Jakarta’s Voters Taking High Hopes Into Election

By webadmin on 08:49 am Sep 20, 2012
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Lenny Tristia Tambun& Ronna Nirmala

As Jakarta residents flock to polling stations today, many of them will do so hoping that a better Jakarta will mean more jobs, better and affordable education and health care — regardless of who wins.

Others want the new governor to create order and a sense of security for the capital by getting rid of thugs while providing a better public transportation.

“The new governor should create more jobs so that people like myself can get a steady job with enough salary to keep up with my family’s basic needs,” Mohammad Bajasman, 31, told the Jakarta Globe on Wednesday.

He said he had spent years after graduating from college to find a steady job.

“I just move from one to another because they keep terminating my contract,” said Bajasman, a father of one who lives with his wife in Tanah Abang, Central Jakarta.

Henny Purwati, 24, meanwhile, expressed her wish that the capital could be more secure as she fears the high number of reports involving criminal activity.

“If we look at the streets, it’s like the city is run by the some people, probably thugs,” she said. “They take over the traffic management from the police, prioritizing those who can pay them. As you can see, they have made the traffic problems worse.

“The new governor must reclaim the power from these thugs.”

Bajasman and Henny, an employee of an cosmetic company in Pasar Rebo, East Jakarta, vowed to come to the polling stations to exercise their voting rights.

“We want to have a say in this election,” Henny said.

Almost seven million voters will go to the polls today to elect Jakarta’s next governor, with the incumbent, Fauzi Bowo, and his challenger, Solo Mayor Joko Widodo, appearing confident of victory.

Up to 6,996,951 registered voters will cast their votes at 15,111 polling stations across Jakarta’s five municipalities, and the Thousand Islands district, in a high-stakes battle that will either give Fauzi another five years in office or vindicate Joko as the much-heralded people’s favorite.

Another resident, Fatah, who lives in Petamburan, Central Jakarta, said that the governor must solve traffic problems.

“It’s getting worse every day, and people are already sick of it,” he said.

Huntal from Karet Tensin, Central Jakarta, said that whoever wins should focus on making education in Jakarta better and more affordable.

“We hope the winner doesn’t forget his promises,” he said.

People’s Representative Assembly speaker Amien Rais said that the new governor should follow the lead of the capital’s legendary governor Ali Sadikin, who held office back in the 1970s.

“Back then, he had a strong spirit and fought to maintain pluralism in Jakarta while trying hard to increase the residents’ welfare,” he said.

Amien, who led students in Jakarta during the reformation in 1998, openly supported Fauzi.

“Mas Fauzi and I are old friends,” he said, adding that Jokowi was not even able to manage Solo well.

Fauzi, however, was hit with yet another allegation of campaign violations on the eve of today’s runoff vote, with a teachers’ association accusing his team of campaigning outside the official period.

Officials from the Jakarta Teachers Consultative Forum (FMGJ) filed a report with the Jakarta Elections Supervisory Committee (Panwaslu) on Wednesday alleging the “unacceptable politicizing of the city’s teachers” by the incumbent’s team.

Retno Listyarti, the FMGJ chairwoman, said that among the alleged violations were instructions by the Jakarta Education Agency for all state schools to design and put up banners thanking the governor for free schooling and the 12-year mandatory basic education program.

Another is the daily provision of up to Rp 100,000 ($10.50) each in “transport fees” to teachers at a South Jakarta vocational school who live outside the capital but are eligible to vote in the election, Retno said.

The group also alleged that at a conference on Sept. 8 for all junior high social studies teachers in South Jakarta, the secretary of the city’s guild of school principals told the teachers to vote for Fauzi.

Early this week, revelations also emerged that Fauzi’s administration might have laundered up to Rp 55 billion, through welfare grants, to finance his campaign.

Darwanto, a researcher with the nongovernmental Indonesia Budget Center, said on Tuesday that the signs of misappropriation were based on an investigation of grant payments by the city administration to organizations since May.

The administration has denied any wrongdoing with regard to the welfare grants.