Monday, October 22, 2007

Stop stopping them from coming to Jakarta!

Every year after the Idul Fitri holidays, the Jakarta government conducts Operasi Yustisi. That's the hunt down of "illegal" migrants coming into Jakarta from Indonesia's rural areas. This year is no different. The sad legacy, unfortunately, is kept by Jakarta's new Governor, Fauzi Bowo.

Mr. Bowo cites Jakarta Bylaw no. 4/2004 as the legal basis of this ironically named operation. He said, "Jakarta is dense enough already. Those who don't have a job and place to live will only burden the city." Illegal migrants (those who are caught without Jakarta ID card) will be fined Rp 5 million (~USD 500) or jailed for 3 months.

Of course, the policy is useless, as Supriatna argues. The poor (which is the reason they came to Jakarta in the first place) don't have that kind of money. And if they are "returned" to their original village, they are sure to come back as there is very few economic opportunity in rural areas. As bad the condition they face in the city, it is almost always much better than if they stayed back. That's called hope. And surely the hope is quite high, at least as high as the demand for low-skilled labor in big cities.

So it makes all sense to let the rural poor come into cities. So why oppose? Is it because we get sore eyes from seeing poor people in the streets? Is it because we don't want Jakarta to be more crowded and messy? Let's not forget: Most of us in Jakarta (at least our parents/ancestors) were once migrants, maybe as poor and as "kampungan" as the villagers are now. Who are we to now deny other people the opportunity that we've received in the past?

PS: This is what I wrote about this issue last year. Do I have to do this every year? Bring it on!


  1. Indonesian citizens aren't allowed to live wherever they want now? Odd, and I thought Indonesia was formed to pursue freedom for its inhabitants.

    Of course the harder solution would be to decentralise development outside of Jakarta, but as always the hard options are ignored, and the poor are blamed for being poor...