It's been two months since Joko 'Jokowi' Widodo officially announced he was entering Indonesia's presidential race, and here on The Interpreter, Peter McCawley immediately responded with 'yes, but what does he stand for?'
Until now, the man presumed to take the presidency has remained relatively quiet about exactly what he plans to do with it. But over the weekend, a piece titled Mental Revolution appeared in the Kompas national newspaper, purportedly penned by Jokowi himself. Running to about 1500 words, the op-ed outlines Jokowi's vision for a 'revolution' in the minds of Indonesians to morally and spiritually commit themselves to finishing the work of the nation's founding fathers and the leaders of reformasi in the post-Suharto era. It gives some insights regarding the types of policies that could be expected under a Jokowi government.
The piece begins by questioning why, in a time of great economic and political progress, Indonesians are not also becoming happier. Instead, Indonesians are said to be increasingly galau, a trendy word for a state of melancholy and disaffection often used in the context of break-ups and traffic jams. The proof for Indonesia's supposed sadness is not the recent happiness survey from the Central Statistics Agency (BPS), which found Indonesians to be generally 'happy', but the fact that Indonesians continue to protest in the streets, in the mass media and on social media. It's interesting to see that open criticism of the government is viewed as a symptom of a dysfunctional democracy rather than a functional one.
The suggested cure for this sadness is a 'mental revolution' whereby Indonesians work individually and collectively to make Indonesia a 'truly independent, just and prosperous' nation. The recommended starting point is founding president Sukarno's concept of Trisakti, or the three principles of political sovereignty, economic independence and social-cultural independence.
Politically, the piece argues, democratically elected Indonesian governments must be 'accountable and free of corrupt practices and acts of intimidation'. Political representatives must be recruited based on their 'skills and track record rather than their wealth and connections with decision-makers'.
Economically, Indonesia must free itself from dependence on foreign investment and, in line with the Trisakti concept, 'stand on its own two feet' in terms of food and energy security. Outside of these two sectors, the piece continues, import and export activities can keep the wheels of Indonesia's economy turning.
Socially and culturally, the piece questions whether the values brought to Indonesia by liberalism and globalisation are compatible with local cultures and traditions. It suggests directing the education system towards developing a national identity that 'upholds the moral religious values' that thrive in the country. Access to education and health services, it continues, should be available to all citizens.
The political values put forward in the piece point to the main reasons for Jokowi's popularity in Indonesia, where he is seen as representing a new breed of politician; clean, transparent and in tune with the needs of the people. His economic vision, however, does not set him too far apart from his rival Prabowo Subianto's policies for self-sufficiency in agriculture, though Prabowo's plans for the energy sector have been less clear.
The promise to provide access to education and health services is welcome, and in line with Jokowi's experience as mayor of Solo and governor of Jakarta, where he introduced health and education assistance schemes for the poor. The comment about 'moral religious values' raises questions in the Indonesian context, where a founding principle of the state is the belief in God, though six different religions are officially recognised.
The Kompas opinion piece offers some clues about what a Jokowi presidency would look like, though it is still light on details. More will likely be revealed after Jokowi chooses a running mate for the July presidential election in the coming days.
Photo courtesy of Wikipedia.