Reportase The Jakarta Post on Jokowi

Posted on November 26, 2013

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Man of the house, man of the moment
Sita W. Dewi, The Jakarta Post | Reportage | Wed, November 20 2013, 8:09 AM

Listening to heavy metal music, growing his hair long and undertaking adrenalin-inducing trips, Jakarta Governor Joko “Jokowi” Widodo enjoyed a pretty typical adolescence.

Born in Surakarta on June 21, 1961, to a middle-class family of entrepreneurs, Jokowi is the eldest of four and the only son of the late Noto Mihardjo and his wife, Sujiatmi Notomiharjo. Within the family, Jokowi assumed the role of the man of the house.

“As a child, he was very responsible about whatever was entrusted to him. He watched over his sisters and as he grew older, he also watched over his nephews and nieces,” Sujiatmi said at her home in Surakarta, Central Java, recently.

“We have always been able to count on him,” she said.

The young Jokowi’s determination was also reflected in his decision-making. Even though he always discussed his thoughts with his parents, particularly his mother, the final decision was always Jokowi’s to make.

“We usually made suggestions but in the end, he was the one who made the decisions. He knows what he’s doing and once he believes in something, nobody can stop him,” she said, citing one example when Jokowi chose mountaineering as a hobby.

“When he was a student at UGM [Gadjah Mada University] in Yogyakarta, he often went mountain-climbing with his friends. I was worried and often tried to stop him but he said I shouldn’t worry and he continued anyway,” she said.

“When he grew long hair, I told him I didn’t like it but he said I was too old to appreciate his hair style,” she said. “His eldest son, Gibran, did the same thing a few years back and Jokowi told me he hated it,” she added, smiling.

Although he was raised in an entrepreneurial family, in which his grandfather, father and uncle were all furniture businessmen, Jokowi grew up in a modest home on Jl. Ahmad Yani, Surakarta.

Sujiatmi denied reports that said the governor once lived in a shanty house on the riverbank, and that he was once relocated by the city administration.

“We lived there from the time Jokowi was in kindergarten. The house was indeed a few hundred meters from a river, but it is located on a street and it is our own house,” she said.

After his own business took off, Jokowi built a new home on Jl. Plered Raya in Banyuanyar district, about a 10-minute drive from the old house, which was still inhabited by his relatives.

Jokowi built two homes in the same compound — one for his mother and another one for his own family. Surrounded by a high wall, the compound measures approximately 1,000 square meters with the houses separated by a small garden and a connecting gate.

When The Jakarta Post visited recently, there was no luxurious furniture or any high-end decorations inside the compound. Judging from the well-maintained garden and an extensive use of wood, the occupants clearly cherish nature.

Hanging on one of the walls was a picture of Jokowi and Megawati Soekarnoputri, the chief patron of the Indonesian Democratic Party of Struggle (PDI-P).

From an early age, Jokowi had dreamed of becoming a successful entrepreneur, not a politician, according to his mother.

After graduating from UGM’s forestry school in 1985, Jokowi worked at a state-owned company in Aceh for about two years, only to realize that his true calling was to become an entrepreneur.

“He said he couldn’t stand working for other people. He wanted to run his own business and, therefore, he did,” Sujiatmi recalled.

Before actually launching his own company, Jokowi worked at his uncle’s furniture company to gain some insight and know-how.

After about a year and a half, he decided to establish his own furniture factory. Sujiatmi recalled that she gave him Rp 65 million (US$5,6030) as initial capital to launch the business in 1987.

But things were not always easy.

At the outset, Jokowi was deceived by a buyer who never paid for his order and made off with the furniture, leaving Jokowi without any capital.

“He was very naïve — he thought nobody would do such a thing. And that was not the only time. That’s why he is very careful when placing his trust in people,” Sujiatmi said.

After years of struggle, his enterprise finally took off. Jokowi managed to expand his business and received orders from a number of countries, including those in Europe and the Middle East. It was during this time that he received his popular nickname.

One day, a French buyer complained to Jokowi about how many men named Joko he had met in Indonesia.

To differentiate him from the other Jokos that he knew, the buyer nicknamed him Jokowi, a moniker that Jokowi immediately liked and that later, became a kind of good luck charm.

Jokowi met his future wife, Iriana, who was a friend of his sister’s, while at university. Soon after he graduated in 1985, they tied the knot.

The couple have three children. Their eldest son, Gibran Rakabuming, 25, is a catering boss in Surakarta; while their second child, Kahiyang Ayu, 22, is a food science and technology student at Sebelas Maret State University (UNS) in Surakarta. Their youngest child, Kaesang Pangarep, 18, is currently studying at university in Singapore.
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For 4th time, Megawati considers her presidential luck
The Jakarta Post | Reportage | Wed, November 20 2013, 7:59 AM

The Indonesian Democratic Party of Struggle (PDI-P) has been an opposition party since 2004 following the humilating defeat of its leader Megawati Soekarnoputri by President Susilo Bambang Yudhoyono in the country’s first direct presidential election. Amid the rising popularity of Jakarta Governor Joko “Jokowi” Widodo as a potential presidential candidate, Megawati is also facing pressure from her own followers to allow Jokowi to represent PDI-P in next year’s presidential election. However, Megawati is still considering running again as a presidential candidate. The following report was prepared by Sita W. Dewi and Haeril Halim.

Despite his repeated denials, Jakarta Governor Joko “Jokowi” Widodo has been widely tipped to represent the Indonesian Democratic Party of Struggle (PDI-P) in next year’s presidential election. Many of the party’s elites have openly expressed their support for such a scenario, and most pollsters have indicated that Jokowi would greatly help the party to regain its position as the largest faction in the legislature and that Jokowi would win the presidential race.

