News You Really Need To See: “Political Upstarts Work to Propel Change in an Indonesia Tired of Corruption”

“Political Upstarts Work to Propel Change in an Indonesia Tired of Corruption”

The New York Times, June 22, 2014, p.A10

“Even as a young man, Bima Arya Sugiarto seemed a sure bet to gain membership into the exclusive club of Indonesia’s political elite. … This spring, however, Mr. Bima, now 41, left the political machinations of the Indonesian capital and returned home to Bogor, a quaint West Java mountain city, to be sworn in as its new mayor.  In a country known for damaging levels of official corruption and waste, he spends his time trying to plug ‘leakages’ that drain as much as 30 percent of Bogor’s budget, questioning why his predecessor had a $16,000 clothing allowance, and focusing on issues like health care and local education that many Indonesian politicians ignore. … Mr. Bima is one of a small but growing group of political upstarts who have headed out of the capital in recent years to pursue political careers in local government, and who have been encouraged by the recent success of Joko Widodo, who made his name as a wildly popular small-city mayor and is now leading in polls to become president.  Although the political mavericks come from different political parties and are not formally aligned, they are united in a belief that 16 years after Mr. Suharto’s rule ended, the Indonesian public is increasingly fed up with the pace of change, the level of corruption and what they see as a lack of accountability. …in the last five years, dozens of current and former members of the House of Representatives have been convicted of corruption and sent to prison.  The new crop of politicians is trying to set itself apart by pushing good governance and a zero tolerance for corruption, as well as going out and talking to the masses in the streets or at public meetings.”

Quickie Analysis:  A movement to fight corruption from the grass-roots level certainly enjoys advantages over a top-down approach.  

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