Transactional Politic: Learning from Budi Gunawan’s Case

It is a quite embarrassing moment for, Jokowi, current Indonesia President after Budi Gunawan, a police chief hopeful, was announced as graft suspect by Corruption Eradication Commission (KPK). This announcement just came out not long after Jokowi gave his recommendation regarding the police chief nominee. Furthermore, it is also several days prior to the police chief hearing scheduled by House of Representatives. A question may arise here: why did Jokowi suggest Budi Gunawan as the police chief?

In this article, I would not like to study the detail about the capability of Budi Gunawan or his track records in his professional career. When his name was put under the recommendation made by National Police Commission (Kompolnas), I think that the body had not doubted the capability of his career in police. What I would like to elaborate more in this writing is more about morality in politics. Why is it important? The answer lies in the fact of Jokowi’s promise itself who promised for not having transactional politic once he became Indonesia President. Furthermore, it is also worth to note that he also emphasized the importance of building clean government when he was selecting his ministers.

From the first time Jokowi selected his ministers, several people had put doubt on them especially for several names who were considered as part of transactional politics. I would not like to elaborate the names here because many people have already discussed them already. However, what is important here is when doing the task, Jokowi asked KPK help to properly check whether or not the chosen candidates had bad track records regarding corruption. Thus, it was quite clear that Jokowi put his conscience in selecting the candidates and showed his consistency in maintaining clean government.

From the news currently circulating, it is also then clear that Budi Gunawan had also been one of the candidates. However, the name was then rejected due to the bad track record regarding fat bank account. It was quite fortunate that Jokowi followed the KPK suggestion for not naming Budi as one of his ministers. The problem then arises when Jokowi then selected him as the only candidate of the police chief. Why could this thing happen? If the answer offered is “he is also recommended by Kompolnas,” then it is very ridiculous. How can a president give such an answer? It just blame other for his unreasonable decision. In fact, Kompolnas did not only recommend Budi Gunawan as the sole candidate. Thus, it should have been reasonable for Jokowi to have other candidates who have better track records regarding graft cases since he already knew that the name he chose had been already blacklisted before in minister selection. Thus, why should he come to the decision?

People may speculate that it is because Budi Gunawan was the former adjutant for Megawati when she was a president. In this case, it is then clear about the transactional politics lingering Jokowi. Of course I cannot prove the fact that there is a transactional politic occurring behind this particular phenomenon. Even if journalists ask Jokowi directly regarding this matter, he may answer that he chooses him because of his exceptional track record. But one thing to note: transactional politic often happens and one person cannot eradicate it easily through promising. It is a very tough job, if it cannot be said as impossible.

The reason behind it has been extensively covered by Francis Fukuyama, a political philosopher. It is mainly because we have a tendency of kin selection. When human beings start to organize something and on the highest degree to organize a country, they tend to select people who are close to him. The reason is quite simple: because they know them and perhaps, to some extent, as part of a reciprocal altruism. It occurs everywhere even though we never consciously notice it. For example, when a manager would like to hire a new employee, he/she will prefer the one who is graduated from the same university. This is probably because he/she already knows about the quality about his/her university or as a part of alumni solidarity. Even though there are also some other candidates who have better profile and experience, the manager would get stick to his/her alumni. Hence it is very normal to choose people who are close to you or those who share similar things because you know you can trust them or because you have to pay something back to them. Similar thing also then occurs in politics and it is more complex because in order for a candidate to be a president, he must be supported and backed by people coming with different interests. As a consequence, there is a tendency for a president to select people who are close to him. The question is then: is it wrong?

In ideal circumstance, it is indeed wrong. In order to build a good country, transactional politic should not happen because ministerial post should be filled with competence people. However, as we live in non-ideal circumstance, this condition can be considered as “quite normal.” What should be emphasized then is we should not promise that transactional politic would not happen. Rather we should promise that we will fill the ministerial posts by competent people. Choosing candidate from our close friends is not a wrong decision provided that they have sufficient competency to perform the task. Moreover, when we talk about building a nation, they should also have clean track records regarding corruption. This is the thing that should be emphasized and made clear.

