Governor Anies Baswedan's first year: Jakarta Post

In its editorial, the paper commends the efforts of the governor who won on an Islamist wave and reminds him that there is more to do.

Jakarta Governor Anies Baswedan stands during a swearing-in ceremony at the Presidential Palace in Jakarta, Indonesia, on Oct 16, 2017. PHOTO: REUTERS

JAKARTA (THE JAKARTA POST/ASIA NEWS NETWORK) - Many describe Jakarta Governor Anies Baswedan's victory last year as the result of him riding the Islamist wave.

A year has gone by and many have yet to forget this, as expressed through social media.

Some are legitimate criticisms, others are just noise.

To evaluate the governor's first year is to first filter out all this noise and look at how he fulfills his promises (or not), and whether he has lived up to fears about him being a divisive leader.

Central to the first year is the role of the Urban Poor Network (JRMK) - including the Jakarta Pedicab Driver Union (Sebaja) and Ancol Street Vendors' Association (KOPEKA Ancol) - as well as the Urban Poor Consortium (UPC) and Ciliwung Merdeka in shaping Jakarta's politics and civil society.

These groups represent fewer than 100,000 people in Jakarta, a few in a city of some 10 million inhabitants.

However, their political contracts with Anies have been a fascinating subject for domestic and international researchers.

For the JRMK and UPC, Anies has made at least three achievements: his urban kampung revitaliSation programs; the establishment of pedicab waiting areas in Teluk Gong, North Jakarta, and mapping their operational routes in 16 areas; and guaranteeing security for KOPEKA vendors who operate inside Ancol Dreamland Park.

If Anies is consistent with this approach, Jakarta may see the slums becoming decent neighbourhoods for the city's hard workers.

The urban poor, however, say they have to work hard to be regarded equal by lower-level bureaucrats who still use a top-down approach.

Ciliwung Merdeka, a community in Bukit Duri, South Jakarta, has experienced the same thing. And Anies did not always allocate time to ensure his subordinates really work to fulfill his promises to evicted residents, who still face high uncertainty about their future.

The Jakarta Legal Aid Institute (LBH Jakarta), however, noted that the urban poor outside these networks have fallen through the cracks.

The institute recorded 91 forced evictions in Jakarta since Anies assumed office precisely one year ago; 79 have occurred in 2018 and affected 1,141 households and businesses.

Anies has also failed at gaining the trust of religious and ethnic minorities, especially after he delivered a speech during his inauguration ceremony on Oct. 16 last year saying it was high time for pribumi (native Indonesians) to become the masters in their own land.

So far, he has not proven fears stemming from this speech that he is divisive, but of course, it has been only a year.

Other than fulfilling the promises of his political contracts and helping host a relatively successful 2018 Asian Games and Asian Para Games, Anies has yet to show much.

His promise of zero-downpayment housing has run into one snag after another. His policy on clean water has shown that he can pay attention to crucial matters in Jakarta, but progress has been slow.

Also, there has been no breakthrough with regard to Jakarta's chronic traffic congestion, flood management and garbage problem.

But, again, it has only been a year, and Anies still has a lot to prove.

The Jakarta Post is a member of The Straits Times media partner Asia News Network, an alliance of 23 news media organisations.

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