Sunday, May 18, 2014

"Ahok, you heartless scum!" what I think Satrio would have said if he were present at the YLI conference last week, for no other reason than that his speech confirms his numerous commentaries in social media that Ahok is a breed of politician with a heart of coal.

The reason for that prediction is one of Ahok's responses to why exactly did he enter politic in the first place. He answered that it had been a mistake, he merely wanted somebody he knows to be Camat, and if that person succeed, he'll wish the unwashed poor stopped pestering him at his house—mansion, actually, given that he's a businessman with a considerable clout—and went to pester the Camat instead. It didn't worked, and he figured he'll just be a Bupati himself.

Let's pause for a moment here and appreciate this very fact, that a man of Chinese descent, very obviously a non-Moslem—"muka minyak babi", in his own words that drew the wrath of his father[1]—is able to win Belitung, the regency where 55% of the parliamentary seat was won by PBB and signs bearing asmaul husna dotted the main road of the island. It was not smooth sailing, of course, and Moslem paranoia being what it is, it came to no surprise to me that Ahok ended knowing Al Maidah: 51 by heart. This is the standard stock of negative campaign against every non-Moslem candidates running for any public offices in Indonesia.

But what does he really want to be? By his own admission, above all, he'd rather stay in business and be a tycoon. "Enak, jadi kaya," he said. However, he experienced hitting a wall when dealing with politicians. He recalled his late father said to him, "Jadi orang kecil itu jangan melawan pengusaha kaya, jadi pengusaha itu jangan nglawan penguasa," the adage of pragmatic people everywhere.

That naturally does not go well with him, so on one occasion when he was frustrated with a politician, "Gue tau nih dia pikir orang ga bakal berani pukul dia. Ya udah, gue gaplok aja dia."[2]

"Gue dibilang ama papa gue habis itu, sukur lo bangkrut. Bangkrut? Iya gue habis itu bangkrut, tapi gue udah gaplok dia," the audience roared with laughter.

So, being a businessman will not let you escape from the doings of politics. Which marks the point of him entering politics. His first aim was a seat at DPRD II, and what a stunning success it was, he got the meager amount of 91 votes. However, with the virtue of being the local party chairman, he was entitled to amass the non-candidate specific votes for his party and it paved the way for him to be a local parliament members.

If one need any proof that dishonorable behaviors is rampant among the parliament members, he told us that lots of his fellow party members fumed at him when he declined their requests to bring their SPPDs to be stamped at the destination when they didn't actually go on the trip. In other times, they fumed when Ahok refused to exchange the state-funded airfare tickets with budget airfare so that they can pocket the difference.

The same thing happened when he was the Bupati of Belitung. His advisors suggested that he took advantage of his power to grant mining concession, by setting up shell companies to apply, or by "recommending" equipment rentals for his companies to the companies that get a concession. With all that, his advisors said that he should be able to pocket 1-3 billion IDR.

"Jangan lah," he replied them. He noted that our actions today will be judged by the historians of the future, running a consistent theme with what Anies Baswedan told us the day before and Ananda Siregar on the session preceding Ahok.

The consequences are clear, though: he won't get rich from being a politician. But he claimed he's okay with that, "Gue bisa bantu orang miskin, dan gue ga keluar uang sepeserpun. Duit negara soalnya yang gue pakai [buat bantu]. Nah, gue rasanya seneng begitu."

Being a Bupati does have its limitations, however. One of them is the higher ups. So he ran for governorship in Bangka Belitung. He lost.

Afterward, he was advised to run for a DPR seat, which he hold until he paired with Jokowi for a Jakarta governorship tickets.

During the conference, his advices to us to enter politics are in line with what VP Boediono said the day before. The delivery of their messages, however, couldn't have been more contrast. Boediono was—as always—calm and stately when he decried the deficit of statesmanship among our politicians. Ahok being Ahok, was explosive and rousing, not mincing words. Boediono imparted us the advice that the foremost quality of a statesman to have is to be resolute—teguh. Ahok was a little bit more structured, highlighting four points of advice for anyone wishing to enter politics.

One, tugas pejabat publik itu cuma satu: isi kepala, perut, dan dompet warganya.

Two, jangan menyenangkan konstituen, tapi ikuti konstitusi. Nyenengin konstituen, begitu golongan A dan B maunya berlawanan, pusing lo.

Three, pengusaha ga usah takut sama pejabat yang bisa disuap. Tapi begitu ketemu sama pejabat yang ga bisa disuap, mereka bakal takut. Jadi jangan jadi pejabat yang bisa disuap.

Four, jangan takut mati. Apa sih yang paling orang takuti? Paling kehilangan kursi dan posisi. Kalau lo ga takut mati, biar cuma kehilangan posisi dan kekuasaan ga masalah[3].

We were clamoring for more, but on the other hand we had hold him up for too long, it was a Sunday after all.  In the end, he cautioned that our votes matter in the coming election. The president seat wields power, and whoever hold the scepter could hold it for the next ten years. If that man neglects the first duty of being in a public office—mengisi kepala, perut, dan dompet warganya—instead of having a demographic dividend in 2025 we'll have a demographic nightmare.  And on this I could not agree more with him.


[1] "Padahal kan muka minyak babi bagus itu, mengkilap. Kalau muka babi nah itu baru Chu Pat Kai. Eh, papa gue marah."
[2] "Gue dulu lebih liar dari sekarang. Ini sekarang gue udah jinak."
[3] "Tapi kalau gua minum ya ga mau sendirian. Daripada diracun?"

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