Thus, transactional politic is indeed a phenomenon that cannot be eradicated easily. If Jokowi wants to improve the quality of the government, what is needed is to fill any posts with good and clean candidates. I am not quite sure if there is no transactional politic occurring in Jokowi’s cabinet starting from Cabinet selection process. But I was quite glad to know that KPK was still involved during the selection process. And currently, I am very disappointed by the fact that either KPK or PPATK was not involved in selecting police chief candidate. Please Jokowi, we know certainly transactional politic can occur but please, keep your promise to have clean and professional government. There is nothing wrong by selecting your friends as long as they are clean and competence. It turns wrong only when you are heavily chained by the transactional politic and you get blind easily for the fact behind your candidates just because you want to satisfy everyone who has been backing you until now. Please remember, you work for Indonesian People.

Raising Airline Ticket Price: Will It Guarantee the Safety?

Before starting to write this article, my deep condolence is to the victim of Air Asia QZ 8501 airlines. My prayer is also for the families who are in deep grief because of this incident. Moreover, I do also pray for all the people involved in rescue operation will be blessed with strength and persistence in continuing their effort

It is indeed very interesting to follow the news relating to the missing QZ 8501 airlines in Indonesia. It is not because the feature news that try to uncover non-mainstream news especially relating to the victims’ families. But more importantly, it is because how people in Indonesia and also Indonesia Government itself have to deal with the issue.

Just recently there was a statement coming out from Ignasius Jonan, Indonesia Transportation Minister, saying that he is going to announce that low cost carrier (LCC) airlines in Indonesia should have a minimum ticket price at least 40% from the maximum price allowed. As usual, there is pro and contra side regarding this policy.

For those who support the policy may argue that unreasonable ticket price –which is very cheap- should be paid by reduction in safety. This argument is reasonable since there is actually a minimum cost that should be paid for an airline to maintain its performance and especially its safety. Thus, if an airline wants to offer cheap ticket price, it should have made a rational calculation about this matter. Not giving a snack or perhaps paying the ticket price in advance so the company can invest the money in the future are some tricks that can be used to handle this issue. However, it may also be the case that the airline is still not able to cover all of the expenditures and then try to further reduce the “standard” service that should have been covered by the ticket price, especially safety. Thus, simple logic simply says that by maintaining the lowest price allowed for any airlines, there should have been sufficient amount of revenue for the companies to cover all of the “standard” expenditure.

On the other hand, for those who are against this policy may argue that it has nothing to do with the ticket price. They may suggest that each airline has its own policies how to deal with the ticket price. Thus, they assume that unreasonable cheap ticket price is part of the marketing strategies of the company to attract more costumer to use its airline. Furthermore, there is also an argument saying that such a policy is only an exclusive one since it starts to bar low-income people to have flying experience and thus only allowing people with sufficient amount of money to have the experience.

In this globalized world, people who have dwelled in business can no longer neglect the globalization factor and the importance to increase competitiveness. This is why LCC comes in airlines business because otherwise there will be no competition and people can gain no benefit since monopoly can occur or airlines may arbitrarily increase the ticket price. Thus, cheap ticket price is indeed desirable since it can enhance companies’ competitiveness in giving service. Thus, Mr. Jonan’s statement is still right in this matter since he did not say anything about eliminating the LCC. But, how about the price?

In this respect, regardless of the pro-contra side on this policy, I think the most important thing is to tighten the safety regulation. It is undoubtedly useless to determine exactly what is the lowest price allowed as long as the safety regulation in aviation industry is not complied. There is still a possibility that by increasing the ticket price, the airlines’ boss might say that this is their opportunity to reap more financial benefit without have to improve the safety standard. Who cares with this matter? People will only be then deceived by the ticket price assuming that they already get the “standard” service as dictated by the regulation but in fact they receive nothing. There are too many loopholes in this area and the most severe one is corruption. Thus, as long as people who are responsible in upholding aviation law can still be easily bribed or they just corrupt their time by not having regular inspection to the airlines’ companies, for example, increasing ticket price will only lead to nothing except putting more burden to Indonesians and exacerbating corrupt behavior. As currently disputed about the schedule for the QZ 8501 airlines, this then clearly shows how there are still many irregularities and inconsistencies in the Indonesian aviation industry. This is the thing that should be actually improved.

