Is Jakarta a bad place
to work? Say it ain’t

Jakarta is the second-worst place for expatriates to work in outside of the United States, Canada and Western Europe, according to a recent report published by Businessweek, dampening Jakarta Governor Fauzi Bowo’s rosy report of his administration’s progress.

The Businessweek report, compiled by New York-based human resource company ORC worldwide, ranked emerging markets that might be challenging to move into due to their level of pollution, disease, political violence and availability of goods and services.

The report ranked Jakarta second, just below Lagos in Nigeria and above Riyadh in Saudi Arabia, saying the threat of violence from extremists, in particular, was a serious drawback to living in Jakarta.

“Indonesia is the world’s largest Muslim country and has suffered several high-profile attacks by terrorists targeting foreigners,” it said.

Bombings targeting foreign interests in Jakarta, such as the JW Marriott hotel bombing in 2003, have been repeated elsewhere in the city.

The report said despite problems common to many developing cities such as the risk of disease, poor sanitation and excessive pollution, “Indonesia can be an enticing location”.

In response, the Jakarta administration took the report positively, saying it could spur the administration to improve its performance.

“The administration is not the only one taking part in the development of the capital. We also need support from the government,” city secretary Muhayat said Tuesday.

He added crime had always been one of the main issues for a capital city like Jakarta.

“The survey might say Jakarta’s crime rate tends to be serious, but in reality, it is still safe walking at night in the city,” he said.

City Council deputy speaker Dani Anwar said the survey could serve as a lesson for the administration.

“The administration could improve its performance and the city’s public services,” he said.
Several expatriates said Jakarta did not deserve the poor rating.

“I’ve worked in Washington D.C., and I wouldn’t be so calm about walking the streets at 3 a.m. there. They have guns there,” said Sam Polk, a political analyst from Minnesota who has been working in Jakarta for the past year-and-a-half.

Australian Phil King, who has been in Indonesia for five years, much of it in Jakarta, also had a hard time believing the report.

“I have a problem with the noise pollution here… and I wish there was more information coming
into a government facility like immigration so I’d know what to do there, but I’ve worked in Kuala Lumpur and Singapore and it's hard to believe that Jakarta is second-worst."

King said his main gripes about Jakarta were mostly related to traffic and bureaucracy.

“In Kuala Lumpur, I could probably get to five meetings, whereas in Jakarta, I’d be lucky to fit in two.”

10 worst cities to work in

1. Lagos, Nigeria           6. New Delhi, India
2. Jakarta, Indonesia    7. Nairobi, Kenya
3. Riyadh, Saudi Arabia  8. Bogota, Colombia
4. Almaty, Kazakhstan   9. Ho Chi Minh City, Vietnam
5. Mumbai, India          10. Chennai, India

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