INSIGHT: THE FIRST CHALLENGE OF PRESIDENT JOKO WIDODO

Joko “Jokowi” Widodo won the presidential election in July last year because many Indonesians preferred that Prabowo Subianto did not become president for fear of a return to a Soeharto-style rule as a likely outcome of a Prabowo presidency.

Second, Jokowi was considered a people’s man who was free of corruption. People are fed up with rampant corruption, and so Jokowi became their idol. But there are members of the elite who did not favor him as a man of the people and as someone not of their class. Jokowi defeated Prabowo by 6 percent, which amounted to 8 million votes. It was not the landslide victory previously expected because of the way the election campaign developed.

People lamented that he had only minority support in the legislature, which they felt would put constraints on his presidency because his programs could be hampered. But the situation is different now because parties that are not members of his Great Indonesia Coalition showed a willingness to support him, either on legislation on regional direct elections (executive and legislative), on the energy subsidy cut and on the state budget cut.

Even Prabowo’s Gerindra Party supported Jokowi’s programs. But Jokowi is facing problems with his own party, the Indonesian Democratic Party of Struggle (PDI-P). The whole crisis about the appointment of the National Police (Polri) chief is in reality a storm in a teacup because of his inexperience in national politics, and for not having a team in place to advise him on political issues, and at the same time act as his operatives.

Of course his problems with the PDI-P, and especially with its chairwoman Megawati Soekarnoputri, are difficult. But both Jokowi and Megawati have to overcome everything and hopefully forge a model of cooperation for the future. Some rules and openness between the party and Jokowi, and especially between Megawati and Jokowi, should become a mechanism to overcome such dualism caused by simple misunderstandings.

Megawati is wise enough to understand the importance of the relationship and to be willing to maintain it for sake of the country, just as she was wise enough to nominate Jokowi as the party’s presidential candidate. In addition, the party leadership should understand and accept the fact that Jokowi is the president and head of government.

The PDI-P should support and assist him constantly. Jokowi also should have regular consultations with the party on principal matters and basic policies. Of course, the implementation of the policies should be done by the government under Jokowi. PDI-P members who are members of the Cabinet/government should recognize the authority of the President, and be loyal to him in performing their jobs.

Differences should be overcome by consultations between Jokowi and the party leadership. The PDI-P was the main party to support Jokowi, but there was also support from the coalition partners. But it was the people’s support and the backing of volunteers that led Jokowi to victory. While Jokowi recognized the critical support of the volunteers, he should, therefore, take their protests on the candidacy of Budi Gunawan for the top position of the police very seriously.

So, if Budi is considered unsuitable to be the police chief because the Corruption Eradication Commission (KPK) has declared him a graft suspect, then a new candidate should be nominated according to the prevailing law and regulations. Since the leadership of the KPK has also come under attack, it too should be scrutinized, and if the allegations prove to be true, the KPK leadership should also be reformed.

I think it was inappropriate for Jokowi to ask the KPK to check on his ministerial candidates. First, it is against the presumption of innocence principle, a cardinal rule of the rule of law, until a court decides on a case and the person concerned is declared guilty of corruption.

Second, the KPK has been politicking too much and has become a political body instead of a legal one. Anticorruption agencies can be more effective if they distance themselves from politics, as in Hong Kong and Singapore. In addition, the Indonesian Military (TNI) should not join the fray in the police-KPK conflict because it is solely the terrain and authority of the President and nobody else. Tensions are high in the confrontation, but that does not warrant military intervention, which would only make it worse.

Jokowi’s relationship with members of his coalition is manifested in their nominations in the Cabinet. Jokowi did not have a long time to select his Cabinet members, and as time has passed some of his appointees have proven to be incompetent. He will have to reshuffle his Cabinet, otherwise he will not reach his economic and other program targets, including his planned reforms for the interest of low-income people. He should look into this with other coalition partners and try to find more competent personalities to replace them.

Jokowi was partly dependent on his volunteers for his victory. They made the difference in the showdown between the two coalitions, but the volunteers who consist of civil society groups, social media groups and artists should be aware that the general election is over and their candidate won. This means that their future task is not to micromanage the presidency. If there is an urgent case, such as the appointment of Budi for example, the volunteers can and should warn the President.

Criticism should be given from the beginning of his term, because he needs it to be able to govern well, and we are obliged to give it to him. After all, Jokowi is also President to the volunteers, and criticism and feedback have to be given to a friend and leader.
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The writer is vice chair of the board of trustees at the CSIS Foundation, Jakarta.

– See more at: http://www.thejakartapost.com/news/2015/02/13/insight-the-first-challenge-president-joko-widodo.html#sthash.hmUXVEma.dpuf

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