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Tuesday June 18, 2013

Man to watch in Indonesia

Star in his own right: Jokowi being mobbed by Indonesians during the Enjoy
Jakarta concert at Lake Gardens in Kuala Lumpur. Star in his own right: Jokowi being mobbed by Indonesians during the Enjoy Jakarta concert at Lake Gardens in Kuala Lumpur.

Malaysians will be hearing more of Joko Widodo as the Indonesian presidential elections take place next year.

It was a concert to woo Malaysians to visit Jakarta.

The Enjoy Jakarta concert brought household names in Indo­nesia such as singer Rossa and band Ungu to perform at Panggung Anniversary in Lake Gardens.

Malaysian rocker Amy Search got the loudest cheer that evening from the crowd, a good mix of some 2,000 Malaysian and Indonesian spectators.

Malaysians who came had wanted to watch the Indonesian artistes perform live for free but to the Indonesians, it was a bonus for them as they get to see Joko Widodo in the flesh.

For most Malaysians at the concert, Joko is the Jakarta governor who was only doing his job – to promote Jakarta as Malaysians make up the highest number of visitors to the city.

They can be forgiven for wondering why Joko, fondly called Jokowi, was being mobbed by fellow Indonesians.

This man is making waves in Indonesia and already touted to be Indonesian President one day.

And just like back home, Jokowi wooed the crowd at the concert in his own way.

As he was waiting for his turn to speak, he sat among the spectators. Later when Rossa was into her second set, Jokowi left the VIP box again to mingle with the Indonesian spectators.

A Malaysian who lived in Jakarta whispered: “I didn’t expect to see him being treated like a rock star in KL!”

International Trade and Industry Minister Datuk Seri Mustapa Moha­med who met Jokowi when the Indonesian came to Kuala Lumpur last year was struck by Jokowi’s down to earth manner.

“I invited him to my house. A very dynamic and interesting guy,” said Mustapa.

Jokowi must have been impressed with Mustapa, too, as he received a special mention in Jokowi’s speech at the concert.

“Last year, I was in Kuala Lumpur and I met my old friend Tok Pa for nasi lemak and ikan kering. Saya makan habis semua. (I finished everything). I also had ice cendol.”

Jokowi, 52, was thrusted into national limelight after a successful stint as Solo governor. He was credited for turning the crime-ridden city into a regional centre for arts and culture.

The former furniture businessman has used his common touch to win as Jakarta governor last October and that catapulted his stature into a national phenomenon. More importantly, he has a reputation for running a clean government and being above corruption.

Often there are reports of him visiting Jakarta’s raucous neighbourhoods, eliciting cheers from men and women who gazed upon him star-struck.

Jokowi, who comes from the Indonesian Democratic Party of Struggle (PDI-P), has topped almost every opinion poll, ahead of more experienced candidates such as Prabowo and his party chairwoman Megawati Sukarnoputri.

Analysts have said Joko’s loyalty to Megawati prevented him from expressing his willingness to run for president, as Megawati has indicated she wanted to run for a third time.

Jokowi told the Financial Times that “Jakarta has many big problems. I must concentrate on our job here.”

An Indonesian journalist concurred that Jokowi should solve some of Jakarta problems like floods, traffic, public transportation and housing.

“I think Jokowi has the advantage of already winning the people’s hearts when he was still Solo mayor.

“His policy on Jakarta development may not be fully accepted by citizens but I think he is on the right track.

“As for the 2014 election, there is a split opinion as to whether he should run for presidency. I personally think it is better for Jokowi to prove he can solve some of Jakarta’s problems, at least he can put the foundation to the solution of the problems.”

“Once he finishes his tenure, he can run for the next election. But not next year. It’s too soon although some think that next year is his opportune moment,” she added.

During his short trip to Kuala Lumpur this time, Jokowi visited the smart tunnel and monorail projects, probably to see their relevance to the massive traffic and floodings problems in Jakarta.

As he left Panggung Anniversary later that evening, Jokowi said his goodbyes to the sponsors and walked several hundred metres away to his car. No frills, nothing.

Malaysians will be reading more of this charismatic Indonesian from now on.

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