The History Maker
    Category: Main Features By : Ulisari Eslita Read : 2883 Date : Saturday, September 13, 2014 - 11:12:26

    PR Handout

    Jakarta vice governor Basuki Tjahaja Purnama is known for being tough on corruption, and gives Forbes Indonesia an example during an exclusive hour-long interview at his office in July. “I just fired a bureaucrat this morning because he took bribes for the low-cost housing project. I want all civil servants in Jakarta to realize this administration is different,” says Basuki, 48, who goes by the name Ahok.

    Besides rooting out corruption, Ahok also wants to eliminate the notorious inefficiency of civil servants. To do that, Ahok has put in a system for evaluating the performance of bureaucrats, which has led to the dismissal of many staff. Some like to label Joko “Jokowi” Widodo and Ahok as Jakarta’s good cop and a bad cop. But soon Jakarta’s bureaucracy will have no place to hide, as now they are forced to deal exclusively with the bad cop (Jokowi is back in the governor’s office after the election, but preoccupied preparing for his inauguration in October).

    As the incoming governor, Ahok has the chance to make history in several ways. First, his elevation to the Jakarta governorship fosters political pluralism, as he breaks through the conventional wisdom that powerful politicians cannot be ethnic Chinese, nor Christian nor non-Javanese. Second, with Jokowi in power, Ahok should have the political cover to undertake some dramatic reform in the country’s largest city, whose economy alone accounts for roughly a quarter of the entire national GDP. Third, if Ahok can build his track record in Jakarta, he will have a base to launch himself into a larger national role in the future. “Now is the time for change. I want to make history, not money,” says Ahok.

    To be sure, Ahok faces some huge challenges. While Jokowi and Ahok have had two years to work on them, many problems are deep rooted and festered for years— including floods, pollution, traffic jams, derelict schools, dilapidated infrastructure, poor healthcare services and extensive poverty.

    While much of his current agenda is a continuation of what was started under Jokowi, Ahok has the tough job of following through on it, and also to look for new ways to improve the province. If he stands still, the problems will just grow worse. Every year Jakarta adds an estimated 70,000 new citizens, mostly poor migrants moving from the countryside to the capital in search of a better life. Jakarta, already one of the world’s biggest cities, must find a place for them, putting added strain on the already overburdened city services (Jakarta proper has about 10 million population but the larger Jabodetabek is ranked as the world’s second largest urban area, with 26 million people, after the Tokyo metropolitan area with 37 million). “We are not afraid of urbanization, as long as they come here looking to work, that will be ok,” says Ahok.