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Interview with the Regent of Bojonegoro, Suyoto Ngartep Mustajab

OGP Support Unit|

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Mr. Suyoto Ngartep Mustajab is the current Regent of the Regency of Bojonegoro. His regency is one of those participating in OGP’s Subnational Government Pilot Program.

What do you think made your government a good candidate for the Subnational Government Pilot Program?

From our perspective, we know that open government brings people together – it is the common interest in the world, not only in Bojonegoro. I think that we need support and connection to make sure that what we are doing in Bojonegoro will do well. We need benchmarking for the other countries and subnational levels, to co-creating, to evaluating what we have been doing, and maybe towards the next level that we would like to achieve.

Do you think that the concepts that you’ve applied in Bojonegoro could be applied to other regions of Indonesia, or even other countries in the region?

I think that the principle is very universal, because transparency, participation, accountability, and using technology – these principles are possible anywhere. The spirit and motivation are most important, along with how we connect with others. OGP is the way we connect with others. So, anywhere, where the people think that we have to connect, to build trust, to connect officially and effectively to solve our problems, we need OGP. I think that what we are doing in Bojonegoro, is possible to duplicate in other places, when they are in the same spirit as us and have the same experience. What we have been doing in Bojonegoro is an example of problem-solving, and as we try to build a bridge, and create milestones in Bojonegoro, it is possible to inspire and replicate in another place.

What’s the biggest challenge for you in implementing open government initiatives?

The relationship is not a problem, because in our CSO community, private sector, and government, we have been transforming from debating the principles to co-creating. The challenge is how we enhance our process, how we enhance our mechanism of open government and partnership, and how we engage all the parties and all the people in Bojonegoro.

Bojonegoro Regency offers a really interesting example of how open government can be relevant to sectors like natural resources and climate – how do you see OGP helping you better involve people in ‘eco based democracy’?

Very. Let me tell you that when I came into office, 80% of our infrastructure was rudimentary. We had the biggest debts in East Java. Too many people were angry and condemned us, asking for decent jobs, for good public services. With a limited budget and limited resources, how could we solve the problem? Communication is the key. Trust is key. We don’t want to lose the public’s trust. Secondly, we needed other participation. We can’t blame each other. We had co-creation, so that all parties could support their interests based. This ecosystem – maybe 4 or 6 parties, community, private, CSO, government, academia – they all came with their perspective and with their ego. We needed to create a partnership.

But how can you have partnership without trust? Trust comes from openness and transparency. We must be transparent with using our resources, with our budget; we must be open about our problems and our capacity. Bojonegoro is prone to yearly flooding. We have to handle this problem hand in hand, with everyone in Bojonegoro.

We now have plenty of resources. Now we are getting a lot of oil and gas revenue. I realize that oil and gas exploration is rising, and with that comes high expectations. I see the public potential with that so we need public trust, and we need to explain what will happen, how much revenue we will receive, and where is the money going, and what for? This should be transparent. That’s why OGP is significant in the management of our conflict, helping to to manage our resources, and helps us be more effective in solving our local problem.

Hosting a public dialogue every week is a wonderful but demanding initiative – why do you think it’s so important to give people this access and opportunity to talk to their government?

Bojonegoro is not an urban area. The people do not have IT access, they have mobile phones but only use them for text messages or voice – not data. Online systems are only complementary in my regency. Public dialogue is more effective. It allows them to complain, to propose aspirations, and then to come again to ask what we have been doing with this complaint. We broadcast these meetings on radio, so that all the people in my regency can hear it, and they are involved. This kind of transparency, accessibility, and participation is very human. OGP is a tool to connect humanity. IT tools and connections are useful, but we cannot only use IT, because then we deny the human touch. This commitment is not easy. I said to my staff that even if only two people come, we have to serve them for a minimum of two hours. And then, you know that that is the trigger to stimulate dialogue.

Mr. Suyoto Ngartep Mustajab is the current Regent of the Regency of Bojonegoro. His regency is one of those participating in OGP’s Subnational Government Pilot Program.


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