I’m not afraid to die

29 Sep 2017

rian ernest beyond books story

“I’m not afraid to die.”

I am a German-Chinese Christian in Indonesia and I’m taking a big risk by throwing myself into politics.

The root of my country’s problem is corruption in the government system and I hope to tackle this issue. I know people who engage in corruption won’t be happy if I step on their toes.

I left my comfortable job in Baker McKenzie to work with Former Governor Basuki Tjahaja Purnama, known by his nickname Ahok. Together with Presiden Joko Widodo, he transformed the nation’s political landscape. He is the source of my inspiration – his charisma, assertiveness, honesty, outspoken character, and anti-corruption vision.

My family initially objected my shift from the comfort of private sector to helping Ahok because of the risks and threats involved in implementing a clean government system. Now, my wife supports me. My ambition may be a burden to her. But, she understands my desire to make an impact in Indonesia and she knows that the work I have to do is critical.

I’m part of the Indonesian Solidarity Party comprising mainly people under 45 years old. The Party aims to bring change to the country’s political system and hopes to disrupt Indonesia’s political system for good. I am now getting ready for the 2019 elections. If elected, I will become a Member of Parliament for the Indonesian Central Government.

The job is not easy, as I need to get at least 200,000 votes in Jakarta to be elected. My plan is to implement a meritocratic system in law enforcement in Indonesia. I want to introduce a system to recognise talents and appropriately assign the corresponding rewards -- one that is built upon meritocracy. Despite the strong opposition from the political system, I believe that Indonesians can tell if you’re entering politics with the heart to change things. If you don’t take risks, you can’t do anything.

My biggest lesson is to be clear and bold which is what I think Indonesia lacks. A good trait of a leader is to make an unpopular decision that is difficult to implement.

If you’re afraid, don’t take on the role as a government leader in Indonesia. I like Nelson Mandela’s quote - 'Real leaders must be ready to sacrifice all for the freedom of their people'.

Story by Rian Ernest Tanudajaja, 30, Master in Public Administration Candidate at the Lee Kuan Yew School of Public Policy.

Rian Ernest

Master in Public Administration Candidate