The reason behind this soon-to-be policy is indeed a good one. Setting the price to guarantee there is sufficient amount of money available for planes’ maintenance is indeed reasonable. However, this should go hand in hand by preserving and strengthening the safety regulation so consumer will be satisfied with the price they pay. And perhaps I will give last statement for the costumer. It is very important to have strict safety standard in aviation industry and this is the pay that we should pay. Thus, never sacrifice your safety in order to have low ticket price. What we have to do is to ensure that the airlines companies really comply with the safety issue and thus we can feel safe in flying and this is our homework together with the Indonesian Government so the airline industry cannot arbitrarily play with price and safety.

Debate on “Merry Christmas” Greeting: When Society’s Dynamic is Sustained

There is always one thing interesting occurring in Indonesia just when Christmas is getting closer: the debate about whether or not Moslems are allowed to give “Merry Christmas” greeting to their friends. It is actually a classic debate and is always repeated every year with more or less predicted result: they are not allowed. However this one is actually unique and its uniqueness is actually rendered due to its repetition.

At first, it does seem very clear that announcement made by Indonesia Ulama Council is made as a prevention for those who are not yet aware and as a reminder if someone has just forgotten about it. If the society wholly believes the MUI then a question arises: why does some people still then eager to have debate on this matter? The answers may vary. Someone may say that such a thing is undoubtedly unnecessary since MUI has no right to judge the degree of someone’s devoutness. Religion is a private matter that actually has something to do between God and thy people. This argument is then countered by the opposite one saying that this announcement is necessary since MUI has a right to determine which one is right and wrong to give a guideline for the Moslem people.

In respect to this matter, I have no right to determine which one is right and wrong since I am not a Moslem. However, this condition just lights Indonesians that the dynamic of this society regarding religion is still there. People still want to debate about the role of MUI in determining the “Merry Christmas” despite the fact that quite obvious result is always expected. This condition is actually important because through discussion and debate they can give arguments to back their claims and perhaps gaining some knowledge from others’ position. As always suggested by Jurgen Habermas: because it is public arena, everyone can raise their position backed by rational argument as long as it does make sense.

Perhaps, it may sound very utopia but only through this way can a society sustain its dynamic and prevent arbitrariness of others to get absolute power. Changing arguments can one day lead others to shift their position even though it is very difficult. It may take long time to achieve unanimous opinion in this matter. But the more important thing is they can have better argument each year and perhaps to rethink about their position later on next year and possibly to reach an agreement someday.

This kind of dynamic is actually needed. The thing that should be emphasized is violence is not permitted whatever the reasons behind them. And one thing that is quite important: since this is the case of Moslem people, it is better for the Christians to not intervene in the process unless they feel that they have sufficient degree of knowledge to enter the debate. Joining the debate without sufficient knowledge will only give negative impact. Because in this case, a reflective question may be risen: how important is it actually to be greeted “Merry Christmas” from other if they are not sincere in doing that? In my opinion, it is not that important as long as we respect each other.

Destructive Nationalism: Why We Should Avoid It

First of all, I would like to say that this writing is dedicated to two persons. The first one is Sharlini Eriza Putri since it is developed based on my daily conversation with her regarding her thesis in low carbon energy policy in Indonesia. Secondly, it is dedicated to one of security guards on my campus where I had nearly 3 hours conversation about Indonesia. This writing then mainly talks about nationalism and to be specific: the destructive nationalism. How could nationalism be destructive and why can it be so bad for building Indonesia? Does it mean that liberalization should occur in Indonesia? What is the trade-off in this regard? This writing then tries to explore all the questions and hypothesize the possible answers.

Destructive nationalism

One day I had a talk with a security guard in my campus. We talked about many things and one of them is about nationalism. Firstly, he praised the achievement obtained by Garuda Indonesia since it has been widely acknowledged worldwide for its professionalism and high quality service. It is not strange at all that the company deserves many awards from aviation organizations across the globe. However, he continued to talk, he was quite disappointed with the fact that many public companies could not attain similar satisfactory level as obtained by Garuda Indonesia. In this respect, he blamed that Indonesia Government was too lenient for its companies that actually had to be financially sustained by itself. For him, taking as an example, a public company that won a tender in Indonesia Government’s project did not deserved to be praised because there was a tendency that the connection between the government and company were too strong to be broke out even by other companies who offered higher efficiency in building the project. He then criticized this condition because he had an experience in a private company in which “time is money” is the sole principal and where the boss should think how to make their business sustain even without government support. “But if we sell the public company to private one –namely to liberalize it- we will be deemed for not to be a nationalist. But that is the case. Sometimes everything is not so efficient and our public company cannot grab much money because of corruption and they are never taught about how to compete with the other ones just because they have Government on their back. It does also seem that it is no longer an obligation for them to run their business as usual: namely to be financially stable and competitive.”

