Hard Truth
    Category: Column By : Taufik Darusman Read : 1085 Date : Tuesday, April 16, 2013 - 14:16:50

    A recent nationwide survey says that 47% of respondents want an “honest and pro-people” person at the helm of the nation, as opposed to the 1% who prefer an “intelligent” or the 7% for a “religious” president. The survey, conducted by Pusat Data Bersatu (PDB, or Center of United Data), also shows that respondents care less about the nation's future leader's ethnic, civilian or military background. The survey reflects a significant paradigm shift within our society. For only a few months ago many surveys say most respondents prefer a “firm” leader more than anything else, the public's allusion to their weariness of what it sees as indecisiveness in the current national leadership.

    The survey seems to suggest that the so-called “Jokowi effect” is beginning to kick in. Jakarta Governor Joko Widodo's (Jokowi) transparent and pro-people management style has not only made him a local hero of sorts; it has also made him the standard against which government leaders are measured. For now, the prevailing conventional wisdom on leadership here seems to be that integrity and strong connectivity to the people matter most.

    With daily media coverage on high-level corruption and on politicians looking much more after their own welfare rather than that of the people, it is no surprise that the public prefer integrity over intelligence in their leaders. By this logic, it makes no sense having intelligent people governing the country if they dip their fingers into the state coffers when no one is looking. As they see it, no longer is a public officials' integrity intrinsic and a given; it must be questioned along with their academic background and management skills.

    Of course, high-level government corruption exists all over the world, even in advanced countries. But what seems to set Indonesia apart is the incredible level of greed in some, if not most, in high and even low government echelons. So it's not enough, for example, for a low level tax official as Gayus Tambunan to help himself to a couple of billions, as is the norm among officials in his department. He had to amass about Rp 74 billion before the law caught up with him.