Third Article!

Friday, 9 September 2011

Against the Current Norm: Moving to Jakarta

The Jakarta Post | Sat, 09/03/2011 3:00 PM | Opinion

The return of about 7 million holiday makers to Jakarta will be followed by a surge in the number of new migrants. Post-Idul Fitri 2010, around 60,000 new migrants came to Jakarta, down from 69,554 in 2009, the reduction due to firm action by the city administration.

Alongside Operasi Yustisi Kependudukan (OYK), a program of identity-card checks during the post-Idul Fitri period, the Jakarta government has also appealed to people to reconsider moving to the city. This is particularly aimed at low-skilled people, most of the city ads are designed to warn them that finding jobs in Jakarta is not as easy as it may seem.

Jakarta requires people to have skills and restricts those who are considered low-skilled. But if everyone has the right to move and seek a better living, then why should coming to Jakarta be banned? One possible answer is that the Jakarta government is trying to reduce the myriad of social problems resulting from overpopulation.

The city has a plan to limit its population to only 12 million by 2030. Statistics show that in 2010, the registered population numbered 8.52 million, whilst the latest national census put Jakarta’s actual population at 9.59 million. The annual growth of 1.4 percent per year is mostly caused by migration rather than natural growth. Assuming that growth is stable each year, the city’s bid to limit the population to only 12 million in 2030 will be unachievable.

This reality has forced the local government to seriously control the population through family planning programs, ID card checks and a policy of transmigration. From 2005 to 2010, Jakarta relocated 2,163 people, or 542 households, to North Sumatera, Bengkulu, South Kalimantan and Southeast Sulawesi.

Quite apart from the current corruption case plaguing the Manpower and Transmigration Ministry regarding alleged bribery in the Manokwari resettlement project in West Papua, transmigration programs have resulted in many problems mainly due to poor conditions in the settlement areas.

The worst example was in the 1970s when migrant settlers, mainly young farmers from Java, were forced to move to Kalimantan, but this island’s soil is mainly peat moss which is not suitable for rice farming. The transmigration program only succeeded in moving poverty from one place to another.

The program has also led to some dreadful disputes and ethnic conflicts between migrants and indigenous citizens that often derived from socioeconomic tensions. In the past the policy was seen as “Javanization” or“Islamization”, but this perception has lessened with increased decentralization.

Is it still appropriate for Indonesia to continue this program?

Rapid urbanization and the pursuit of better living standards mean that for many people, lacking full information, Jakarta is the only place that can provide them with what they need.

Better infrastructure, for example the development of mass rapid transportation and toll-roads, certainly leads to improvements in economic and social activity but it may result in an urban development trap and could backfire on Jakarta in the long run. As such the development is tantamount to a pull factor for more people to come rather than encouraging people to leave.

Many suggest that leaving Jakarta requires some form of incentive. The principle that people respond to incentives is human nature. Thus creating incentives in other places is much more rational than forcing people to move from Jakarta, unless authoritarian rule is to be restored.

Rather than putting a metaphorical gun to people’s heads, focusing on developing an attractive economic climate in sparsely populated, marginal areas of Indonesia would be a better solution to this tangled web of problems.

Focusing on this regional development will not only lead to qualified people moving voluntarily from Jakarta but also to the empowerment of local citizens in these areas. The paradigm of transmigration must be shifted from forcing the poor to move to attracting educated people to migrate voluntarily.

Most graduates of major universities in Indonesia intend to work in Jakarta and aspiring entrepreneurs will wish to do the same since the city still provides the largest market. The choice of where to locate therefore becomes a self fulfilling prophecy about finding the best career prospects.

The government cannot rely solely on the benevolent actions of philanthropy to fill the gap between Jakarta and the rest of the country. It needs to create other economic activity centers away from Jakarta.

If diverse economic centers do come to pass, it will be amusing to imagine our children going against the current norm by making annual visits to their parents in Jakarta every time Idul Fitri comes around.

The writer is a School of Economics student at the University of Indonesia, Depok, West Java.


  © Mayang Rizky The Remedy by Mayang Rizky

Back to TOP