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Jakarta - Bandung Mega Urban Belt

A Tale of a Nation Chasing Economic Growth :

Social Change and Multidimensional Crisis in the Heart of Indonesia
By Wardah Alkatiri

This study is an attempt to put all pieces of regional and global context of
urbanization into perspective to rationalize the phenomenon of hyperurbanization in
Jakarta, the largest and most important city in Indonesia, one of the large developing
countries that was once islands of agriculture and nature. The physical development of
Jakarta metropolitan and Bandung metropolitan, once separate cities growing from single-
core into multi-core cities is characterized by the formation of 200 km mega urban belt
marked by a mixture of rural-urban activities and blurred rural-urban distinction. This
extended metropolitan area is exposed to both economic and urban crises as a result of the
accelerated sprawl and suburbanization, the great magnitude of construction activities and
a discontinuity between physical development and social conditions. Immense changes
taking place in these cities reflecting the level of state’s priority over urbanization and the
level of its awareness of the social and environmental impacts implied by such scale of
change. The study shows that the country historical background of 350 years under Dutch
colonialism has played central role in state’s aspiration to get world recognition as a
member of ‘modern-global’ world. The existence of highly entrepreneurial-talented ethnic,
Chinese, that holds control over the major Indonesian economy has been instrumental in
triggering the people consumption behavior through mutual symbiotic corruption practices
that determines the forest and agriculture land conversion into luxury housing, shopping
mall, resort, and export-oriented industrial center. Additionally, the study discovers the
role of media, publisher, and university in promulgating ‘quantitative growth’ as a new
ideology to be aspired by the country and its people. These and the state’s insufficiently-
resourced governance to manage and control the impacts can be taken as parameter to
measure the level of state’s stewardship over the third-biggest rainforest, marine resources
and second highest level of biodiversity on earth residing in this country that is crucial to
the ecological wellbeing of the whole world.

I. Introduction:
This research is undertaken to study the phenomenon of ‘hyper’ urbanization
taking place in Jakarta-Bandung region (JBR), Indonesia. The study focuses primarily on
investigating historical and cultural instances have been affecting human factors involve in
intensifying the urbanization forces. Indonesia is one of the large developing countries and
Jakarta is the capital, the largest and the most important city in the country. Only ones who
have experienced the feeling of being trapped from hours to centuries in traffic jams going
to and back from work in Jakarta roads will understand the negative feeling I have got
toward such a scale of urbanization that was made possible by the existence of pronounced
global economy. This new system of economy in the world which increasingly integrated
in its nature rather than once more fragmented nationally, acting as ‘invisible ghost’
forcing a country like Indonesia, which had always been rice fields and coconut islands for
millennia, into a piece of haphazard-chaotic ‘modern’ industrialized country and nation.
To date, immense physical and non-physical changes brought up by the urbanization in
this place is continuing at an even faster rate than in the period of 1980 to the mid-1990s.
As an Indonesian scholar, I think it is necessary for any thoughtful citizens of the country
and Jakarta-Bandung residents in particular, to put all the drives of change in regional and
global context and examine them all the way through past, present and future perspective,
in order to obtain complete, fair, balanced and self-explaining picture to rationalize what is
going on today in their own country and place. Otherwise, this rapid change seems to be
unthinkable and easily they feel impotent, victims of event beyond their capacity to
understand. Only when they can make sense of it, they will have better ideas of what role
he and she can take, whether to make him/herself agent of change or simply follows the
downward course of event, it then becomes his/her conscious choice. The essays below
may contain what normally taken as sensitive issues or taboos in intellectual arena in the
West, as the study investigates and presents the colonialism history of the country and the
destructive effects it has made to the cultural and social psychological well-being of ex-
colonized nation today.

