August 18, 2023
JAKARTA – While President Joko “Jokowi” Widodo has spent the past nine years enacting policies to pave the way for Indonesia to become a global power, he said that the nation’s success in achieving its ambitions relies on whether his successor has the necessary “consistency” and “courage”.
Speaking during his penultimate State of the Nation Address on Wednesday, Jokowi said that Indonesia today has a great chance of achieving its “2045 Golden Indonesia” vision and of reaching the top five global economies in the coming years.
“We not only have the chance, but we have also devised strategies to achieve it,” said Jokowi, who was dressed in the traditional attire of North Maluku’s Tanimbar people.
This strategy, he said, included the development of Indonesia’s human capital, the push for a more green economy policies and the downstreaming of the commodity-based industry, which the President believed to be “windows of opportunity” to speed up the nation’s progress.
“We must make the most of this opportunity. We would be at a great loss if we missed out on this opportunity because not every country has it, and there’s no guarantee that we will have it again,” Jokowi said.
To this end, Jokowi urged his successor not to squander Indonesia’s chance of moving up the global economic ladder, saying that existing development policies should still be continued even when he leaves office in October next year.
“It’s not about who the President is, but [it’s about] whether or not the future leaders are ready to work in line with what we have started today,” Jokowi said. “While we aren’t exactly on a leisurely walk, we are not sprinting either. What we [need] to be doing is a marathon.”
Aside from the political will to continue his policies, additional criteria Jokowi sees as important for his successor are “courage” and the ability to garner public trust.
“The challenges ahead will be daunting, as choosing which policies [to implement] will become increasingly difficult. It takes courage and [public] trust to make these difficult and unpopular decisions,” he added.
Three candidates have announced their plans to run for president next year: Central Java Governor Ganjar Pranowo of the ruling Indonesian Democratic Party of Struggle (PDI-P), of which Jokowi is a member, Defense Minister and Gerindra party chair Prabowo Subianto and former Jakarta governor Anies Baswedan. Ganjar is seen as the most likely candidate to continue Jokowi’s program, Anies as the antithesis of Jokowi, while Prabowo is seen as occupying the political middle ground, according to a May public opinion poll by Saiful Mujani Research and Consulting (SMRC).
Jokowi’s state of the nation address on Wednesday, his last before Indonesians go to polls in February to elect the country’s next president, has come at a time when politicking among parties and presidential hopefuls has gone into overdrive.
As speculations on electoral alliances and presidential pairings continue to rumble, Jokowi has hit back at suggestions that he was in any way responsible for choosing the candidates.
“There is a trend among politicians and parties [these days], whenever [they are] asked about their candidates for president and vice president, their answers will be, ‘there hasn’t been any instruction from the village chief,’” the President said.
“These days, I realize that that ‘village chief’ refers to me,” he quipped, to laughter from the audience. He then said that he was not a village chief but a president and insisted that determining election candidates was the sole remit of political parties or coalitions of parties.
Jokowi’s statement has seemingly caught politicians off guard, as they scrambled to downplay its implication that parties had been looking to Jokowi for direction ahead of next year’s election.
Golkar Party executive Ahmad Doli Kurnia and NasDem Party chair Surya Paloh, for instance, were quoted by several media outlets as saying immediately following Wednesday’s event that the quip was just Jokowi’s light-hearted humor.
Keeping up appearances
That Jokowi started off his speech on Wednesday by saying that he was not pulling any strings ahead of next year’s election is testament to his eagerness to be remembered by the public as a democratic president, political analyst Firman Noor of the National Research and Innovation Agency (BRIN) said.
“I think it’s clear to see that Jokowi’s ‘I’m not a village chief’ statement was him washing his hands clean of allegations [that he is giving orders to political parties],” Firman said on Thursday. “It also goes to show, once again, the President’s tendency to be inconsistent.”
Firman was referring to a statement Jokowi made in the company of media leaders during a closed-door meeting in May, when the President admitted that he had no choice but to cawe-cawe (intervene) in the hunt for his successor for the good of the country.