Sunday, March 25, 2012




Sunday, March 25, 2012








Fitrian Ardiansyah, Canberra | Wed, 03/21/2012

Recent news on the lead up to the Jakarta gubernatorial election has reminded people about the importance of the immediate future of this great big capital city and the people who live within its city limits.

Jakarta, for some, is considered as a source of economic opportunities, a stepping stone to living the “Indonesian dream”.

For others, it is a constant reminder of a harsh day-to-day life, facing the consequences of urban environmental mismanagement such as traffic gridlock, flooding, air and water pollution.

Yet, like a magnet, those who have left will likely return, new people will turn up and the majority who stay will continue to call this city their home.

Jakarta has a stunning history. From a small port on the estuary of the Ciliwung River around 500 years ago, Jakarta has significantly transformed itself into Indonesia’s economic and political hub.

The city is a busy and crowded melting pot and is now one of the biggest cities on Earth.

The latest statistics suggest that Jakarta’s population has reached 9.6 million (with a growth rate of 1.40 percent per year) — among the top 10 most populous cities in the world — while the Greater Jakarta Metropolitan Area is home to 27.9 million people (the growth rate is 3.6 percent per year).

Jakarta’s population density is estimated at around 14,500 per square kilometer, ranking 17th of 125 big cities in the world.

According to Prof. Tommy Firman of the Bandung Institute of Technology, the population growth in Jakarta and its greater area can be attributed to net migration and reclassification (i.e. change in rural localities to urban localities).

The accelerating growth in population in the city is due to, among other factors, its significant economic growth. It was recorded that last year, economic growth in Jakarta reached 16.5 percent, the highest in Indonesia.

Although having the highest economic growth in the country, Jakarta still falls behind other big cities in the world, particularly when it comes to personal earnings and purchasing power.

A report released last year by UBS reveals that Jakarta has the lowest rank (number 73 of 73 big cities assessed) in terms of domestic purchasing power, even compared to Manila, Nairobi and Mumbai. It is, however, slightly better (number 70) than these three cities in terms of gross wages.

Its iPod index — a calculation on how long an employee would have to work to be able to afford an iPod nano with 8 GB storage in each city — ranks 65 in 2009, which is lower than Bangkok (much lower than Zurich or New York) but higher than Delhi, Manila and Mumbai.

This means that an average wage-earner in Zurich and New York can buy an iPod nano after nine hours of work. Workers in Jakarta, however, need to work 93 hours (or 10 nine-hour days) to purchase the same gadget.

Regardless of these figures, the economic spectrum of Jakarta is still very attractive to millions of people.

This tremendous economic boost, combined with decades of land-use and urban management (or the lack of it), however, also brings about unwanted consequences.

Jakarta has been well-known for its seasonal but intensified flooding. Flooding in 2007 affected 80 subdistricts, causing traffic chaos and paralyzing the city. The Indonesian government estimates that losses amounted to Rp 4.1 trillion (US$450 million).

Every year, the city government promises to make various efforts to prevent major floods from inundating the capital city.

Last year, the Jakarta city administration had to allocate Rp 1.36 trillion to support these actions.

With only 9.79 percent of green space in 2010, continuous overdevelopment inside the catchment areas and nearby rivers that cannot discharge water into the sea since they are clogged with waste, the city will have little capacity to absorb a high level of rainfall and prevent flooding.

Another major but daily headache for Jakartans is the continuous horror of its traffic. A 2011 study released by the Jakarta Transportation Agency estimated that traffic congestion costs the city up to Rp 46 trillion a year.

Another figure from the Transportation Ministry claims that congestion costs Rp 28.1 trillion each year, accounting for wasted fuel, productivity lost and traffic-induced health problems.

Promises after promises have been made by the city administration to address these issues and the people of Jakarta have waited long enough to see if these are going to be put into action.

With the upcoming election of their governor, Jakartans now have a greater chance to demand more and push the incumbent and other candidates further to not only promise a better Jakarta but also to come up with ambitious and clear action plans to improve the city.

Impossible is nothing, says one ad. Jakarta can be changed into a better and livable place. Jakarta’s citizens can ask their government — and the future government — to learn from the success of cities in other developing countries.

Mexico City, Bangkok and Rio de Janeiro, for instance, as part of the commitment by their political leaderships to improve the living conditions of their citizens, have gradually changed their images for the better by establishing environmental policies, programs and actions, developing innovative and creative modes of public transportation, and instituting a high degree of public participation and engagement in environment-related issues.

It is now the right time for Jakartans to voice their concerns louder, by ensuring that they elect the right candidate for the position of governor.

Being apathetic is not an option, since the immediate and possibly long-term fate of Jakarta will be decided in this upcoming election.

The writer is a native Jakartan, doctoral candidate at the Australian National University and recipient of the Australian Leadership Award and Allison Sudradjat Award.


Izhari Mawardi, CAMBRIDGE, Massachusetts | Thu, 03/22/2012

The registration of candidates for the Jakarta governor and vice governor posts was officially closed on Tuesday. One thing is sure: The nomination process is an important signal of growing democracy in Indonesia.