I then talked with my Sharlini where she and I often shared our thoughts about her thesis. She also has similar concern as the security guard. However, her focus is mainly aimed at energy sector where renewable energy has not been the priority in Indonesia due to the lack of grand strategy in the sector. Moreover, according to her, it does also seem that there is reluctance in Indonesia regarding foreign investment in energy sector. In Indonesia, electricity cannot be sold by private companies and should be provided by PLN, a public company in Indonesia that deals with electricity. The problem comes when foreign people wants to alleviate the dire circumstances faced by people living in rural areas where electricity is really a luxurious matter. In this regard, they should integrate their system with electricity grid owned by PLN and later PLN will buy the electricity according to the price agreed by both parties. The question is: how if the electricity grid is not there in the rural areas? Should we integrate the system with the electricity grid available in PLN system and then only increases the inefficiency? On the other hand, it is actually the main task of PLN to guarantee that all Indonesians should have electricity access. Thus, there is a contradiction in this matter. On one hand, the electricity provided by the foreign organizations can be considered to be not in line with Indonesia’s main policy in electricity but on the other hand the infrastructure is not yet available to deliver electricity for people in rural areas and inequality access towards electricity does prevail in this matter. Should then we hold our nationalism ethic or let this matter go with pure liberalization?

From this conversation, I find that there is actually a condition where nationalism can be very destructive. In this respect, I call the condition as destructive nationalism. Destructive nationalism can be defined as the condition where our tendency towards nationalism is very tense and high until a point where it has successfully blinded our eyes towards our main goal, namely to deliver prosperity for all Indonesians. In this condition, we can justify our action as nationalist but on the other side, it only aggravates Indonesians who are not satisfied with the performance of Indonesia Government. Destructive nationalism is then very dangerous. Its effects might not be felt right now but it will slowly release painful effects where its accumulation only leads to degeneration. Thus, how can we define the condition based on the above examples?

Destructive nationalism occurs when we have a tendency to choose public companies to finish the public project despite their inefficiency. This can happen merely because the companies have connection with government and in the name of nationalism, we prefer to directly determine the public companies as the winner. Destructive nationalism can also happen when we are reluctant to close down public companies that do not perform well and cannot achieve satisfactory level. On the other hand, we continuously inject financial aid to the companies in the name of nationalism and preserve the right of doing so. Destructive nationalism then also occurs when we reject foreign investment in electricity just because we are very determined to strictly hold on to our policy in retaining the right of PLN to deliver electricity yet insufficient electricity infrastructure does still prevail. In this regard, PLN should be the one who sells the electricity and all electricity that can be individually provided should be sold to the company and integrated on its grid. Despite that it will increase the inefficiency of the whole system, nationalism justifies the action. In short, destructive nationalism can occur because of irrationality equipped with nationalism euphoria lingers our mindset.

Instantaneous bad effects coming out from such disposition may not be direct. However, as time goes on and accumulation occurs, the effects may be very persistent. First of all, it can lead Indonesians to think that all their public companies are doing well despite the contradictory facts. This will bring then down the transparency culture and can further lead to declining the trust between society and government. Secondly, Indonesia will be very reluctant towards the presence of foreign companies, justifying the act as non-nationalist; while the fact is we still need them in some areas. Thirdly and the most important bad effect is it will exacerbate the inequality in this country because lack of infrastructure and incentives of the public companies can be a justification for suspending projects regarding rural areas development in Indonesia. Thus, how can Indonesians avoid this destructive nationalism mindset? What should we do in order to preserve our national interest with rationality? The answer is mainly located on the development of every single Indonesian to shift their paradigm about nationalism.

First of all, it is important to note that globalization is unavoidable phenomenon. Since every country is now connected one to the others, globalization can be seen as “normal” phenomenon. Thus, it is actually not a strange phenomenon to see foreign companies invest in other countries. What Indonesians have to do is to improve the quality its public companies in order to increase its competitiveness level. This is the reason why every young generation should contribute in this grand project. By fulfilling public companies with talented people, its competitiveness level will increase and it will be ready to compete with other companies. In this current globalized world, competitiveness is more important rather than connectivity since the true quality of a company lies on its ability to professionally handle a project and not relies mainly on irrational government support. Thus, be a nationalist in a professional way and not on nepotism.

