Anies Baswedan: Leveraging Public Authority for Greater National Impact

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THE 2024 presidential election has concluded. The Constitutional Court, amidst all its controversies, has declared Prabowo Subianto-Gibran Rakabuming Raka as the President and Vice President for 2024-2029. Whether one agrees or disagrees, we must respect this constitutional decision for the sake of national order and the future of Indonesia itself.

The grand spirit and respect for the constitution, as shown by presidential candidate Anies Baswedan and vice-presidential candidate Gus Muhaimin Iskandar (AMIN), who attended the confirmation of Prabowo Subianto-Gibran Rakabuming Raka as elected President and Vice President at the General Election Commission (KPU) on April 22, 2024. This act by the AMIN pair was a first since Indonesia began direct presidential elections in 2004, with the non-winning candidates attending the KPU’s declaration of the elected presidential and vice-presidential pair.

The question now is, what next for Anies Baswedan, who was supported by 41 million Indonesians? Recent events, as of the writing of this article, show that the parties backing AMIN are leaning towards joining the new government.

What about Anies? As the title of this piece suggests, Anies, with his significant leadership and intellectual capacity, can do more to build the nation and effect change if he has public authority. The question is, what are the significant public authorities in Indonesia that truly influence the welfare and common good for someone of Anies’ caliber? Being President and Vice President for the 2024-2029 term is clearly no longer possible.

What remains possible is for him to become a minister or the Governor of the Special Capital Region (DK) of Jakarta. A minister has the authority to make improvements and changes while ensuring continuity in development across one sector throughout Indonesia. Meanwhile, as the Governor of DK Jakarta, with the regional autonomy it possesses, one has the authority to make improvements in one of the most important areas in the country as a whole. DK Jakarta and its sprawling metropolitan area will remain the business and economic hub of the country, even though it is no longer the capital city. DK Jakarta has a regional budget of about IDR 80 trillion, equivalent to one ministry or even more, far larger and many times greater than the regional budgets of other provinces in the country.

The authority and actions Anies could take for the nation by becoming a minister or the Governor of DK Jakarta are, in the author’s view, realistically much more impactful than if he were “forced” to remain outside government and become a social activist or return to academia, for instance. The author does not mean to say that being a social activist or returning to academia, for instance, has a minor impact on the nation. No. The impact is also significant. However, clearly the authority and direct impact it can have on the general populace would not be as substantial as if we allow Anies to become a public official at the central level or as the Governor of DK Jakarta.

Thus, becoming a minister or the Governor of DK Jakarta would not downgrade Anies or diminish his stature from a national figure to a regional one as has been framed. Nor would it betray his supporters. Because, once again, the greatest and most impactful public authority currently and realistically for the people, nation, and state of Indonesia suitable for a man of Anies’ capacity, credibility, and intellectuality is by serving as a minister or dedicating himself as the Governor of DK Jakarta. The presidential election is over. Therefore, please, do not hinder Anies’ path to contribute to the nation and state with framing of betrayal or downgrading.

* Freddy Mutiara, academician in Surabaya, East Java

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