By: Sudirman Nasir
The people of Jakarta have spoken. Although the Jakarta General Elections Commission (KPUD, Komite Pemilihan Umum Daerah) will not announce the official count until October 3, 2012 based on numerous quick counts, Joko “Jokowi” Widodo – Basuki “Ahok” Tjahaja Purnama has convincingly defeated Fauzi “Foke” Bowo – Nachrowi “Nara” Ramli. Jakarta will inaugurate its new governor and deputy governor on October 7, 2012 as long as no complaints are filed after the runoff results are officially announced.
One of the most important lessons that can be taken from this election is that common sense can triumph over dirty politics. Well done Jakartans.
The efforts of Foke-Nara’s team and supporters (as well as the numerous elites and major political parties behind this pair) to distract voters from Jokowi-Ahok by raising issues on ethnicity and religion have failed miserably.
Most Jakartans did not buy into their dirty political tactics. Instead of resulting in political benefits for Foke-Nara, their efforts to spread religious and racial hatred had a boomerang effect.
This triumph could potentially strengthen our democracy and at the same time, sends a clear message to the public, politicians, organizations and political parties promoting religious and ethnic hate, that the majority of the general public rejects the use of such dirty tactics.
Obviously thorough research is needed to better understand the social and economic context of the triumph of common sense over dirty politics in Jakarta’s gubernatorial election.
Jakarta’s long history as a “melting pot” of numerous people from varying racial, ethnic, religious and cultural backgrounds provides a subtle awareness that the people who live in this city must learn to live together and accept their differences.
Jakarta has witnessed numerous violent events, and most of these events were orchestrated by elites who unashamedly exploited racial or religious hate for their own political and economic gains.
An uncountable number of people died or were injured in these violent and bloody episodes that caused suffering and destruction, with most of the victims being common people.
It seems that most people in Jakarta have learned from these events.
Day-to-day interactions between people in their neighborhoods, in their workplaces and in other public areas show that most people in Jakarta can learn to build bridges despite having differences. Through these interactions, people find that despite their differences, they have many similar needs and aspirations.
Education and economic welfare may also play a crucial role in empowering people against dirty tactics employed by politicians and political parties addicted to religious and racial hatred and prejudices. Compared to other cities and provinces in Indonesia, access to education and the growth of the middle class in Jakarta is considerably higher.
Congratulations to Jokowi-Ahok, and more importantly, congratulations to the people of Jakarta, who have triumphed over dirty politics. This triumph inspires people and will likely have significant positive effects on Indonesia’s political landscape.
Jokowi and Ahok have little time for celebrating, as the people of Jakarta now eagerly wait for the realization of their promises.
Jokowi-Ahok should take advantage of their skill of being able to manage and maintain connectivity with the public.
The pair should utilize this skill against the efforts of their opponents to hinder their programs to revitalize Jakarta.
They should also emphasize this political capital against the temptation to succumb to the narrow interests of political parties and the elites that supported them, i.e. the Great Indonesia Movement (Gerindra) Party and the Indonesian Democratic Party of Struggle (PDI-P), Prabowo Subianto and other politicians within Gerindra, or Megawati Soekarnoputri and other elites within PDI-P.
Footnote: This opinion article has been displayed in an online mass media, The Jakarta Post, on Tuesday, 25 September 2012; and in paper edition is available at page 6. It is also able to be reached at: www.thejakartapost.com [accessed in Bandung, West Java, Indonesia: 25 September 2012].
The writer is a Lecturer and Researcher at the UNHAS (Hasanuddin University) in Makassar, South Sulawesi, Indonesia.