Ahok Urged to Listen to The Poor as He Develops The Capital

Activists and low-income residents have criticized Deputy Governor Basuki “Ahok” Tjahaja Purnama for having no plan to include the public’s participation in creating policies on urban poor issues.

Jakarta Urban Poor Network (JRMK) member Kokom, who often advocated on behalf of evicted squatters, said on Thursday that unlike most bureaucrats, Ahok was easy to meet and quick in responding to complaints from the public, but he never listened to the majority of poor people’s aspirations.

Ahok will be sworn in as the new governor, replacing president-elect Joko “Jokowi” Widodo.

As an example, Kokom cited the 2012 eviction of squatters in Kampung Baru, North Jakarta. Ahok relocated the squatters to Buddha Tzu Chi low-cost apartments to avoid protests, but did so without holding a dialogue with the squatters on whether they were happy with the new apartments.

Urban Poor Consortium (UPC) member Edi Saidi said Ahok was apparently of the view that the poor were troublemakers in the city and his policies had a middle-class bias.

Edi said that in the case of Pluit Dam squatters for instance, Ahok blamed the squatters as the single reason for annual flooding in the area.

“He [Ahok] did not see that many other buildings near the dam also contributed to the flood,” he said, referring to the Laguna apartment building.

He said when the residents protested regarding why the apartment was not also demolished, the reason given was that the apartments had certificates.

Edy, who praised Ahok for his efforts to reform the bureaucracy, said the condition had worsened since he was bad at communicating with the public.

“This has been balanced by Jokowi, who uses good communication skills with the residents. When Ahok becomes governor, he should have a deputy who brings balance,” he said.

According to Edi, Ahok’s efforts to tackle urban issues were target-oriented, which neglected the process.

Poor say they are part of the city and should be treated as stakeholders in capital’s development
Ahok criticized for not being creative enough in solving the poor’s problems, advised to select a good communicator as his deputy
“His solution [to the poverty issue] isn’t creative. He wants all poor people to be relocated to low-cost apartments without considering their workplace, community and their children’s schools,” he said.

Sandyawan Sumardi, chairman of the Sanggar Ciliwung Merdeka community organization in Bukit Duri, said Ahok was a law-abiding person who did not want to give any privileges to the poor.

“However, he forgets that the law is a product of political leadership,” he said.

Sandyawan said if the city’s leaders did not include the poor or their representatives as stakeholders in the decision-making process, the city would not progress.

“The Pluit Dam relocation is a success story for Jokowi and Ahok. However, do they and other city officials check on the lives of the evicted after they were relocated?” he said.

Marco Kusumawijaya of the Ruang Jakarta Center for Urban Studies, said criticizing Ahok was harsh. “He’s a good leader, but the solutions he’s put forward to the city’s problems aren’t creative,” he said.

Marco said Ahok did not believe in a participatory system, where the poor could find alternatives to their problems.

Assisted by architects, illegal dwellers in the area surrounding Pluit Dam, for example, proposed an apartment design to Ahok that matched their livelihoods, but the design was shelved.

Marco said it was even harder to criticize Ahok because the middle-class, who dreamed of a well-organized city without poor people, supported him.

Source : Corry Elyda
The Jakarta Post, Jakarta | August 30 2014 | 11:17 AM

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