Jakarta – Being the governor of Jakarta comes with its own pitfalls and perks.
As the capital of Indonesia, Jakarta is the seat of political and economic power and there is a unique complexity involved in managing business in the city.
The Jakarta governor has his or her own authority, but any major decision would have to be consulted with the central government.
Outgoing Jakarta Governor Anies Baswedan experienced this first-hand when he had to bargain with the central government over the public activity restrictions (PPKM) at the height of the COVID-19 pandemic.
And the fact that the capital region shares a border with two other provincial administrations controlling parts of one of the biggest urban sprawl in the world, makes the job more complicated.
And then, of course, there are the perennial problems of congestion, air pollution and flooding that have dogged every reform-era governor. The problem of flooding in fact predates modern-day Jakarta, with inundation already becoming a familiar feature of the colonial era Batavia. Or if you count the Tarumanagara inscription as evidence, flooding already was a fact of life in fifth-century Jakarta.
On the flip side, the Jakarta governor can enjoy privileges fellow governors in the country can only imagine.
As the most prosperous province in the country, the local government can collect a significant sum from taxes and levies paid by its wealthy business and private individuals, enough to boost its coffers. Last year, the revenue collected by the Jakarta government was Rp 72.18 trillion (US$4.67 billion), up from Rp 55.8 trillion.
And thanks to the steady stream of funds, the city administration can pay for welfare programs like free health care and free elementary and secondary education for those registered as Jakarta residents.
For any politician serving as Jakarta governor, the position is undoubtedly strategic simply for the fact that the media (or social media) spotlight would always be cast on them.
And since the time a little-known mayor from Surakarta known as Joko "Jokowi" Widodo ran as Jakarta governor and succeeded, the governorship has become a springboard for politicians aspiring to occupy the highest office in the country.
Governor Anies has been tapped to run in 2024 as president and any rational voters would study his track record as Jakarta leader before casting their ballot accordingly.
And if he secures the ticket to run in 2024, the question in the mind of any voter would be: has he done enough to improve the quality of life for Jakartans? Has he tackled traffic congestion and air pollution problems aggressively, or has he committed enough resources to mitigate the flooding problems in the capital?
Politicians often cast their term in office as a marathon and not a sprint. And if the work of solving Jakarta's myriad of problems is a marathon, because the problems are so complex for one governor to solve in just one term, the question is whether the outgoing governor has laid enough foundations for the next leader to work on more solutions.
Whatever our judgment may be, history will decide if Governor Anies leaves a lasting legacy from his five-year tenure. For now, it's done and dusted.