Candidates Pounce on Incumbent in First Gubernatorial Debate

By webadmin on 07:51 pm Jun 26, 2012
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Ronna Nirmala, Lenny Tristia Tambun & Anita Rachman

Jakarta Governor Fauzi Bowo at last participated in a debate with the other candidates in next month’s gubernatorial election on Sunday, something he has avoided for months.

The debate marked the start of the official campaign period, which runs from Sunday to July 7. The election takes place on July 11.

Fauzi promised to improve the city’s infrastructure to address issues such as flooding, traffic, city planning, pollution and neighborhood security.

“There will be a subsidy for mass transportation and cheap rent for the underprivileged,” he said.

Fauzi said he had already done much, including building two flyovers in the capital’s most congested areas.

Solo Mayor Joko Widodo, probably Fauzi’s biggest rival, dismissed the governor’s so-called achievements as insignificant.

“During 2007-2012 [Fauzi’s term], there has been only one new busway corridor, while in 2002-2007 [the term of Fauzi’s predecessor Sutiyoso] there were 10 new corridors,” Joko said, drawing laughter from the crowd.

Joko also said Fauzi should not brag about the two massive flood control projects — the East and West Flood Canals — constructed during his term because they were actually built by the central government, not his administration.

Joko promised free health care and education for the poor, both of which he has introduced in Solo.

“There are still many children who don’t go to junior high school [in Jakarta],” he said, adding that some students were barred from obtaining their diplomas because they still owed tuition fees.

Economist Faisal Basri, another candidate, criticized Fauzi’s plan to build six elevated toll roads, which the latter said would start as soon as he got re-elected.

Not only would such toll roads fail to address Jakarta’s traffic problems, but they would also displace residents of the city, Faisal said.

“They are out of the question,” he said.

“What the city needs is better public transportation so that people leave their vehicles at home. Another toll road would only draw more cars and motorcycles into the city.”

Hendardji Soepandji, whose campaign slogan “Jakarta Bebas Berkumis” (Moustache-Free Jakarta) seems a thinly veiled barb at the mustachioed incumbent, said he saw city planning as a central issue.

“We must pay attention to the quantity of open green spaces, the quality of accessibility for the disabled, erasing crime, improving the quality of the sidewalk system and reduce air pollution.”

Hendardji denies his slogan is aimed at Fauzi, saying “berkumis” is rather an abbreviation of “berantakan, kumuh, miskin,” or “messy, dirty, impoverished,” which are three areas of focus for his campaign.

South Sumatra Governor Alex Noerdin, the Golkar Party candidate, criticized Fauzi for his spat with Deputy Governor Prijanto, who at one point requested to step down from his post.

“A governor and his deputy must share the same vision and lead as one to build Jakarta,” Alex said. “The key to improving Jakarta is strong leadership.”

Hidayat Nur Wahid was the only one who didn’t attack Fauzi directly, although he did single out specific problems he said he would address. One of those was a lack of access to clean water.

“I once talked to a resident of Kamal Muara [North Jakarta]. They were having so much trouble getting clean water they said they would rather have their area claimed by another province than be a part of Jakarta,” he said.

Hidayat, a politician from the Prosperous Justice Party (PKS), also called for better protection of women.