Common sense is not common and nowhere is it more uncommon than in the mind of the Transport Minister Ignatius Jonan.
His latest feat of uncommon sense is in banning – and this is not very clear from statements his Ministry has made: online applications for commuter transport or anything less than three-wheeled modes of transport for commuting. This effectively puts a ban on Gojek and its imitators Grabike etc as well as Uber and its imitators. And there is some speculation that such a ban should apply to operators like Blue Bird too since they have a mobile app for ordering taxis.
This is such a WTF decision that it leaves most people flabbergasted and at a loss to find out how someone could be so extraordinarily stupid to sign off on a law like that.
Fortunately, President Jokowi is wise to this and in a Tweet this morning says he’ll be summoning Jonan to explain the ban. His excuse is that Ojeks are needed by the rakyat and no regulation should unduly inconvenience the rakyat.
While there is nothing wrong with championing the Ojek and the convenience of the Wong Cilik, there is another reason why Jokowi should give the over-promoted stationmaster of trains a drubbing: the banning of Gojek.
Gojek has evolved to be more than just a business in Indonesia. IT has become a symbol that many Indonesians hold dear on many levels. On one level is the fact that it is a home-grown success story; on another it represents the best of Indonesian creativity (of using technology to solve a huge problem that Indonesians face – traffic jams – by organising a readily available resource – the thousands of ojeks and their riders); on still another level it is a great startup success story in a field where there are very few successes.
All these reasons are good ones for the President to put Jonan out of his misery of holding a post that he is not ready for. Let’s not forget that this is the same minister who shot his mouth off on aviation investigations before the NTSC had a chance to do their work and on the banning of Airlines to sell air tickets at airports after a LionAir mishap.
So here’s a win-win solution for the President: Demote Jonan from Minister to his old post at the head of Indonesia’s Railway network. That way the nation would lose a bad minister and gain a good railway manager. Things will once again get back on track.