The party’s chairwoman — Megawati Soekarnoputri, who has the final say on almost everything involving the party — has sent strong signals that she would give her blessing for Jokowi to take her place in the presidential election. Jokowi often appears in public with her, plus the former Surakarta mayor also regularly visits Megawati at her Menteng home, which is just several hundreds of meters from his official residence.

Jokowi himself has refrained from talking openly about his possible candidacy. He also insists that although he has a good relationship with Megawati, he is but one of her choices. “I think Ibu also mentioned other people. Just ask Ibu Mega: I still work for Jakarta,” Jokowi replied when asked about his intention of running for president.

Megawati has cautiously praised the governor. “Jokowi has a Sukarno vibe. He has the capacity to maintain Sukarno’s legacy, but other potential young members also have a similar capacity,” Megawati said in September.

The party’s local leaders have also expressed support for Jokowi, although all of them as well as Megawati’s loyalists also reiterated that: “We will abide by whatever decision is made by our party chairperson.” The PDI-P is the only political party to be united by one person and Megawati is fully entrusted to do whatever she deems right for the party.

They know very well that the fate of Jokowi is totally in the hands of their boss. They realized that Megawati still cannot accept the bitter reality that she failed in three presidential elections — including in two direct presidential elections — and still strongly believes she lost the three races because of the betrayals of two trusted friends, who stabbed her in the back by becoming her contenders. She served as the country’s fifth president only because she had to replace her close friend Abdurrahman “Gus Dur” Wahid in 2001. She held the position until October 2004.

“I think she still wants to run for the president next year because she was a president only for about three years at the time. She never discusses it with me though, but I can feel it,” said a senior politician who has known Megawati since her childhood and still has regular private meetings with her. He requested anonymity during an interview over the weekend.

The veteran politician noted, “I talked to Mega last night and she said that the PDI-P would wait for the result of legislative election before announcing the party’s presidential candidate. People might say that is too late, but let them say what they want.”

Megawati, the eldest daughter of the country’s first president, Sukarno, whose ideology strongly influences the PDI-P, was confident of winning the presidential election in 1999 because her party was the winner of Indonesia’s first democratically held legislative election after its independence in 1945 (some say the first free election was held in 1955). Megawati is a perfect symbol of the struggles against Soeharto’s iron-fisted rule. Soeharto stepped down in May 1998, and Megawati appeared as the strongest candidate to follow in her father’s footsteps, although she had to be patient for a while because Soeharto’s deputy BJ Habibie replaced Soeharto for about one year.

In October 1999, Megawati was unexpectedly defeated by her long-time friend Gus Dur and ended up serving as his vice president. Megawati became Indonesia’s fifth president in July 2001, because the People’s Consultative Assembly (MPR) removed him from his position for his erratic and confrontational approach toward the legislature.

In 2004, Indonesia held its first direct presidential election. She was optimistic that this time she would realize her dream of being a “true” president, although rumors widely circulated that her chief security czar Gen. (ret) Susilo Bambang Yudhoyono would also contest the election with his new Democratic Party (PD). She lost the race, and the PDI-P also garnered far fewer seats in the House of Representatives.

In 2009, Yudhoyono easily beat her in the presidential election, again. To this day, it appears that she still has not forgiven Yudhoyono for what she sees as “treason” and wants her revenge.

“Old age does not mean there is no support from the people […] Do not be mistaken, an old presidential candidate like me is also ready to fight,” Megawati boasted in January.

The Jakarta Post’s conversations with several party politicians who are very close to the former president, however, showed that their boss has not made any decision about Jokowi’s future, both for tactical reasons and much more fundamentally, because Megawati still has a strong ambition to try again one last time and try her luck in the presidential election. She has been humiliated in three elections, and she wants to restore her dignity.

Her close aides expressed wariness that the PDI-P would pay a very high price if their leader remained adamant about realizing her ambition, because they know very well that Megawati has a very slim chance of winning and the party could also suffer another defeat if she refused to give up.

Sabam Sirait, who persuaded Megawati to join the party in 1986 and remains one of her most trusted advisors, has denied that the party is divided over Jokowi’s possible candidacy.

“No, that is not the case. It is probably like this: some still expect Megawati to run for the presidency, but there are also voices from Sabang to Merauke who say ‘we want Jokowi’.

“However, according to the convention result, Megawati is the one who will decide who will be on the PDI-P’s presidential ticket. It might be her or other people,” Sabam added.

But none of Megawati’s aides are brave enough to openly voice their objection. Megawati tends to pay attention to the suggestions of senior party members who worked with her father or the founding members of the PDI-P (originally it was named PDI when established in 1973, but later was changed to PDI Perjuangan [PDI-P] in 1996 after Soeharto cracked down on the party). Senior party members are apparently trying to convince her to endorse Jokowi while continuing to help her in ensuring regeneration within the party and to reduce its dependence on Megawati.

“[PDI-P/Megawati] has to be realistic in seeing the momentum. This is like when you want to sell things, you have to know what the market wants. If you sell things that the market does not like, you will lose. This is good momentum for the PDI-P because the party is doing fine and one of its cadres [Jokowi] has a good electability,” legislator Eva Sundari replied when asked by the Post about Megawati’s plan.

But she quickly added, “I think the party has to be smart in using good ammunition to win the battle and I am sure that Megawati will consider all aspects [before making a decision]. I am sure she will not make any decision that will damage the party.”

Tubagus Hasanuddin, one of Megawati’s confidantes in the House, expressed similar views, although he avoided openly mentioning her name. In a discussion at the House on Monday, the retired major general pointed out that voters would vote for young candidates because they wanted major changes.

“No matter who the senior candidates are, they will not be elected. It is just a waste of money. It is better for young figures to emerge,” said Hasanuddin, who served as Megawati’s presidential military secretary when she was the president from 2001 to 2004

For Megawati and the PDI-P, next year’s legislative and presidential elections are crucial. So it needs a huge amount of funds. As an opposition party since 2004, the PDI-P has very limited sources of funds, especially from government coffers.

