Friday, 6 March 2015

The Rise & Fall of Joko Widodo

The Rise

In a hotly contested vote, Joko Widodo (or Jokowi) was elected as Indonesia’s seventh President last July. He was the leader of the masses, by the masses and for the masses. What made him so popular amongst Indonesians were his humble and apolitical beginnings. His winning of election promised a new era of clean politics and an end to cronyism which the country was seeing since decades. This is in part true because Indonesia became a stronghold for country’s elites since Suharto’s era. His victory was truly between the battle of Indonesian’s old guard and wave of fresh air. In a country where elitist politics reign, Jokowi’s victory certainly gave boost to Indonesian democracy. During his ‘banal’ election campaigns, he set very high standards amongst masses for uplifting poor and doing good for them just as he did in his mayorly role in Jakarta.

If we look at this South-East Asian region, certainly Jokowi is not the first populist politician. But, he is certainly different in the aspect that he had almost negligible political baggage (Prior to taking over on Presidential and Mayor roles, he was a furniture merchant). Also, he is neither a scion of powerful dynasty nor a wealthy businessman but an ordinary citizen who imbued a sense of confidence amongst his fellow beings of good times.

The Fall

Judging his success (or failure) in a short span of time of his tenure of about six months would be ideally very wrong thing to do. But, this became inevitable especially after the events that are taking shape in the capital region. Once a man of hope has now become a man facing widespread disillusionment both at home and abroad.

Although he successfully managed to push through some of the notable programmes he promised during his campaign trails like giving health care cards and providing public education. The long pending decision of cutting down on fuel subsidies was overdue by the past government. Though Indonesia was facing a large current account deficit but the erstwhile president Yudhoyono, deferred it owing to facing a backlash from the public. Thankfully, the falling global crude prices made things easier for Jokowi and he did take steps to bring back the economy on centre stage.

Aside from the aforementioned, his nil or negligible diplomatic experience made him very unpopular with earlier ‘friendly’ nations. He has been signing death penalties for punishing drug dealers of Brazil and Netherlands. In pursuance of this stance, he may also undermine Australian-Indonesian bilateral relationship as two Australian convicts face the death penalty imminently.

This was regarding his relations with the world; he is disliked by many in his home and is receiving flak from all sides particularly for the following reasons –
  •   Poor selection in his cabinet
  •  Controversial appointment of former general Ryamizard Ryacudu as defence minister
  •  Inability to break free from his political masters’ style of governance
  •  His promises of reform seems bleak
  • Ongoing turf between Indonesia’s corruption commission and National Police (Polri)
  • His nomination of ‘tainted’ police commissioner Budi Gunawan has also attracted criticism.This move has severely blown his image as that of a clean politician.

Thus, the new era of politics which evolved under him is fading fast. But this is to be seen that how soon will all this ‘mess’ come to an end and wouldn’t culminate into a stronger turbulence.

Lastly, did you find something common with Jakarta & Delhi? Don’t you see similarity between Arvind Kejriwal and Joko Widodo with just one difference – One is a national leader while the other is state (& soon-becoming-popular-to-involve-in-national-politics). But, seeing what Delhi is going through these days, his plans may remain a fantasy. Same reasons can be attributed to his unpopularity – differences of opinions, lack of experience in handling political affairs, impulsive attitude......

                                                             Rest to be continued………….. 
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