Sat, 05 Jul 2003

Who owns Senayan complex?

The Jakarta administration's dream to control the Senayan sports complex, or the Bung Karno sports complex (GBK), is likely to remain a dream despite the existence of laws that favor the city's ambitions.

Through its working committee on GBK, the House of Representatives (DPR) recommended in May that the State Secretariat review and audit the sports complex management instead of allowing the city administration to control the lucrative venue, which covers 279 hectares in one of Jakarta's prime business areas.

The House concluded that all GBK assets, which belong to the state but are improperly used, must be returned to the Senayan Foundation under the auspices of the State Secretariat.

Sutiyoso's disappointment is, in a way, understandable. According to Law No. 22/1999 on regional autonomy and Law No. 34/1999 on the Jakarta provincial administration, the city is entitled to control the sports complex, which, after all, is located within its jurisdiction.

The Bung Karno sports complex, named after Indonesia's first president Sukarno -- who initiated its construction in 1962 for the Asian Games IV -- was supposed to be used as a sports venue and at the same time, function as the city's lungs, or green area.

However, the complex has been steadily decreasing in area for financial reasons. Only 49 percent of the 279.1 hectares -- or 102.4 hectares -- is still being used for sports activities. The remaining 67.52 hectares is occupied by buildings, including the House of Representatives/People's Consultative Assembly compound, the Manggala Wana Bhakti, Senior High School (SMU) 24, Graha Pemuda, the former office of the state minister of youth and sports, the subdistrict's head office and a community health center (Puskesmas). The rest of these 109.18 hectares has been exploited for commercial purposes, which is where the Hilton Hotel, Hotel Mulia, the Hotel Atlet Century Park, Taman Ria Senayan, Wisma Fairbanks, Plaza Senayan and -- most recently -- the Senayan Shopping Center, now stand.

It was former president Soeharto, with his Decree No. 4/1984, who ruled that the government should give no more subsidies to the sports complex management and allow it to seek its own funding by commercializing the area.

The decree was subsequently abrogated and replaced by Decree No. 72/1999, which rules that the management of the complex should consist of the State Secretariat, the former Ministry of Youth and Sports and the chairman of the National Sports Committee (KONI), and that the Jakarta governor and military chief should be among the members of the board.

The GBK has since benefited from the lease of the property, as the management boards of all the other, non-sports buildings are only authorized to use the plot on a contract basis. Plaza Senayan and Hotel Atlet Century Park, for example, have been contributing at least Rp 4.5 billion and Rp 4 billion, respectively, in annual rent to the Bung Karno management.

The city administration has been excluded in the leasing business, so Sutiyoso's complaint that the sports complex has made no contribution to the city's revenues is entirely understandable.

It is thus obvious that the dispute between the city administration and the State Secretariat over the sports complex is about money. But if the bottom line is money, then the complaints aired by the head of the Building Supervisory Agency about the disappearance of the green areas around the complex becomes irrelevant.

However, we should raise some skepticism here: Would the Bung Karno sports complex have remained green if it had been under the control of the city administration?

In all honesty, it must be acknowledged that the city administration is notorious for its inconsistency in safeguarding and protecting green areas. Many open spaces, including public parks, have been transformed into concrete buildings or gas stations.

Therefore, there is no guarantee that the city administration would be able to manage the Senayan complex properly, the development of which has allegedly been spoiled by collusion, corruption and nepotism.

The dispute between the city administration and the State Secretariat has grown into an interesting public issue. The government should have learned from the dispute, which clearly indicates that the absence of a special agency or institutions in charge of state property is at the bottom of many problems.

This situation has led to the chaotic ownership of land and other property, especially because ministries and state institutions claim to possess their own land and hence, full authority over those plots.

The special body, agency or institution -- whatever its name -- established to keep track of state property shall be entitled to keep an updated database on them, and thus would be an arbiter in the case of disputes over state property.

The agency should also have the final authority to decide on the use of the plots.

We have an Institute of State Personnel Administration, which has data on civil servants, and the State Logistics Agency (Bulog), which is authorized to handle the purchase and distribution of food products. Maybe this is the right time for the government to consider establishing this special agency for state property, so as not to prolong the uncertainty about state- owned lands and buildings in this country.