Jokowi’s Army of Volunteers Not Letting Go of Their Cause

By Sandra Siagian on 09:41 pm Aug 24, 2014
President-elect Joko Widodo speaking on Aug. 23, 2014. (JG Photo/Sandra Siagian)

President-elect Joko Widodo speaking on Aug. 23, 2014. (JG Photo/Sandra Siagian)

Jakarta. He attracted dedicated volunteers from across the country during his campaign, and now President-elect Joko Widodo is calling on his band of supporters to act as a watchdog once his policies roll out.

Talking to an excited crowd of more than 2,000 people in Ancol, North Jakarta, on Saturday, the Jakarta governor thanked the campaign volunteers and supporters for their efforts, emphasizing that he would rely on them to report any problems come October after he is inaugurated.

“We are going to give the health card to everyone in Indonesia. There’s more than 500 districts, and if someone misses out we want you [volunteers] to report it,” Joko told the enthusiastic crowd, recapping one of his health care plans for the country — a scheme similar to one that he rolled out in Jakarta that gives poorer people access to practically free health care.

The reform-minded governor, who said Saturday’s event felt like he was still in campaign mode, assured his supporters that the journey was far from finished.

“The race has only just started,” he said, adding there were still battles ahead.

The former furniture dealer passed the final barrier to become Indonesia’s seventh president last Thursday, after the Constitutional Court upheld his victory and rejected rival Prabowo Subianto’s claims of poll fraud. The General Elections Commission (KPU) had proclaimed Joko the winner on July 22 with 71 million votes, or 53 percent of total votes cast in the July 9 presidential election.

Apul Sihombing campaigned for “team Jokowi” in his home province of Riau, citing the incoming president’s track record as his primary reason to help.

“We hope that with the references we have seen, how he led Solo, how he led Jakarta, that Joko can bring about a better future for Indonesia,” Apul explained, adding that as a volunteer he never expected anything in return.

“After we saw the Constitutional Court’s decision, we saw the people’s enthusiasm and hope that there will be no more hurdles and obstacles for Joko to become Indonesia’s next president.”

As Indonesia’s first president with no ties to the military or the old political establishment, the 53-year-old Joko has won praise for his humble attitude and unorthodox methods of leadership.

Kalik Wirawan, a campaign volunteer from Jakarta, said that while he didn’t mind a president with a military background, he believed Joko’s personality was firmer than any ex-general’s.

“Indonesians have wished for a strong leader since the Suharto regime,” he said.

“We’re not looking for [someone] who is physically [strong]. [Joko] is able to make unpopular decisions and accept criticism. Because he does what he believes, his decision is for the people’s needs.”