Jakarta’s urban village (kampung) communities have received considerable attention over the past few months amid the hotly contested Jakarta gubernatorial election. While most of the election coverage focused on racial and religious issues, former Governor Basuki ‘Ahok’ Tjahaja Purnama’s forced evictions of kampung along Jakarta’s riverbanks also stirred much controversy. Kampung residents and activist groups condemn these evictions as unlawful and undemocratic. Yet many Jakartans argue that evictions are necessary measures to fix the city’s notorious traffic and seasonal flooding. Many also argue that the evictions are justified since many of the kampung dwellers do not possess certificates of ownership for the lands they occupy.
Is there a middle ground? Can Jakarta’s kampung co-exist with residential, infrastructure, and commercial projects planned for the city? What do the controversies surrounding evictions and Jakarta’s kampung communities reveal about social and economic divides in Indonesia’s capital?
I discuss these issues with Dr Rita Padawangi, Senior Lecturer at Singapore University of Social Sciences. She was previously a Senior Fellow at the Asian Urbanisms cluster at the Asia Research Institute, National University of Singapore. Rita is a passionate researcher and proponent of participatory urban development, and has worked with kampung communities in Jakarta to get the government to engage in more dialogue with kampung residents in urban planning.
In 2017, the Talking Indonesia podcast is co-hosted by Dr Charlotte Setijadi from the ISEAS-Yusof Ishak Institute in Singapore, Dr Dave McRae from the University of Melbourne’s Asia Institute, Dr Jemma Purdey from Monash University, and Dr Dirk Tomsa from La Trobe University.
Photo by Chris Bentley on Flickr