This is not a possibility. It’s actually done. About 7 years ago, Jokowi and Ahok became governor in Jakarta.
We’ve heard about Jokowi being the best major in some small town called Solo. He later went on becoming the president of Indonesia. Some say his sidekick, Ahok, is even better than him. Yea. Both are good and popular.
Ahok political career is not as good as Jokowi though. He went to jail for the vague charge of blasphemy and return to being a successful businessman.
Just months after those 2 take over, there is unbelievable news. Basically they have a fight with the legislative branch. The legislative branch tries to insert “unreasonable budget”. The governors do not want to approve it. My country used to be very corrupt by the way. So they “bargain”. The bargain means pretty much “stalling” the budget approval. If the budget isn’t approved, the legislative branches don’t get their salary.
The negotiaton went pretty tough that I’ve heard only 40% of the budget has been used in a year. Actual budget left over may be more modest of 20%.
Yet. Roads are fixed. Rivers are clean. Floods are greatly reduced. New reservoir is built. Kids get education voucher. We got basic universal health care going in Jakarta. The tax isn’t raised. It’s actually lowered.
Things just went very well. It’s as if my city is governed like a business. Both Jokowi and Ahok are businessmen.
How? Well. The unreasonable budget are not necessary anyway. One day, there are proposals that want to spend .5% of the city GRP to buy UPS for schools.
There is another proposal to spend another .5% of city GRP to “improve people’s understanding of governatorial’s policy”. At that time Jokowi has became president and Ahok was the governor. Ahok simply wrote something like Understanding My Ass in the proposal. It became the laughing stock of the people.
Ahok fired incompetent employees. He made budget transparent. So any people can access the budget. He also uses some sort of e-budgeting technology. If corrupt politicians put unreasonable budgets, it’s found out easily who proposed that. Oh ya, some special anti corruption body is waiting for them too.
Ahok created a rule. Anyone selling to anyone else besides the Jakarta government at cheaper price will be banned. So the government always get the best price.
He made all-city meeting public for transparency. He often got mad in those meeting and people can see those.
Overall, Jokowi and Ahok are indeed better managers. Jokowi is more flexible. Ahok is pretty much brute in efficiency.
In Jakarta, entrepreneurs can break the law now and ask exemption latter. This gives them better profit margin. Most normal entrepreneurs can’t compete with that. Only those with “strings” can take that kind of risk knowing that they will get permitted anyway. Ahok is strict on the rule.
There is one time when Ahok allows an exemption. For what? For a lot of money of course. For who? For himself? No. We got a junction flyover built by the company that violated the rule. That’s as close as it gets to bribing him.
Governments officials with 3 wives got to divorce their wives because they can’t make money anymore. Some apartments aren’t built. The developer said, please wait till we change the governor.
If government is like a business, there is no doubt that Ahok is way better than most “typical governor” in Indonesia. Not even in US I’ve heard this kind of efficiency.
People expected him to easily win the reelection. Of course, Ahok supporters, called Ahokers, do not want him to just be the next governor. They want him to be Jokowi’s vice president on the next election and replace Jokowi after Jokowi finishes 2 terms.
Democracy isn’t like a business.
Is it a good idea to have a lot of budget left over? In business, it’s obviously yes. In democracy? Ahok opponents told the people that Ahok is a bad governor precisely because of those budget left over.
And what about the fight against corrupt officials? Ahok isn’t peaceful. He creates strife.
And then? Ahok is a Chinese Christian. The country is Muslim majority. Plenty of Muslim support Ahok. However, many feel that a Chinese Christian governor shouldn’t govern Jakarta.
Ahok is very secular. He also has a strike of libertarianism. He wants to allow legalized prostitution. This anger the religious conservative.
A business needs only to make their customers happy. Those who don’t like it can go somewhere else. Government needs to keep all voters happy.
The religious fundamentalists obviously hate Ahok. They used to earn money beating people up. Those people then pay cops for protection. Ahok ended that.
Then some muslim scholars issue a fatwa, special just for Jakarta election, that muslims must not pick a christian governor. There is a verse in Quran says that muslims shouldn’t pick non muslims “allies” and that is interpreted to mean specifically Jakarta gubernatorial election. Notice that the same parties that use that campaign actually promote non muslim candidates in other territory. They just can’t stand Ahok because they can’t steal money while he’s in place.
Ahok joked about it. Be careful if you’re being lied to by using Al Maidah whatever says Ahok. His political opponent claims that Ahok claims that their scripture is lying. During the preliminary hearing, Ahok called a muslim expert straight from Cairo to defense him. However, muslim politicians in Indonesia told that expert to go home and not “interfering” with Indonesian politic. They insist that Ahok case is purely law and have no political element though.
There are campaigns that if muslims pick Ahok, then they are Kufr and they will not get some death ritual babtism in muslim communities. You can read more about this somewhere else.
So Ahok went to jail for 2 years. He can never be minister or president of Indonesia. He is still a very rich businessman that got another beautiful wife latter. That’s another story.
That 2 years sentence pretty much split the country. The whole country can split apart because of that sort of thing. Proponents of Ahok protest all over the world. His opponents just pay protestors to protest too.
However, there is something that Ahok (and his buddy Jokowi) have achieved. Far better result with far less cost is achievable in government just as it is in business. Jokowi rules also keep chrony capitalism at minimum though he often had to compromise a lot.
It could be done. Would it be the industry standard in a democracy? It doesn’t seem to be that way.
With the new governor, Anies, things back to “normal”. Floods happen again. Rivers are dirty again. Roads are dirty. Traffic jams are everywhere because Anies allows traders to sell stuff on roads. Anies simply blamed Ahok.
And as usual, we keep hearing the normal scarcity rhetoric politicians often throw. We need more money. There isn’t enough. Raise more taxes…. Bla bla bla…