Modernizing Jakarta: Suharto’s ideology and governance
Sukarno, taking over Indonesia from the Dutch in 1945, had a vision for Jakarta as a modern metropolis free of the supposedly unclean and backward kampung. This vision was maintained by Suharto, who was president from 1967 to 1998 (Cowherd, 2002). His attitude is reflected for instance in the argument that developing and reclaiming the Jakarta Bay waterfront – which was dotted with kampung (including the Kamal Muara kampung) and mangroves – would make it more “orderly” (Permanadeli & Tadié, 2014). On the other hand, in deliberate contrast to Sukarno’s communist ideology, Suharto’s New Order government was much more neo-liberal and capitalist (Putri, 2018), as seen in the many new policies inviting foreign investment (Firman, 1998), and the numerous presidential decrees issues in the 90s favoring economic development over social and environmental concerns (Rukmana, 2015).
However, not everyone benefited from this money-driven ideology. The presidential decrees frequently violated spatial plans, leading to drastic reductions in forest and agricultural land, and disregarding recommendations for flood alleviation (Rukmana, 2015). Spatial plans as well as the new land permit system was designed to make acquisition of land (occupied by kampung) easier for private, commercial agents (Cowherd, 2002, Rukmana, 2015). Upcoming posts will explain this further.
Compensation for displaced kampung residents was often insufficient or in-existent (Cowherd, 2002; Voorst, 2016). “Low income housing” was built during the 1990s to house displaced people, but these were often too expensive for the low-income kampung residents (Firman, 1998).
Suharto was successful in “modernizing” Jakarta in the sense of increasing investment, economic activity, and development of housing, infrastructure and amenities; but the mentioned issues of kampung evictions and reduction of green areas went unaddressed. Having absolute control of the media in Indonesia, Suharto was able to justify this through framing his vision and style of governance as part of the entrepreneurial Indonesian culture, and that commercial development was a way to “upgrade” the country in the interest of the people (Cowherd, 2002).
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Firman, Tommy (1998). The restructuring of Jakarta Metropolitan Area: A “global city” in Asia. Cities, 15(4), 229-243.
Leeuwen, Lizzy Van (2011). Lost in Mall : An Ethnography of Middle-class Jakarta in the 1990s. Leiden: KITLV Press.
Permanadeli, Risa; Tadié, Jérôme (2014). Understanding the Imaginaries of Modernity in Jakarta: A Social Representation of Urban Development in Private Housing Projects. London School of Economics and Political Science (Eds.), Papers on Social Representations, 23, pp.22.1-22.33
Putri, Prathiwi Widyatmi (2018). Sanitizing Jakarta: decolonizing planning and kampung imaginary. Planning Perspectives, 1-21.
Rukmana, Deden (2015). The Change and Transformation of Indonesian
Sagala, S., Lassa, J., Yasaditama, H., & Hudalah, D. (2013). The evolution of risk and vulnerability in Greater Jakarta: contesting government policy. IRGSC Working Paper No. 2. Kupang, Indonesia: Institute for Resource Governance and Social Change.
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Sweeting, David (2017). The informal city and rights in South East Asian Cities: the cases of Kampung Improvement Programme and Baan Mankong, DPU working paper no. 192. London: The Bartlett Development Planning Unit. Retrieved 06.12.2018 from https://www.ucl.ac.uk/bartlett/development/sites/bartlett/files/wp192_david_sweeting.pdf
Voorst, Roanne Van. Natural Hazards, Risk and Vulnerability : Floods and Slum Life in Indonesia. Routledge Humanitarian Studies Series. 2016.