THIS is about Jakarta and its governor, Anies Baswedan, who has been predicted by many as one of the strongest candidates for the next Indonesian presidency.
By Syafiq Basri Assegaff *)
The article was published in The New Straits Times, Malaysia, on 23 October 2021. (Pictures added separately, from other sources).
Shadowed by the defence minister and the head of Gerindra Party, Prabowo Subianto, and Central Java Governor Ganjar Pranowo, Anies has been on the top three in many surveys for the 2024 presidential race.
Along the fourth year of his administration this month, those who live in Jakarta would have probably felt and seen many improvements in the capital city.
So, what is special about this former education minister compared to the previous governor of Jakarta?
If we only talk about physical development, then we will simply compare how long flyovers, toll roads and sidewalks have been built, or how many city-parks and flood barrier reservoirs are constructed.
We can only equate figures, such as the speed of vehicles on the streets of Jakarta or the number of flooding spots during Anies’ term, to compare with the previous Jakarta government. We will also focus more on visible things, which can be photographed, videoed, and probably go viral on social media.
However, every political leader usually always has claims of data and figures on physical development that may be no less remarkable as seen by the debates on social network.
Hence, that is not the only achievement that Anies will argue on. He believes that city development paradigm has moved from obsolete concept in previous decades into the new growth situation, where governments must create enrichments for their citizens.
He calls this the development of “City 4.0”, where governments transform their function as administrator (in City 1.0) to service provider (City 2.0) and facilitator (City 3.0), before finally becoming a collaborator.
This is related to the changes that happen with their people from “residents” to “consumers”, to “participants” and finally, to “co-creators”.
There have been many works and creations delivered by the governor since his election in 2017.
There are river and lake revitalisation projects, ecological restoration of public spaces — such as 69 progressive public parks (Taman Maju Bersama), and 40 child-friendly playgrounds (Taman Ramah Anak) — and building of a huge international sophisticated Jakarta stadium.
Another big achievement by the Anies government is the way it relocated the homes of many marginalised “lower class” citizens, which is a big issue in urban development. Some kampung (urban villages) in Jakarta, inhabited since the colonial era, have been stigmatised as slums — messy and even illegal.
Now, however, the villagers feel much happier as over the past four years, Anies has revitalised their communities, including the Akuarium Village, Bukit Duri Village, Tanah Merah Village, and Kwitang Village.
Before, these residents were facing eviction from their homes, but Anies defended the kampung and its villagers with what he often described by “removing the slums and not the people”.
Applying the concept of collaboration in City 4.0, Anies’ team has worked with villagers in “community action plans”.
Together, they planned and designed how to rebuild their respective villages. It led to a flat village that harmonises the character of a modern, vertical residence while maintaining the traditional pattern of life typical of an urban village.
In addition, it will be managed by community cooperatives. This reminds us of the values mentioned by one of Indonesia’s founding fathers, Mohammad Hatta. In his book , Hatta wrote that the land belongs to the community. To Bung Hatta, the land is a community property that is supposed to be used in cooperation based on mutual agreement.
If the values presented by Anies in the revitalisation of urban villages, and which Hatta also mentioned decades ago, were replicated in many housing policies, we would no longer see conflicts between houses or apartment owners and their managers or developers.
Another important value is the policy that stands with marginalised people. This not only presents equal opportunities for all citizens, but also for the poor. By providing equal opportunities, this may decrease the number of city residents who are marginalised.
Policies that favour the vulnerable are urgently needed, especially in a megapolitan like Jakarta.
Second is the building of more pedestrian areas at protocol streets and bicycle lanes, which has led to Jakarta being given the “Sustainable Transport Award” by the Institute for Transportation and Development Policy (ITDP), a global non-governmental organisation.
Both policies are not only reducing traffic jams and promoting better climate in the capital, but also eliminating social segregation that has been going on possibly without the citizens of Jakarta realising it.
With the tightening of space for private vehicles in the capital, pedestrians and public transport areas have become spacious.
On this note, we remember what Enrique Peñalosa, the former mayor of Bogota in Colombia and former president of ITDP, once said: “A good city is where the poor move by car, but the rich use public transport”.
*) The writer is a medical doctor who teaches at the LSPR Communication & Business Institute in Jakarta