Paper Edition | Page: 4
Firefighters try to extinguish the fire that burned down a furniture production area in Pondok Bambu, East Jakarta on Tuesday. Dozens of warehouses and workshops were destroyed, causing financial losses estimated in the billions of rupiah. (JP/ Jerry Adiguna)
A recent spike in fire incidents has increased the political temperature in Jakarta, with competing parties taking up the issue and campaigning negatively ahead of the September gubernatorial runoff.
The Jakarta Fire Agency reported that the number of fires had increased from an average of 70 incidents each month between January and June to 115 in July and 109 in August.
In recent weeks, fires had hit densely populated areas across the capital with hundreds of homes, whose owners were mostly migrants.
A day after 150 houses in a carpentry area in Pondok Bambu, East Jakarta, were scorched, another fire razed 300 stilt houses in Kapuk Muara, North Jakarta, on Wednesday. Earlier this month, a blaze destroyed 400 houses in Karet Tengsin, Central Jakarta.
A message circulating on the BlackBerry Messenger service alleged the recent incidents were targeting areas where out-of-towner Joko “Jokowi” Widodo won the majority of votes in the July 11 election.
Jokowi — who is the incumbent mayor of Surakarta, Central Java — finished first in the election, followed by incumbent Jakarta Governor Fauzi Bowo. The two will face each other in a runoff on Sept. 20.
According to data from the local branch of General Elections Commission (KPU Jakarta) and the Election Supervisory Committee (Panwaslu Jakarta), Jokowi won with 39.36 percent of the vote in Karet Tengsin, 39.14 percent in Pondok Bambu and 62.49 percent in Kapuk Muara.
Fauzi was quick to condemn the negative campaign, calling the move unwise and nonsensical.
“If anyone thinks that way, it means they have foul minds. Let’s just wait for the police investigation into the incident,” he said on Monday.
Fauzi said he prayed for the city’s peace and security.
Separately, Budi Purnomo Karjodihardjo, a spokesman from Jokowi’s camp, urged in a written statement the law enforcement authority to thoroughly investigate the fire incidents.
“We demand the authority to investigate whether the fires were engineered. It is important to prevent or at least minimize damage in the future,” Budi said.
A total of 642 incidents had been recorded this year, with 4,439 families or 15,850 people affected.
Thirty one people were killed in the fires, while 73 others were injured. The administration predicted that the cost of the damage amounted to a total of Rp 195.20 billion (US$20.5 million).
In related development, Aminullah, KPU Jakarta’s head of voter data collection, gave assurances that eligible voters victimized in the fires would still be able to vote despite losing their identification and voting documents.
“Our local officers will send another invitation to the fire victims to cast voters, which will confirm their right to vote,” Aminullah said.
Fire victims who had relocated to other areas in Jakarta should report to the respective election organizing committee to be recorded as eligible voters.
“As long as they are still in Jakarta, they can come to the local subdistrict office to register themselves,” Aminullah said. A total of 6,996,951 people had been registered in the voters’ roll for the runoff.
For the runoff, Fauzi has attained the support of the Islamic-based Prosperous Justice Party (PKS), the second-largest faction in the City Council with 18 out of 94 seats; the United Development Party (PPP) and the Golkar Party, each with seven seats in the council; and the National Mandate Party (PAN) with four seats.
On July 11, the incumbent had been backed by the Democratic Party and the People’s Conscience Party (Hanura) — the former is the largest party in the council with 32 seats, while the latter has four seats.
Jokowi has retained the support of his first-round backers the Indonesian Democratic Party of Struggle (PDI-P), which has 11 council seats, and the Great Indonesia Movement Party (Gerindra), which has six seats.