Thu, 19 Jun 2003

Jakarta Fair better arranged but expensive

Arya Abhiseka, The Jakarta Post, Jakarta

Abdurrahman and his family have been going to the Jakarta Fair since it was still held at the National Monument (Monas) park in the early 1980s.

"I actually took my wife on a date there and now we are happily married with three children," said the resident of Karawaci in Tangerang, Banten.

Abdurrahman said that he noticed many changes in the Jakarta Fair over the years. "Compared to how it was, the Jakarta Fair 2003 is much cleaner and everything is much better arranged," he added.

However, he said that he still had fond memories of how the event was in the past as it used to be cheaper so that he could enjoy a lot more of the colorful art performances being presented.

"But it seems to me now that this year's fair is only emphasizing selling and marketing rather than maintaining what is supposed to be a fiesta for the people," Abdurrahman said.

The better organization of the Jakarta Fair, which is being held at the Jakarta Fairground in Kemayoran, Central Jakarta, should be accompanied by affordable prices.

Yet many people, particularly lower- and middle-income earners, complain about the hefty prices that they have to pay to visit the Jakarta Fair.

The organizer of the fair, PT Jakarta International Trade Fair (JITF), has said that this year's event is expected to generate some Rp 200 billion (US$22.5 million) in business revenues for some 950 participants, with some two million visitors being targeted.

Complaints have also been voiced by a number of participants as they have had to pay hefty rents for promotional stands at the fair.

"I pay Rp 9 million for this small stand," said Hendrik, who sells clothes in an area measuring nine square meters.

The most expensive rents are Rp 50 million for the 42-square- meter stands.

"The rents are too expensive and, therefore, I have no other options but to raise the prices of the items sold at my stand," Hendrik said.

Megawati's brother, Guruh Soekarnoputra, who chairs the Jakarta Fair 2003 organizing committee, said in a press statement issued during the opening ceremony that the fair should in fact be a fiesta for the people.

However, many still feel that the fair's mission as stated in its slogan, dari kite, oleh kite dan untuk kite (from us, by us and for us), has been forgotten.

"It's pretty obvious that the organizers are targeting the market, and I am actually quite impressed by the layout of the fair. But, I feel we, the people, are being marginalized," said Abdurrahman.

"For me, the Jakarta Fair has always been about traditional art performances with cheap food and products that should be affordable to everyone," he added.

However unlike the critics, Nani who works in a law firm in Jakarta, praised the better organization of this year's event, saying it could boost the image of the Jakarta Fair.

"I never wanted to come here before as the Jakarta Fair was known for being filthy and the pickpockets. But after I read in the media about the Chinese Lantern Festival, I decided to visit here and I was impressed. I think the organizers are doing a great job," she said after visiting the fair.

The one-month Jakarta Fair, which was opened by President Megawati, runs until July 13 from 3 p.m. to 10 p.m. on weekdays and from 10 a.m. to 11 p.m. on weekends.