Does Joko Widodo have what it takes to tackle forest fires and save the region?

Indonesian President, Joko Widodo has stated that it’s been a tough first year for him as President especially when it comes to the economy and haze.

In a previous statement, the Indonesian President mentioned that it would take at least three years before we’d see a marked improvement when it comes to the annual dilemma. The haze plagues the region on a yearly basis and is not just a major pollutant to their citizens but that of their neighbours.


President Widodo has been criticised for his poor management of the haze situation that has already lasted two entire months. It’s also been one of the worst hazes we’ve had in Singapore for a couple of years. The situation was so dire that parts of Indonesia saw a ridiculous four figured PSI reading.

Children cover their noses near burnt land in Marpoyan Damai sub district, in the outskirts of Pekanbaru...Children cover their noses near burnt land in Marpoyan Damai sub district, in the outskirts of Pekanbaru, in Indonesia's Riau province June 20, 2013. Haze from fires in Indonesia blanketing Singapore could persist for weeks or longer, Singapore's Prime Minister Lee Hsien Loong said on Thursday, as the smoke drove air quality to "hazardous" levels and disrupted business and travel in the region. REUTERS/Azwar  (INDONESIA - Tags: ENVIRONMENT DISASTER TPX IMAGES OF THE DAY)

The President has admitted that early prevention would have curbed the forest fires. He said “There should have been preventive measures earlier on. If the prevention had been done, and all had been responsible from top to the bottom, I think the outcome would have been different.”


Will see an improvement before Indonesia’s next Presidential election? We wait three years and see.


  1. I had thought that Mr Probowo (not sure about spelling) would be very nationalistic, flexing his muscle at our little red dot causing us grief and problem and had thus hoped that Mr Widodo would win the election which he did. Of course, having Mr Widodo may still be better than having the former who is known to be volatile in temperament. A temperamental leader can lead to dire circumstances.

    But it turns out that Mr Widodo also has a nationalistic streak in him what with the burning of fish boats, wanting to reclaim the control of the air space which Singapore has been assisting with for decades and his rejecting our offer of help for weeks to fight the haze.

    His refusal of help from other countries to fight the haze contributed to the seriousness of the situation. If he had been less nationalistic and proud and accepted help, the peatlands would not burned for so many weeks now where the heat is absorbed metres underground, notwithstanding the El Nino factor. With more and better equipped aircraft to douse the fire earlier, there is a strong likelihood the haze would not have got to this stage.

    Indonesia is a big country where corruption is so deep- rooted. So while he is sincere in wanting to fight corruption and do something about the recurring haze problem, he would likely see partial success if at all. To eradicate such entrenched practices takes years or decades and he may not even be re-elected at the next election.

    In the interview with Channelnewsasia, he says that the regional leaders get their funding support from the federal government to the tune of 80% so they need to heed the latter’s desire but corrupt people will always be able to find ways to beat the system. And Mr Widodo seems to imply that he has to allow some corruption to weed out the corruption! Over time at least.

    So I am not particularly optimistic.

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