Secondly, it should be noted that not every foreign investment is non-nationalist. There are conditions where Indonesia has not yet acquired sufficient level of expertise amount in several areas. In this case, foreign investment is indeed required if we are going to excel in the matter latter. However, our bargaining position should be elevated in order to protect our national interest and thus not wholly let foreign people dictate their egoistic will upon us. This begs a crucial question: how could we elevate our bargaining position? This could only be done if it has been already previously stated about the requirements for investing in Indonesia. Foreign companies that are not able to fulfill the requirements are not eligible to be granted the project. This begs another question: what if there is no company interested in doing the project due to the strict regulations? There are two main answers possible. First lowering the standard but not exceeds a certain level that is agreed among Indonesia expertise. This can be followed by technology transfer so Indonesians could excel in the matter latter. Secondly, we could hold the entire project and send Indonesians to study about the respecting area. They are then obliged to come back to Indonesia to develop the area. The first approach is suitable if the situation is urgent while the second approach is more suitable if we deal with natural resources. As natural resources will go nowhere, we could hold the project until we have acquired sufficient amount of expertise in the area and then extract the resources by ourselves. Both ways are indeed useful in protecting our national interest.

Destructive nationalism is indeed a bad precedent for every country in this world. It delivers nothing because it justifies the action solely on irrational nationalism where professionalism is set aside. It will not improve the quality of our public companies or human resources because it only depends on nepotism. If Indonesians really want to bring prosperity to this country and reduce inequality that lingers its society, destructive nationalism should be abolished. We should apply nationalism based on professionalism where we protect our national interest not because we are blinded by our nationalism euphoria, but because we are conscious about our ability to build our country by ourselves. Even we will also be conscious that we are also able to compete globally and may accomplish nearly everything.

Sorry Mr. Prabowo, but It Is not Merely About Increasing the Salary

It is quite interesting to see the first debate from both of presidential candidates. People have also reviewed their performance and it does seem that the conclusion is relatively unanimous: that Joko Widodo performed quite well. This result is indeed unexpected since he is usually known as low-profile figure who does not really like to talk much. On the other hand, Prabowo could be pushed to the corner by Jusuf Kalla due to the human right issue that asked by Kalla. To be fair, the second candidate has successfully controlled the atmosphere last night. You might judge me as bias but you could check by yourself in my blog that I have also posed my critic to Jokowi once he declared himself as a candidate for Indonesia Preseident. However, what I want to elaborate in this writing is not about reviewing the whole debating process. Rather, I am quite interested in one particular moment where Prabowo was asked about bureaucracy reform and this is the specific part that I want to discuss on.

Last night debate concentrated on how to build clean government, strengthening rule of law, and everything alike. Thus, it was not rare if bureaucracy reform, human right, and corruption became the main topic during the show. One interesting point was made by Prabowo in this issue when he made a statement that remuneration for civil servants was indeed important and required to ensure that bureaucracy reform can be run smoothly and successfully. The most important question is then: is remuneration scheme urgently required to complete such a reform? Should clean government be achieved by disbursing more money to civil servants?

When taken unto the most extreme point, democracy can be associated with master-slave relationship. Who is the master and who becomes the slave? They are the people and government, respectively since the actual position of government is to serve the people and not the opposite. In master and slave paradigm, it is up to the master whether or not he/she will let the slave to be free. If the slaves are good enough and the masters want to show a little bit of mercy, the masters will be likely to pay them. But it is inevitable that in regard the remuneration, the masters retain the sole right.

But we are not currently living in such a paradigm. Slavery is undoubtedly prohibited worldwide since we have already advanced to adopt human rights value. However, the main principle from the above explanation does still prevail, namely that government is actually the servant of the people and not the opposite. Following this logic, simple conclusion can be made: remuneration of the government officials mainly depend upon the will of the people. As long as the people do not agree on the scheme, remuneration scheme should have been just blown away by the wind. Let alone the government officials beg for such incentive.