Last week, the Golkar Party announced a coalition with the United Development Party (PPP) and the Prosperous Peace Party (PDS) to nominate incumbent South Sumatra Governor Alex Noerdin for the race. The Golkar Party succumbed to Noerdin’s extraordinary feat in leading South Sumatra during turbulent times, including his effort to make the province a successful host of the Southeast Asian Games last year.

But two days before the closing date of registration, all eyes were on political parties, including the Democratic Party (PD) and the Prosperous Justice Party (PKS), which were the only parties able to designate a gubernatorial candidate without forming a coalition.

One day before the deadline, the split between young Turks and the older generation at the PKS was resolved. Former People’s Consultative Assembly (MPR) speaker and PKS co-founder Hidayat Nur Wahid prevailed over Jakarta legislative council deputy speaker Tri Wicaksana, the preferred candidate of the PKS younger generation.

The PKS named National Mandate Party (PAN) executive Didik J. Rachbini as Hidayat’s running mate.

In a matter of hours, two other candidates entered the race. President Susilo Bambang Yudhoyono’s Democratic Party declared it formed a coalition of eight parties to nominate incumbent Governor Fauzi Bowo.

A coalition of the Indonesian Democratic Party of Struggle (PDIP) and the Great Indonesian Movement (Gerindra) nominated Surakarta Mayor Joko Widodo.

What do these four candidates nominated by the political parties have in common? All the parties have simply adopted a strong, top-down approach, in which the elites force their will on constituents.

The political intensity in the race for the governor has defied the flourishing democracy in Indonesia. The Economist Intelligence Unit, a subsidiary of The Economist magazine, ranks Indonesia 60th out of 167 countries on its world democracy index.

Why is democracy so important?

Mancur Olson said that “in an autocracy, the autocrat will often have a short time horizon, and the absence of any independent power to assure an orderly legal succession means that there is always substantial uncertainty about what will happen when the current autocrat is gone”. Olson’s elaboration defined the norms of democracy compared to the authoritarian counterpart.

Olson’s analysis presupposes democracy as a necessary part of a system that creates certainty and sustainability in governance. The policies on transportation, workers’ rights and minimum wage are among a few that require sustainability over a long period of time. Each of these policies is crucial for a better Jakarta. Without a sustainable leadership and democracy, neither of these policies will last long.

The bitter truth is that Jakarta replicates of Indonesia’s flawed democracy for three reasons.

First, the nomination of each candidate was not conducted in a clear and transparent manner. The nomination should have been preceded by primaries or a party convention to nominate best candidates.

Constituents within the party should vote for their desired candidate. The Democratic Party should have given leeway to decide between Fauzi or Nachrowi, who chairs the party’s Jakarta chapter.

Candidates that were perceived as having strong support, such as the chairman of Golkar in Jakarta, Prya Ramadhani, Golkar lawmaker
Tantowi Yahya and Alex should have fought for a space on the ticket.

The same should have been the case in the PDIP-Gerindra coalition and the Muslim-based PKS. The primaries selection in party A will consolidate the effort to withstand the challenges of party B.

Internal consolidation is important for the sustainability of democracy in Indonesia. Bowing to nominations made by party chairmen or powerful boards of patrons is authoritarian and defied the will of rank-and-file members.

Second, each candidate should have been exposed in a fair debate on their ideas and platform for Jakarta. Without the division of political ideology nor access to party primaries, voters do not have access to information to inform their decision. Separations between the middle class, elites and lower-wage workers are not clearly defined by a single party.

Without a debate, candidates for the executive posts are unable to present themselves in ways that would benefit their credibility in the eyes of voters. Without an argument between the candidates, constituents are unable to clearly define what they are seeking from the aspirants.

Third, the constituents should have been given an opportunity to hold a dialogue with candidates before the definite nominee was selected. Feedback resulting from dialogue between candidates and constituents is important to create stronger bonds between the candidates and their promises.

Jakarta is a symbol of a progressive democracy in Indonesia. If we are unable to strengthen and improve the flawed democracy in Jakarta, then the Indonesia’s overall democracy is at stake.

The writer is a graduate student at Harvard University’s John F. Kennedy School of Government.


The Jakarta Post, Jakarta | Sat, 08/04/2007

Soeryo Winoto, Jakarta

On Aug. 8 Jakartans will decide whether Fauzi Bowo or Adang Daradjatun will lead the capital for the next five years.

Whoever wins the gubernatorial race, it is interesting to learn how the two candidates have been attracting prospective voters with promises and political jargon. Almost every corner of the capital city is decorated (or spoiled?) by banners or posters selling the candidates.

There is a large banner bearing pictures of a candidate and his running mate, promising to promote and maintain pluralism. Another banner belonging to the other candidate waves close behind, offering more promising rhetoric.

Posters supporting the two candidates are stuck on the walls and electricity poles. One poster promises to end the city's traffic woes, saying: ""Tired of traffic? Vote for ..."".

Another candidate's poster stuck on an electricity pole outlines the candidate's determination to promote pluralism, saying: ""Jakarta for all.""

