Day 1 of the Ahok jail watch. The collective repulsiveness over the Ahok conviction creeps across the country. The global response was slow but condemnation was all around.
The EU and other political leaders reject the finding of what is a highly politicized campaign to bring the governor down. Even for the most radical politician hating the guts of the now imprisoned former Governor, the judgment is seen as unjust.
The move of the governor from one prison to the next received a flurry of on-line and social media comments. One stood out. “Why was the Governor moved to a different prison?”, ask one friend to the other. “Because he makes honest guys out of the corruptors in jail”.
It highlights the fact that the governorship was seen as relatively clean by the Indonesian public. But the conviction outlines a much more troubling future.
The deeply flawed judicial system is questioned by the public, so is the deep political rift that for some time sweeps across the nation. Jokowi and many observers have underestimated the undercurrent now so evident.
As a result many begin to question if Jokowi has betrayed his former running mate. Many in the ranks of the PDIP question if the president is the right person for the job.
The views about the president and his choices of cabinet members are split. Jokowi has lacked the shine on a number of issues. The Ahok trial is just another example where the president lacked decisive action. And the election defeat is shown in the numbers in the Jakarta governor race. The 16 point loss seen as a public verdict on the president.
Jokowi’s call to respect the court judgment is viewed as a hollow comment in particularly if the judgment is widely seen as unjust. Even within ranks of the Muslim clerical leadership the judgment is questioned.
Jokowi’s lack of support for Ahok raised the eyebrows of many in the political circles. Some of his supporters question the presidential commitment and question if the true colors of the president are yet to emerge.
Observers feel the political machinations by the president does not serve his re-election chances or improve the public perception about the president.
Ahok, brash, in your face, popularity has lead over the president. Jokowi so far has not impressed, in fact his lack of support for his former running mate is seen as an self-serving opportunistic act to divert from the woes the president faced.
Seen as the social engineered president, Jokowi’s populist politics follow the old dictum: In politics you have no friends, only interests until the next election.
However the reelection of president Jokowi is no longer guaranteed. Many within the PDIP and the coalition partners critically questioning if Jokowi has what it takes to lead the country or even gets enough support by the grassroot to run for re-election. Time will tell.
Two years on, many voices are increasingly calling for change because the president and his lack of leadership highlights the overall poor performance of his government. Ahok is just another chip of the Jokowi block.