Jokowi and Ahok have had numerous, almost uno sono, extremely positive reviews from all corners and depths of Indonesian society. The two of them seem to say and do the right thing in the opinion of the vast majority of inhabitants of Jakarta. And most likely of the majority of all citizens of Indonesia. However even these golden boys of RI’s political elite, deserve a critical approach.
Take this example of their dynamic approach to polish the capital’s appearance.
Beggars are a nuisance. Of course. No city administration wants homeless mothers with a dirty baby or begging drug-addicts on their local streets. Because they poison the city’s reputation. They may chase away tourists and visitors. They surely annoy the inhabitants who belong to the ‘guys like us who had it made‘.
But unfortunately poverty, extreme poverty even, does exist. And so do the manifestations of this poverty. In Amsterdam and Athens. But also in Jakarta and other Indonesian cities – even to a rather conspicuous, often heartbreaking extent.
I can’t deny it. I have had my inconvenient fits of empathy each time I came across some poor fellow human being in obvious deep distress, who asked for my compassion.
Yet we don’t like to be bothered by the less well off, we prefer to look away in the face of their despair. We don’t like any stain on our comfort zone. We want our perfect middle or upper class world to stay perfect. These apparent losers’ obtrusive presence makes us feel ill at ease. They are irritating because they should not be there in the first place. Not in our life. We want the place where we live, love, work and have our entertainment, to be smooth and clean.
Well, Jakartans, you have an ally. Ahok is of the same opinion. And he’s on a mission for ‘guys like us who have it made’.
So far for my cynical tale. Next the bizarre part.
The French government, by criminalizing the whore-hoopers , hopes to scare away the prostitutes’ clients, their income, and in doing so to get rid of the ‘working girls’. Weird.
Incomprehensibly as it may be Ahok intends to apply a roughly similar policy to get rid of beggars; he is planning to criminalize empathy. In the future people who give alms will be fined ( and even can get a 60 days’ jail sentence). His logic obviously is: if nobody rewards begging, begging will be over. And therefore by consequence extreme poverty will mysteriously have disappeared from Indonesia’s, at least from Jakarta’s part of the face of the earth.
I don’t know how many people Ahok will be able to convince by this logic. Anyhow don’t count me in. Because it clearly will not work out. Not at all. Empathy, compassion and alms are great human values, not the cause of extreme poverty. Nor the solution of course by the way.
Rather a good and able administration is wanted which takes on and takes away the real causes. A task which, it goes without saying, will be tremendously much harder than the present planned token ‘solutions’. Actually it takes much more effort, time and responsibility. And economic growth and a by far more equal distribution of wealth. Only after some kind of welfare and social security state has been established, the main part of the problem will gradually disappear.
I think by sticking to his superficial, ill designed plan, Ahok will soil his up to this moment pretty spotless time in office.
* Photo from here.