AN intriguing question arose during the Vice Presidential debate on Friday night (22.12). Gus Muhaimin asked for tips and tricks to ensure major central projects are included in regional development plans. The question was directed at vice-presidential candidate number 3, Gibran Rakabuming Raka.

“Gibran has successfully served as a mayor while being a prosperous entrepreneur. He has overseen the completion of various significant projects in Solo. This is an achievement, but we hope to see this success replicated elsewhere,” Gus Muhaimin inquired during the Friday night debate.

Gibran’s response, while elaborate, did not directly address the question’s substance. Meanwhile, data tells a different story.

Projects like the Sheikh Zayed Mosque and the Manahan and Purwosari flyovers were not independent of the role of the previous Mayor of Solo, FX. Hadi Rudyatmo.

Hadi Rudyatmo stated that the developments Gibran mentioned about Solo, such as the Sheikh Zayed Grand Mosque, had already been initiated during his tenure as Mayor.

Gus Muhaimin’s question was about how to secure development projects funded through corporate social responsibility or CSR, such as the Solo Safari and the Sheikh Zayed Mosque construction, which was a grant from the Government of the United Arab Emirates.

The Sheikh Zayed Mosque in Solo, reminiscent of the grand Sheikh Zayed Mosque in Abu Dhabi, UAE, is a result of prolonged international lobbying between the Indonesian Government and the UAE.

The mosque’s construction began when UAE Prince Sheikh Mohamed bin Zayed al-Nahyan visited Indonesia. Besides signing several bilateral agreements, the prince promised President Jokowi a mosque as a gift, to be built in Jokowi’s birthplace, Solo.

This confirms that the Sheikh Zayed Mosque is not solely the achievement of the Mayor of Solo but a gift from UAE Prince Sheikh Mohamed bin Zayed al-Nahyan to President Jokowi.

Regarding riverbank relocation and railway lines, as mentioned by Gibran Rakabuming Raka in the vice-presidential debate, the public has questioned these developments.

The flow of national budget-funded projects to Solo was a topic of discussion in the vice-presidential debate held at the Jakarta Convention Center. This matter was raised by vice-presidential candidate number 1, Muhaimin Iskandar, in his question to Gibran Rakabuming Raka.

Based on research from various media sources, I compared the duration of project proposals to the central government between current and former mayors. Projects like the Manahan and Purwosari flyovers, meant to eliminate at-grade crossings, took a considerable time for approval from the central government.

Similarly, the budget allocated by the central government to Solo shows distinct figures. During Mayor Rudy’s tenure from 2016-2021, over five years, 60 projects valued at Rp 3.55 trillion were undertaken, averaging Rp 710 billion and 12 projects per year.

In contrast, during Mayor Gibran’s tenure from 2021-2023, Solo received 32 projects valued at Rp 2 trillion, averaging Rp 1 trillion and 16 projects per year. This represents a difference of Rp 290 billion and 4 additional projects per year under Gibran’s leadership.

Former Mayor FX Hadi Rudyatmo recounted the long process of securing funding for the Manahan and Purwosari flyovers, taking up to four years.

Gibran took over the leadership baton in Solo from Rudy, who served two terms as Mayor.

Regarding the Sheikh Zayed Grand Mosque construction, preparations were underway long before Gibran became Mayor of Solo. The mosque’s construction is also linked to President Jokowi’s political lobbying with UAE Prince Sheikh Mohamed bin Zayed al-Nahyan.

The Sheikh Zayed Mosque project and its touted success in the vice-presidential debate are not the sole achievements of Gibran as the Mayor of Solo. They are also attributable to the involvement of President Jokowi and the former Mayor, FX. Hadi Rudyatmo.

Gibran also boasted about tourist visits to Solo during Eid al-Fitr in 2023. As of April 27, Solo had welcomed 274,190 tourists, surpassing Yogyakarta’s recorded 210,000, based on data from the Yogyakarta Tourism Office. However, Gibran omitted that Solo’s tourist influx is partly due to overflow from Yogyakarta, not solely attributed to Solo’s attractions.

According to the Yogyakarta Regional Tourism Office, the average spending per tourist in Yogyakarta is around Rp 2.7 million. The corresponding data for Solo is not yet available.

In 2022, Yogyakarta’s tourist visits nearly tripled compared to Solo. Solo’s tourist numbers almost doubled to 2.530.805 in 2022 and increased further in 2023, reaching 3.096.854 visitors from January to July.

Meanwhile, Yogyakarta’s Tourism Office reported that the total tourist visits in 2022 reached 7.4 million, more than three times the target of two million tourists.

These figures show that Yogyakarta’s tourist numbers in 2022 were almost three times higher than Solo’s, with 7.4 million in Yogyakarta compared to Solo’s 2.5 million.

From this data, it’s evident who is being untruthful. The public can guess who the new liar might be, as the saying goes, “The apple doesn’t fall far from the tree”.

This is certainly a blunder for Gibran. Young voters, both Millennials and Generation Z, dislike winning battles unfairly. Entrapping opponents and misleading the public goes against the principles of fairness and honesty.

Fairness and honesty should be highlighted in presidential and vice-presidential debates. We must avoid favoring any ‘golden child’ in the country, like Gibran, at the expense of other young people who may be more capable of serving as Mayor or Vice President.

We certainly don’t want the rights of the younger generation to be usurped by someone incompetent, merely because of their father’s and uncle’s power. Would the youth of Indonesia want to be hindered this way, blocking other more competent and accomplished young Indonesians?

* Tarmidzi Yusuf, Columnist



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