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President Joko Widodo sworn in for second term

Joko exhorts Indonesians to develop ‘new ways and values’.

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Updated: October 21, 2019

A few hours before he was sworn in for a second and final term in office on Sunday (Oct 20), Indonesian President Joko Widodo uploaded a new profile picture on Facebook with the caption “Let’s work together towards progress for Indonesia”.

The post has since garnered more than 224,000 likes and over 19,000 comments from well-wishers congratulating him on his re-election and cheering him on to steer the country to success.

At around 4pm Jakarta time (5pm Singapore time), millions of Indonesians tuned in to a live television broadcast as Mr Joko, more popularly known as Jokowi, recited his oath of office before lawmakers and regional senators that make up the People’s Consultative Assembly, or MPR, at the Parliament building.

The new Vice-President, cleric Ma’ruf Amin, who replaced outgoing Mr Jusuf Kalla, also took his oath of office shortly after.

With a Quran held over his head, the 58-year-old President said: “By God, I swear to carry out my duties as President of the Republic of Indonesia as best and as justly as I can, upholding the Constitution and the laws of the republic.”

In his inaugural address soon after taking the oath, Mr Joko spoke about the challenges for Indonesians in the future.

He said: “In a world full of risks, which is very dynamic and competitive, we have to continue to develop new ways, new values. Don’t make ourselves trapped in the monotonous routines.

“We should no longer be process-oriented. We have to be results-oriented.”

Outside, military helicopters hovered above the Parliament building, guarding it as well as other key areas, including the state palace in central Jakarta. On the capital’s main streets, armoured vehicles and some 30,000 soldiers and police stood guard as banners which said “Congratulations on the people’s mandate and the inauguration” and “Thank you and happy working” fluttered.

The swearing-in ceremony was also attended by foreign leaders, who earlier made a courtesy call on the President at the state palace. They included Singapore’s Prime Minister Lee Hsien Loong, Brunei’s Sultan Hassanal Bolkiah, Australia’s Prime Minister Scott Morrison and China’s Vice-President Wang Qishan.

In contrast to the celebratory fanfare which greeted Mr Joko when he first took office in 2014, which included an outdoor music concert and a ride on a horse-drawn carriage to the state palace, the President had requested that the ceremonies be more “modest and solemn” this time, said presidential chief of staff Moeldoko.

Mr Joko had also expressed his wish to start working as soon as possible, he added.

Security was tight, following student protests against an anti-corruption law since September as well as the Oct 10 stabbing of chief security minister Wiranto by a militant linked to the Islamic State in Iraq and Syria (ISIS) terrorist group.

Rallies have been banned since a week ago and a street carnival featuring rare Sumatran elephants planned earlier by Mr Joko’s volunteer groups has also been scrapped. But his supporters would not let that dampen their mood. On a temporary stage in central Jakarta, several local rock bands such as Jamrud, RAN and Radja entertained the crowds, mostly dressed in red T-shirts and caps.

Mr Joko clinched victory with 55.5 per cent of the vote in the April 17 presidential election, and is now backed by a stronger coalition of political parties which controls 61 per cent of parliamentary seats.

MPR Speaker Bambang Soesatyo praised Mr Joko and his administration during their first term, saying poverty has been reduced, jobs were created and healthy economic growth achieved.

He said: “Economic development during the term of President Joko Widodo and Vice-President Jusuf Kalla has made much progress and has succeeded in raising the standard of living as well as the dignity of Indonesians.”

Mr Joko, a former furniture salesman, served as the mayor of Solo, a small city in Java, before bursting on the national scene by winning an election for Jakarta governor. He then went on to defeat former army general Prabowo Subianto in the 2014 presidential election, succeeding President Susilo Bambang Yudhoyono.

Mr Joko defeated Mr Prabowo again in the highly divisive April 17 poll, winning it by nearly 17 million votes or a margin of 11 percentage points.

Both Mr Joko and Mr Prabowo appear to have reconciled since. They were seen in public taking the MRT train together and taking wefies at the presidential palace. Their most recent meeting took place on Oct 11 which could pave the way for Mr Prabowo’s main opposition Gerindra party to join the ruling coalition and secure ministerial posts.

Mr Prabowo, and his running mate Sandiaga Uno, as well as former presidents Yudhoyono and Megawati Soekarnoputri, were also present at the inauguration ceremony on Sunday.

Mr Joko is expected to announce his new Cabinet soon and analysts say he is likely to push for more development in the economy, infrastructure and education as well as tackle security challenges in the country in his second term.

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About the Author: The Straits Times is Singapore's top-selling newspaper.

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