IDR 350 Million Houses & FPI: A Ludicrous New Normal for Jakarta?

What a week it’s been for Jakartans. If you’re one of the people who are now worried whether the city would commit to make a progress for someone like you, you’re not alone. Most minorities or advanced-thinking Jakarta residents carry that doubt now, secretly or openly.


Race and religion cards have been dealt by both sides along the campaign trail. It’s well-recorded how now Governor-elect Anies Baswedan and running mate Sandiaga Uno didn’t restrain the conservative hardliners to ride on their wagon, in some occasions seemed too happy to be sharing a ride. Unfortunately the Ahok-Djarot ticket wasn’t exactly squeaky clean on the issue as well; some of my Christian or Chinese friends told me stories of serious peer pressure from collecting IDs when Ahok was still trying to run independently down to casting vote on election days, and the usage of Muslim-looking rioters circa 1998 in campaign video released a couple of weeks ago.


Living in Chinese-dominated housing complex on West Jakarta in 1998, our house suffered damages. I personally know how it feels running inside the house and scrambling to switch off any lights when a mob outside throwing rocks at you. I didn’t have the luxury to occupy the Parliament House with activists because I was too busy taking turns in neighborhood watch with the Chinese uncles and aunts in our blocks. The mob outside our house that evening, where my parents still live to this day, was a ragtag crew who wasn’t wearing any Muslim paraphernalia or chanting Allahu Akbar. The video gave me mixed feelings—I was reminded of one of the most traumatic events of my life, yet at the same time got confused with the Muslim generalization. I was sad the day the campaign video was released, because it meant both sides were officially playing race and religion cards regardless of the higher stake of national unity. The election was in Jakarta, the exemplary dirty plot was made available for all Indonesia.


Yet for all my disagreements with Ahok, I have much more serious problems with the likes of FPI granting access to governance. It was quite hard to see someone like Anies Baswedan who’d been known for outreaching voluntary teaching Indonesia Mengajar and profound phrases like tenun kebangsaan illustrating how a national identity formed like handwoven fabrics is now in bed with religious fascists. I suppose Anies read statistics and understood that riding on the momentum of conservatism for Governor’s seat was worth shredding his precious tenun kebangsaan. You, Sir, now gave tenun a bad name.


Besides turning the word ‘tenun’ into countless jokes, what will Anies bring for Jakartans in the next five years? He threw many promises on campaign trail, yet the one grabbing most attention was the promise of landed houses for the cost of IDR 350 million with front payment of either 0% or IDR 0 (I wasn’t sure—he kept flipping on the pledge). Anybody who’s been house-hunting in Jakarta, let alone involved in property business, knew how superfluous that promise was. Being a good resident who respects democracy I won’t debate the plausibility of that scheme anymore, I’ll just march down to Anies and Sandi after inauguration and demand to see the houses. I don’t own a landed house yet—if there are such houses for that price in Jakarta I’d like to purchase one before the end of the year, please.


Another promise was an improvement to the present, cash-less, smartcard program Kartu Jakarta Pintar (KJP). Now used to obtain goods and services related to health or education, the card would be made available to churn out cash as well. A tempting offer for any household on tight budget, yet I genuinely wonder how the government would guarantee its usage for the intended purposes. Cash is so liquid it can leave no paper trail on Indonesia’s bustling informal sector—I want to watch how Anies and  Sandi personally make it used to, for example, finance infant vaccinations instead of shiny contraptions.


Even if all the rosy promises came to fruition, one fact remained unchanged– race and religion cards are now proven effective for open political campaigns. There aren’t moderate Islamic clerics strong enough to lure back devout Muslims sidetracked by firebrand hardliners, despite the repeated claims of tens of millions of Muslims adhering to peaceful organizations like Nahdlatul Ulama and Muhammadiyah. It may easily go downhill now; if a non-Muslim man can’t be Governor, perhaps now a non-Muslim boy can’t be Class President? Since only men can lead a Muslim prayer, perhaps now a woman can’t lead the country? The post-1998 conservatism trend wasn’t started by Anies Baswedan and Sandiaga Uno, but it was their 2016-1017 Gubernatorial campaign that openly milked it to the best. Rizieq Shihab cozily standing next to Anies delivering victory speech was possibly a new normal Jakartans would need to stomach now.

Brexit, Trump, Anies, and God know what can happen this Sunday in France. The continuing nausea may just be our new normal, peeps.

As published:


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