President Joko “Jokowi” Widodo wants Indonesia not just to move forward; he wants it to sprint as fast as it can. To do that, the President is willing to do anything, including “clobbering” those who stand in the way of progress.
That was the gist of the President’s speech that he delivered at the Sentul International Convention Center in Bogor, West Java, on Sunday.
The speech, delivered shortly after the orchestrated meeting between him and his political nemesis, Prabowo Subianto, has given us a glimpse of what the former Surakarta mayor will do in his second term in office.
Jokowi has outlined his priorities, saying he will continue the infrastructure drive, improve human resources, remove obstacles that hinder investment, reform the bureaucracy and ensure the state budget is used efficiently.
In hindsight, there is nothing new there. Those were the talking points Jokowi repeated like a mantra — platitudes if you will — on his campaign trail. But the President has added more substance to his talking points by telling Indonesians that he will now do things differently.
In the next five years, Jokowi wants his men to do more than just “work, work, work”; he wants them to work as efficiently as possible by developing “new work values” and abandoning “old methods”.
Certainly, the President has no reason to be timid in his second term in office. He won his second election with a bigger margin; he is now facing a docile opposition, particularly after his meeting with Prabowo that practically reduced the Islamists into a pariah in Indonesian politics. Also, he has nothing to lose since he is no longer eligible to run for election again in 2024.
On infrastructure development, Jokowi wants it to be “faster” now. At the same time, his administration will also be more focused on improving the quality of human resources by reducing maternal and child mortality as well as stunting, improving vocational education and courting more Indonesian talent based overseas.
For Jokowi, making Indonesia attractive to investors is key to development. For this, he said he would not hesitate to “chase, control, check and clobber” anyone or institution that served as nothing but an impediment to investment.
Jokowi has big dreams for Indonesia and he wanted to share those dreams with all Indonesians through his Sunday speech. Time will tell if he will succeed, but we commend his march of progress. Indonesia has long been stuck in second gear. It needs to stop being labeled as merely a country with potential; it is time for it to shift gear and work to realize its potential.
But we also take his words with caution. In his speech, Jokowi made it clear that everyone has “equal rights before the law”, but also stressed the fact that Indonesia has its own democracy, a “civilized democracy”.
We are hoping that the idea of Indonesian democracy in the speech was no euphemism for future attempts to crush free speech and political dissent.
Jokowi’s kemajuan (progress) may be reminiscent of Soeharto’spembangunan (development). But most of us, clearly, do not miss Soeharto.