What Kind of Leader Does Jakarta Need?

By Dioputra Ilham | 11 Feb 2017
Political | 1 Participant(s) | 1 Response(s) | 1491 Views

Describing Jakarta as an active metropolitan capital is an understatement. Accordingly, Jakarta is a highly populated urban area that possesses the traits of a megacity, a term used to refer to a city with a densely populated region of around 10 million people. As Jakarta’s gubernatorial election approaches, one must wonder what problems this city struggles with and what kind of leadership and policies are best suited to tackle said problems. What does a megacity such as Jakarta need? How does this translate to the leadership qualities the citizens need? And most importantly, how does the current legal system concerned with gubernatorial elections represent the need to solve Jakarta’s inherent problems?


Aside from the structural liabilities of a megacity, Jakarta faces a numerous amount of problems. Some are infrastructure-related such as flooding, traffic congestion, illegal slums, and destruction of public property. Others are people-related issues such as pollution, corruption, illicit drug trades, poverty, and prostitution. Amongst its citizens, certain issues are prioritised over others. This extensive list of problems has pushed forward the notion that there are various qualities a governor is required to have to be able to resolve them. But what are the general qualities the leader of a megacity like Jakarta needs?


Generally, the qualifications to become a leader should lie on leadership, vision, and ambition. A leader must center their work on a vision of seeing a better future for their megacity. Indonesia’s democratic system of government implies that the leader of a democratic city should be a person who is trusted to be given the task of developing the city in the namesake of citizen welfare. A large part of this task is  resolving existing problems. As a politician, a governor is someone who is required to be able to reactively respond to the masses and formulate policies accordingly. Some of them might include prioritising development programs as the outcome will produce public goods that will fulfill the interests of many. These development programs should also prioritise resolving issues of the lowest common denominator that affects the largest number of citizens. All in all, a governor is mainly needed to resolve issues where no private parties are willing to step in, most of which will concern infrastructure and public accommodations.


Should a leader be someone who solves all the city’s problems? Many will think that qualified leaders are those who are able to eradicate all the problems a city is facing during his governance by their transformational policies and decisions, all at the same time being able to appease the masses and contain their interest no matter how different and opposite they were to each other. That statement, in reality, is too theoretical and idealistic. The vision of creating a flawless city sounds far-fetched and utopic. As democracy in Indonesia creates a periodical governance system, so too shall how the policies work, strategically and systematically. Thus said leader should instead decrease negative traits of such city and balance it out with higher progress rate. That way it would, at the very least, display good growth and development.


Based on the explanations above, it is compelling to say that some sort of academic compatibility is required in a leader to formulate proper and accurate policy. One strong point behind this is because people with a background of formal education will have a better understanding of governorship and political mindsets. However, this point is debatable. Should the candidacy of a Jakartan governor be restricted to people with high intellectual aptitude?


To give light to the question above, one can refer to the current legal system that designates quality requirements from the candidates. The qualifications can be found in the Government Regulation in Lieu of Law No. 1 of 2014 (Peraturan Pemerintah Pengganti Undang-Undang No. 1 Tahun 2014) concerning Election of Governors, Regents, and Mayors. It states the legal requirements in order to apply for candidacy towards high government official positions that later was set to be Law No. 1 of 2015. So far, this legislation has been modified twice. One in 2015 as Law No. 8 of 2015 and the most recent one in 2016 as Law No. 10 of 2016.


An interesting point is that during which legislation is set, few changes are made in the process. Some of such are the abolition of requirements to pass the ‘public test’ or uji publik, which refers to a qualification test mechanism conducted by the Election Commission (Komisi Pemilihan Umum) to create a minimal standard of quality control for high government official candidates. This is done by publicising the uji publik to citizens and letting them decide for themselves. This mechanism was created because it does not allow the commission to reject applying candidates from continuing their availability to be elected. Uji publik is mentioned in several articles in Perppu 1/2014. However, it was set forth in Article 38 of Perppu 1/2014 as its own chapter. Through these specifications it is evident the uji publik mechanism for gubernatorial candidacy was intended to be one of the main gear of qualifications.


As the mechanism of quality control is favorable, what drove it to be abolished? The reason behind it, as stated by a member of the People’s Representative Council (Dewan Perwakilan Rakyat), is for time and budget efficiency. A new mechanism will create a longer election process and consecutively, larger budget expenditures. There were also, arguably, some problems within the uji publik mechanism for high government positions. Some of the most evident ones include an unclear or otherwise unspecified period range and budget system, vague technical mechanisms as to operate them, and also uncertain units of parameter used to measure the candidates’ compatibility.


As large and advanced as Jakarta can be, it requires a leader who will not overlook the basic problems of this city. Some of those traits however, exists in the midst of the civilians themselves. To require a certain quality standard for candidacy in a country where many of its citizens are still illiterate will somewhat marginalise the essence of understanding the problem and the needs of the people. With the comprehension of what citizen needs unfulfilled, so will most of the city’s existing problems that are largely based on material needs. In theory, this system would likely be applied in a society where the majority of people are educated, literate, and have a decent amount of familiarity of politics or statecraft, and Indonesians, at least Jakarta citizens, are still in the process of reaching that point.

However, many still feel like a leader does not necessarily have to be a reflection of the average citizen. If Jakarta is to prosper, it requires a leader who excels in areas where the average citizen is lacking. There still exists the notion that a leader must be an idealised, refined version of their citizens, especially in a polarised city like Jakarta where few of the rich are very rich and many of the poor are very poor, both parties possessing their own shortcomings. Should Jakarta’s leader be someone who can ultimately mirror the needs of (the majority of) its people? Or does Jakarta need a leader with a particular skillset that not just anyone can obtain?