On Jokowi’s First Year as President

Today, is exactly 7 days before Indonesian president, Joko Widodo end his first year in office. A year that was never going to be easy, but still full of hopes nevertheless.

It is safe to say that his first year in office, or rather his journey towards and during term is quite a colourful and confusing one. At the very utmost, kind of mediocre really.


We all remember when Indonesia was seemingly separated into two sides. We all remember the celebration of the people when he was pronounced to be the winner of the presidential race. Jakarta, and most major Indonesian city was turned into seas of optimistic Indonesian for weeks, believing that they’ve chosen a leader that can better their life significantly.

Little that they know, a year later, their idol, their Messiah, their God of some sort, is being scrutinized so much. And by so much I mean, a hella bloody lot. From haze problems, depowering of corruption eradication organisation, through to economic downfall, Jokowi’s supporters has never been tested this hard in terms of their loyalty.

The Indonesian rupiah has never shown such a downfall since the 1998 crisis, a crisis that brought down our dear dictator, the almighty Soeharto.

Bushfire, which has been a problem since 1998, has gotten even worse. And somehow, he is able to make the people who used to just accept this as a yearly problem to be more vocal about it. More embarrassingly, last year during his campaign, he sort of promised those people that this year would be haze free.

KPK, the Indonesia Corruption Eradication Commission, is facing a, what’s going to be, stripping of their power to take corruptors to the court due to series of amendments of the constitution. Proposed by the member of his own party, of which one member said that his final goal was for KPK to no longer exist.

So perhaps Jokowi is not the sort of leader we thought he was?

Or is he?

Well the answer is a bit more complicated than a simple yes and no I’m afraid.

Last week, I attended a meeting with this one quite interesting fellow at work. He came to help us decides the appropriate assessments for Jokowi’s first year, and what sort of reporting we should make on him.

He went on and shared with us a hell lot of aspects relating to the politics of the government. He compared Jokowi’s presidency with the likes of Soeharto and SBY and during that, he mentioned a really interesting point that Indonesia has just shifted from parliamentary system to a presidential system.

Now I know a little, if not nothing about politics, but I think that is a good reasoning on why his decisions sometimes a bit weird for normal people like you and me to receive.

I won’t get into the detail, cause frankly, I don’t know squat about the details. But (correct me if I’m wrong) from what I understand, a Presidential system allows for the two executive powers, which are the parliament and the government to sort of, you know, play politics. One of them does not quite have stronger position than the other so they will need each other. Yet, because of the way politics works, they will despise each other. So what we’re facing right now is a quite similar system with those in the U.S. Sorry for failing to make you understand.

Anyway, what this means, is that Jokowi could not just easily call a shot on something, or decide something. Neither does the parliament. They would have to make an agreement with each other. They would need to go through a series of negotiation with each other just to decide something. This creates such a thing as political sacrifice.

Now if you imagine being him, first you have to make sacrifices in your cabinet, because your coalition member would want a seat in the cabinet. Yet, when you have some business that concerns the parliament, you will have to face a house with a majority controlled by the opposition parties.

So he doesn’t really have quite a room to move about. So when you think about that and look at the cabinet with unknown competent people like Susi Pudjiastuti and Sudirman Said, you asked yourself, how the hell did he get those people there?

Anyway, I’m just confusing you and myself right now, but what I’m trying to say is that, Yes he hasn’t performed quite that well according to our ridiculously high standards. But hell, maybe that is our problem. We have a bloody too high of a standard. We sort of forgot about factoring in other components like the multiple party systems, the parliament and other law worker before making our standards up.

We also forgot that we have chosen a president who did not came from the elite politics, which means, he not quite familiar, perhaps, with the politics of negotiation and bureaucracy. So maybe, he is just still learning the system. After all he just jumped from managing a city into a country, so he is bound to have hiccups.

Yes the economy is shit. Yes the haze problem is getting out of hand, yes corruption is still a problem, and there are more and more issue that appeared lately like dwelling time, transportation safety, foreign worker and religious tolerance, but we must remember that it only has been a year.

Now I’m not saying the cliché. I’m not going to say that we must support him no matter what because we elected him. What I’m going to say is that we should give him time. Of course we’re gonna have to critisize him and scrutinise his actions, decisions, and reactions towards every issue. But the sort of thing we should say to him is the critic that can actually help him, not a blind furry filled hate messages. You know, like those “hey I’m poor, fuck you dude! Do something!” Kind of thing. It should be the responsibility of the leaders to decide what’s best for the society. W

hat we often forgot is that it is the responsibility of the society to give the leaders the option of which they can accommodate and choose from. Because when we run out of money for being unemployed, we don’t blame the accountant do we? Do we blame the fire fighters when the house got burnt down because we forgot to turn off the stove? Yes the president is looking out for the whole country, but the country is our responsibility too, and the relationship that we have with the president is not a one way one.

“Semangatnya yang kecil harus tetap hidup, tapi harus mau diatur, jangan semau gue”


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