More vigorous are their speeches during campaign stops. A candidate looks to get sympathy and a positive response from his supporters, who always yell ""Yes"" whenever he asks the audience if they agreed to free education.

At another rally, his rival assures supporters of his vision to maintain and preserve Jakarta as a melting pot for all ethnic groups and races. As predicted, his supporters also yell ""Yes"".

Do the candidates get sincere and true support from the audience? No one can guarantee that. The voters will be alone when casting ballots, won't they?

It is the first ever direct gubernatorial election for the capital city of Jakarta. No wonder the candidates' style seems to copy political party officials and presidential candidates from previous campaigns. They don't have original ideas, just unrealistic promises and political jargon.

A candidate who offers to ""end traffic problems"", for example, should be extra careful as he must be aware that dealing with Jakarta traffic is a tremendous task that needs support from the central government and neighboring provinces.

Is it an easy job to limit the number of vehicles -- cars and motorcycles -- in the capital? Is it a simple job to have new roads built while land is becoming a rare and sensitive commodity?

He must acknowledge that a governor who can deal with traffic problems within five years -- a governor's term of office -- must be a superman! Then he thinks that he is a superman!

While a promise that is normative like promoting and keeping pluralism in Jakarta will obviously also be a big job for the candidate. The continuing worry of minority groups about being harassed due to their ethnicity and religion is proof that pluralism is somewhat questioned.

Many may think that Fauzi Bowo has more experience in the city administration, and thus he may have a better chance than his rival. However, many other may see that Fauzi, Governor Sutiyoso's deputy, was part of the bureaucracy that must be held responsible over the series of failures that took place during Sutiyoso's tenure. The lingering floods and waste problems, as well as unemployment, could be cited as examples.

On the other hand not many people know about the track record of former National Police deputy chief Adang Daradjatun. There is also no clear indication that he can do better than Fauzi in administering heterogeneous Jakarta.

With the election nearing, Jakartans must calculate who they think and expect can become the new governor with leadership and managerial skills better than the outgoing Governor Sutiyoso.

The writer is a journalist based in Jakarta. He can be contacted at



The Jakarta Post | Thu, 03/22/2012

Kusumasari Ayuningtyas

From my own pocket: Surakarta Mayor Joko “Jokowi” Widodo distributes packages of rice to local residents in Jebres district, Surakarta, Central Java, during a community visit. The rice was purchased with the budget from his official residence, known as Loji Gandrung, and his salary as Surakarta mayor, which he says he never withdraws for himself. JP/Kusumasari AyuningtyasIn a bid to help calm his people regarding his candidacy for the upcoming Jakarta gubernatorial race, Surakarta Mayor Joko “Jokowi” Widodo decided to meet directly with the city’s residents on Wednesday and explained that his entry into the race was a party decision that he had to obey.

He went to Bororejo village in Jagalan subdistrict, Jebres district, and was promptly surrounded by dozens of villagers as he got out of his official car. They demanded Jokowi remain in Surakarta and finish his service until the end of his term in 2015.

“I promise you that everything will be much better even if I am not here,” said Jokowi, trying to calm the curious residents as they expressed their concerns one after another.

In front of Jokowi, they worried about whether the programs that the mayor had introduced and had carried out would continue if he had to take leave to pursue his candidacy.

They especially expressed anxiety over the continuation of the Surakarta people’s healthcare (PKMS) program.

One of the villagers, Yus Hernowo, 43, said that from 2007 to the present, the Boro River that passed through the village continued to flow freely thanks to Jokowi’s policy, leaving behind the recurrent flooding that previously plagued hit the area.

“I’m especially impressed by the way Jokowi mixes with the people and listens to their complaints,” Yus said.

Another villager, Hamid Sukamto, 57-year-old street vendor, expressed his gratitude for Jokowi’s humane treatment of the city’s street vendors.

“We are given spaces [to run a business] and are not abandoned,” said Hamid, who is also a former chairman of the Surakarta street vendor association.

Responding to the villagers’ concerns, Jokowi said that he could not just ignore the task given to him by his political party, the Indonesian Democratic Party of Struggle (PDI-P).

“If I could choose, I would prefer to become a carpenter,” said Jokowi, who previously ran a furniture business before being elected to his first term as Surakarta mayor in 2005.

After hearing Jokowi’s explanation, the villagers said they would give the mayor their support.

Jokowi then distributed packages of rice to the villagers, as he always does when making a community visit.

The rice was purchased with funds from his official residence, known as Loji Gandrung, and his salary as Surakarta mayor, which he never kept for himself.

Jokowi is currently serving his second year of his second term in office. He and his running mate, former East Belitung regent Basuki “Ahok” Tjahja Purnama, registered their candidacy with the Jakarta General Elections Commission (KPUD) on Monday.

They are backed by the PDI-P, the Great Indonesia Movement Party (Gerindra) and 24 other smaller political parties.

If the election body approves his registration, Jokowi will have to temporarily leave Surakarta to live in Jakarta during the campaign period.

Jokowi and Ahok are one of the six candidate pairs to contest the Jakarta gubernatorial election, which is slated for July 11, 2012.


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