I Made Mangku Pastika: A Governor of the People

By: Bill Dalton

I Made Mangku Pastika: A Governor of the People

The story goes that when I Made Mangku Pastika was a young boy, a neighbour hung himself over his gambling debts. His grandfather, previously a wealthy man with ample property, went bankrupt due to the cursed habit. He saw how his friends’ fathers ignored the education and the wellbeing of their families. These memories made a vivid impression on the boy, and go a long way in explaining why today, Bali’s governor is not a keen supporter of gambling of any form.

Later, when Pastika became Bali’s Chief of Police, he all but eliminated the vice because of the social problems and untold misery it caused. It was during his tenure as Papuan’s police chief that Pastika helped solve the first Bali Bomb – the terrorist atrocity in Bali in October 2002 – which made him widely known all over the world. On an island whose economy is based on tourism, Pastika’s background as chief negotiator in the 2002 and 2005 Bali bombings has stood his political career in good stead.

Of humble origins, I Made Mangku Pastika was born the son of a teacher in the small village of Sanggalangit in Buleleng Regency of north Bali in 1951. After the devastating eruption of Gunung Agung in 1963, the family’s struggles were so difficult that his father decided to join the government transmigration program in Bengkulu, south Sumatra, where he accepted a job as a school principal. Since the house was barely enough to accommodate the family, the young boy would sometimes sleep on one of the chairs in his father’s classroom. Pastika held many different jobs – cutting grass, selling ice cream and flowers, working as a handyman for a Chinese family – but his diligence paid off by graduating from senior high school in Palembang.

One day, by pure chance, the young man accompanied a friend who wanted to enrol in the Indonesian police academy. When he learned that enrolment in the school was free of charge, it occurred to him to take up law enforcement work. He graduated from the academy in 1974, beginning his long career as a police officer.

Pastika began to distinguish himself from the start. While serving in Jakarta’s Tanjung Priok Harbour, several Chinese-speaking smugglers were driving a large cargo truck filled with electrical appliances to a warehouse. Pastika, who could speak Chinese, ordered the drivers to stop, thereby foiling a major smuggling attempt. Knowledge and experience that he later gathered in the police mobile brigade, in the criminal investigation unit and in Indonesia’s narcotics agency propelled his career forward. Pastika won an appointment as Chief of Police of East Nusa Tenggara (NTT) in 1999 at the time when the province was filled with refugees from East Timor. After serving in NTT, he was appointed Chief of the Papua Police Department. His first assignment was to investigate the murder of Theys Eluay, a respected local Papuan spokesman, which resulted in the conviction and sentencing of four Kopassus soldiers.

When an opportunity arose to apply for a position as the police chief of his native province of Bali, Pastika was unable to qualify for the position. At the time he was a two-star general, and the post was open only to a one-star general. However, the post’s requirements were changed so that a two-star general qualified. After retiring from law enforcement as a three star general, Pastika became the first democratically elected governor of the island in 2009. Previously, members of the upper Brahmana, Ksatriya and Wesya castes had governed the province. Pastika, who does not come from a privileged background, was the island’s first governor hailing from the peasant Sudra caste.

As governor, he has always tried to close the gap between the people’s expectations and the government’s actual delivery. While the public is becoming better informed and action-oriented, the bureaucracy is stuck in their rules and regulations. He prefers to lead not by decree but by example. Not the sort of bureaucrat who goes home at 2 pm, he’s at his desk from 7:30 am to 5 pm. He’s actually on the job one way or the other seven days a week, working to change the mindset of the bureaucracy, encouraging Bali’s thousands of civil servants to be more disciplined and public service oriented and to adopt modern practices. He’s especially keen on developing what he calls “e-government,” computerizing government departments.

A Man of the People

I Made Mangku Pastika

Governor Pastika by Ubud Writers and Readers Festival

After five years in the powerful position of Governor, Pastika has gained reputation as a straight-talking leader, a man who represents the needs and aspirations of the common man. A deeply religious man in a nation dominated by Muslims, Pastika is a big believer in harmony, solidarity and tolerance between the different inter-religious and inter-ethnic social groups. So involved is he with a lot of the poor that he has dedicated himself to poverty eradication. He has initiated grass root level programs to make housing more affordable and has repaired and upgraded 6,000 homes owned by poor Balinese.

The Governor is in a large part responsible for Bali becoming the first province in Indonesia to have universal health care. Through efficient budgeting practices, he found a way to finance health care coverage for Bali’s residents. Prior to free heath care, maternal mortality rates for 2009 were 76 deaths per 100,000 births. In 2010, under free health care, that figure dropped to 51 per 100,000. Thousands of qualifying people have had eye cataracts removed so they can see clearly again, many for the first time.

Pastika has also proven himself to be a friend of the environment. The banjar of Bali’s 1,473 traditional villages were recruited to protect the environment. There have been marked improvements on the disposal of Kuta’s copious amounts of rubbish brought in by the sea tides. Several waste disposal and recycling companies have started up during the Governor’s watch and department stores have been urged not to use plastic. Pastika has instituted programs to support organic farming and sustainable agriculture (an organic garden surrounds his office in Renon). Some have gone so far as to call him “visionary.” He also put in place a mass transport bus system, SABAGITA, in the overcrowded Denpasar/Badung areas of south Bali.

The popular no-nonsense governor and his re-election team hope that all of these accomplishments will be remembered by the electorate when he runs for a second five year term in Bali’s gubernatorial elections this May. Pastika has chosen Bali’s Golkar chairman and Badung vice regent, I Ketut Sudikerta, to campaign with him as his running mate for the position of deputy governor. Giant billboards with the gubernatorial and vice-gubernatorial candidates have begun appearing haphazardly all over the island. Early polls have already shown that the governor’s optimism is not unfounded. The “Pastikerta” ticket so far leads all other candidates.

About Bill Dalton

Bill Dalton has been writing travel features, book reviews, interviews and guidebooks about Indonesia for more than 40 years, starting with his groundbreaking Indonesia Handbook first published in 1976. Bill lives on a farm with his Indonesian family deep in the countryside of west Bali.

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