Mon, 15 Aug 1994


As an expatriate there are many new customs and ways one tries to get used to in another country. Indonesia is certainly no exception. There is one aspect of Indonesia that I simply cannot understand -- the pollution. It is rampant and everywhere. It is not caused only by industry but by each and every Indonesian from the peasants to the rich.

Litter: Why do people throw their garbage out everywhere? Is it laziness or selfishness? It is everywhere and makes Jakarta (and other parts of Indonesia) disgraceful. It takes so little effort to put trash in its place, yet people appear oblivious to the filthy rivers, ditches and roadsides that they have created. For a country that takes so much pride in its independence and birthday it's difficult to understand why the opposite attitude is reflected by littering.

The nightly burning of garbage creates a foul odor in the air and greatly contributes to the smog. Harmful toxins are released when non-organic materials are burned. They do not simply disappear but remain in the air and are breathed by everyone and actually brought back to the earth by rain. Trash collection exists, why not compost biodegradables and bag those materials that are true waste. A law needs to be enacted to stop all burning within the cities.

Vehicle pollution: The pollution from some vehicles, mainly buses and trucks is atrocious. Pollution controls are readily available to stop the problem yet there seems to be no concern over it. Instead of worrying about the safety of passengers, requiring that bus doors be closed while the bus is in motion, the government should direct its attention to the back end of the bus where the greater hazard exists.

This letter is not intended for complaining, I will leave Indonesia soon and whether it remains polluted or not is of no consequence to me -- but rather to encourage. If Indonesia is ever to become a developed country it must be on par with the environmental standards of first world countries (recently an article appeared in The Jakarta Post stating that several textile manufacturers had lost market share for failing to meet environmental guidelines).

Indonesia must appear not only financially attractive for companies to want to do business here. I would never have come to Jakarta or will I come back for Jakarta's sake alone. It has nothing appealing about it.

It takes very little effort for Indonesia and Jakarta to clean itself up. Does anyone care enough to make it happen?