Tuesday, October 17, 2017


By Lily Hikam*)

Yesterday (16/10/2017) Jakartans welcome their newly sworn in Governor and Lieutenant Governor, Mr. Anies Baswedan and Mr. Sandiaga Uno. It is considered a tradition for the new leaders to give speeches following their inauguration to inspire and assure both the constituent and the people that they have handle on things, and while not everything is going to be perfect, they will try their best to fulfill campaign promises and doing everything they can to achieve such goals.

But in his very first political speech, Mr Anies Baswedan did none of that. Instead, the Governor reiterated the "us vs them" mentality of the campaign season with his rhetoric of  "pribumi (indigenous people) vs colonizers."

His speech feels, in my view, more divisive than uniting, despite the plethora of proverbs he picked up from Indonesia's various ethnic groups. This speech feels more like pandering than inspiring. Is this what the next 5 years going to be like?

I am afraid that the spirit of primordialism is going to be alive and well with this new administration. What happened to the re-conciliatory tone of your post-victory speeches? The speech was such a far cry from that call to unite after the very divisive political climate in Jakarta.

He was correct, though, when he said he will be the governor of every Jakartans, not only those who vote for him. Yet, how about that rhetoric Mr. Governor? Will you be the leader to ALL citizens? How will you bring those people back to the fold? By portraying them as the "colonizers" who seek to subjugate and disenfranchise your voters? Nice move!.

People told me to give you the benefit of the doubt. After all, you were the US-educated, former Minister of Education, a public figure admired by people in my generation for your forward thinking and the admirable "Indonesia Mengajar" (Indonesia Teaches) program. How bad can your administration be? You used to be an intellectual with inclusive and visionary outlooks, but now you're just sounded like an ordinary politician.

The least I hoped for when your tenure starts is for you to keep the peace and to embrace those that still doubt you. That is the bare minimum a leader can do after a grueling and divisive campaign season. I honestly didn't expect much from you after watching your speech, but thanks for proving me wrong, sir!

Godspeed, Mr. Governor. May the odds ever be with you.

*) Graduate Student, Zaragoza Lab
UCI Cardiogenomics Clinical and Research Program
Department of Biological Chemistry
The University of California, Irvine, School of Medicine



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