Lenny Tristia Tambun
The emergence of independent candidates in this year’s Jakarta gubernatorial election may offer new hope to residents of the capital, at least according to a new book extolling the virtues of one candidate pairing.
La Tofi Enterprise Media is publishing “Faisal Biem, Independent Stars” to highlight the candidates it says will prioritize public interests and stand up for marginalized communities. The book’s title refers to independent candidate Faisal Basri and his running mate, Biem Benyamin.
The initial print run is for 1,500 copies and the publishers plan to sell the title through major booksellers. The book itself details the pairing’s proposed approach to addressing the capital’s chronic issues of traffic, flooding, unemployment, public services and corruption.
The book was launched at an event at a Gramedia bookstore in East Jakarta on Saturday by the publisher, Indonesian Institute of Sciences (LIPI) political analyst Siti Zuhro, as well as Faisal himself.
The publisher, La Tofi, who is also the editor of a political biography publication, said Faisal and Biem’s arrival on the political scene as independents had attracted the attention of Jakartans. He said Faisal and Biem engaged with grassroots supporters and involved them in discussions on solving pressing problems in the capital.
“As a result, many residents have come forward to volunteer,” La Tofi said at the launch. “We are witness to an interesting democratic phenomenon and we decided to release a book about it.”
He added that next month’s elections would mark an opening up of new opportunities for independent candidates, especially those who can involve residents in helping develop Jakarta. He identified Faisal and Biem as the most credible candidates to take on the role.
La Tofi said that the new book outlined Faisal and Biem’s five-year road map to develop Jakarta.
“The pair are not here just to attract attention and engage in discourse,” he said. “They bring ideas to help solve problems.”
“It really hit me when I first read the book,” LIPI’s Siti Zuhro said. “It’s not just about the candidates, it’s also about their sincerity about solving Jakarta’s problems.”
Siti said the book was a good way to build publicity for the independent candidates. She added that she hoped the phenomenon of independent candidates would encourage more people to cast votes and to get the public more involved in the political process.
Faisal said he was touched by the book. “The publication came as a surprise,” he said. “The interview [for the book] was brief, so I didn’t think it would run to 182 pages.”
He also stressed that the publication of the book was the publisher’s initiative and not a ruse to increase the pair’s publicity in the run-up to the election.
“The book does not contain any campaign material,” Faisal said. “It only outlines our approaches to solving Jakarta’s problems.”
Jakartans go the polls on July 11 to elect a governor. Incumbent Fauzi Bowo, who is standing for reelection, is one of six candidates contesting the post.
Four of the candidates are backed by political parties and two are running as independents. Retired general Hendardji Supandji and his running mate, Ahmad Riza Patria, are the other independent pairing in the race.