Tuesday, October 21, 2014

Well, he’s in.

Even the news media here in the US has high hopes for Joko Widodo (Jokowi), who took office today and will soon be bombarded with requests for favors, political handouts, easings of regulations, strengthenings of . .  .well, whatever powerful people think need to be strengthened.  The palm oil industry?  National defense?  Hopefully at the top of the list will be a commitment to a secular constitution that reaches across all the provinces, including Aceh.

It’s interesting to note that media here have said that the inaugural party will include a lot of heavy metal, which is Jokowi’s favorite.

Not too far from Punk, really—the medium that gets young adults arrested and caned in Aceh just for dressing the part.

Aceh may be a small fish in the incoming tsunami of problems waiting to crash into the new President, but it is and always has been a metaphor for Jakarta’s understanding of, and attention to, its role as a democratic unifier of cultures and customs.  So far, that understanding and attention has been way out in left field, and the environment, marginalized groups, and tolerance have suffered greatly.  This new “man of the people” takes office while the para-military death squad Pancasila Youth is still active and glorified by the administration. It’s one of many contradictions that Jokowi will have to deal with—and hopefully freedom of movement, progressive attitudes and heavy metal will win the day.

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