Governor Anies says he wants to make Jakarta into a more moral city, not a more sharia city

Jakarta Governor Anies Baswedan meeting with his supporters at Darul Aitam in Tanah Abang in July 2017. Photo: @aniesbaswedan / Instagram
Jakarta Governor Anies Baswedan meeting with his supporters at Darul Aitam in Tanah Abang in July 2017. Photo: @aniesbaswedan / Instagram

Since his appeals to mainstream (and hardline) Muslim voters was such a major factor in his election win, some were concerned that Jakarta Governor Anies Baswedan would appeal to his base by enacting policies that prioritized Islamic sharia ideas of morality, and his actions since his inauguration haven’t done much to alleviate those concerns.

His closing of the infamous Alexis Hotel and his Vice Governor Sandiaga Uno’s declaring that their administration would focus on building up Jakarta’s sharia tourism sector (including the possibility of transforming Alexis into a sharia hotel called Al-Ikhlas) is just one example.

Governor Anies seems quite aware of the perception that he’s planning to enact sharia-centric laws and directly refuted the notion during a speech he gave at the Symposium of Professors from the National Council of Indonesian Students Association Alumni Corps (KAHMI) yesterday.

Although Anies had stated previously that he wants to make Jakarta into a “moral city”, he clarified during his speech that he was talking about the moral principles of the existing law, not Islamic sharia law.

“By morality (I mean) through the corridor of law,” Anies said at the symposium as quoted by CNN Indonesia.

Anies said that his administration’s mission to bring morality to Jakarta would have a legal basis in government regulation.

“Our morals are defined by the rule of law. Jakarta is a city that must uphold the law,” Anies said.

Which sounds good, but, of course, Anies failed to mention that as governor he has the power to change the existing laws. For example, he has stated that he wants to re-allow the sale and slaughter of sacrificial animals on sidewalks and schools in Jakarta, which his predecessor, Basuki “Ahok” Tjahaja Purnama had banned on several grounds including sanitation. Reversing that law would obviously be solely for the benefit of members of one religion.

He has also stated that he will have the Jakarta government divest its profitable shares in local beer producer PT Delta Djakarta Tbk, with Vice Governor Sandiaga justifying the decision by saying, “It is not essential for the provincial government to own shares in companies that do not have an interest in the lives of many people”. (and on what moral basis do you think they made that call?)

Nevertheless, we hope that Governor Anies is sincere in his desire to make and enforce policies in such a way that respects the moral beliefs of all of Jakarta’s citizens, not just the people who won him the election. But we can’t say he’s given us much proof of that yet. 

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