Skateboarders, BMX riders and futsal players have found a new space in the revitalised kalijodo Park in West Jakarta. the 1.5-hectare open space, previously a notorious red-light district, was equipped with world-class sports and fitness facilities.
Meanwhile, the Ciliwung river and the other rivers that zigzag through this overcrowded city of some 10 million are getting a new lease of life after the Jakarta administration instigated a programme to dredge and widen the waterways. Kalijodo Park, a new icon of West Jakarta, and the rubbish-free Ciliwung are just a few of the successful environmental betterment projects carried out by the Jakarta municipal government.
“We should protect the riversides with concrete sheet piles to protect them because floods are unpredictable,” said Governor Basuki “Ahok” Tjahaja Purnama during an impromptu check on the Ciliwung normalisation project recently. Further upstream, at Lenteng Agung, where big trees bow down to touch the flowing stream and bamboo clusters colour the riverside, Ahok talks of preserving the ecosystem. “We do not need sheet piles here; we have to give space for monitor lizards to live and build their nests.”
Basuki Tjahaja Purnama was born on June 29, 1966, and grew up in Manggar, a small town in the eastern part of Belitung, the tin-producing island off the coast of Sumatra. In 2012, he was the running mate of Joko “Jokowi” Widodo in the Jakarta gubernatorial election and elected as deputy Governor of Jakarta. on November 19, 2014, the egalitarian politician was inaugurated as the Governor of Jakarta by President Joko Widodo at the Merdeka Palace.
Ahok entered politics in 2004 by joining the Partai Perhimpunan Indonesia Baru (the New Indonesia Party of struggle), a new political party founded by Sjahrir in 2002. Under the banner of the party chaired by Kartini Sjahrir, he won a seat in the east belitung regional House of representatives. then, in 2005, Ahok succeeded in winning the seat of the regent of East Belitung. backed by his party and supported by Indonesia’s fourth president, Abdurrahman Wahid, in 2007 Ahok entered the Bangka Belitung gubernatorial election and lost.
He was down but not out. the 2009 general election saw Ahok running and then elected as the member of the Parliament for the constituency of Bangka Belitung, representing the Golkar Party. In 2011, the outspoken MP then created controversy after voicing complaints and appeals from the Bangka Belitung constituents he had met privately during parliamentary recesses. serving the people in Belitung and Jakarta, Ahok’s policies on setting minimum wages, calling for free school education and healthcare, reducing traffic congestion and tackling corruption among government officials have won him widespread popularity.
A media darling, Ahok—his Chinese nickname—is a man of action. to the press, this politician born under the zodiac sign of Cancer is characterised as unpretentious, honest, transparent, professional, firm and courageous with the guts to fight against the stream.
On his own personal integrity, Ahok has even dared to say: “I can be bribed, but only at the price of your life.” His strong stance against corruption earned him a number of awards, like the Bung Hatta Anti-Corruption Award 2013. In 2006, influential news magazine Tempo dubbed Basuki Tjahaja Purnama one of 10 characters who will transform Indonesia.
(Text by Olly G. Santosa)