Anies Baswedan sworn in as new Jakarta governor

Academic and former education minister Anies Baswedan (L) shakes hands with Indonesian President Joko Widodo at the Presidential palace after his inauguration in Jakarta on Monday, nearly six months after decisively beating the capital's incumbent governor Basuki Tjahaja Purnama. (AFP)
Updated 17 October 2017
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Anies Baswedan sworn in as new Jakarta governor

JAKARTA: Former Education Minister Anies Baswedan and businessman-turned-politician Sandiaga Uno were sworn in Monday as the new governor and deputy governor of Jakarta at a ceremony held by President Joko Widodo at the State Palace.
Baswedan and Uno will lead the capital of Southeast Asia’s largest economy and manage an annual city budget of roughly 70 trillion Indonesian rupiah ($5.192 billion) for the next five years.
The pair won a 57.96 percent mandate out of a total of 5,591,353 votes, defeating then-incumbent governor Basuki TjaHajja Purnama and his deputy Djarot Saiful Hidayat who gained 42.04 percent of the votes.
“The governor of Jakarta is a governor for all, for those who voted (for me) and those who didn’t vote,” Baswedan told journalists after the ceremony which was broadcast live on national television.
Hidayat later became governor following Purnama’s blasphemy conviction in May. The two-year prison sentence came after Purnama, who is a Christian of Chinese descent, was accused of insulting the Qur’an.
Purnama’s statement triggered a string of mass rallies, involving protesters from other cities calling for his prosecution and a rising wave of refusal to have a non-Muslim leader for a population of some 12 million in the Indonesian capital.
The election turned out to be very polarizing and by far the most religiously charged in Indonesia, pitting a Muslim candidate against a double minority incumbent.
Purnama was deputy for Widodo when the latter was elected governor in 2012 and he inherited the gubernatorial post from Widodo who was elected president in 2014.
“We can’t wait to get to work right away. We have been waiting for six months. Insha Allah, Jakarta will be better,” Baswedan said in his first official speech as governor after a handover ceremony at the city hall during which his predecessor Hidayat was away on holiday in Labuan Bajon in eastern Indonesia.
Both men will have to work hard to meet their 23 campaign promises which include zero down payment for housing schemes and entrepreneurial programs to create 200,000 new jobs.
Yayat Supriyatna, an urban planning expert from Trisakti University in Jakarta, said other pressing challenges for the new leaders were classic Jakarta problems — eviction, traffic gridlock and floods. These problems continue to tarnish Jakarta’s reputation as the diplomatic capital of the Association of Southeast Asian Nations (ASEAN) with more foreign embassies establishing separate diplomatic missions to the regional bloc.
“We have various masterplans to address those problems; what remains to be seen is their execution,” Supriyatna told Arab News.
Both Baswedan and Uno are known as moderate Muslims.


Hong Kong bans pro-independence party

In this file photo taken on August 5, 2016, Andy Chan (R), leader of the pro-independence Hong Kong National Party (HKNP), gives a press conference at the start of a rally near the government's headquarters in Hong Kong. (AFP)
Updated 24 min 45 sec ago
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Hong Kong bans pro-independence party

  • The ban is likely to raise further questions about Beijing’s growing influence in the former British colony, which was promised semi-autonomy as part of the 1997 handover

HONG KONG: Authorities in Hong Kong on Monday took an unprecedented step against separatist voices by banning a political party that advocates independence for the southern Chinese territory on national security grounds.
John Lee, the territory’s secretary for security, announced that the Hong Kong National Party will be prohibited from operation from Monday.
Lee’s announcement did not provide further details. But Hong Kong’s security bureau had previously said in a letter to the National Party’s leader, 27-year-old Andy Chan, that the party should be dissolved “in the interests of national security or public safety, public order or the protection of the rights and freedoms of others.” Chan had no immediate comment.
That letter had cited a national security law that has not been invoked since 1997. The ban is likely to raise further questions about Beijing’s growing influence in the former British colony, which was promised semi-autonomy as part of the 1997 handover. Chinese President Xi Jinping and other officials have warned separatist activity would not be tolerated.
Chan, the National Party leader, had previously told The Associated Press that police approached him with documents detailing his speeches and activities since the party’s formation in 2016.
The party was founded in response to frustration about Beijing’s treatment of Hong Kong. Despite a promise of autonomy, activists complain mainland influence over its democratic elections is increasing.
Chan and other pro-independence candidates were disqualified from 2016 elections to the Hong Kong legislature after they refused to sign a pledge saying Hong Kong is an inalienable part of China. The Hong Kong National Party has never held any seats on the council.