Jokowi cannot provide the needed money. “I don’t think Jokowi can support the party financially. Of course money is important, but it is not everything,” said Sabam about possible funding from Jokowi.

Sidarto Danusubroto, who replaced Megawati’s husband Taufik Kiemas as the MPR’s speaker after he died earlier this year, has a different view about Megawati.

Sidarto claims that she is often unpredictable. “She is a seasoned politician, but unpredictable. My appointment as the speaker of the MPR was also unpredictable,” said the retired police general who once served as Sukarno’s adjutant.

So will Megawati make a surprise decision on Jokowi?
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The inner circle
The Jakarta Post | Reportage | Tue, November 19 2013, 11:56 AM

FX Hadi ‘Rudy’ Rudyatmo

Jokowi’s former mayoral deputy, Rudy, 53, who is now Surakarta mayor, is undoubtedly the primary person behind Jokowi’s success and rise to prominence.

After being turned down by the Democratic Party, the National Mandate Party (PAN) and the Muslim-based Prosperous Justice Party (PKS), Jokowi was prompted by Rudy to join the Indonesian Democratic Party of Struggle (PDI-P) to contest the Surakarta mayoral election in 2005.

As head of the PDI-P Surakarta chapter, Rudy had a huge support base that enabled the pair to reform the city, a hotbed of Islamic extremism.

With such widespread influence, Rudy also played a key role in the successful relocation of Surakarta’s street vendors in 2009 and the clamping down on prostitution and thuggery on the city’s streets and parks.

While paired with Jokowi, Rudy assumed challenging tasks like dealing with people from the grass roots, as well as guiding Jokowi, particularly in his dealing with the media. He also helped Jokowi in terms of organization and political management.

“I would point out things if he said something wrong. In fact, I still do so,” said Rudy, who continues to assist Jokowi with relocating street vendors in Jakarta and other issues.

“When it came to a separation of our jobs, I didn’t consider there were any strict lines at the time. We performed our tasks in terms of who we were: public servants,” said Rudy, who is known as a confidant of PDI-P chairwoman Megawati Soekarnoputri.

He was also the driving force behind the construction of the Esemka national car by students of the city’s vocational engineering school. The Esemka car was widely publicized to popularize Jokowi ahead of his candidacy for the Jakarta gubernatorial election in 2012.

When asked whether he would be running in the upcoming 2015 mayoral election, Rudy said it would be better if he withdrew from his executive function and focus on managing the party.

Basuki ‘Ahok’
Tjahaja Purnama

Jokowi’s pairing with Ahok during the 2012 Jakarta gubernatorial election was, initially, a forced marriage.

Jokowi said that he had known Ahok before 2012, but was told that Ahok would be his running mate only a day prior to registering as a gubernatorial candidate.

Ahok, then a Golkar Party politician, jumped ship to the Great Indonesia Movement Party (Gerindra) in exchange for a spot on the ticket with Jokowi.

A source at the Indonesian Democratic Party of Struggle (PDI-P) has claimed that Jokowi initially nixed the idea of running with Ahok, wanting instead to partner with celebrity Deddy Mizwar (now West Java deputy governor), whose popularity would help garner votes, particularly from devout Muslim communities.

The choice, however, was in the hands of PDI-P chairwoman Megawati Soekarnoputri and Gerindra patron Prabowo Subianto, and Jokowi had no other option than to comply with their request.

But it didn’t take long for Jokowi and Ahok to mesh. Each has a governing style that complements the other’s, with Jokowi playing the good cop boss and Ahok his loyal bad-cop deputy.

“During meetings, the governor usually briefs me and then I carry out his instructions accordingly,” Ahok said.

While Jokowi presents himself as a “soft leader”, Ahok has not hesitated to be blunt and bold, such as when he threatened to file a lawsuit against illegal street vendors in the Tanah Abang market, the largest textile center in Southeast Asia, if they opposed the city’s plan to relocate them.

For Jokowi, Ahok has become an ideal partner with a proven ability to get things done.

“Pak deputy focuses on internal matters: He handles implementation after I make a decision or policy. He is the one who summons the agency heads and leads the meetings — something that I’m not as well suited for,” said Jokowi.

“My job is to meet with the people in the field, to check on problems and make policies and decisions that will be included in the city budget.”

Despite different styles and roles, both of them share the same spotlight and Jokowi has never seen Ahok as a threat to his popularity.

“We have our own jobs. Most pairings make the mistake of not dividing the workload because they have their own agendas: They have political and economic interests. We never talk about such interests, and we’ve never had a fight,” said Jokowi.

Sumartono Hadinoto

Sumartono, born Khoe Liong Haow, is an entrepreneur-turned-philanthropist who is active in more than 19 social organizations engaged in helping people in distress.

He is usually present at relief efforts such as helping victims of floods, volcanic eruptions, earthquakes, blood drives at the Indonesian Red Cross (PMI), or distributing food aid and school fees for low-income families.

Sumartono, believed by locals to be Surakarta’s second-most influential figure after Mayor FX Hadi “Rudy” Rudyatmo, was among Jokowi’s first supporters when the largely unknown furniture businessman opted to run for mayor of Surakarta in 2005.

“I didn’t know Jokowi before the mayoral election, but I knew Rudy for a very long time. I was surprised when Jokowi came to my house to share his vision of developing Surakarta,” recalled Sumartono.

“My first impression of Jokowi was that he was a very low-profile and honest figure. I believed at the time that Jokowi and Rudy would have all the sincerity necessary to lead the city. That’s why I eventually decided to support them.”

