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How Jakarta’s governor got tough on the city bureaucracy

Jakarta Governor Basuki Tjahaja Purnama, widely known as "Ahok," fired 4,000 city workers. (Kyodo via AP Images

Jakarta’s top elected leader doesn’t suffer fools lightly.

Joshua Chambers and Medha Basu report for GovInsider that Basuki Purnama Tjahaja fires city workers on the spot if they are lazy or corrupt. The blunt approach makes for tense relations with some bureaucrats. But it also has won over everyday citizens who welcome the get-tough attitude, the article says.

The governor, nicknamed Ahok, took the helm of Indonesia’s capital in 2014. As he prepares to run for a second term, he talked with GovInsider about his “shock therapy” philosophy. He sacked half of the municipality’s civil servants — laying off 4,000 — in his first two months in office. That allowed him to raise paltry salaries to incentivize the remaining workforce.

The city reasserted control over government contracts rife with corruption, including fake employees on payrolls. Smartphone apps monitor the performance and punctuality of city employees.

To promote transparency, the mayor ordered videos of all city meetings to be posted online, the article says. A digital tool tracks even the most incremental budgetary tweaks in an effort to detect fraud. Ahok also formed a new “smart city unit” to publish and mine city data, such as traffic updates and security-camera footage.


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