Days prior to the inauguration of the country’s seventh president, president-elect Joko “Jokowi” Widodo and acting Jakarta governor Basuki “Ahok” Tjahaja Purnama shared some light moments on Thursday at Istora Senayan, Central Jakarta, as Jokowi and city officials said their good-byes.
Jokowi and Ahok, who until recently led Jakarta as governor and deputy governor, respectively, fondly recalled moments during their two years leading the city.
“Pak Ahok may look tough on the outside and is also very blunt, but honestly he has a really soft heart, even softer than mine,” said Jokowi.
“Just go to him crying and tell him your problem, or tell him about the roads in your neighborhood that are damaged. You won’t leave without pocket money,” he said with a chuckle.
In response, Ahok praised Indonesia’s next president. “Pak Jokowi is also very kind. He is such a caring boss, always sending me Solo batik,” he said.
Ahok then told the audience about their differences. “Pak Jokowi rarely eats. That’s impossible for me. I eat a lot,” he said, which was met with laughter from the audience.
On a serious note, Ahok defended Jokowi’s decision to run for president early this year, despite having held the capital’s top job for less than two years.
“Many thought negatively of his decision to leave Jakarta and run for president. But you know what? I was the one who encouraged him to just go for it. At the time, I told him that if he didn’t run, I would, because the governor can’t solve the capital’s problems without support from the central government,” he said.
Before hundreds of forum members, which included city officials, local leaders and members of Family Welfare Movement (PKK) across the capital, Jokowi vowed to help Jakarta solve its problems from the Presidential Palace.
“As of today, I am no longer your governor because President [Susilo Bambang Yudhoyono] has signed the letter [confirming Jokowi’s resignation]. But I promise I will help solve Jakarta’s problems. Jakarta’s problems should be my problems as the president,” he said.
Jokowi also pledged his full support for inter-province programs that will benefit the capital.
“I will push all flood-mitigation and transportation programs that involve other provinces,” he said.
In return, Jokowi only asked for the residents to support Ahok.
“I want to call on all Jakarta residents to give their full support to Pak Basuki,” Jokowi said.
Ahok responded by saying he was proud of Jokowi’s backing.
He went on to praise Jokowi again as “the only president who has publicly acknowledged that Jakarta’s problems are the president’s problems.”
“Let us pray for him. Indonesia expects a demographic bonus, more jobs will be created and Pak Jokowi will have a tougher task. I am glad that [Jokowi’s wife] Ibu [Iriana] is always by his side,” he said.
Jokowi later invited a number of forum members to join the duo on stage, talking with them and giving away bicycles to those who could answer his questions. He later sang a song with them.
One participant from Bukit Duri, South Jakarta, Lesktri Dwi, wished Jokowi good luck and asked him not to forget the capital’s residents. Sita W. Dewi, The Jakarta Post