Sumartono is still active in providing advice to Jokowi, but has always tried to avoid bothering the governor.

“He always picks up my phone calls,” he said.

“Although I’ve helped him with his campaign by persuading my friends to support him, I’ve never asked for any projects from him.”

“But if there is someone who wants to help with certain projects or provide input I will help them contact Jokowi, including big companies that want to engage in corporate social responsibility [CSR] programs,” he said.

Anggit Noegroho

Anggit, 48, a veteran journalist, was first contacted by Jokowi a few months before the Surakarta mayoral election in 2005.

“I didn’t know him at first. He invited me to his home and we had a general discussion. During a second meeting, he conveyed his intention to become a candidate for mayor, and asked me to join his campaign team,” he said.

Anggit later helped Jokowi with his campaigning, specifically regarding media relations.

“I conducted simple polls to determine the most effective way to introduce Jokowi to the public and to promote his programs. It turned out that face-to-face meetings were the most effective way for Jokowi to understand local people’s aspirations,” he said.

With this strategy, Anggit helped to initiate Jokowi’s now-trademark impromptu visits, known locally as blusukan.

Now installed in Jakarta, Jokowi has continued to trust Anggit with external communication affairs, media relations and other issues outside the office.

“We talk about many things, including private matters. Pak Jokowi shares his thoughts during our private discussions,” said Anggit, who also assists Jokowi with developing programs for the city and, on occasion, gathers experts to formulate certain policies and strategies.

During their discussions, Jokowi often came up with ideas for new city programs or campaigns.

“It was a day before Pak Jokowi registered with the KPU [General Elections Commission], when we came up with the checked-shirt idea,” he said.

“We were thinking about what to wear for our visit to the KPU. I saw him wearing a checked shirt and he looked dynamic and fresh in it. So I told him, why not wear that?” Anggit recalled.

Jokowi agreed, so the two of them, along with Jokowi’s personal assistant, went to several markets to find the best color.

The checked shirt became instantly recognizable during Jokowi’s election campaign in 2012.

– Sita W. Dewi and Kusumasari Ayuningtyas
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The kingmakers
The Jakarta Post | Reportage | Tue, November 19 2013, 11:45 AM

PDI-P chairwoman
Megawati Soekarnoputri

Megawati, 66, was not convinced when businessman Sofjan Wanandi, on behalf of Jusuf Kalla, proposed Jokowi as the PDI-P’s gubernatorial candidate.

“She said Jokowi did not have the right looks to take on Jakarta, and that nobody knew him in Jakarta,” recalled Sofjan.

The proposal apparently came at a tricky moment as Megawati’s husband, the late Taufik Kiemas, had pledged the PDI-P ticket to incumbent Fauzi Bowo, who had been endorsed by the Democratic Party.

Megawati eventually made a decision after widespread protests against Yudhoyono’s plan to raise fuel prices in March 2012 in front of the House of Representatives.

Megawati, whose party rejected the government’s fuel plan, eventually refused to join the Democratic Party in supporting Fauzi.

Kalla then lobbied Great Indonesia Movement (Gerindra) Party chief patron Prabowo Subianto to join the boat.

Support from Prabowo, Megawati’s running mate in the 2009 presidential election, was needed to pass the electoral threshold of 15 percent of the seats in City Council.

It was not until Prabowo insisted that Megawati finally agreed to back Jokowi.

As calls for Jokowi to run for president have mounted, Megawati remains indecisive.

Several PDI-P politicians believe Megawati is gauging Jokowi’s loyalty, since he did not become a PDI-P member until 2005, when he served as Surakarta mayor.

Housing Minister
Djan Faridz

Djan, 63, is known by many titles. He is a Jakarta property kingpin, a National Development Party (PPP) politician and one of the Democratic Party’s financial backers. His iconic landmark is Blok A in Tanah Abang market in Central Jakarta, Southeast Asia’s largest textile market.

Sources at the House of Representatives have attributed Djan’s dispute with an ally, then Jakarta governor Fauzi Bowo, as the catalyst that paved the way for Joko “Jokowi” Widodo’s endorsement as a Jakarta gubernatorial candidate in 2012.

The dispute prompted Djan to find a worthy candidate to take on Fauzi in the election.

It was not until a discussion with former vice president Jusuf Kalla that Djan finally agreed to have Jokowi, then Surakarta mayor, promoted nationwide to become a gubernatorial candidate in 2011.

While Djan refused to comment on the issue, Kalla confirmed the selection process.

After securing the gubernatorial post, Jokowi’s relation with Djan turned sour after the governor decided to
end the concession of Djan’s company in Tanah Abang. This is the contentious issue that ignited Djan’s row with Fauzi in the first place.

Former vice president
Jusuf Kalla

Kalla, 71, is the chairman of the Indonesian Red Cross (PMI). His activities within the organization led to him becoming acquainted with Jokowi in 2011. His instinct that Jokowi was a potential leader was proven to be right.

Kalla, who felt that Jokowi’s personality could sell in Jakarta, started a campaign to promote Jokowi at the national level while lobbying Indonesian Democratic Party of Struggle (PDI-P) chairwoman Megawati Soekarnoputri to endorse his gubernatorial candidacy.

“He (Jokowi) has shown his success in Surakarta, so I guess he deserves a chance on the national stage,” said Kalla.

His effort paid off, with Jokowi emerging victorious. His leadership in Jakarta further boosted his popularity to such an extent that he is considered a frontrunner in the 2014 presidential election.

While the extent of the relationship between Kalla and Jokowi is somewhat vague, Kalla has hinted of his intention to pair with Jokowi if he is eventually endorsed by the PDI-P as its presidential candidate.

On another occasion, Kalla’s business empire, the Hadji Kalla Group, expressed disappointment after losing out in a bid against the Ortus Group, controlled by Edward Soeryadjaya, whose wife has close ties to Jokowi, to construct the Jakarta monorail.

