Tue, 04 Feb 2003

'They have killed democracy'

With minimum public debate, the City Council endorsed last Friday the Rp 10.98 trillion (US$1.2 billion) city budget for the current fiscal year. The council has apparently discounted the public in the deliberation process, as the budget favors the city administration and the council itself, rather than the residents of Jakarta. The Jakarta Post asked some residents for their opinions on the controversial budget approval.

Dewi Purnamasari, 21, is a freshman at the London School of Public Relations. She lives in Karet subdistrict, South Jakarta:

The closed-door hearing on Friday indicates that the city administration has colluded with city councilors in the deliberation of the 2003 budget.

I wonder why the meeting was also closed to journalists, as they are actual representatives of the public, in contrast to city councilors. Perhaps the councilors and the city administration wanted to hide their scandalous acts surrounding the budget approval.

The opaqueness of the deliberation will likely spark public protests in the future, especially from low-income people who have seriously been affected by the prolonged economic crisis, and this will only add to its already long list of failures.

It will be hard for the people to believe and respect the city administration if such practices continue.

A few days ago, I saw motorists venting their anger when the road was temporarily closed to give way to some high-ranking officials and their motorcade. They called the officials "cunning bastards" who had betrayed the people. I heard them.

I'm afraid that people will get so mad about the corrupt officials someday. It may provoke social unrest in the city.

Andra (not his real name), 31, is unemployed and lives with his wife and daughter in Kampung Ambon, East Jakarta:

The city councilors and administration must be hiding something behind the endorsement of the 2003 city budget. Such a concealed and secretive process really harms the public's right to know the truth.

I'm sure that the city councilors and the city administration have vested interests behind the closed-door deliberation.

They have forgotten that they must represent the public interest in their actions, instead of pursuing their own wealth and gain. They have set appalling examples, which are contrary to democracy.

I wonder why the city council hearing should be closed to the public, while the higher institution of the House of Representatives is open to the people?

The councilors are ridiculous. They have killed democracy and have returned to feudalism, and are no longer accountable to the public at all.

We don't need to trust them. I personally worry a lot about the likelihood of social turmoil due to the corrupt city leaders. Worse, the country will be in a more chaotic situation in the absence of democracy.

Pamungkas, 21, is a worker at a private industrial factory in Central Jakarta. He resides in Cilincing, North Jakarta:

Bad people usually commit their crimes in secret, as did the city councilors and the city administration in their 2003 city budget meeting.

The closed-door meeting showed that they had committed some offense that would hurt the people as a consequence. I guess real corruption, collusion and nepotism was practiced during the meeting.

It's sad to find out that the city administration and the councilors have become illogical and arrogant in making their decisions, which involves the public.

We can see that the 2003 city budget allocation does not make any sense. How could they put their own prosperity before social welfare?

I'm afraid that the a smaller budget allocation for the people's welfare here will spark more social problems and unemployment.

Personally, I'm disappointed with the councilors and the city administration's ignorance in managing the people's money. Why then should I pay taxes which have been deducted from my salary, if the money will only be misused by those greedy officials?