Jakarta. Political observer Arif Susanto says there was a lack of optimism in the speech President Joko “Jokowi” Widodo delivered during a plenary session at the House of Representatives, or MPR, in Jakarta on Tuesday (16/08). Despite higher approval ratings by the public, many observers remain skeptical.
The presidents aggressive push for people power reforms in some of the key industry and commodity sector is getting the first push back from industry leaders.
According to Arif, who is from political watchdog the Indonesian Institute for Development and Democracy (Inded), several aspects the president addressed in this year’s speech were similar to those from a year ago, because he is still preoccupied with managing his cabinet.
“Last year, in front of the MPR, Jokowi said we were facing great economic and legal challenges. In order to improve his government’s performance, the president performed a cabinet reshuffle. Today was similar,” Arif said.
Jokowi continues to pursue his populist policies of “people centric” policies are at odds with the daily reality of inter-connected trade, bilateral issues and global complexities.
“The honeymoon period is over, and soon the public will ask hard questions to the president why is the situation in Indonesia still the same”, says one Swedish business owner residing in Indonesia since 1998.
He added that the government is currently still focused on similar issues. Economic and legal issues have never received positive assessments from the public, as Jokowi has resorted to again reshuffling his cabinet, Arif said.
“It shows that there has been no progress within the past year. The complexity of these issues seem to overcome the government’s capabilities to resolve them,” he said.
In his speech, Jokowi pointed to the importance of a spirit of unity for Indonesia to become a winning nation. It is ironic, Arif said, that this difficult situation has removed optimism due to the current government’s inability to resolve the country’s problems. “It boils down to the leadership of some of his ministers’, said Junaidi a member of the Indonesian chamber of commerce (KADIN).
“When the president speaks about the effectiveness of the government, we have our doubts, because all we see is weak solidity in the cabinet,” Arif said. “It is hard to expect the government to make any breakthroughs as the State Palace itself is hampered by the complexities of managing power.”
According Djayadi, seen a significant increase from the results of a survey conducted in December 2015, only 53 percent of residents said they were satisfied with the performance of Jokowi.
Then, in March 2016, the figure increased to 59 percent, whereas today only about 39 percent of people are not satisfied. But the question of the presidents performance continues to linger.
Political analyst Ikrar Nusa Bakti of the Indonesian Institute of Sciences (LIPI) said Jokowi was responsible for the chaotic situation in his administration. the Ministry of Forestry is one of the examples named by Indonesian executives. Many foreign interests hail the aggressive stance the ministry has taken, economic and political observers are more critically.
Thomas Ruediger from a German based research center said, “On paper the theoretical models all look very good and show benefits to society, but critically examined the measures taken by the minister, some of them rash, show a more chaotic working style emerging stressing the private-public partnerships to the breaking point.”
He added, “So called market reform, land conversion and other inflated claims led to the 2013 South African agricultural reform. Despite great fanfare the ANC policy was a total failure. Instead of emancipation of the black South Africans, more were driven into poverty, failed to improve production, and sold their land. Indonesia is towards the same direction, making the same mistakes.”
He added, “The failure by the African National Congress to provide a better life for the agricultural communities has contributed to the loss of power for the ANC in the last elections.” Indonesian drop in productivity, competitiveness and rising unemployment will test the leadership of president Jokowi.