“Disappointed”: Indonesians ponder the legacy of Joko Widodo’s passing | Joko Widodo News

Solo, Indonesia – On a visit to the city of Surakarta, also known as Solo, it may seem that Indonesian President Joko Widodo has many friends.

Almost everyone in Sulu appears to have met the president, popularly known as Jokowi.

It was here that Jokowi began his career in politics, becoming mayor of the city in 2005 and remaining in office for seven years before becoming governor of Jakarta and eventually, in 2014, president of Indonesia.

Many Sulu residents describe the president as a “personal friend” and are quick to show photos of times he has visited their homes or neighborhoods.

Jokowi’s final term as president will end this year after that Indonesians go to the polls To choose their next leader on February 14.

Exterior of Notoharjo Market.  There is a handrail going up.  There are people outside, including a woman on a motorcycle with a young child on her back
Traders told Al Jazeera that their profits increased significantly after they were moved to permanent stalls in the Notoharjo market (Al Jazeera)

The end of his second term represents an opportunity not only for the people of Sulu, but also for Indonesians as a whole to reflect on the legacy of the man who was the first to emerge from outside the traditional political elite to lead the country.

Notoharjo Market

Early in his political career, Jokowi, who famously owned a furniture company before becoming a politician, was welcomed as a breath of fresh air.

One of the highlights of Jokowi’s tenure as mayor of Sulu was his negotiations with market traders who sold their goods around the city’s national monument, clogging the surrounding streets and causing congestion.

At the time, Indonesian officials were known for their harsh policies that failed to take the needs of local residents into account, and Jokowi was praised when he personally met with traders and brokered a solution to take them to Notoharjo Market, about 10 minutes away, where they would have a designated place to sell their goods.

Eddie Saryanto, who sells electronics in Notoharjo, said Jokowi had met dealers in person on four or five occasions to talk about the move.

It was a gesture he appreciated.

“Jokowi told me: ‘Don’t worry, the government is here to facilitate this.’” “They wanted to find a win-win solution and they achieved it,” Saryanto said.

Eddie Saryanto raises his mobile phone to show a photo of himself with vice presidential candidate and mayor of Sulu, Gibran Rakabuming Raka.  Eddie stands outside the market
Eddie Saryanto, who sells electronics at Notoharjo Market, shows a photo of himself with vice presidential candidate and Sulu mayor Gibran Rakabuming Raka. Gibran is Jokowi’s eldest son (Al Jazeera)

He moved to Notoharjo in 2007 and said his profits increased dramatically as a result. Other market traders agree, including Ferry Setiawan, who sells car and motorcycle parts.

“As mayor, he (Jokowi) succeeded and there was no conflict between the different parties at the time of this move. We have achieved great success and our profits have tripled.”

To sweeten the deal, Jokowi gave each trader $322 to help them during the move and allow them to start over at the new location.

“I would say 95 percent of traders are successful after this step,” Setiawan said. “I was happy that he was helping people who needed his help. Jokowi was always there for people when he was in Solo.

Once the market traders were moved from the national monument, it was turned into a park with a children’s play area and became one of the most popular entertainment spots in Sulu.

Family friend Slamit Raharjo said Jokowi’s ambitions to improve green spaces in Sulu were inspired by his visits to other countries.

“He wanted to do his best for Solo and improve the economy. He often traveled abroad and saw how people in other countries liked to walk, so he built sidewalks and parks so that people here could do the same. He also improved public transportation so “Solo can evolve.”

Family friend, Salama Raharjo, stands in front of a wall of photos
Family friend Salama Raharjo said that Jokowi, as mayor of Sulu, worked hard for the people of the city (Al Jazeera)

Raharjo first met Jokowi when they were both working in the furniture business, and he said Jokowi seemed like a fresh start for Sulu, entering politics as a rare candidate who was not from the political or religious elite.

“Solo is a unique city, and at that time, we needed a new character who didn’t have a negative record,” Raharjo said.

“He worked hard for us.”

Unpleasant issues

But although residents continued to support Jokowi, their families did not stop Doubts grew As he advances in politics.

As he prepares to leave the presidency, there is now disappointment.

“I was a strong supporter when he became president and I was proud that he was from Sulu,” said market trader Phiri Setiawan.

“But in the end, he has not yet become a good leader.”

Setiawan said one of the most striking cases of Jokowi’s presidency was the controversial Constitutional Court decision last year on the minimum age for presidential and vice-presidential candidates.

The court headed by Jokowi’s son-in-law Anwar OthmanThose who had previously served as an elected official were allowed to run for high office even if they were under the official minimum age of 40. The decision was enabled by Jokowi’s 36-year-old son Gibran Rakabuming Rakato run for the position of running mate to presidential candidate Prabowo Subianto.