For the reader who has never been there, I will illustrate that up there life is truly
struggle for most and puzzle for many, good for the proponent of economic growth whose
ideology depends ultimately on more and more people wanting more and more of more
and more things, and bad for common sense. In such a situation, a request to give in this
paper a cheer-up notes, as the positivists normally do, is far from simple without being
trapped in the bad habits of modern philosophy, that is to say, reducing all quality to
quantity. What is the point of physical and material progress if it is made by sacrificing the
quality of people’s life? Do people have to end up consuming all the wealth they have
created to pay off the quality sacrificed? Even modern education, that often highly praised
by the defenders of modernism, is challenged in this essay. What is the point of education
if eventually utilized to outwit the less intelligent for own agendas as the study will show
to be inevitable as outcomes of purely materialistic worldview of modernity? Positivism,
the mainstream current among the modernist, has a total hold on modern science and
technology, and not wanting to face reality and refuses to reflect on the current human
situation. In fact, this thought provides effective tools for the control and domination of
nature, which eventually gives rise to a series of more popular ‘escapist’ philosophies
which shun all the quintessential questions of the human condition and try their best to
elude all questions of purpose and quality. In this urban world the dominant discourse was
about quantitative growth, both in terms of wealth and urban expansion. Growth was seen
as the key to the increase in overall social and economic well-being. In developing
countries like Indonesia the situation is worse, because they are still passing through the
industrializing phase of their development but are doing so at a much greater pace than the
case for centuries-old cities in the West where the addition and refurbishment to the urban
landscape had occurred much more gradually over time. Many of those cities in
developing countries are also experiencing a faster rate of growth of their population than
of their economic capacity leading to many migrants occupying squatter and marginal
forms of housing and getting by in the informal economy rather than the formal (David
C.Thorn). At this point, it is legitimate to raise truly provoking questions to modern
Western philosophy which first thrust the cultural and environmental crisis upon the whole
of mankind through their purely materialistic worldview compounded with Western-
superiority mentality which at the first place produced colonialism and imperialism

viewing Asian and African continents as reservoir of raw materials and labor, and then by
their secular rationality producing seventeenth century sciences based on domination upon
nature creating humanity in constant strife with terrestrial environment for wealth, power
and prestige. This paper presents Jakarta-Bandung mega urban belt that lent itself for such
a reflection, while the reader should keep in mind that the same crisis in various
magnitude is happening in nearly every ex-colonized countries (nowadays called
developing counties): India, Pakistan, Burma, Vietnam, Philippines, Bangladesh, Kenya,
Tanzania, Nigeria, Latin America, you name it, to the far corners of earth.

II. Indonesia: a country of rice fields and coconut islands

As portrayed in each national anthems which is hymned in state ceremonies and
taught to children at school till today, Indonesia had always been in its people mind rice
fields and agriculture, coconut islands and nature, as depicted beautifully in one of Ismail
Marzuki’s compositions, Rayuan Pulau Kelapa:

My homeland Indonesia
Beauteous islands that I love so much
My homeland is peaceful and prosperous
Coconut islands that very fertile
Jasmine islands adored by its people
Since long, long time ago…..
Where paddy fields are green,
And where hills are blue,
That’s where I was born,
A peaceful land that’s very prosperous,
The land I inherited, Indonesia,

Indonesia is the largest archipelagic state in the world with 17,508 islands, from
which 6,000 islands are inhabited. Comprising 14 % of the Earth's about 81,000 km,
Indonesia has the longest coastline in the world. It also has a sea area of about 5.8 million
square km, representing approximately 70 % of its total territory. (source: TERANGI,
Indonesian Coral Reef Foundation) these islands are scattered over both sides of the
equator. The five largest islands are Java, Sumatera, Kalimantan, Sulawesi, and Papua.
Indonesia shares land borders with Malaysia on the island of Kalimantan, Papua New
Guinea on the island of Papua, East Timor on the island of Timor. Indonesia also shares

