Jakarta. The Jakarta administration has created public spaces that have increased residents' quality of life, incumbent Governor Basuki "Ahok" Tjahaja Purnama said during the final gubernatorial debate on Friday night (10/02).
However, Ahok's two opponents were quick to hit back at him claiming that social conditions in the capital still remain very poor.
Drug abuse and violence against women and children are rife in the city of more than 10 million inhabitants and the latest government data indicate this is not abating.
The candidates – Agus Harimurti Yudhoyono and his running mate Sylviana Murni; incumbent pair Ahok and Djarot Syaifullah Hidayat; and Anies Baswedan and Sandiaga Uno – questioned each other on their proposed programs and solutions to tackle these social problems during the third and final public debate at the Bidakara Hotel in South Jakarta before next Wednesday's gubernatorial election.
Similar to the first and second debate, Democratic Party-backed Agus did not convey his plan to deal with social inequality, but criticized the current administration for what he called "the dark image of Jakarta nowadays."
Jakarta has the highest number of cases of violence against women and children in the country, and is becoming the province with the highest number of drug abuse, he said.
Out of the nearly 16,000 cases of violence against women reported in 2015, more than 3,000 were in Jakarta, according to data from the National Commission on Violence Against Women (Komnas Perempuan).
According to the National Commission on Child Protection (KPAI), nearly 700 cases of violence against children were recorded in Jakarta in 2015, the highest compared with neighboring Bekasi, Bogor and Depok (in West Java) and Tangerang (Banten).
"This is a bad report of the current Jakarta governor's performance," Agus said in an attempt to attack the incumbent pair.
Meanwhile, his running mate Sylviana launched a personal attack by claiming that Ahok once verbally assaulted a woman, which proves that he is not a worthy leader.
"How can the governor reduce the level of violence against women, if he personally commits it?" she said.
However, Ahok countered her claim by saying that the woman in question was caught red-handed while trying to illegally cash in her Jakarta Smart Card (KJP) – a form of government aid for underprivileged students.
"Why slander, if you have no good program?" Ahok told Sylviana. "This case has been blown out of proportion; that was clearly a person trying to cash in the KJP."
He then criticized Sylviana's attack on him as a sign of her inability to compete.
"I would like to have the regional election free from slander; let us battle [each other] with our programs," Ahok said.
In his counterattack, Ahok said it will be impossible for Sylviana to understand what the impoverished citizens need if she always puts herself above everyone else.
"Even Sylviana, if I may, is an example of a socialite-official, who does not even want to mingle with the lower-ranking employees [in the Jakarta administration]."
Ahok said his administration has developed 188 integrated child-friendly spaces in Jakarta, with facilities for the disabled, to empower residents.
Anies, the other contender, meanwhile presented his plan to empower women by providing them with capital to open their own businesses, and special training programs to prepare them to enter the world of commerce.
"We are committed to women's empowerment. How are we going to do it? We will bring in organizations, activists and have them get involved. The commitment is ours, but we will cooperate with them," Anies said without providing further details.
In a similar tone to Agus, Anies also accused Ahok's administration of not developing Jakarta into a city that is safe for women, children and the disabled. Ahok countered their claims with facts and photos of Kalijodo in North Jakarta – a former red-light district, which was turned into an integrated public space for children and also equipped to cater to people with disabilities.
Ahok said Kalijodo had for decades been a haven of prostitution and the drug trade, but under his leadership the notorious area has been transformed into a huge complex featuring a skating park, fitness facilities, a multipurpose outdoor space, a playground, a jogging track and an indoor football field.
In his closing remarks, Ahok questioned Agus's plan for cash handouts of Rp 1 billion ($75,000) to each of the city's neighborhoods and Anies's idea to allow home purchases in the city without any down payments, as both would be impossible to implement.
"Leading Jakarta should resemble a relationship between parents and children. We have rules. We want them to be healthy and successful in the long run. It is easy to build something, but to raise a child takes years. We don't want Jakarta's residents to be ruined because of someone's ambition to become governor," Ahok said, referring to his contenders' plans to stop the programs he had initiated.
The last debate ignited a social media storm as netizens responded to the candidates' presentations.
According to think-thank Politicawave, Ahok and Djarot dominated on social media by being mentioned in 52 percent of the exchanges, with a margin of 4,582 between positive and negative sentiments. Anies and Sandiaga had 37-percent coverage in social media conversations, with a margin of 4,170, while Agus and Sylviana received only 11 percent of the attention and a margin of 1,957.
Netizens saw the incumbent pair's presentation as systematic and detailed, Agus was perceived as more relaxed than before, while Anies has improved by providing more detail this time, rather than catchy phrases.