By: Abdurrahman Syebubakar
Chairman of Institute for Democracy Education (IDe)
he main problem that plagues Indonesia does not lie at the technical-technocratic level of state governance. However, it is more about extractive political institutions that conspire with phony capitalism (false capitalism), to borrow Joseph Stiglitz’s (2015) term. The result of the intersection becomes fertile land for oligarchy – a pattern of evil conspiracy between rulers and business actors , to control state resources.
As Jeffrey Winters, an Indonesianist and well-known oligarchy theorist from the United States, pointed out, the oligarchs are the most powerful in Indonesia because they have flexible and versatile money.
The financial capital they have can be manifested in other forms of power, such as buying and selling positions and legal-political products. These oligarchs are very extractive, controlling and financing political parties, mass media, universities, think-tanks, mass organizations, religious institutions, and others.
The monopoly of control over economic and political resources has resulted in the increased inequality and multidimensional poverty (social, economic and political). These three dimensions of inequality and poverty affect each other negatively, like a vicious circle.
As a consequence, from time to time, what happens is not a reduction in the level of poverty and inequality, but the impoverishment and marginalization of the poor. Hundreds of millions of poor and underprivileged people are increasingly suffering from conditions of very acute inequality, where a few super-rich people control the country’s wealth almost absolutely. The unfortunate people are increasingly powerless in front of policy makers and business actors, and increasingly excluded from the political process.
To overcome these challenges, an authentic leader is needed, who is not only competent at the operational technical level. But more importantly, s/he has an alternative vision, and is able to translate that vision into the right policy choices.
In addition, the authentic type of leader is armed with strong political determination and courage to dismantle an unfair extractive system, and fight the evil elements behind the system. As well as being able to guide the people to leave the extractive political system towards a substantive democracy and combine it with the human development paradigm, which places people as agents of development.
So, the question is, who is the person who fulfils all the attributes of an authentic leader, or at least, is closest to this ideal type of leader?
Without negating his limitations, and in the context of a comparison between a number of current “aspirants for presidential candidates”, the answer is Mr. Anies Baswedan.
Anies’ intellectual and leadership footprints can be traced far back, since he was a teenager. While in high school, in 1985, Anies was elected as the chairman of the student council in Indonesia. In college, he became General Chairperson of the UGM Senate in 1992, with a number of breakthroughs, including initiating a research-based student movement.
When he was 38 years old, on May 15, 2007, Anies, who had just completed his doctoral studies at Northern Illinois University, USA, was inaugurated as Rector of Paramadina University, where he initiated the Indonesian Teaching Movement which involved young people to teach in remote areas. Anies was listed as the youngest rector in Indonesia at that time.
In 2008, Anies was included in Foreign Policy Magazine’s 100 World Public Intellectuals. He is ranked among the world’s most influential intellectuals of this century, along with Noam Chomsky and Nobel laureates such as Al Gore, Muhammad Yunus, and Amartya Sen.
Anies’ name was also included in the list of Young Global Leaders in February 2009 which was awarded by the World Economic Forum.
A year later, in April 2010, Foresight Magazine published in Japan included Anies as one of the 20 leaders who brought about world change for the next 20 years, along with a number of world leaders including Vladimir Putin (Prime Minister of Russia), Hugo Chavez (Former President of Venezuela). , and David Miliband (British Foreign Secretary).
In the same year, Anies won a number of prestigious awards, including, from The Association of Social and Economic Solidarity with Pacific Countries (PASIAD) the Turkish government for his initiative to give birth to the Indonesian Teaching Movement, the Yasuhiro Nakasone Award from Former Japanese Prime Minister Yasuhiro Nakasone, which was given to a prominent figure – a visionary figure who has a breakthrough for the 21st century, and an award from The Royal Islamic Strategic Studies Center Jordan, as the 500 most influential Muslim figures in the world.
There is still a long list of awards and scholarships received by Anies, both from within and outside the country, as well as the prestigious positions he held before serving as Minister of Education and Culture in the Jokowi-JK government. Although he succeeded in producing various breakthroughs to advance the world of education, President Jokowi dismissed Anies for political reasons.
However, the journey of Anies’ political leadership did not stop. In 2017, he was elected governor of DKI Jakarta after winning dramatically contestation against the incumbent, Mr. Basuki Tjahaya Purnama, who was backed by the epicenter of power and the tycoons.
Since leading the capital city, Anies has been able to demonstrate a transformative and democratic model of knowledge-based leadership, on the foundation of intellectual character, moral character and performance character.
Without ignoring the classic problems of the capital city, such as floods and air pollution, under Anies’ leadership, with various policy breakthroughs and development strategies, Jakarta’s condition is much better than the previous era.
Physically, Jakarta has changed drastically, becoming more organized and beautiful. Public facilities such as roads with pedestrian bridges (JPOs), bus stops, and sidewalks, are made as attractive and comfortable as possible for all levels of society, including the elderly, and people with disabilities. City parks and children’s playgrounds are scattered all over the capital.
In addition, with the spirit of collaboration and bringing equality and togetherness, public transportation in the capital is increasingly integrated, both physically and in the payment system. The train station has been connected to a number of public transportation modes including MRT, Transjakarta, Jaklingko, bajaj, ojek base and ojek online. So, people choose to use public transportation rationally because it is affordable in terms of routes, costs, and travel time.
As a form of concern for the environment, the DKI Jakarta Provincial Government has provided a bicycle lane, which until now has reached around 96 km, and will continue to be added to more than 170 km by the end of 2021.
The combination of safe and comfortable public facilities with integrated and environmentally friendly public transportation contributes to reducing substantively the level of congestion in Jakarta.
Based on the Traffic Index released by TomTom, in 2017, Jakarta was ranked 4th as the most congested city in the world, then dropped to 7th position (2018), 10th position (2019), and finally to 31st position (2020).
Most importantly, as revealed in BPS data (2021), the quality of Jakarta’s democracy has improved sharply over the last 4 years, with a very high democracy index reaching a score of 89.21, far exceeding the national democracy index of 73.66.
The human development index (HDI), a combination of economic, education and health indicators), also grew positively, reaching 81.11 in 2021, which also not only makes DKI Jakarta the only province with a very high status of HDI, but dramatically included Jakarta at a level of developed countries.
At the same time, the poverty rate in Jakarta continued to decrease before COVID-19. The proportion of poor people in Jakarta in September 2019 was only 3.4 percent, down from 3.8 percent in 2017. Further, the success in taming the Covid-19 effects bring Jakarta in the prestigious position as one of 50 World” most successful cities in controlling Covid-19 pandemy.
It is worth noting, Anies’ political determination and courage against super tycoons, by stopping the reclamation project of 17 islands in Jakarta Bay, worth 500 trillion, deserves thumbs up. This is because these super tycoons are the central agents of the oligarchy, which regulates the running of the center of political economy power and becomes the parent of various structural problems faced by the Indonesian nation.
With these various quantitative and qualitative achievements, Anies not only exceeds his political promises, but also demonstrates authentic leadership qualities, which is an urgent need for the Indonesian nation today.
And because of his excellent performance as well as his reputation for intellectuality and integrity, Anies has received a variety of prestigious awards from home and abroad during his tenure in the capital city.
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