Governor Heru’s return marks start of lengthy Jakarta transition

He will also maintain his current position as the head of the Presidential Secretariat, but with two deputies filling in for him at the Palace.

Fikri Harish

Fikri Harish

The Jakarta Post


Head of the City Administration’s Finance and Asset Management Heru Budi Hartono works in his office at City Hall on March 4. He was elected by former governor Basuki “Ahok” Tjahaja Purnama as deputy gubernatorial candidate in the 2017 election. ( Rudi )

October 19, 2022

JAKARTA – Former Jakarta administrator-turned-State Palace insider Heru Budi Hartono officially assumed his role as the capital’s caretaker governor on Monday, beginning a lengthy term that could run into 2024.

However, analysts are unconvinced he will make much of a mark in the post-Anies Baswedan era, as they see him more as leading a transitional period for a city about to lose its status as Indonesia’s capital.

“From the three names submitted by the Jakarta City Council, the President, together with several ministers and other heads of government institutions, selected Heru as Jakarta’s interim governor,” Home Minister Tito Karnavian said when inaugurating Heru.

Heru will also maintain his current position as the head of the Presidential Secretariat, but with two deputies filling in for him at the Palace.

In an interview with Kompas on Thursday, Heru listed the three key issues he was prioritizing as per the instructions of President Joko “Jokowi” Widodo. “The President has given me the mandate to solve three issues, flood mitigation, traffic management and city planning,” Heru said.

But as interim governor, analysts noted that Heru would not have much wriggle room in enacting new policies for Jakarta. Political researcher Noory Okthariza of the Centre for Strategic and International Studies (CSIS) perceived Heru’s appointment as a way for the central government to push its own agenda ahead of the planned relocation of the nation’s capital from Jakarta to East Kalimantan in 2024.

“Given his limited time [until a definitive governor is elected through election in late 2024], Heru probably will not focus on making monumental changes,” Noory told The Jakarta Post on Monday. “Dealing with floods and traffic is a must for any Jakarta governor, but Heru will be focusing on delivering what the central government wants out of Jakarta.”

Djohermansyah Djohan, an expert on regional autonomy who had been vocal in opposing the government’s direct appointment of interim regional heads, concurred and said that Heru would have to abide by the regional development plan (RPD) drawn up by the previously elected governor Anies. “As interim governor, Heru can’t have any platform or program of his own, and can only follow what Anies has outlined in the 2023-2026 RPD,” Djohermansyah said.

Solving Jakarta’s problems

Djohermansyah further argued that Jakarta’s problems were too big, too heavy and too complex to be solved by an interim governor who was only going to be in office until 2025 at the latest. “Jakarta needs a transformative leader, someone who’s capable of making significant changes to issues plaguing the city,” he said.

In recent years, Jakarta has had a governor with a military background, Sutiyoso; from political backgrounds such as Jokowi; and an academic in Anies. While these differing backgrounds might color their way of governing, Djohermansyah said that a collaborative mindset was more important in managing Jakarta.

“In terms of transformative qualities, Anies has an advantage in his approach to collaborative governance, especially through his penta helix concept,” Djohermansyah said, referring to a model of governance that promotes collaboration between the government, the private sector, academia, civil society and the citizens.

During his time, Anies championed Jakarta as the “City of Collaboration”, acting in concert with the private sector, civil society groups and other stakeholders in developing and managing the city.

Given how massive Jakarta’s government is, with the City Hall, numerous city-owned firms (BUMD Jakarta) and its public service agencies (BLUD) acting in concert with each other, Djohermansyah said that a leader capable of making all these disparate elements work together was necessary.

But, given the complexities, he added that a five-year term for an elected governor would not be enough to solve Jakarta’s problems. With the Jakarta governorship being seen as a stepping stone to the nation’s presidency, there has not been any two-term governors in Jakarta since Sutiyoso left office in 2007. And with Anies intending to run for president in 2024, Jakarta will most likely elect a newcomer in 2024 as well.

While Jakarta will lose its status as Indonesia’s capital in 2024, both Noory and Djoermansyah expect that the city will maintain its political power for the foreseeable future. “It’s still the economic hub of Indonesia even if the capital moves to Kalimantan. […] Political parties and those with political aspirations will still fight over control of Jakarta,” Noory said.

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