26 March 2007

Why Jakarta elite indifferent to their surroundings?

ALTHOUGH fully realize the on-going construction of the car park building on the formerly Persija soccer field at Menteng quarter of Central Jakarta plainly breaks the law, the residents of the city elite quarter living in its surrounding remain indifferent, environmentalist says.

“We realize the problem, but we cannot confront the city government face to face. It is your job as environmental activists to resolve this problem,” says Slamet Daroyni of the Indonesian environment organization of Walhi quoting the response of many Menteng residents when asked to engage the problem.

The soccer field was managed by the Jakarta Soccer Association of Persija but the Jakarta city government evicted it last year. Now the government assigns contractors to build a car park building.

Menteng residents consist of different groups, he says. “There are government officials, businessmen, academicians and professionals. Government officials and businessmen prefer to side for their personal security in this case. Those who fight for it mostly come from among academicians and professionals.”

We realize the problem, but we cannot confront the city government face to face. It is your job as environmental activists to resolve this problem.

Mrs. Pudji Siregar, a Menteng dweller, who admits herself as a housewife but actively protesting the construction raised similar remark. “It is indeed difficult to involve them to engage against the construction,” she reiterated. She added the elite quarter residents are difficult to unite. They have different interests.

The woman who graduated from a US university said that to successfully involve them into social movement one should show concrete results in advance. “I therefore hold activities like movie screening (layar tancap) that will be held on March 31, 2007 and the publication of Menteng Heritage bulletin in a bid to unite them before inviting them to move (against the construction),” she said. To her, it is difficult to ask them for engaging complicated matters like the controversy of the car park building, not to mention yet about the tedious legal battle.

After her house was flooded in February, this spirited woman filed to city police of charges of crimes against the environment against the car construction responsible, i.e. the city government.

In addition, according to Slamet of Walhi who actively represents the Menteng residents, the environmental assessment is not in accordance with the proper legal procedures, because the city government does not fully involve the residents during the planning process. He said it was against the Law No.23/1997 on the Environment Management and Government Rule No.27/1999 on the Environment Assessment.**

See Indonesian version.

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