a non-muslim with better character and track record, should people stay with the muslim who will not bring them to better days? That is just illogical, right? There were also who say that Jakarta has enough of "leaders", now we just need people who will just serve instead of flaunting their power over the people.

I personally feel very sad about this racial and religion issue. This guy is only running as a vice governor and he is attacked this badly. What does this say about the possibility of a Chinese running for bigger position, will there ever be a Chinese vice president or president? Or non-muslim for that matter? I do wonder if Ahok was not a Chinese, if he was a Batak Christian or from Manado, would he still get attacked badly? Indonesian Chinese are always accused of not contributing to the country and here it is when one wants to do so, he is attacked on a very personal issue instead of on his ability and vision. For this reason, I think the vote should be for Jokowi + Ahok. It may be more of a symbolical vote than anything else but it will be a vote that says we should be an open and tolerant society, where people has equal chance regardless of their race and religion. The past few years in Indonesia and in Jakarta have shown how muslim extremists are doing their best to enforce their beliefs in all aspects and often time with violence. So I also think a vote for Jokowi is bigger than just about managing Jakarta, it's symbolical in telling these groups that it's more than just belief. It's doing the right thing, it's about practising religion with logic, respect, and tolerance for other. I think a vote for Jokowi is a vote for hope, hope for a better change. I find their message of change is really similar to President Obama's campaign 4 years ago and I think if they win, it will also be similar to how President Obama won 4 years ago. It would be about a wave of change that many people crave for and also the step forward of putting someone who is racially different in office. I don't know how the result will turn out. I will be shocked if the incumbent wins but maybe there will be a blindside again. Until we find out, I really hope that it's Jokowi + Ahok who win :)

:) eKa @ 10:35:00 PM •


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