Anies Remembered as a Cultural Figure Introducing a New Civilization to Jakarta

JAKARTA - H Ilham Bintang, a prominent media figure and Chairman of the Advisory Council of the Indonesian Journalists Association (PWI), speaks about his concrete experience with Anies Baswedan's capabilities when he served as the Governor of Jakarta. This includes his resolution of a long-standing dispute over the establishment of a place of worship in his residential area in Taman Villa Meruya, West Jakarta.

"Thanks to Anies, the deadlock in the mosque construction process, which had been stalled for a long time, was resolved. Anies facilitated communication with those who disagreed with the mosque's establishment," said Ilham Bintang in a conversation on Thursday afternoon (09/05/2024).

Ilham shared that the mosque, named At Tabayun, which has been operational for the last two years coinciding with the end of Anies’s tenure as the governor of DKI Jakarta, was established through a lengthy process that even escalated to court disputes.

"In the past, the opposition to the construction of the Attabayun mosque in our complex was very strong. Especially since our residential complex in Taman Villa Meruya is predominantly inhabited by our non-Muslim brethren. They had been rejecting the mosque's construction for years for various reasons. At that time, we thought there was no hope left for the mosque to be built, although the land was available," said Ilham, also known as a legend in the television infotainment shows.

Realizing these difficulties, Ilham, along with journalist figures like Marah Sakti Siregar, reported the issue to Anies Baswedan by meeting him at the City Hall in North Merdeka Field, Jakarta. From that moment, as the legal issues were resolved in court, Anies took over the communication process for the mosque’s construction.

"At that point, Anies was able to communicate effectively with those who had been opposing the mosque's construction. The parties, having been engaged respectfully by Governor Anies, eventually consented. The mosque, which we built over two years, was finally erected. After COVID, during the Eid celebrations in 2023, we were able to use the At Tabayun mosque for the Eid al-Fitr prayers," added Ilham.

Experiencing firsthand how Anies resolved interfaith conflicts related to the establishment of places of worship, Ilham then acknowledged the true quality of the former rector of Paramadina University. He proved capable of mediating and providing a sense of justice to all parties involved in the mosque's controversial construction, balancing the pros and cons.

"Another direct success I witnessed is how Jakarta is now better organized. The Sudirman-Thamrin area now rivals the streets in downtown New York or Manhattan in the United States. In fact, the ambiance on that street is now even better than the renowned Orchard Road in Singapore, which has become more cramped and rundown," revealed Ilham Bintang.

Recognizing Anies's significant potential if he runs in the Jakarta elections at the end of 2024, it now depends on two things: Anies's own decision and the support from the political parties that will nominate him. The political forces that have supported Anies in the 2024 Presidential Election, such as the Prosperous Justice Party (PKS), will reap substantial benefits if they nominate him.

"No one can deny that the support for Anies in Jakarta was substantial, as seen in the 2024 Presidential Election. His vote share was nearly equal to that of Prabowo Subianto. PKS is indeed now the ruler of Jakarta, taking over the positions held by PPP during the New Order electoral period or the Masyumi Party in the 1955 elections. PKS and the figure of Anies are now very powerful in Jakarta," stated Ilham Bintang conclusively.

What is most valuable, according to Ilham, is that Anies's leadership has made the city of Jakarta and its citizens more civilized. This is evident from the emergence of a new culture in the use of city transportation, reflecting an Indonesian culture that had long been abandoned.

"The individualistic culture in city transport has been drastically eroded. The attitude of yielding to queue, allowing women and the elderly to sit has now become a habit that is visible again. This is clearly something to be proud of. There is a change in civilization and culture among the citizens of Jakarta, who have long been perceived as individualistic."