However, this condition does not exist in Indonesia. It can be clearly seen from the poverty level of Indonesians and those who are vulnerable to get dragged into the region. In contrast, our legislative members, ministers, and also government officials can enjoy extravagant lives. It is true that this statement is like an exaggeration or generalization and there are some government officials who are indeed very honest in doing their job. But, how much the probability really is? Of course it is also the fact that such people will be overwhelmed by those who are very greed in extorting dirt money in order to enrich themselves. Thus, why could this happen?

First of all, democracy in Indonesia is indeed very expensive. This condition makes those who desire to be elected as government officials or legislative members should prepare much money to campaign. And what is the paradigm once such people are elected? Of course, this is not a matter of national duty and rather a trade balance: I should earn more money to cover up my expenses and in order to be elected on the next election. It is just a vicious circle. Secondly, it may happen because the salary is not enough for sustaining their lives. This then becomes the main reason to justify remuneration. The question is: are you sure that remuneration will give clean government?  

The answer is quite clear: no. The first reason is because the democracy itself that is still very expensive. Hence when everyone competes to get elected, they will eventually disburse more money and once elected, they can easily beg for remuneration to recover their expenses. In this regard, campaigning to be a part of government has been considered as the expense that should be covered by taxation. Without them, they can no longer sustain their lives. In contrast, people who work in labor-intensive factories never demand such an expense; while in fact such people are actually the master of the government officials.

Secondly, when I heard Prabowo’s statement last night to increase the salary, I remembered my high school teacher when she left us a word: “it is no matter how small your salary is. As long as you are wise, everything will be covered. And the opposite does also exist: even though you have big salary, as long as you are not wise, you will never get enough.” I know for sure that such a statement cannot be taken literally. Small salary does not mean that we just submit ourselves to the fate. There is a red line that should not be surpassed so people are still able to get proper lives.

Thus, the most important thing is not about remuneration. As long as our government officials never get enough for themselves and pursue political career as a pathway to be richer, they will never get enough. Corruption will be still prevalent and clean government cannot be ensured just by remuneration program. Furthermore, the question is: what if there is a person who comes to a minister and offers some amount of money that is significantly bigger than their monthly salary? Does it mean that he/she will be subdued because of their price tag-based loyalty? Another case: what if one of his/her relatives comes to him/her insisting that they want to get a government project? Even though they do not offer any money, as long as they are family member, it will be very likely that special treatment will be endorsed upon them. Thus, how can we be sure that salary increase can build a clean government? How can we be sure that the term “enough” is not an exaggerated condition aired by our government officials? And as long as they always look their relatives who are richer than them, how can we be sure that they will not get subdued to be greed and thus demanding more salary increase in the name of “daily needs?”

In this regard, I think Prabowo’s statement is absolutely wrong. The first thing that we need to reform is meritocracy and loyalty. This is not about increase in salary. It is true that people should never let others to live in a desperate condition. But once you serve for a country, you work for people and give your loyalty to your country. In an extreme case, I rather agree with what has been taught by Plato and applied in early Ottoman Empire that guardians of a nation should be told about “noble lie” and forced to renounce their kinship tie in order to accomplish political purification since kinship tie will disrupt the just political order. Or it does seem more proper if government officials should be ruled in the same way as during the Ottoman Empire where they could not hold hereditable properties. Or even like in early Chinese Emperor while the all of the eunuchs are castrated in order to prevent them to have sexual desire, especially toward the wife of the emperor. These conditions then lead to pure meritocracy and loyalty. Those who serve for the nation will give all of they have and then never intends to disrupt the whole system; purely to serve the people. Should we have a system like this one? The answer to this question can only be validated through public deliberation in order to consider its good and bad.

However, the most important point that I would like to underline in this matter is not such extreme cases. I just want to put one thing: once you have chosen to serve your country, please never think about your salary because I am sure that Indonesians will not let you live in a desperate condition; once we have acquired proofs of your achievements, we can even easily grant you many incentives; but the first thing that you should have in your mind and conscience is your sincere to serve us. This is why to become a leader or a legislative member for this country is actually a very demanding job due to the high responsibility. And in this regard, I still cannot understand why many people out there eager to take this position and then just begging us to increase their salary but just can sleep and absent during meeting or extorting our taxation through project projects. Thus, it is not about money, Mr. Prabowo; it is about sincere in serving and I think from the point incentives will follow because Indonesians are your master  and everyone sits in the government position has a duty to serve all Indonesians. Like Ahok, your own cadre, said: if you want to be rich, be a businessman not a civil servants.  

