Quantcast
Latest Stories

Heavy metal-loving governor tipped for Indonesian presidency


Jakarta governor Joko Widodo (R) holding a maroon bass guitar gifted to him by Robert Trujillo of US band Metallica before turning it over to Indonesia’s anti-corruption agency on May 3, 2013. AFP FILE PHOTO

JAKARTA – Wearing a black T-shirt and leather jacket, the governor of Jakarta thrusts his fist into the air among a sweat-soaked, headbanging crowd at a concert by rock band Metallica.

If being among the people is unusual for an Indonesian politician, doing so at a heavy metal gig is one of the reasons 52 year-old Joko Widodo has quickly risen to the top of opinion polls as a figure regarded as outside the establishment.

“I listen to loud metal songs, from Metallica to Led Zeppelin, to Napalm Death… because rock is my passion,” the skinny governor of the Indonesian capital, popularly known as “Jokowi,” told AFP ahead of the concert.

The city chief’s laid-back demeanor hides a potent political force and is part of the down-to-earth charm that has captivated the nation and shaken up a political arena dominated by aloof figures from the era of dictator Suharto.

Just one year after being elected, the man who was born in a riverbank slum is favorite to become Indonesia’s next president at elections in 2014, despite not having declared his candidacy.

“He is different from other powerful figures who don’t care about ordinary people,” 32-year old Metallica concert-goer Rizqi Widyasari told AFP, echoing the sentiments of many who are delighted to have a leader with the common touch.

But despite the euphoria, some question whether a man who has never worked in national politics is ready to take on the challenge of running a sprawling archipelago of 17,000 islands with a population of more than 240 million.

He will not be drawn on whether he will run for president, insisting that the decision is up to his party and his focus remains on sorting out traffic-clogged, flood-prone Jakarta’s problems.

However pressure is mounting on Widodo, who rose to prominence during a successful stint as mayor of Solo in Central Java province and whose hands-on approach has endeared him to a nation weary of corrupt political elites.

When traveling through Jakarta recently he had no qualms about jumping out of his car and onto a motorbike taxi to beat the traffic, unlike the majority of Indonesia’s elite political establishment who opt for motorcades.

During his regular visits to the city’s teeming slums and rat-infested alleyways, he listens to people’s complaints and checks whether government officials are doing their jobs properly with surprise inspections accompanied by journalists.

He inaugurated the new mayor of an east Jakarta district on a rubbish dump, to highlight that local leaders were not afraid of getting their hands dirty as they seek to clean up the capital.

“The problems are obvious – we just need to get on with it and to implement the policies we have laid out,” he said during an interview at his office, where screens monitoring the city’s traffic hang on the walls and files are stacked up on desks.

He has made a start on tackling Jakarta’s problems, from regulating Southeast Asia’s biggest textile market that is controlled by shadowy groups to starting public transport projects and seeking to improve health and education services.

With his humble upbringing – he is the son of a carpenter – and clean image, Widodo is a stark contrast to most leading politicians in Indonesia.

They tend to be moneyed tycoons, former army generals – like current President Susilo Bambang Yudhoyono – or scions of wealthy political dynasties. Many have roots in the deeply corrupt three-decade rule of Suharto, who was forced out in 1998.

The two men seen as the most likely challengers have been on the political scene for years.

Prabowo Subianto is a former head of Indonesia’s special forces who was accused of rights abuses in East Timor, while Aburizal Bakrie is a businessman who has been embroiled in numerous controversies.

However, they don’t appear to stand a chance in the face of the “Jokowimania” sweeping the country, according to recent polls.

A survey by the respected Kompas newspaper conducted in May and June showed him winning the presidential election with 32.5 percent of the vote, up from 17.7 percent in December.

In recent surveys, he has scored at least 10 percentage points more than his nearest challenger.

The groundswell of support for Widodo is “so strong that it would be difficult for anyone to stop him becoming president,” said Syamsuddin Haris, a political expert from Indonesia’s Institute of Sciences.

His party, the opposition Indonesian Democratic Party of Struggle (PDI-P), has yet to nominate him as their candidate — although analysts say the party simply does not want to show its hand so soon before the July 2014 elections.

But while Widodo has generated a lot of publicity, there are signs that his efforts to sort out Jakarta are already hitting trouble.

He has faced criticism over plans to evict residents living in slums around a dam in north Jakarta, and the city’s traffic problems seem as bad as ever despite a flurry of public transport projects.

There are also serious concerns over a potential Widodo presidency, with some unconvinced that a year running a city of 10 million is enough preparation.

Winning fights with veteran political heavyweights could be tough for an outsider, as could battling endemic corruption in one of the world’s most graft-ridden nations, some analysts say.

In a recent comment article, the Jakarta Post newspaper questioned whether “a politician from a small town in Central Java with no links whatsoever to the political powers of the past… has what it takes to survive the onslaught of the old but powerful establishments.”

There are also signs that Widodo does not really want to become president and spend his days surrounded by the country’s most powerful people.

At the Metallica concert last month in Jakarta, he looked distinctly uncomfortable mingling with the rich and powerful in the VIP area – and insisted he would prefer to be among the crowd.


