Joko Widodo

Jakarta Gov. Joko Widodo. Pic: AP.

The goal is systemic change, reports Asia Sentinel

What Jakarta’s governor, Joko Widodo, is doing to clean up the sprawling, vice-ridden city he inherited from a luckless ally of President Susilo Bambang Yudhoyono demonstrates an intriguing contrast to the cleanup efforts of the country’s highly praised Corruption Eradication Commission.

The commission has won international plaudits for a long string of arrests that, among other things, in recent months virtually wiped out the leadership of Yudhoyono’s Democrat Party and have reportedly come close to Yudhoyono’s family itself.

Since it came into existence in 2003, the KPK, as it is known, has investigated, prosecuted and won 86 bribery and graft convictions related to government procurements and budgets and has never lost a single one. Among scalps are the Sports Minister Andi Mallarangeng and Democratic Party leader Anas Urbaningrum, who has been charged but not yet tried. Hardly a week goes by without yet another politician waltzing off to jail. It has taken on top members of the National Police, arrested the nation’s chief oil and gas regulator and charged the head of the Constitutional Court with accepting bribes.

That is obviously an enviable record that has been given credit for a major impact on the political scene. But Jokowi, as he is known, is taking another tack, one that in the long run may be more sustainable – systemic change instead of televised trips to the slammer. The arrest of yet another top politician is akin to dipping another cup of water out of the Ciliwung River that runs through the city. The process of changing the system, with or without arrests, may be more effective.

It is one of those traits Jokowi is exhibiting that enhance his already considerable reputation in the run-up to national elections later this year. Jokowi is by far the leading candidate and about all that could stop him would be that Megawati Sukarnoputri, the head of the Indonesian Democratic Party of Struggle, or PDI-P, might block him to run herself.

Jokowi’s latest move is to investigate fraud in the Rp113 billion (US$9.6 million) purchase of new city buses as a move to change Jakarta’s rigged procurement process to make it more transparent and rid it of corruption. The buses cost Rp1 billion each in China. They were delivered to Jakarta costing Rp3 billion. Although the city so far this year received a total of 656 buses, less than a month into their use 15 of them were found to be unfit for the city streets.

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