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Jakarta needs a super-sub

Jakarta Post Editorial - September 16, 2022

Jakarta – The epic Champions League final between Manchester United and Bayern Munich in 1999 will be forever remembered partly because of the dramatic winning goal for the English side scored by super-sub Olle Gunnar Solskjaer in injury time. The Norwegian striker came onto the pitch 10 minutes before the end of the normal time, only to emerge as the hero.

Anyone who President Joko "Jokowi" chooses as the interim governor of Jakarta does not necessarily have to emulate this heroic story. But for sure the capital city needs a super-sub quality leader to replace outgoing Governor Anies Baswedan, given the complexity of its urban problems.

The City Council announced on Tuesday the end of Anies' governorship and submitted to the central government three potential substitutes who could hold the post until a definite governor elected in the 2024 regional elections assumes office.

Meritocracy, therefore, matters to whoever takes over the helm from Anies in mid-October. Knowledge of urban solutions will be an advantage, especially because the challenges facing Jakarta are mounting, rather than subsiding, from year to year. Perhaps the problems Jakarta has to take on grow through geometric progression, while efforts to solve them increase through arithmetic progression, to borrow the Malthusian theory.

Jakarta today is beyond comparison with how it was in 1945 when then the government of newly independent Indonesia named it the national capital city. Urbanization has reduced the city's carrying capacity to support the lives of its population, which stood at 10.61 million as of July.

Decent housing remains beyond the reach of workers who are paid according to the provincial minimum wage, clean water is a luxury for 36 percent of Jakarta's population, traffic congestion and flooding persistently haunt the city's residents, while environmental degradation and air pollution threaten their quality of life.

No governor has proven capable of solving all the city's predicaments, regardless of their well-composed campaign promises. Even a two-term mandate would not be enough for a governor to fulfill his or her pledges.

Jakarta's development, therefore, requires a visionary leader, whose programs will remain relevant and feasible beyond their term limitations. The problem in Jakarta and elsewhere is a new leader tends to advance their own programs at the expense of the legacy of predecessors.

As the interim governor is not elected and considering the powers he or she will wield, it will be fair if the central government appoints someone nonpartisan, or someone with no connection to any political party as Jakarta's temporary leader. Impartiality will enable the acting governor to focus on public service delivery while cooperating with the multiparty City Council with a high level of trust.

More importantly, the nonpartisan interim leader can help the General Elections Commission (KPU) prepare for the national and gubernatorial election in 2024 with no strings attached or any political intervention. After all, as part of the democratic process, elections must run in a just, fair and credible manner, and having a nonpartisan leader is a good start.

It will come down to President Jokowi's wisdom and statesmanship to pick a super-sub for the Jakarta No. 1 post, the way then Manchester United boss Alex Ferguson let Solskjaer change the game and lead his team to glory.

Source: https://www.thejakartapost.com/opinion/2022/09/15/jakarta-needs-a-super-sub.htm