Gerindra chief patron
Prabowo Subianto

It was Prabowo, 62, who finally persuaded Megawati to endorse Jokowi.

A source familiar with the matter said that Prabowo had agreed to support Jokowi on the condition that the candidate for deputy governor should be of Chinese ethnicity.

Prabowo, according to the source, needed to eliminate the anti-Chinese label he had earned after allegations that he had masterminded the 1998 riots that left hundreds of ethnic Chinese dead. Prabowo has refused to comment on the issue.

Kalla eventually proposed Golkar politician Basuki “Ahok” Tjahaja Purnama for the deputy post, which was agreed upon on the condition that Ahok jump ship to Gerindra.

Relations between Jokowi and Prabowo remain warm despite surveys that consistently position Jokowi on ahead of Prabowo as the presidential frontrunner.

However, ties between the PDI-P and Gerindra turned sour in late 2012, after the latter claimed it had made a bigger contribution to Jokowi winning the Jakarta election.

Megawati implicitly vented her anger toward Prabowo in a speech in October 2012, saying that “freeloaders tried to take advantage of the (Jokowi) victory without realizing in the slightest that it was morally wrong.”

– Sita W. Dewi and Kusumasari Ayuningtyas
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Elite engineering gives birth to Jokowi’s ascension
The Jakarta Post | Reportage | Tue, November 19 2013, 11:30 AM

The accomplishments and popularity of Jakarta Governor Joko “Jokowi” Widodo may not have been possible without the men and women who have positioned the former furniture businessman as a strong contender for the 2014 presidential race. The Jakarta Post’s Sita W. Dewi and Kusumasari Ayuningtyas explore how Jokowi’s inner circle and political elites have helped to mold him into such a figure. This is the second of a three-page story detailing Jokowi’s political journey.

Jokowi, 52, may possess the personality of an ideal leader most Indonesians long for. He is humble, low profile, close to the grass roots and, thus far, seemingly immune to graft, which has long cast a shadow over the country’s political life.

He also accumulated a long list of accomplishments while serving as mayor in Surakarta (commonly known as Solo), Central Java, attesting him as a leader that can deliver.

While these characteristics have undoubtedly played a role in his career, Jokowi’s venture into politics has been marked by a series of fateful twists and turns.

Jokowi’s candidacy and victory in the Surakarta mayoral election in 2005 would have been unlikely without the support of the city’s Indonesian Democratic Party of Struggle (PDI-P) chairman, FX Hadi “Rudy” Rudyatmo, who was then one of the city’s most popular and influential politicians.

Local politicians have said that Rudy could easily have won the election himself, regardless of his partner, given the city’s vast number of diehard PDI-P supporters.

However, probably due to his Catholic background, Rudy, who chaired several youth and sports organizations in the Muslim-majority city, opted to become the candidate for deputy mayor.

“I was very comfortable with Jokowi at the time, and we preferred to have him leading the city,” Rudy said.

“I know my capacity. I merely wanted to help a mayoral candidate,” he said, adding that Jokowi was not at that time a party member.

Given Surakarta’s reputation as a PDI-P stronghold, the pair easily won elections covering two terms.

A similar chance of fate led to Jokowi entering the capital in 2012 amid an ongoing battle between Jakarta’s political and business titans.

In 2011, property tycoon and Public Housing Minister Djan Faridz, who was also an influential politician for the Muslim-based National Development Party (PPP) and financial backer of President Susilo Bambang Yudhoyono’s Democratic Party, had become disenchanted with his ally, then-Jakarta governor Fauzi Bowo.

The relationship between Djan and Fauzi turned sour after the Jakarta administration aimed to take over the management of the Blok A shopping center in Tanah Abang, Central Jakarta, which was operated by Djan’s company.

Djan initially gathered support to challenge Fauzi in the 2012 gubernatorial election. But surveys showed that he had slim chance of winning.

He then joined forces with former vice president Jusuf Kalla to find a worthy candidate to take on Fauzi.

Kalla eventually proposed Jokowi, a man he barely knew. Kalla had been impressed by Jokowi after meeting him in Semarang, Central Java, in early 2011 at an event organized by the Indonesian Red Cross (PMI), of which Kalla is the chairman.

“I helped bring Jokowi to Jakarta,” Kalla said at a gathering at his home in South Jakarta in August.

“He had been successful in Surakarta, so I figured he deserved a chance on the national stage.”

In early 2012, Kalla requested his trusted friend and businessman, Sofjan Wanandi, to lobby PDI-P chairwoman Megawati Soekarnoputri to have her party support Jokowi for the Jakarta gubernatorial election.

“I did not know Jokowi at the time. But I visited Megawati several times to lobby for his candidacy,” Sofjan said recently.

The proposal apparently came at a tricky moment as Megawati’s husband, the late Taufik Kiemas, had pledged the PDI-P ticket to incumbent Fauzi, who was endorsed by the Democratic Party.

“At first, [Megawati] said she would consider it [Jokowi’s candidacy], but she did not make a final decision for a few months,” Sofyan said.

Megawati ultimately made her decision after a massive rally at the House of Representatives in March 2012 to protest Yudhoyono’s plan to raise fuel prices. Megawati, whose party rejected the government’s fuel plan, refused to join with the Democratic Party in supporting Fauzi.

Kalla then lobbied Great Indonesia Movement (Gerindra) Party chief patron Prabowo Subianto to join their band.

Support from Prabowo, Megawati’s running mate during the 2009 presidential election, was needed to pass the candidacy threshold of 15 percent of seats in the Jakarta Legislative Council.

“It was not until Prabowo’s final push that Megawati finally agreed to appoint Jokowi,” Sofjan said.