Coconut Island, Mentawai islands, western coast Sumatera

Rice Field, Gunung Ceremai, Kuningan, West Java

border with Singapore, Malaysia and the Philippines to the north, and Australia to the
south across narrow straits of water. Fossilized remains of Homo erectus, popularly known
as the "Java Man", suggest that the Indonesian archipelago was inhabited two million to
500,000 years ago. Most Indonesians are descendent from Austronesian people who
originated from Taiwan, Cochin, Champa and Cambodia arrived in Indonesia around 2000
BCE. The other major groupings are native Melanesians, who inhibit eastern Indonesia.
Ideal agricultural conditions and the mastering of wet-field rice cultivation as early as the
eighth century BCE allowed villages, towns, and small kingdoms to flourish by the first
century CE. Indonesia's strategic sea-lane position fostered inter-island and international
trade. For example, trade links with both Indian kingdoms and China were established
several centuries BCE. Trade has since fundamentally shaped Indonesian history. From
the seventh century CE, the powerful Sriwijaya naval kingdom flourished as a result of
trade and the influences of Hinduism and Buddhism that were imported with it. Between
the eighth and 10th centuries CE, the agricultural Buddhist Syailendra and Hindu Mataram
dynasties thrived and declined in inland Java, leaving grand religious monuments such as
the famous Syailendra's Borobudur considered as one of world wonders and Mataram's
Prambanan. The Hindu Majapahit kingdom was founded in eastern Java in the late 13th
century, and under Gajah Mada, its influence stretched over much of Indonesia; this period
is often referred to as a "Golden Age" in Indonesian history. Although Muslim traders first
traveled through South East Asia early in the Islamic era in 8th century, the earliest
evidence of Islamized populations in Indonesia dates only to the 13th century in northern
Sumatra. Other Indonesian areas gradually adopted Islam, and it was the dominant religion
in Java and Sumatra by the end of the 16th century. For the most part, Islam overlaid and
mixed with existing cultural and religious influences, which shaped the predominant form
of Islam in Indonesia, particularly in Java.
The first Europeans arrived in Indonesia in 1511, when Portuguese traders, led by
Francisco Serrão, sought to monopolize the sources of nutmeg, cloves, and cubeb pepper
in Maluku. After their conquest of the Islamic kingdom of Malacca on the Malay
Peninsula they were followed by Spaniards which then both began to propagate
Christianity and were most successful in Maluku. Dutch and British traders followed.
They started their quest for Indonesian spices to sell on the European market at big profit.

In 1602 the Dutch established the Dutch East Indies Company (VOC) and became the
dominant European power. Subsequent establishment of trading posts between 1611 and
1617 across the archipelago began Anglo-Dutch competition for access to spices as the
Dutch monopoly ambitions were threatened. Though it may have wished to limit its
activities to trade, the company was soon drawn into local politics in Java and elsewhere,
and, in becoming the arbiter in dynastic disputes or in conflicts between rival rulers, it
inevitably emerged as the main political entity in the islands. The coming of the Europeans
initiated changes which in the long run were to be of enormous importance to the
Indonesian history. The VOC itself represented a new type of power in the Indies: it
formed a single organization, traded across a vast area, possessed superior military force,
and, employed a bureaucracy of servants to look after its concerns in the Indies. In sum, it
could impose its will upon other native rulers and force them to accept its trading
conditions. Under the governor-generalship of Jan Pieterszoon Coen and his successors,
particularly Anthony van Diemen (1636-45) and Joan Maetsuyker (1653-78), the company
laid the foundations of the Dutch commercial empire and became the paramount power of
the archipelago. The process was gradual. Historians now have tended to bypass this
‘indigenous-external’ antithesis and to refer instead to a general commercial expansion
throughout Southeast Asia from the 15th to 17th century—as an "age of commerce"
involving native as well as foreign participants. Following bankruptcy, the VOC was
formally dissolved in 1800, and the government of the Netherlands established the Dutch
East Indies as a nationalized colony. For most of the colonial period, Dutch control over
the archipelago was tenuous outside of coastal strongholds due to insurgencies,
skirmishes, wars and oppositions against the aggressor throughout the islands; only in the
early 20th century did Dutch dominance extend to what was to become Indonesia's current
boundaries. The Japanese invasion in 1942 and subsequent occupation during World War
II ended Dutch rule, and encouraged the previously suppressed Indonesian independence
movement. Two days after the surrender of Japan in August 1945, Sukarno, an influential
nationalist leader, declared independence and was appointed president. The Netherlands
tried to reestablish their rule, and an armed and diplomatic struggle ended in December
1949, when in the face of international pressure, the Dutch formally recognized
Indonesian independence (with the exception of The Dutch territory of West New Guinea,