Follow Us

Follow us on Facebook Follow on Twitter Follow on Twitter


Recent Stories:

Complete stories on our Digital Edition newsstand for tablets, netbooks and mobile phones; 14-issue free trial. About to step out? Get breaking alerts on your mobile.phone. Text ON INQ BREAKING to 4467, for Globe, Smart and Sun subscribers in the Philippines.

Tags: Elections , Indonesia , Jakarta , Joko Widodo , world




Copyright © 2014, .
To subscribe to the Philippine Daily Inquirer newspaper in the Philippines, call +63 2 896-6000 for Metro Manila and Metro Cebu or email your subscription request here.
Factual errors? Contact the Philippine Daily Inquirer's day desk. Believe this article violates journalistic ethics? Contact the Inquirer's Reader's Advocate. Or write The Readers' Advocate:
c/o Philippine Daily Inquirer Chino Roces Avenue corner Yague and Mascardo Streets, Makati City, Metro Manila, Philippines Or fax nos. +63 2 8974793 to 94
Advertisement
  1. Gigi Reyes back to face charges
  2. Enrile chief aide back in PH ‘to face charges’
  3. In the know: Gigi Reyes
  4. SC suspends proctor in 2011 bar exams
  5. Senator Pimentel backs German think tank’s stand vs dynasties
  6. Bar proctor suspended for photographing test papers
  7. Collector Danny Garcia says Inquirer worth more than news
  8. Meteor shower to light up PH skies
  9. What Went Before: Enrile denies Gigi Reyes was ‘other woman’
  10. Henares on Pacquiao bashing: I did not start this
  1. Kim Henares needs a reprimand, says Cayetano
  2. Suspect in Vhong Navarro mauling tries to leave PH
  3. More legal woes for Cedric Lee
  4. ‘No real progress in PH if dynasties not dismantled’
  5. ‘Mom, I love you,’ says text from student on sinking ferry
  6. Fr. Suarez says last Mass on Easter before returning donated land to San Miguel
  7. Enrile chief aide back in PH ‘to face charges’
  8. Massive infra spending set
  9. Henares on Pacquiao bashing: I did not start this
  10. I’ll follow my conscience on Estrada, says JV Ejercito
  1. KL confirms Malaysian Airlines Flight MH370 ended in Indian Ocean
  2. MRT passengers pass the hat for 6-year-old Ashley
  3. Rookie, lady cops lauded for quick response to MOA heist
  4. Malaysia averts another air tragedy; pilot lands troubled plane safely
  5. Revilla says he was joking; Lacson stands by his story
  6. Revilla ‘consulted’ Lacson on how he evaded arrest
  7. Police rule out foul play in Helena Belmonte’s death as boyfriend is ‘traumatized’
  8. Cudia, dismissed for lying, got 99% in conduct
  9. Model Helena Belmonte wished ‘to slash her wrist and hope to die’
  10. Hammer-wielding robbers cause chaos at Philippines’ Mall of Asia
Advertisement

News

  • Tagle: Christ’s resurrection a message of hope to faithful
  • Aquino vows to intensify anti-corruption drive further
  • Unease in Vatican over cardinal’s luxury flat—report
  • Nepal calls off search for missing guides on Everest—official
  • Pope’s Easter Message ‘Urbi et Orbi’
  • Sports

  • Rain or Shine grabs No.4, sends Ginebra to 8th
  • Red-hot Alaska rips injury-depleted San Mig Coffee
  • Pacquiao courtesy call to Aquino set for Monday
  • Nick Calathes suspension a reminder of supplement risk
  • Teague scores 28 as Hawks soar past Pacers in Game 1
  • Lifestyle

  • Angono petroglyphs in danger of disappearing
  • Britain’s baby Prince George visits Australian zoo
  • Noli Yamsuan, Cardinal Sin’s ‘official’ photographer: ‘I could smell the aftershave lotion of the Pope’
  • Simplifying and lightening life
  • Where to go for Easter night-out
  • Entertainment

  • Unmerry mix of attention-calling moves on ‘Mini-Me’ TV tilts
  • Persistence pays off for The 1975
  • Show-biz celebrities’ other choices of summer getaway
  • Why ‘Noah’ can’t dock his ark at Philippine theaters
  • Acclaimed artist goes wild while on holiday
  • Business

  • Top-selling insurance agent opens her dream café
  • Connecting and transacting with one another
  • Building wealth for health
  • Why Mandaue Foam buys, rather than rents, space
  • A workplace of new possibilities
  • Technology

  • Nasa’s moon-orbiting robot crashes down
  • Netizens pay respects to Gabriel Garcia Marquez
  • Nokia recalls 30,000 chargers for Lumia 2520 tablet
  • Facebook rolls out ‘nearby friends’ feature
  • Netizens seethe over Aquino’s ‘sacrifice’ message
  • Opinion

  • Epiphany
  • Unpaid creditor vs distressed debtor
  • Moving on
  • From culinary desert to paradise
  • Response to China: ‘Usjaphil’
  • Global Nation

  • Tim Tebow’s charity hospital in Davao seen to open in 7 months
  • OFW died of Mers-CoV in Saudi Arabia, says family
  • Aquino, Obama to tackle US pivot to Asia during state visit
  • Asia seeks Obama’s assurance in territorial spats
  • Cesar Chavez movie sparks memories of Fil-Am labor leaders
  • Marketplace
    Advertisement