Current Jakarta governor Basuki “Ahok” Tjahaja Purnama, who is running for re-election, said during a televised public debate on Friday (27/01) that his administration had already established a system proven to have boosted bureaucratic performance, in response to promises made by his two contenders to improve public services in the capital.
Concerns over sleepy bureaucrats and shoddy public services are common in Indonesia, including in its sprawling capital city of more than 10 million residents.
Ways to effectively tackle a bloated bureaucracy were at the center of Friday’s debate at the Bidakara Hotel in South Jakarta, the second of three ahead of the gubernatorial election on Feb. 15.
In what many said once again was a robotic performance, black-clad Agus Harimurti Yudhoyono — son of former president Susilo Bambang Yudhoyono — failed to detail steps he would take if elected to improve public services in the next five years.
The Democratic Party-backed candidate abstractly said he would create a “capable, transparent, accountable and responsive” bureaucracy to establish a “developed, excellent and modern but humane” Jakarta.
“Jakartans must not only be an object but also the subject of development. Jakarta must be a safe and comfortable home to all its residents,” Agus, who is running with senior bureaucrat Sylviana Murni, said in a measured tone.
In their 40-page “vision and mission” document, the pair lists bureaucracy as one of seven major problems facing Jakarta.
But similar to his remark on Friday, the document does not detail ways Agus and Sylviana would take to improve public services in Jakarta. Their six-action program merely promises “to increase the quality and reliability of a clean and responsible bureaucracy.”
Agus’ remark ran contrary to that of incumbent Basuki “Ahok” Tjahaja Purnama, who directly pointed to his administration’s move to “measuredly” raise performance allowances for civil servants.
“We already have a system in place, a set of indicators for getting regional performance allowances. We have to create empathetic bureaucrats who will truly serve the public,” he said.
Just months into taking office in October 2014, Ahok’s administration established a one-stop integrated service agency amid growing public complaints over complicated bureaucracy.
The agency, which has more than 300 offices across Jakarta, was created to help residents as well as businesspeople to process a wide range of permits.
“This is the core of public services,” Ahok, who is running with incumbent deputy governor Djarot Saiful Hidayat and backed by the pro-government Indonesian Democratic Party of Struggle, said.
But Ahok’s remark drew a fierce reaction from Anies Baswedan, who questioned the current administration’s effort at reforming bureaucracy and improving public services.
“Bureaucracy should bring about welfare, justice and happiness. Has that happened? Not yet,” Anies, donning his typical white shirt and black Muslim fez, said tersely.
Showing a piece of paper depicting Jakarta’s bureaucratic performance in 2015 to audience, he said: “The report was red.”
“Only 70.8 percent of the total programs were realized. Jakarta was ranked 16 among 33 provinces. The bureaucratic score before Ahok assumed office was 100 but now it’s 56.”
“We will bring effective leadership back to Jakarta,” Anies, a former education minister backed by the Great Indonesia Movement Party and the Prosperous Justice Party, said.
In their vision and mission document, Anies and running mate Sandiaga Uno, a businessman, place bureaucratic reform and public services in “human development,” one of three major scopes in their program.
The pair claimed they want to run “good governance” by “managing budget more transparently, effectively and efficiently to achive quality absorption” and “establishing bureaucracy that is more effective and service-oriented.”
Friday’s debate, moderated by former news anchor Tina Talisa and University of Indonesia professor Eko Prasodjo, is scheduled to be followed by a third one on Feb. 10. More than 7 million Jakarta residents are set to hit the ballot on Feb. 15.