Infographic by GlobeAsia, compiled from government data, various sources

GlobeAsia Names President Joko Widodo 'Man of the Year'

BY :MUHAMAD AL AZHARI

JANUARY 01, 2016

Jakarta. GlobeAsia magazine, a sister publication of the Jakarta Globe, has crowned President Joko Widodo "Man of the Year" in its January 2016 edition, hailing the former furniture businessman as a "transformational leader."

"The son of Solo has not only redefined politics in Indonesia, he is in the process of transforming the very fabric of society," GlobeAsia wrote.

Elected in 2014 after a bruising presidential campaign, GlobeAsia noted that Joko has had a tough first year in office.

Buffeted by political infighting, a global economic slowdown and one of the worst forest fires in recent times, Joko has had his hands full. At times, the public seemed to have lost faith in his leadership or his ability to manage his ministers.

Under heavy public and media scrutiny, the president "found himself tossed around in stormy political seas," GlobeAsia said.

Economy & Walfare

The English-language business magazine jotted down some remarkable milestones in Joko's era, including his quick move after appointing cabinet members in November 2014 to scrap fuel subsidies, a long and pressing need which Indonesia failed to execute in the past.

Citing government data, the magazine pointed out that from the Rp 211.3 trillion ($15.27 billion) the state saved by scrapping the subsidy, Joko allocated Rp 113.9 trillion for communications and transportation, social development, public works, agriculture, health and maritime programs.

Another Rp34.7 trillion was allocated to less-developed regions of Indonesia.

"While the downturn of the economy has meant some of the cash saved by scrapping the subsidy had to be diverted to other needs, the bold decision allowed much of the savings to be used for constructive purposes that benefit the public at large, such as education, healthcare, infrastructure and development of less-privileged regions," the magazine said.

Infographic by GlobeAsia, compiled from government data, various sources

The eight economic policy packages Joko introduced since September have convinced the markets that his administration is serious about improving conditions for investment, GlobeAsia added.

The reaction from prominent business leaders has been generally favorable.

“The economic stimulus packages are good because they will boost business and improve the investment climate. Simplified procedures and regulations will increase investments and promote people’s purchasing power,” commented Prijono Sugiarto, president director of Indonesia's biggest automotive distributor Astra International, as quoted by the magazine.

Bank CIMB Niaga president director Tigor Siahaan added that despite facing huge challenges from the global economy, Joko's administration is being responsive with the release of the economic stimulus packages.

On infrastructure, GlobeAsia noted some of Joko's progress, including his programs on building 13 massive dams across Indonesia to support irrigation and agriculture.

The president also inaugurated the nation's longest tollroad, Cikampek-Palimanan, on June 3. It was a project initiated by former president Susilo Bambang Yudhoyono and has been delayed multiple times.

Also on the way to completion are the Pejagan-Pemalang, Pematang-Batang, Batang-Semarang, Semarang-Solo, Solo-Ngawi, Mojokerto-Jombang-Kertosono and Mojokerto-Surabaya sections.

Joko's maritime focus, meanwhile, introduced the "sea toll road" concept that aims to improve ports and shipping in order to facilitate the transport of goods across the archipelago. GlobeAsia noted that the inauguration of the Makassar deep-sea port in May 2015 was a start.

The president needs to expand on at least five deep sea ports in Indonesia to support his sea toll road concept: Kuala Tanjung in North Sumatra; Tanjung Priok in Jakarta; Tanjung Perak in Surabaya; Makassar in South Sulawesi; and in Papua.

However, in terms of the economy, GlobeAsia noted that "perhaps one of Joko's greatest achievements, one that has truly changed the shape of Indonesia, is his commitment to social welfare."

Citing government data, the business magazine explained that some nine million students are in possession of Joko's Smart Card, which gives underprivileged children the chance to get an education.

Meanwhile, the Familiy Welfare Card and the Indonesia Health Card, which have been successfully launched, have also helped millions of underprivileged citizens.

Politics

On politics, GlobeAsia noted that Joko has tamed the majority opposition coalition many believed had planned to drag him down.

"Now, with the National Mandate Party [PAN] seceding from Prabowo Subianto’s Red and White Coalition, Joko’s coalition controls a majority in parliament," the magazine said.

Still, the magazine also noted a long list of tasks for Joko to lead a developing country like Indonesia, which lags behind its peers with rampant corruption, transactional politics and bureaucratic red tape still dominating the domestic scene.

There is also the feudal attitude of officialdom, hungry to be served instead of serving the people.

On the cabinet reshuffle, GlobeAsia sources close to the administration said there "is no apparent new cabinet reshuffle in the near future."

"Although many analysts have speculated that there is an ongoing rift surrounding Vice President Jusuf Kalla, Coordinating Minister for Politics, Security and Legal Affairs Luhut Binsar Panjaitan, State Enterprises Minister Rimi M Soemarno and Energy and Mineral Resources Minister Sudirman Said, the sources dismiss such an interpretation," GlobeAsia said.

The full story is available in GlobeAsia's January 2016 edition.

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