Ross is less than enthused about Fauzi Bowo's election as Jakarta governor.
The election result in Jakarta's gubernatorial vote on 8th August, with the establishment candidate Fauzi Bowo's decisive victory, was not exactly surprising but it is important that outside observers should not interpret the strong challenge from Adang Daradjatun, a prominent member of a Muslim party, the Partai Keadilan Sejahtera, as an endorsement of Islamist extremism.
Adang Daradjatun, lower right.
Adang gave a categorical assurance that he would not seek to impose fanatic nonsense like a women's curfew or closure of night-spots if he were to win. (This assurance was needed in view of neighbouring Tangerang's absurd rules established by that large authority's Islamist mayor.)
Adang's running mate was an ex-senior police officer whose reputation was pretty respectable by the standards of Indonesian politics. The team raked in over 40% of the total vote, and might have had more if the turnout had been higher, but so many citizens are disgusted with all politicians that many didn't bother to vote (a phenomenon not unknown in the West, too!)
As a foreigner I of course had no vote, but, had I been enfranchised, would have been tempted to support Adang, if only on the grounds that Fauzi Bowo, our new governor, has been an integral part of the city administration for years and yet had the nerve to promise all sorts of wonders if he triumphed in this week's poll. The awful floods that have plagued the capital are now to be tackled? Great, but why have they not been stemmed long since? Corruption is to stop? Marvellous - but what did he do to oppose the "snouts in the trough" allowance hikes claimed by Jakarta councillors, and what did he say during the free laptops debate? (He may have said much, but I don't recall hearing him).
Actually, what propelled me into sympathy with his opponent was the blatant bias towards his campaign evident in the city government's performance prior to the election. It wasn't just his face on tax-paid billboards all through the past six months or more to promote a good cause which hardly needed his picture to recommend it. It was the fact that when we visited the Jakarta Fair last month, every single functionary we saw was sporting good old Fauzi on the back of their jackets. Not Bang Yos, who as retiring governor might have been expected, but Fauzi, who was merely a deputy.
That was quite uncalled for, and I'm sure if I, as an expat, noticed this bare-faced, publicly-funded advertising at what should have been an inclusive event, so did a lot of locals. Indonesians are not stupid and many must have taken strong exception to their fair being thus hi-jacked for partisan purposes.
One of these days, the underdogs will begin biting back.