Lame-duck Ahok sees mounting defiance
Callistasia Anggun Wijaya
The Jakarta Post
Jakarta Governor Basuki “Ahok” Tjahaja Purnama still has another six months to lead the city before officially passing the baton to Anies Baswedan, who defeated the incumbent in the runoff election on April 19. Lately however, the hard-charging governor seems something akin to a lame-duck ruler, as some of his policies and plans are facing defiant rebellion from affected residents.
The Penjaringan Police have reportedly questioned three residents who complained about the presence of thugs in the former red-light district area of Kalijodo in North Jakarta, which was transformed by Ahok into a childfriendly integrated public space (RPTRA).
“They [the thugs] are insolent, they think I can’t act firmly toward them. They think I’m no longer a governor while in fact I am the governor until Oct. 7,” Ahok said at City Hall.
Anies’ victory has also reinvigorated resident opposition toward Ahok’s eviction policy, as illustrated by is happening at Pasar Ikan and Kampung Akuarium in North Jakarta.
Back in April 2016, the governor evicted residents from Pasar Ikan and Kampung Akuarium, shipping hundreds of them to low-cost apartments and brushing aside their cries for fair compensation.
While some residents agreed to move to nearby apartments, others stayed on the evicted land by relying on the help of some external parties, including the Gerindra Party, to sustain their living. Since Ahok’s defeat, some of the evicted residents have begun moving back into the areas.
Penjaringan district head Mohammad Andri said there were 90 semi-permanent dwellings flourishing in the area. Some residents have even started building permanent houses.
“We started working on Monday [to build a permanent house]. The owner of this house is an evictee who is now living in a rented house in Muara Baru,” said Roman, 27, a home builder.
Roman, who was also evicted, said he believed that Anies would not destroy the reconstructed houses because during the campaign period, the presumptive winner of the Jakarta election promised that he would not do so.
Another evictee, Adi Riyanto, 57, who is renovating his 15 square meter house, said he was not afraid that Ahok would again demolish his house because the legal process regarding the eviction was still ongoing.
In late 2016, the residents filed a class action with the Central Jakarta District Court against the administration’s eviction plan. In the class action, the residents asked for compensation.
Haratua Purba from the administration’s legal bureau said the administration and the residents were still engaged in a mediation process before entering into the next legal proceeding.
Meanwhile, Ahok said the administration would bulldoze the houses.
The governor stressed that his cherished revitalization project would continue after the administration had finished studying the heritage aspects of the Pasar Ikan area.
However, not all of the evictees are trying to overturn Ahok’s eviction program.
Residents of Bukit Duri in South Jakarta, for instance, do not plan to rebuild their houses upon the cleared land, the residents’ advocate, Sandyawan Sumardi, said.
They will build a village of row houses on vacant land in Bukit Duri Tanjakan.
Anies met with Bukit Duri residents during the campaign and promised that he would obey a ruling from the Jakarta State Administrative Court stating that their eviction was illegal.
Sandyawan added that Anies had promised to pay compensation to the evictees even though Ahok’s administration had filed an appeal against the decision.
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