Interview: Mayor of Yogyakarta

Winning citizens’ trust is my priority, says Haryadi Suyuti.

The ancient city of Yogyakarta has a proud history. It was at the heart of Indonesia’s independence movement and even became the national capital for two years. Haryadi Suyuti, the Mayor of Yogyakarta City, is looking forwards, however. He has three big priorities for the next year. The Mayor’s first priority is healthcare. The city is introducing basic health insurance for all of its citizens. People will be able to access healthcare for “all kinds of sicknesses” and “at no cost”, Suyuti said. The scheme is intended to be available to all residents of the city by the middle of next year, he said. Another priority for Suyuti is to create jobs and housing for the poor. The city has a large rate of youth unemployment; the Mayor wants to encourage young people to set up their own small businesses. Third, gaining citizens’ trust is vital for the government, the Mayor believes: “The key is the trust of the people.” He plans to gain their trust by publishing more information on government programmes and its future plans for the city. Newspapers are important to this. The Mayor looks to the press to provide him with feedback on his performance. But direct communication also matters. To that end, the Mayor hosts a radio talk show known as Walikota Menyapa (Bahasa Indonesia for ‘Mayor’s Greeting’). On the show, he speaks with his citizens and listens to their complaints. TV and email are the other communications tools he prioritises. He has dabbled with social media: he has his own Facebook profile, but not an active page. Nor has his Twitter account been updated since 2013. Suyuti is clearly favouring the tried and trusted methods to achieve his ends. A more traditional outreach approach, for a very traditional city.