Win marks turnaround for renowned Muslim scholar

Jakarta governor candidate Anies Baswedan (right) with Sandiaga Uno after exiting polls in Jakarta, Indonesia, on April 19, 2017.
Jakarta governor candidate Anies Baswedan (right) with Sandiaga Uno after exiting polls in Jakarta, Indonesia, on April 19, 2017.PHOTO: EPA

Renowned Muslim scholar Anies Baswedan, who harbours ambitions to be Indonesia's next president, looks set to become the new Jakarta governor after quick counts from yesterday's election.

Defeating incumbent Basuki Tjahaja Purnama also marked a turnaround for the 47-year-old scholar, who was sacked by President Joko Widodo as culture and education minister after only 20 months.

Mr Joko handpicked Mr Anies to be his spokesman during the 2014 presidential election campaign and later appointed him a Cabinet member before he was dropped in a leadership reshuffle last July.

There was speculation that his ambition to contest the 2019 presidential election had bothered Mr Joko, said some political analysts.

Listed among the world's top 100 public intellectuals by Foreign Policy magazine in 2008, Mr Anies is widely respected as an academic who has spoken about the role of Islam in Indonesian democracy at global forums.


His electability ratings had been the lowest among the contenders - Basuki and former President Susilo Bambang Yudhoyono's son Agus Harimurti Yudhoyono - when he first his threw his name into the hat for the gubernatorial race.

His support base consisted mainly of intellectuals and people from the middle and upper classes but steadily swelled after the Chinese-Christian Basuki fell into disfavour over an ongoing blasphemy case.

The former rector of Paramadina University in Jakarta holds a doctorate in political science from Northern Illinois University and a master's in public policy from the University of Maryland School of Public Policy, both in the United States, as well as a business management degree from Gadjah Mada University in Yogyakarta.

Mr Anies is best known for initiating Gerakan Indonesia Mengajar, or the "Teaching Indonesia" movement, which has recruited and trained young volunteer professionals to teach poor Indonesians in remote regions countrywide.

He is of Arab lineage and the grandson of the late Abdurrahman Baswedan, who was deputy minister for information under Indonesia's first president Sukarno.

Mr Anies, who is married with four children, has promised programmes for social welfare, particularly in health and education.

A version of this article appeared in the print edition of The Straits Times on April 20, 2017, with the headline 'Win marks turnaround for renowned Muslim scholar'. Print Edition | Subscribe