Indonesia's Widodo dwindling on economy and poll promises

A President must be prepared to handle criticism as he is under constant scrutiny and the promises made during elections must be kept.

Indonesia's Widodo dwindling on economy and poll promises

Mohamad Radytio- Indonesia

Indonesia’s President Jokow Widodo came to office in October 2014 on nine key electoral promises, all based on improving the livelihood of ordinary Indonesians. He had finished his first full year in office, because 2014 was shared with former president Yudhoyono. Many Indonesians are disappointed with the way he has governed the country so far. The president has failed to fulfill many of his electoral promises. After more than a year in power his glamour has faded, the economy is on a downward spiral and the country’s currency Rupiah keeps on falling.

In a response to the concerns about the economic situation in the country, President Widodo made a huge statement that at the middle of 2015; Indonesian economy will witness the ‘skyrocketing’ growth by the September. Nothing has changed in the fourth quarter of 2015. Not only he failed to make the economic growth’ skyrocket’, even the tax revenue collection remained below the previous year’s collection. It should be noted that of the three economic packages introduced by Widodo government this year, none has helped to rebound significantly the average tax revenue. Below is the news headline from pro-government media which claimed his government achieved highest tax revenue in Indonesia’s history, differentiated with Indonesia’s tax revenue realization from previous years:

From the table, It is quite clear that this year’s tax revenue realization is around 1000 trillion Rupiahs (USD 75-80 Billions, corresponding with exchange rate fluctuation) fairly below from previous years tax revenue realization which stood at 1143 trillion Rupiahs (USD 80-85 Billions). However, what Indonesian people criticize at the President’s economic officials and his supporters who were trying to cover the administrative failure. They said it is the first time that tax revenue is above 1000 trillion Rupiahs, portrayed this as an achievement. After their claim is proven false, they attacks Widodo’s critics instead of acknowledging their failure. In essence saying the critics are stupid and full of jealousy.

The President also detracted from his other electoral promises. During the campaign he promised that he would not allocate his supporters positions in the government, highlighting the “clean “attitude his government would have. Yet, the stark opposite happened. For example, one of his presidential campaign managers, Kartika Djoemadi, was appointed as a commissioner of a state-owned company. Hilmar Farid, another important supporter was given the position head of Cultural general directorate at the Education and Culture Ministry, a position according to the law is reserved for career civil servant
The biggest disappointment for many Indonesians has been Widodo's failure to step up the fight against corruption. President faced severe criticism over his nomination of a controversial figure as the new national police chief. The nomination triggered a row between the notoriously corrupt police and the popular anti-graft agency, which accused the nominee of bribery. Widodo withdrew the candidate, but only after dithering, by which point the anti-corruption body had been severely weakened by attacks from the police.

On criticism handling he too missed his pledge. During the campaign he promised that he and his supporters would receive criticism with open mind. Yet, this year alone the government through the police had arrested people critical to the government policies on trumpeted charges. Prominent example is Dr. Yulian Paonganan, a leading Indonesian academic who originally criticize the President’s policies in defense and maritime but eventually rose to become one of Indonesian social media’s most famous critical figure. He was arrested with accusation of spreading “pornography” and “defaming the President’s reputation” even though the preliminary evidences presented were generally not pornographic in nature and his criticism of President were within the boundary of legitimate criticism. The progress in his case is also slower from other similar cases, leading many to ask whether the government forced the police and judicial authorities to prosecute him with insufficient evidence.

At the end, the leader has to comply with the promises he made to the electorates. He should remember that he is not only the president of his supporters; he was elected into an office which is accountable to all the citizens, regardless of their political views and affiliations. If at the end you can not or would not comply or fulfill the promises, you will have to face severe criticism. Defamation might be punished, but the law should not be misused as a tool of repression. An elected leader should take views from the other side, weather he likes it or not.

He must remember that people elected him the President as an outsider from old-guard elites, his image of "man of the people" and on the promises that he would swiftly usher in a new era of cleaner, more effective governance.

Country’s electorates are not ignorant; they are assessing president’s performance. They might just not openly state it at this juncture. He must also handle criticism better, because in a democratic country the leader remains under checks and balances and more importantly under the watchful eyes of the people. His celebratory period in the power has already over, now he has to produce results, to accomplish that President Widodo still left with around four years of his term in office to turn things around.

Güncelleme Tarihi: 06 Ocak 2016, 10:09