Below are excerpts and photographs from an unfinished post written this past summer regarding Jakarta’s continuing issues with infrastructure development and forced evictions.
A 2006 Human Rights Watch report on government orchestrated forced evictions of Jakarta residents summed up the dynamic that has dictated the relationship between the city’s working urban poor and the government in one sentence: “One of the overarching themes in the history of Jakarta is the conflict between the desires of its rulers to create a model city to display to the world, and the desires of the poor of Indonesia to seek opportunities within it.”
My latest piece for the Jakarta Post on the rapid demolition of informal homes along the Kali Mampang river in South Jakarta and mass evictions of the urban poor to make way for levies, gardens, and “inspection roads”. More to come soon on the subject of the City Administration’s often flawed approach to dealing with Jakarta’s congestion and overcrowding.
In short, Jokowi won the Indonesian General Election Commission (KPU) “Real Count” with around 53% to 46% of the popular vote, surpassing the original quick count predictions. While Prabowo continues to say he is gathering evidence to take the KPU verdict to the constitutional court, claiming rampant voter fraud amounting to around 8.5 million votes (votes, if handed over to him, would conveniently close the margin between him & Jokowi), the rest of Indonesia and the world seems happy with the election result. The Jakarta Globe keeps proudly touting how positively financial markets have responded to Jokowi’s win, while at celebratory rallies the president elects’ campaign volunteers and general supporters call for a new era of self-empowerment and active civic engagement among the masses to keep the populist momentum going. With two different portions of society who have opposing self-interests both hailing the electoral success of the humble furniture maker from the riverbank slums of Solo, we’ll have to wait and see which way Jokowi swings as time goes on.
A somewhat dense and unclear, if out of context, Jakarta Post report on the KPU reaction to reports of voter fraud and manipulation coming out of various parts of Indonesia. A few scattered quotes were contributed by yours truly.
It was the last week of the legally sanctioned month-long campaign period for both presidential candidates Joko “Jokowi” Widodo and Prabowo Subianto. I had the opportunity to assist a Jakarta Post reporter cover this final stretch, which amounted to a blur of stump speeches, an absurd amount of tobacco consumption by the nicotine fiends that make up most of Jokowi’s press following, and waiting—so much waiting—only to be swiftly punctuated by the candidate’s unpredictable departure and arrival times; transitions that were always accompanied by hyper-energetic mobs of people clamoring to get even just a glimpse of Indonesia’s only rising populist reformist politician.
Jokowi greets supporters in Sukabumi on his way to meet an influential religious figure
Last Sunday the Jakarta Globe reported that a massive electrical fire had ravaged homes in the impoverished area of Muara Baru in North Jakarta, leaving hundreds homeless the day before on June 28th. The coverage was brief and stuck to the immediate facts, stating that the number of houses destroyed was around 500. Assuming there were families in each of those units, a huge amount of people had been displaced in the span of several quick and destructive hours.
Homeless Muara Baru residents outside of PMI provided tents