The Jakarta Post
A group of urban poor who were avid supporters of President Joko 'Jokowi' Widodo during the presidential election have vowed to stage daily rallies in front of the State Palace to demand Jokowi fulfill promises he made in a political contract with them.
The group held two small rallies on Monday and Tuesday, saying Jokowi had yet to fulfill several promises including relocating poor people rather than just evicting them. Another unmet promise, they said, was ensuring jobs for 'small people'.
Wearing blue plastic raincoats, members took turns to rally in small groups. They wrote 'Remember your promise' on their raincoats in large red letters.
Among the protesters were becak (pedicab) drivers and evictees from the Pluit dam area. They said they had sent several letters requesting a meeting with Jokowi, but had yet to get any response.
A survey by the Indonesian Survey Circle ahead of the July 2014 election said that Jokowi and then vice presidential candidate Jusuf Kalla were popular among people with low- and medium-level education, with 48 percent support, while rivals Prabowo Subianto and Hatta Rajasa garnered about 42 percent in the same segment.
On the other hand, Jokowi's ticket was less popular among highly educated groups, with 38 percent support compared to Prabowo's 43 percent.
In political contracts signed in 2012 and 2014 and seen by The Jakarta Post, Jokowi stated he would not confiscate becak or evict residents by force and move them far away, but would instead draft better regulations.
Siti Komariah, one of seven victims of the Muara Baru evictions, said on Tuesday that the protestors were previously devoted members of Jokowi's campaign team in the Jakarta gubernatorial and presidential elections in 2012 and 2014, respectively. They gathered money to give to Jokowi as a symbol of their bond.
Some went door-to-door to encourage support or collect small amounts of money for Jokowi. All of them worked to support Jokowi's victory.
'Remember your promise, Pak Jokowi. You said we wouldn't be evicted as long as we had been living on the land for longer than 30 years and the land was not in dispute,' she said.
Siti added that the group would continue holding rallies every day until their voices were heard.
Research from the Jakarta Legal Aid Institute (LBH Jakarta) showed there were 113 evictions last year, 72 of which offered no alternatives for evictees.
Titin Sumiati of the Jakarta Urban Poor Network said she had encouraged members affected by evictions to save money collectively, so they would be better prepared if evictions occurred again. Each group consists of 10 families.
'We want to prove that we are not rubbish,' she said, adding that the sums collected by the groups ranged from Rp 10 million to Rp 36 million.
Upon learning that the rallies would continue, Gambir Police chief Bambang Yudhantara Salamun said he would allow citizens to express themselves and would try to help them communicate with the President's staff.
A day earlier, nine becak drivers who questioned Jokowi's commitment to fulfilling his political promises were arrested for holding a rally in a restricted area in front of the State Palace.
During his gubernatorial campaign in 2012, Jokowi promised to protect becak drivers, including a guarantee that they could continue to work and a pledge to provide dedicated becak lanes.
Rasdullah, head of the Jakarta Becak Drivers Union (Sebaja), said at the Central Jakarta Police station that he represented around 3,000 of his fellow drivers who had voted for Jokowi in the elections.
Rasdullah said Jokowi should not forget that becak had taken part in activities surrounding his presidential victory, including giving free rides to Jokowi's guests in Surakarta, Central Java, when he won the presidential election.
According to a bylaw issued by the Jakarta administration in 2007, it is forbidden to own or operate becak in Jakarta. Since then, Public Order Agency (Satpol PP) officers have regularly confiscated becak seen driving in the capital.
Tigor Gempita Hutapea of the LBH Jakarta deemed the arrests on Monday as exaggerated, as the protestors had only asked to meet Jokowi, adding that the police should have allowed them to express their concerns. (fac)
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