A source familiar with the matter said that Prabowo agreed to support Jokowi on condition that the deputy governor candidate should be a Chinese-Indonesian.

Prabowo, according to the source, needed to rid himself of his “anti-Chinese” label after allegations that he masterminded the 1998 riots that left hundreds of Chinese-Indonesians dead. Prabowo refused to comment on the issue.

Kalla proposed Golkar politician Basuki “Ahok” Tjahaja Purnama for the post, which was agreed on condition that Ahok would jump ship to Gerindra.

Jokowi initially refused to pair with Ahok, preferring film actor and director Deddy Mizwar (now West Java deputy governor) due to concerns that he would not obtain widespread support from Jakarta’s Muslim community. “But Jokowi was not in a position to choose. His fate lay with Megawati, Kalla and Prabowo,” said a PDI-P politician.

Jokowi’s campaign team leader, Anggit Noegroho, confirmed Kalla’s role behind Jokowi’s candidacy.

“Before Bu Megawati appointed Pak Jokowi, Pak Kalla had suggested he run in the Jakarta election,” Anggit said. “But it was Megawati as party chair who made [his candidacy] possible.”

While waiting for Jokowi’s candidacy endorsement, Kalla’s camp had already launched campaigns in 2011 to help increase Jokowi’s popularity, including through publicizing the Surakarta-made Esemka national car.

The development of the car, which was reportedly pioneered by Jokowi’s deputy, Rudy, was packaged into a PR stunt that turned into a national media fun fair.

Jokowi eventually won the Jakarta election and left his job as Surakarta mayor in October 2012, three years before the end of his second term.

His leadership and management style, the antithesis to that of most of Indonesia’s leaders, has caused a sensation among national media outlets and amplified his popularity nationwide.

Jokowi’s so-called blusukan, impromptu visits to meet people directly and listen to their complaints and opinions, has become his headline-making trademark.

But, as his personal popularity soars, Jokowi’s honeymoon period with his allies seems to be coming to an end.

Kalla has urged him to stop the image-building stunts and embark on concrete work for Jakarta. “The presidential election is still months away. Anything can happen. I feel that Jokowi needs to be able to show some concrete results, otherwise he will be left out,” Kalla said.

Prabowo, who has been deemed less popular than Jokowi in a number of surveys on presidential candidates conducted this year, reminded the media that he had “made Jokowi”.

“I brought him from Surakarta to Jakarta,” Prabowo said in July when asked about Jokowi’s skyrocketing popularity.

While Jokowi has always refused to comment about his possible presidential candidacy, he said he did not feel indebted to any one individual for his current success.

“I am indebted to thousands of people who made me what I am today. There should not be claims by certain individuals just because they helped me during my campaign,” Jokowi said. “In my current situation, I will not provide any special attention or preferential treatment to any individual or group. I could be lynched for that,” he said in an interview in October.
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The battle for second term
The Jakarta Post | Reportage | Mon, November 18 2013, 11:45 AM

With voters spoiled by new parks, innovative festivals and improved infrastructure as well as better public services, the battle to secure their second term in the 2010 municipal election was won pretty easily by Jokowi and Rudy.

Although the city’s poverty remained high at over 10 percent, local residents seemed happy, particularly with Jokowi’s populist approach to communicating with the public when he regularly visited communities.

In an interview with The Jakarta Post before the April 2010 municipal election, Jokowi said that in order to provide for his people, a leader had to learn what they really needed by communicating with them and conducting surveys, instead of working at a desk.

Jokowi encouraged members of the public to voice their opinions through reporting stations, text messages, the city’s Facebook page and through village, sub-district and city discussion groups.

“People are free to talk at village or city discussions. They sometimes speak harshly using strong language, but that’s reality. Their feedback requires an immediate response,” he said, adding that public complaints meant services were inadequate.

Jokowi and Rudy’s main rivals in the election were KP Eddy S Wirabhumi and his running mate, Supradi Kertamenawi, who were supported by the Democratic Party and Golkar Party.

His rivals, however, had a handicap that turned out to be devastating: They were perceived as representing the Surakarta royal family, whose members were known to live in luxury and who were plagued by infighting and intrigue. Jokowi-Rudy secured a landslide 91 percent of the vote in the election while Eddy-Supradi received a mere 9 percent.

During the campaign, the harshest criticism launched by Eddy’s camp was of Jokowi’s decision to continue to fund the city’s soccer club, Persis Solo, from the public budget. They claimed this was a waste of taxpayers’ money, given the club’s consistently poor performance in the Indonesian league.

A graft case implicating the Sanitation and Parks Agency head, Satriya Teguh Subroto, was also used to attack the Jokowi’s camp, but to no avail.

– Sita W. Dewi and Kusumasari Ayuningtyas
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Jokowi’s star appeal: Making hay while sun shines
The Jakarta Post | Reportage | Mon, November 18 2013, 11:29 AM

While Jakarta Governor Joko “Jokowi” Widodo remains silent over the unabated calls for his nomination as a presidential candidate in the 2014 election, the euphoria over his achievements and leadership style, widely perceived as representative of the grass roots, have been seen by political elites as precursors that would herald him to the presidency. This is the first of a three-page report on Jokowi’s political journey. In this report, The Jakarta Post’s Sita W. Dewi and Kusumasari Ayuningtyas dig deeper into Jokowi’s rise as Surakarta mayor between 2005 and 2012.

Jokowi, 52, made a leap of faith last year to pursue a more promising political career as Jakarta governor by leaving his job as mayor of Surakarta, a small and relatively poor city in Central Java, three years before his second term was due to end.

That leap seems to have paid off well. Numerous surveys have consistently positioned him as the presidential frontrunner in the upcoming election.

