Megacity problems are exacerbated by what are usually serious deficits in the realm of knowledge.
Jakarta’s problems are varied. Some are universal and common to mega-cities worldwide, and well-documented, whilst others are governed by the mindset of power brokers – see Divided We Stand (1) – with little sense of what being public servants, elected or otherwise, entails.
(Thankfully, there are a few, very few, public officials who are rightly lauded by the public, whilst being reviled by corrupt public ‘servants’.)
I must admit that this vision of a traffic-free Jakarta appeals as then I wouldn’t have to continually moan about problems and intellectualise about solutions.
However, constructive critic that I am, I now come to the point where I must stand up, be counted (in addition to being a footnote in last year’s census) and offer a solution or three.
Back in 2004 I quoted The Swanker’s now defunct blog which noted the newly elected President SBY as stating his commitment to overhauling the country’s sprawling capital. Jakarta’s facelift will center on managing its most pressing problems: traffic, garbage and waterways.
Ah, promises, promises … but why should SBY be involved?
City Hall is stuffed with bureaucrats working, supposedly, at the behest of an elected governor. 9.5 million Jakarta residents are represented by just one local council (the DPRD) with (only) 94 councillors*. Mathematicians may observe that each councillor is notionally responsible for c.100,000 people. This is not unusual; New York has similar representation, although in Jakarta councillors are only accountable and responsive to the electorate at the ballot box.
As Cecep Effendi coherently argues, the city’s special autonomy status is a major obstacle to change.
Firstly, all administrations throughout Indonesia are given their authority by laws set by successive governments and legislatures. Jakarta, as the capital city and centre of government (and the economy) is one of four provinces with a special autonomy status, the others being Aceh, Yogyakarta and (West) Papua.
All provincial governors are beholden to the President. Even though they have been elected by the citizenry, none can be prosecuted or removed from office without his permission. (After their terms have expired is fortunately another matter though.)
Although the city is divided into five municipalities (mayoralities) and one regency, Palau Seribu (Thousand Islands), Jakarta’s development program is in the hands of the governor – s/he appoints the five mayors and one regent. Given that the current governor, Fauzi Bowo, has spent some 35 years in City Hall, it is inevitable that the appointees are his cronies.
Only one governor, Ali Sadikin, who was appointed by Sukarno on April 28th 1966 and served through the early Suharto years until 1977, has had the common touch.
He moved to improve infrastructure, education and environment, in that order. Basic to his approach was concern that the development effort lead to a speedy economic acceleration through a management policy of implementing “proper distribution of income and thereby proper distribution of social participation and social responsibility. “
As one Djakarta editor said, “For the first time, people on the city feel someone cares about them.”
What Jakartans have had since is a top-down administration with little to no voice in the management of the city. There has been little of that ‘care’ emanating from City Hall since, and seemingly the only outlet for frustrations is through a few NGOs, through demonstrations often ‘staffed’ by otherwise unemployed in return for a boxed meal and cigarette money, or Twitter.
The responsibilities of the governor of Jakarta and the city mayors (also) need to be redefined. The Jakarta governor should only be responsible for some fundamental areas such as issues of public transport, sewage, drainage, potable water supply, while the responsibility of the mayors needs to be enlarged to make them act responsively to the grievances of their residents.
The central government is manifestly responsibility for inter-provincial transport systems, including major roads, railways and bus services..
It will undoubtedly lead to the reduction of most of the power currently held by the officials at the city hall (the governor’s office). Hopefully, this will help bring about efficiency and effectiveness with regard to the services provided by the city hall.
Undoubtedly, Cecep, but without a greater recognition among the rakyat (citizenry) that their responsibilities go much further than casting a vote once every four or five years, then change isn’t going to come.
My thoughts on that will follow in Divided We Stand (3) – We Are Not Alone.
*You really need broadband to access the Jakarta government website; even then you won’t find any information about the activities of the councillors or their activities. If any readers can provide these details, please post the URL in the comments box.