By Abu Hanifah
JAKARTA, Feb. 13 (Xinhua) -- The outspoken incumbent Jakarta governor Basuki Tjahaja Purnama has became the most controversial candidate to run in Indonesia's upcoming simultaneous regional elections slated for Wednesday with proceeding trials against him were still underway as he did the campaign, marred with hostile events in the city related to the case.
Despite the controversy and hostile events resulted from his statements, Basuki was praised for several remarkable projects for the public he already carried out during his brief service as the governor.
In the initial day of retaking his gubernatorial post on Monday, Basuki had to attend the trial of religious blasphemy case charged against him, continuing series of trials on the case conducted in the past several weeks.
If he is found guilty in the case, he may face a maximum of 6 years imprisonment and be fined 1 billion rupiah (about 75,000 U.S. Dollars) .
Basuki, a minority Christian Chinese descent, was declared a suspect in the case following the complaint lodged in by Muslim organizations over his alleged blasphemous statement against the Koran that he made during his official visit in northern Jakarta area in September last year.
The statement made by Basuki sparked wave of massive demonstrations initiated by Muslim hardliner groups. His statement also sparked heating debate in the social media, pitting Basuki supporters against his critics.
During his term to lead the capital city administration, Basuki speeded up implementation of various infrastructure projects, including social safety net schemes for Jakartans, initiated by his predecessor Joko Widodo.
Besides that, Basuki initiated reform agenda in the cityhall, among others through e-budgeting concept, aimed at minimizing corruptions in process of goods procurement in his administration.
The former regent of East Belitung also intended to apply smart city drive in Jakarta through integrated and modern public transportation system, using subway, Light Rapid Transport (LRT) and Busway. Parts of projects to address his aim are underway at present. In his short service term as governor, Basuki also intensively built canals that run through the city to overcome flood issue which annually hit the capital city in the previous years.
He also initiated project aimed at providing modest apartments for the needy by relocating those illegally squatting land areas belonged to the government.
But this project was fiercely opposed by the squatters who did not want to move from their illegal places.
Conflicts often occurred between apparatus trying to remove them from government's land property to the apartments.
Basuki, who pairs Jarot Saiful Hidayat, faces rivalries from Agus Harimurti Yudgoyono, the son of former president Susilo Bambang Yudhoyono, and former minister Anis Baswedan to run in the upcoming gubernatorial election.
In his last address to end the campaign period, Basuki expressed his conviction on common-sense politics.
"Common-sense politics would always prevail. We do that kind of politics," Basuki said on Saturday.
Rivalry to get the most votes to win gubernatorial post in the capital city was estimated to be fierce with 22 percent swing voters and those who abstain remain large.
Basuki's chance to win the election was still unpredictable as results of surveys carried out by various polling agencies on popularity of each candidate showed different figure from one another.
Basuki, however, got advantage points from positive responses submitted through a mechanism by viewers watching debates of the candidates televised nationwide. His points always surpassed his rivals' in each TV debate.
A political analyst from Indonesia Survey Circle (LSI) Denny J.A. said that results of survey on governor candidate in the capital city do not reflect actual vote potentially obtained by each candidate.
"The election in Jakarta is unpredictable if compared to the ones in other regions. Results of 2012 regional election in Jakarta were totally turned the survey outcomes upside down," Denny said over the weekend.
With close range of popularity between candidates running in Jakarta governor election Denny estimated that the election may be conducted in more than one round.
Such a situation was worsened by significant number of swing voters and those opted to abstain in the upcoming election, leading up to the second round.
"In 2017 Jakarta election, the swing voters may reach 22 percent from the registered voters. They may become the game changer. The other factor is those who abstain. In 2007 and 2012 elections, they accounted for 30 percent," Denny pointed out.
The upcoming simultaneous regional elections in Indonesia would cover 101 provincials, regencies and municipalities across the country with westernmost province of Aceh would see the largest number with 20 elections.
Indonesian government has declared national holiday on the elections day, allowing people to use their democracy rights.