Today would be my last day in Bojonegoro.  Chris and I discussed about what we have experienced and what lies ahead for Bojonegoro.  This morning would be my last shadowing experience. It would be to attend a session where the Bupati will give advice to the twelve winners of the paper on “How to Develop Bojonegoro”

This program was initiated several months ago by Kang Yoto to gather ideas and suggestions from his own people on how to build their hometown.

While in the waiting room, I was introduced to 87-year-old gentlemen who rode his bike some 30 kilometers just to see where Kang Yoto lives. He was a short man with a lot of spirit.

The twelve were people from various backgrounds, some young and some old, and an equal proportion of men and women.  It included a journalist, a retired civil servant, a doctor, high school teacher, and university student.  The prize for winning this competition was a trip to Singapore and Malaysia.  To visit the two countries and study and experience what they have achieved.  Most have never been abroad.  Kang Yoto asked me to give a description of my home, Singapore.

I told them that Singapore was a very competitive place and was a nation of people that keep pushing harder to become better.  I told them that Singapore is never content and has a relentless obsession to keep changing and improving things.  I told them that their founder, Liew Kwan Yew viewed Singapore as an 80-story building built on unstable marshland, and they must develop a competitive culture to survive in the global environment.  This meant developing and attracting the best people to keep them ahead, while keeping the country stable to provide a solid platform for them.

Kang Yoto shared his views with the winners on how he wants to develop Bojonegoro.  The priorities he will focus on are water management; Bojonegoro experiences floods and droughts.  Building dams and water reservoirs will be a crucial agenda for Bojonegoro.

He also wants to put focus on developing people.  He wanted to build healthcare, not hospitals.  Building a hospitals is easy, the hard part is building the skilled medical professionals to run them.  He had an ambitions vision to develop people of Bojonegoro to become good doctors and specialists.  To help fund the best education his people can get (overseas if needed) and committing them to stay and practice in Bojonegoro.  Just like these winners, he wanted Bojonegoro to invest in their people and develop their talent.  One of his goals is when patients consider heart surgery in Bojonegoro instead of Singapore. His bold vision to dream big is his way to improve and drive his people.

I left the meeting early to catch my flight in Surabaya and leave Bojonegoro exhausted but immensely optimistic about my country after seeing, and experiencing inspirational leaders like Kang Yoto.  Many complain about this country’s shortcomings, but few people realize that this is changing.  People like Kang Yoto are coming out and making bold transformations.

For me personally, this shadowing trip has inspired me to give a damn and not just watch and think that it is somebody else’s job.  I sincerely hope that Kang Yoto will have his second term in next month’s election. The people of Bojonegoro are very fortunate to have a leader like him, a leader who has his heart with his people.

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