“I was disappointed,” Setiawan said. “There was no democracy in the Constitutional Court’s decision. He was embarrassed by the apparent nepotism, but since it was his second term in office, Jokowi may have felt he needed to find a way to cling to power.

“Maybe everyone is doing the same thing and trying to take care of their kids.”

A protester holds a banner showing photos of Jokowi and his family members and condemning the creation of a dynasty
Protesters accuse Jokowi, Indonesia’s first leader outside the country’s elite, of trying to create a political dynasty (Adevi Rahman/AFP)

Raharjo also said that he finds it difficult to understand his close friend, who seemed to be the driving force behind Gibran’s sudden entry into politics.

“Before that, I could usually read his mind,” Raharjo said.

“But now it is difficult for me to follow his thought process. All his close friends are confused but we are not surprised. If Jokowi wanted to do something, he must have calculated everything and weighed it all in his mind. If he had taken such a political stance, then no There must be a reason.”

Speculation – later dispelled – that Jokowi might try to run for a third term in office also alarmed his supporters.

Under the Indonesian Constitution, the president can hold office for only two terms, or a maximum of 10 years.

“Originally, I heard that he tried to extend his presidency for a third term because of the pandemic. “It wasn’t good,” Setiawan said.

“He was like my best friend but now, I don’t like his politics.”

Other sources in Solo, including members of the Indonesian Democratic Party of Struggle (PDI-P), the party that supported Jokowi’s presidency, told Al Jazeera that Jokowi had sent a representative to ask Megawati Soekarnoputri, the head of the Indonesian Democratic Party of Struggle, for her blessing as she seeks a third term. But the request was rejected after Megawati deemed it “unconstitutional.”

Market trader Phiri Setiawan, sitting on a chair holding his phone and showing a photo of himself with Jokowi
Market trader Phiri Setiawan displays a photo of himself and Jokowi when he was mayor of Sulu. He expressed his disappointment with the Constitutional Court’s decision (Al Jazeera)

Jokowi has long denied any aspirations to serve a third term in office or that he was directly involved in any negotiations on the matter.

Megawati, the daughter of Indonesia’s first post-independence president, is herself a former vice president and president, and has said publicly that Jokowi did not personally ask her whether he could extend his presidency for a third term, but assured that he would. It was unconstitutional to do so.

Economic success

Indrawan, a management consultant based in Sulu, is also conflicted about the outgoing president.

“Jokowi was an excellent mayor and I met him almost every day, but when he became governor (of Jakarta), he changed and I rarely saw him after that. It seems he is not the same person anymore.”

Like others in Sulu, Indrawan strongly criticized the Constitutional Court’s decision but added that there were other problems with Jokowi’s legacy, including growing corruption.

Indonesia is now a more corrupt country than it was when Jokowi took office, ranking 115th out of 180 countries surveyed. In 2014, when Jokowi was elected, Indonesia ranked 107th out of 175 countries according to Transparency International.

A number of his ministers have also faced corruption allegations that remain either under investigation or have led to prison sentences, sparking criticism in Sulu that the president has allowed corruption to flourish.

These include the former Deputy Minister of Law and Human Rights, Edward Omar Sharif Hiarij, and the former Minister of Communications and Information Technology, Johnny Gerard BlightFormer Minister of Social Affairs Idris Merham, former Minister of Youth and Sports Affairs Imam Nahrawi, former Minister of Marine Affairs and Fisheries Edhi Prabowo, and former Minister of Social Affairs Juliari Batubara.

Management consultant Indrawan, sitting in front of a wooden door and smiling.  In front of him is a large cup of tea.
Administrative consultant Indrawan said that he considers Jokowi a close friend, but now he feels disappointed in him (Al Jazeera)

Despite concerns about democratic processes and corruption, Jokowi remains popular across Indonesia, with opinion polls showing his approval rating after leaving office at around 80%.

That’s a result of “the more successful elements of his legacy,” said Natalie Sambhi, executive director of Verve Research, an independent think tank focused on Southeast Asian security, and a senior fellow at the Asia Society Policy Institute.

Most notably, these include his tireless pursuit of development through… Improving infrastructureIncreasing investment, reducing red tape and creating job opportunities.

Last year, the economy grew by more than 5 percent.

“But we can certainly debate whether the means Jokowi used to achieve his goals – controversial legislation, weakening of some democratic institutions and installing his son as a vice-presidential candidate – were right or fair.”

As Jokowi prepares to leave office, some of the people most affected by his complicated legacy appear to remain Sulu residents, who are still struggling to reconcile the realities of the outgoing president and the man they once thought they knew.

“I’m very disappointed in him,” said management consultant Indrawan.

“And I say that as a friend.”

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