But his chances of clinching the top job, although he has never made his ambition public, will depend on the consent of the Indonesian Democratic Party of Struggle (PDI-P) chairwoman, Megawati
Soekarnoputri, who seems to be in no hurry to issue an endorsement although many surveys have pointed out the “Jokowi factor” is the key to a PDI-P victory in the upcoming April legislative election.

The eldest daughter of first president Sukarno is not only unconvinced with Jokowi’s performance in Jakarta but also over his loyalty, say several PDI-P politicians.

Jokowi was not a PDI-P cadre until he was appointed as Surakarta mayor in 2005, and he had also made a bid for the municipality candidacy with other parties prior to getting the ticket from PDI-P.

But an assessment of Jokowi’s personality and his prospects for the presidency cannot be detached from the events that have taken place in Surakarta, a city of 400,000 residents.

The widely negative perception of Surakarta, popularly known as Solo, could not have been any worse back in 2005.

The city, part of the Javanese cultural axis, was not only among the poorest municipalities in Java but  was also a hotbed of Islamic extremists, where spiritual-cum-terrorist leader Abu Bakar Ba’asyir, who is now serving 15 years in prison for terrorism, resided.

After the riots of 1998, some central areas were left razed to the ground and the city had not developed much under mayor Slamet Suryanto, who was then also a senior figure with the PDI-P Surakarta chapter.

The situation was exacerbated by pervasive corruption, which left a huge hole in the city’s public budget.

“I didn’t see any physical development at the time. The mayor’s office was closed to the public and it was surrounded by a high fence. Most of the buildings near the office had also erected fences for protection,” local resident Tyas Kusumaningrum recalled.

“There were protests almost on a daily basis. The city looked gloomy.”

Confronted with such an ominous environment, then furniture businessman Jokowi had taken a shot in the dark to venture into politics, despite having no support base. Most of Surakarta’s residents had not even heard his name.

According to Sumartono Hadinoto, an influential entrepreneur-turned-philanthropist, who became one of Jokowi’s earliest and most-loyal supporters, Jokowi mustered the courage to pursue his political ambitions after being persuaded in 2004 by fellow businessmen with the Indonesian Furniture Entrepreneurs Association (Asmindo), of which Jokowi was chairman for the Surakarta branch.

“Jokowi was popular among furniture businessmen, but among other businesspeople, not so much,” Sumartono said.

Facing an uphill battle, Jokowi scrambled to find support and contacted several journalists who regularly reported news on the furniture industry.

It was around this time that Anggit Noegroho, a former journalist and media consultant, was contacted by Jokowi to join his campaign team.

“Jokowi was not a member of a political party, so we approached several parties, including the PDI-P, PAN [the National Mandate Party], PKS [the Prosperous Justice Party] and the Democratic Party,” Anggit said.

But it was bickering at the local PDI-P office that initially helped to support Jokowi’s leap of faith.
Disenchanted with mayor Slamet, the PDI-P top-brass held a convention to select a candidate to represent the party in the 2005 municipal election, although Slamet insisted on running for a second term.

Coincidentally, PDI-P Surakarta chairman FX Hadi “Rudy” Rudyatmo, turned down the offer to run as the party’s candidate for mayor despite his high popularity among locals. Rudy is also known as among Megawati’s confidants.

Probably due to his Catholic background, Rudy, who chaired several youth and sports organizations in the Muslim-majority city, opted to be a candidate for deputy mayor.However, he remained undecided as to who should run for mayor.

Jokowi’s efforts to garner support from political parties eventually paid off when Rudy persuaded him to run alongside him under the PDI-P, according to Anggit.

Rudy’s real reason behind Jokowi’s selection remains unclear until now.

He diplomatically says: “I was very comfortable with Jokowi at the time, and we preferred to have him leading the city.”

“I know my capacity. I merely wanted to help a municipal candidate,” he said.

After a landslide victory at the PDI-P convention, the pair finally secured the party’s ticket for the municipal election.
Sumartono, who was also active in various influential organizations such as the Indonesian Red Cross (PMI) and the Indonesian Chamber of Commerce and Industry (Kadin), threw his support behind the pair.

“I already knew Rudy. He called me and introduced me to Jokowi. We talked about their vision and programs, and I thought we had similar ideas about developing the city. So, I called on my peers in various organizations to support them,” Sumartono recalled.

However, despite the backing from several businessmen, the couple did not spend a lot of money on their campaign, according to Anggit.

“Jokowi and Rudy were not the wealthiest candidates at the time. Our small campaign team consisted of only six people, including Jokowi himself,” said Anggit, who remains among Jokowi’s small inner circle.

“We conducted modest research on effective campaign methods and we determined that door-to-door campaigning was the answer.”

Thus, instead of displaying Jokowi and Rudy’s faces on posters or billboards, the couple visited residential areas by motorcycle to promote their platform.

“Local reporters asked us what our campaign model was called. We spontaneously came up with the term blusukan [Javanese slang meaning an impromptu visit],” Anggit said. “We thought we would find a permanent term later, but we never did.”

Jokowi’s blusukan method eventually helped him enter the national stage when he used it to win the Jakarta gubernatorial election in mid-2012. It also defined his political career and character.

Anggit added that the campaign team also bought space in a local newspaper to introduce Jokowi via a business consulting column for six months leading up to the election.

The Surakarta General Elections Commission (KPUD) revealed that Jokowi had spent the most campaign funds, totaling around Rp 600 million (US$51,635).

With this campaigning style coupled with the PDI-P’s network, in which Surakarta is one of the party’s traditional strongholds, the Jokowi-Rudy ticket won the election with 36.62 percent of the vote.

Hardono and his running mate, GPH Dipokusumo, who were proposed by the Golkar Party, the Democratic Party, the PKS and elements of the Surakarta royal family, came second with 29 percent.

