Karolin Margret Natasa: a physician-turned politician

Story By
Donny Syofyan

Born on 12th March 1982 in Mempawah, mother of two, Karolin Margret Natasa spent her elementary and high school years in West Kalimantan, especially in Sambas and Pontianak and she graduated from the Atma Jaya Catholic University's School of Medicine in 2007. As a physician and government employee she has enjoyed a stable life with a good standard of living.  Yet she decided to leave the status and luxury behind and turn to politics.

“I am proud of choosing to pursue a career in politics after stepping out of my comfort zone as a public physician. As a physician, I simply help my patients. Through politics, I can help more people” Karolin said in a recent interview. A member of the Indonesian Democratic Party of Struggle (PDIP) in West Kalimantan since 2009, she prefers to meet people allowing her to represent them after seeing, feeling and touching their needs and expectations.

Despite her strong struggle for national health insurance (BPJS) opening the door to the public for greater access to healthcare, she is of the notion that the capability of putting public aspirations into practice has to take executive power into account. That is why she will be running for the regent of Landak in 2017-2022.

She has experienced engaging with isolated societies both memorable and heartbreaking. “I've been to Tanjung Lokang, Kapuas Hulu, West Kalimantan, which could only be reached by a-10-hour-water transport. It is the outermost and most isolated village of West Kalimantan. I am the first house member to reach the village.  I can feel how hard and isolated people are as they are out of development reach. I enjoy the warmth and joy of the people welcoming me there” she said.  

Her approach to people has led to public sympathy and a genial reception. She gained 222,021 votes during the legislative election in 2009, making her the third vote getter across the country. She further succeeded in winning in the West Kalimantan electoral district with 397,481 votes surpassing other popular PDI-P candidates such as Puan Maharani, daughter of PDI-P chairwoman Megawati Soekarnoputri, who won the Central Java electoral district with 369,927 votes, and I Wayan Koster, who won in Bali with 260,342 votes.

Karolin always tries to shake hands with with her constituents but encounters barriers. During her tenure as a member of the house, she has found it hard to pay her constituents a visit throughout West Kalimantan given its remote areas. Because of this people have less access to education, health and other public services. Yet she is never dispirited and believes that the government is committed to continuing to build an adequate and just infrastructure. “Where there's a will there's a way” she reminds us.

In her capacity as a down-to-earth politician, Karolin hopes that society members truly participate in supporting the government’s programs. This is particularly true considering the government’s priority of rural empowerment. People have a greater opportunity to develop their village, which calls for their active participation in creating the benefits for their own society. Equally important, she further accentuated, is that community participation is compatible with a faster process of government, like paying taxes.

She demands that the government develops this country in an equal and fair fashion, not simply concentrating on urban areas but also rural zones, which will be a new magnet for development today and in times to come. “I think that the development process can go much faster in the spirit of mutual cooperation between society and government”, she concluded.

photo courtesy of : Karolin Margret Natasa