President Susilo Bambang Yudhoyono’s departure from his usual style by making an impromptu visit to a poor neighborhood near Jakarta has been met with skepticism, saying that it was only a ploy to shore up support for his embattled Democratic Party.
Toto Sugiarto, a political analyst with the Soegeng Sarjadi Syndicate ( SSS ), said that the President’s unannounced visit to a fishing neighborhood in Tangerang, Banten on Friday, which many said was copied from popular Jakarta Governor Joko “Jokowi” Widodo, was part of a last-ditch effort to maintain the existence of his Democratic Party in the eyes of voters.
“This is part of a strategy to maintain the performance of the Democratic Party in 2014. He is the chief patron of the party and he has a direct interest in seeing the party remaining at the top of the list,” Toto said as quoted by kompas.com.
Toto said that although the general election was only two years away, it was never too late for Yudhoyono to make a change in his leadership style, including by making such visits more often.
“In politics, it is never too late. If there’s a necessity to do something unconventional, then it has to be done quickly. There’s one-and-a-half years left, and there is still time to change everything,” he said.
Yudhoyono and First Lady Ani Yudhoyono made a surprise visit on Friday to a fishing village in Tangerang, Banten.
The President and the First Lady were free from stiff protocol, which enabled enthusiastic local residents to shake the pair’s hands.
During the visit, Yudhoyono was also surprised to find out that the village lacked decent sanitation and was disappointed to hear reports that the fishermen could not regularly buy subsidized diesel fuel for their boats due to shortages.
The President and the First Lady gave special attention to a baby girl with a tumor on her nose. Officials said that Yudhoyono asked an aide to admit the baby to the Army Central Hospital ( RSPAD ) in Jakarta.
Tjahjo Kumolo, secretary-general of the Indonesian Democratic Party of Struggle ( PDI-P ), said that Yudhoyono’s decision to make such a visit indicated that the President had been disappointed with the performance of some of his ministers.
Tjahjo suspected that Yudhoyono was irked by his ministers’ reluctance to make such visits and decided to set an example.
“If the President decided to make the field trip, this means that something is wrong with the bureaucracy,” he said as quoted by Antara news agency.
Separately, Yudhoyono’s special aide for information affairs, Helu Lelono, dismissed claims that the President was copying Jokowi.
“If a leader visits the people, that’s part of his obligation and duty,” Heru said as quoted by Antara on Saturday.