Incumbent mayor Slamet, who ran under the Christian-based Prosperous Peace Party (PDS) and 14 smaller parties, received the least number of votes of just below 6 percent.

Around 72 percent of the 376,000 eligible voters cast their votes, according to the KPUD.
* *
Poor stagnate while city thrives
The Jakarta Post | Reportage | Mon, November 18 2013, 11:29 AM

Opening parks, clearing the streets of prostitutes and vendors, organizing dozens of international-scale festivals and getting out and about with ordinary residents were among the tactics Jokowi used to keep the electorate happy, despite his failure to reduce the stubbornly high poverty and unemployment.

As Surakarta mayor for seven years, Jokowi managed to transform a number of the city’s pivotal areas into attractive public spaces, to the lasting credit of his leadership.

Among his success stories were the relocation of hundreds of street vendors from the Monument 45 area in Banjarsari district to a newly built market in Pasar Kliwon district.

The story of his 54 lunches with the street vendors to lure them to relocate even made headlines in the national media.

Representatives from other cities and regencies across the archipelago have since visited the market and taken away lessons from city officials.

The lunches managed to reassure the vendors that the city’s plan would not harm their businesses, resulting in an amicable relocation.

“The previous mayor had intended to relocate us to the current location, which was notorious for prostitution. But the deal was never brokered because we couldn’t come to a win-win solution,” Rusmanto, deputy chairman of Notoharjo vendors association, said at Notoharjo Market, Pasar Kliwon, Surakarta.

According to Rusmanto, what made Jokowi’s efforts different was that the mayor used a soft approach and he managed to convince the vendors that the relocation would not be carried out if it harmed their businesses.

Jokowi also built a number of traditional markets — including an antiques market and a home appliances market, proving his support for people in the lower income sector of society.

He even rejected a plan to bulldoze a heritage building, Sari Petojo ice factory in Purwosari, Surakarta, and turn it into a modern shopping mall.

The decision caused a rift with then Central Java governor Bibit Waluyo, who had endorsed the construction of the mall.

Jokowi, who is known for his fondness for nature, also built a 7-kilometer city walk with a 3-meter wide pedestrian walkway along Jl. Slamet Riyadi, Surakarta’s main street where the mayor’s official residence is located, and revitalized the Balekambang city park and Sriwedari Park.

Under his leadership, anyone who wished to cut down a tree in the city had to secure approval from Jokowi himself instead of simply an agency head.

Aiming to improve the city’s image, Jokowi rebranded and promoted Surakarta as “The Spirit of Java”, a Javanese cultural and heritage center, batik capital and tourist-friendly city.

Surakarta has also hosted numerous cultural events and festivals held in public spaces or on streets, putting the city on the tourism map.

To ensure that the residents would always be heard, Jokowi initiated a number of regular forums and events in which the city leaders could directly communicate with the residents, such as mider projo — literally visiting kampongs — every Friday.

During the event, Jokowi and his subordinates rode by bicycle, visiting random kampongs and talking to residents.

Jokowi, working with a local radio station, also initiated Meet Mister Meyer (Meet Mr. Mayor), an off-air talkshow which was held regularly in different schools to accommodate students’ aspirations.

“Jokowi attempted to reach out to all groups of people in the city,” Anggit Noegroho, Jokowi’s campaign team leader, said recently.

The mayor also set an example of integrity to his bureaucracy by prohibiting his family — which owns furniture factories and a catering business — to tender bids for the administration’s projects.

He also banned the Graha Saba Buana, a meeting hall owned by Jokowi, from hosting administration’s events.

“I have always prohibited any members of my family from taking part in public procurement projects,” said Jokowi in a recent interview.

While Jokowi focused more on bureaucratic reform, his deputy FX Hadi Rudyatmo devoted his attention to social welfare programs.

Rudy had a better understanding of how to deal with marginalized groups, such as members of gangs, illegal squatters and prostitutes.

“We did what we were good at, and we didn’t interfere with each other’s work,” Rudy said.

A prominent local politician, who demand anonymity, said that Rudy was actually the driving force behind Jokowi’s success in Surakarta, but refused to take the credit as he had no other ambition other than serving the Surakarta people and the party.

“Jokowi is only good at approaching the media and the grass roots. Rudy is the one who actually did the work, laid out the strategy and dealt with all the troubles,” said the politician, who is also closed to Jokowi.

Rudy did not deny nor confirm the issue.

Critics have also pointed out to Jokowi’s development achievements that turn out to only scratched the surface.

Poverty among the 400,000 residents remained high at more than 13.3 percent during Jokowi’s tenure. The rate is higher than the national rate of around 11 percent. Slum areas are still visible while the open unemployment rate was almost 9 percent, also higher than the national rate.

“It is a fact that poverty in Surakarta is still high, and I have tried my best to reduce it,” said Jokowi when asked about the protracted problem.

Highlights of Jokowi’s legacy

• Relocating hundreds of street vendors to several new traditional markets.
• Building new traditional markets — including an antiques market and a home appliances market.
• Constructing a 7-kilometer city walk with a 3-meter wide pedestrian walkway along Surakarta’s main street.
• Revitalizing the Balekambang and Sriwedari parks.
• Stricter regulations on cutting down trees along the city’s main streets.
• Rebranding Surakarta as a center of Javanese culture and tourism under the tagline “The Spirit of Java”.
• Promoting the city as a center for meetings, incentives, conventions and exhibitions (MICE).
• The blusukan culture, the manner in which Jokowi made impromptu visits to certain areas to hear directly from the people their needs and criticisms.
• Prohibiting his family members from bidding for city projects.
• Healthcare insurance program for all residents.
• Public transportation in the form of double-decker buses and the railbus.
• Solo Techno Park, which helped develop the Esemka national car.

– Sita W. Dewi and Kusumasari Ayuningtyas
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