Jokowi, Promise, and Our Double Standard

One day, one of my friends asked my opinion about divorce in marriage. Since in Indonesia marriage is both about religious and legal matter, I answered that I did not support divorce because in my religion, the couple had promised to be with each other until death separates them. A further question is then raised: how if the reality insists them to do so? My answer is clear: that is why you need to know each other before performing your marriage because once you have promised; you are not liable to take it back.

Promise and double standard

Talking about promise is important nowadays because it seems that it is rather easy to merely say about it than realizing what has been promised. As Indonesians, the main reason why we demonstrate against legislative members is because they fail to fulfill their promise once they campaigned to obtain the legislative seat. This is also the reason why we are easily bored with political campaign: it is because we no longer need promises out from the legislative candidates; people just want them to work and prove that they are able to perform their duty well.

Recently, heat tension in Indonesia political circumstance is rising especially because Jokowi has been formally announced as the presidential candidate from PDI-P, the main opposition party. Social media and online forums are also divided into two main blocks: those who do and don’t support Jokowi as candidate for RI 1. The ongoing tension is further escalated by one forum in Kaskus showing how Jokowi is allegedly involved in several corruption cases in Solo. Unfortunately, the writer does not cite any credible source backing his/her hypothesis. With this increasing debate and tension, a simple question is worth to ask: does Jokowi deserve to be a president?

When Jokowi was going to compete for Jakarta Governor, I was actually one of his fans. It is quite rare to see a leader who is able to mingle with his grass-root society, hearing their complaints and then very decisive in taking decision. As Jakartans, I feel bureaucracy reform is moving so fast. Once we face unimportant difficulties in obtaining any kind of permits, for example, we just send text message to the leaders and everything will be alright for the next days. Up to now, I can still feel positive reactions in respect to our new leaders in Jakarta despite the prevailing of several problems such as flood and traffic gridlock which in my opinion cannot be easily solved just by purely relying on the Jakarta’s new leaders.

But, could this achievement be justified as a strong basis to support Jokowi as a president? I think the answer is quite clear: no. The problem is not located on doubt about his capability for bringing good reform. Furthermore, alleged corruption as posted on Kaskus cannot also be justified to thrown out him from his presidential candidate. The main problem is located on his promise to lead Jakarta for 5 years once he said during his governor election. I would like to ask: why does not he fulfill his promise?

Many answers can be taken up to surface and there are two main answers that is mostly cited in social media: (1) if Jokowi leads Indonesia, it will be easy for Ahok to handle Jakarta and there will be no more recrimination between Central and Jakarta Government and (2) if Jokowi is not nominated, who should we vote for? Both of these answers do seem to undermine the promise that Jokowi had made when he was going to be Jakarta Governor. I rather ask them question: why do we often demonstrate against our government officials once they could not fulfill their promise and when Jokowi does similar thing, why rather we seek justification to support it? Have not we applied double standard in this political matter? We tighten the standard for the legislative members and loosen it toward Jokowi. Furthermore, as cited in, Jokowi said that as long as Indonesia Constitution permits him to be a presidential candidate, everything will be alright. By saying so, in my opinion, he just undermines his position as a true leader who should have taken seriously what he has promised. He just undermines his uniqueness that I am looking for a true leader. And lastly, it does seem that he is indifferent with usual politicians who just like to give promise without further realization and just sell out his conscience to political party.

I am not in the opposition toward Jokowi. It is because I am his fan that I think I need to urge him to fulfill his promise as Jakarta Governor for 5 years. Moreover, by siting longer as Jakarta Governor, I think he will be more ready to prepare his subordinates once he takes up throne as Indonesian President. Thus, everything will be better once he becomes a President and less people would oppose his candidacy.

Thus, to Mr. Jokowi and all Indonesians, I just want to insist one thing: a promise is a promise. We just cannot put a double standard just because we have achieved something. And just because it is legal under Indonesia Constitution, it does not mean you are wise to do so. As in marriage condition: even if reality insists you to divorce, the best way to deal with it is to counter the submission because you have promised to be with your partner forever. You have given your promise and you are subject to fulfill it. If promise is then no longer exalted, then people will be very easy to promise everything without thinking and make any decision without proper calculation.

The last say toward Jokowi: at least I know that you are merely a usual politician, not that extraordinary because the extraordinary one is those who can hold on to his/her promise because it is the rarest character ever.