which was incorporated following the 1962 New York Agreement, and UN-mandated Act
of Free Choice).
Indonesia’s size, tropical climate, and archipelagic geography, support the world’s
second highest level of biodiversity after Brazil, cover the world’s third largest rain forest
after Congo, and its flora and fauna is a mixture of Asian and Australian species. Once
linked to the Asian mainland, the islands of the Sunda Shelf (Sumatra, Java, Borneo, and
Bali) have a wealth of Asian fauna. Large species such as the tiger, rhinoceros, orangutan,
elephant, and leopard, were once abundant as far east as Bali, but numbers and distribution
have dwindled drastically. Forests cover approximately 60% of the country. In Sumatra
and Kalimantan these are predominantly of Asian species. However, the forest of the
smaller and more densely populated Java, have been largely removed for human habitation
and agriculture. Sulawesi, Nusatenggara, and Maluku – having been long separated from
the continental landmasses – have developed their own unique flora and fauna. Papua was
part of the Australian landmass, and is home to a unique fauna and flora closely related to
that of Australasia, including over 600 bird species.
The national population is estimated by Central Statistics Bureau Indonesia is 222
million for 2006, 130 million people live on the island of Java that makes it the world’s
mostly populous island. However, volcanic ash is a major contributor to the high
agricultural fertility that has historically sustained the high population densities of Java
and Bali. Indonesia’s location on the edges of the Pacific, Eurasian, and Australian
tectonic plates makes it the site of numerous volcanoes and frequent earthquakes.
Indonesia has at least 150 active volcanoes. The most violent volcanic eruptions in modern
time occurred in Indonesia. In 1815 Tambora volcano claimed 92,000 lives and created
“the year without a summer” in various parts of the world. In 1883 Krakatoa erupted and
some 36,000 West Javan died from the resulting tidal wave. The sound of explosion was
reported as far away as Turkey and Japan. The eruption of the Toba supervolcano,
approximately 70,000 years ago, was one of the largest eruptions ever, and a global
catastrophe. Recent disaster due to seismic activity includes the famous 2004 tsunami
which killed 180.000. Indonesia is second only to Australian in its degree of endemism,
with 26% of its 1,531 species of birds and 39% of its 515 species of mammal being
endemic. Indonesia 50,000 mil of coastline is surrounded by tropical seas that contribute

to the country’s high biodiversity level. The range of marine ecosystems in Indonesia is
extremely varied, especially the coastal ecosystem. Indonesia has the most extensive
mangrove forest, including beaches, sand dunes, estuaries, spectacular coral reefs, sea
grass beds, coastal mudflats, tidal flats, algal beds, and small island ecosystems.
There are around 300 distinct native ethnicities in Indonesia and 742 different
languages and dialects. The largest is Javanese, who comprise 42% of the population, and
are politically and culturally dominant. The Sundanese, ethnic Malays, and Madurese are
the largest non-Javanese groups. A sense of Indonesian nationhood exists alongside
strongly maintained regional identities. The official national language, bahasa Indonesia,
is spoken by nearly every Indonesian. Most of Indonesians speak at least one of the
several hundred local languages (bahasa daerah). Society is largely harmonious although
social, religious, and ethnic tensions have triggered horrendous violence. Chinese
Indonesians are an influential ethnic minority comprising less than 1% (other source says
3%) of the population, but much of the country’s privately own commerce and wealth is
Chinese-controlled, which has contributed to considerable resentment and even anti-
Chinese violence.

II.1. Jakarta-Bandung history

The Jakarta's origins date back to prehistoric times, its beginnings as a port and
urban center are generally traced to a 12th century settlement named Sunda Kelapa after
the Javanese kingdom of Sunda, of which the city was a part, and the local word kelapa
meaning coconut. It was a principal harbor for traders from coastal Arabia, India and
China, as well as from nearby Malacca and other Southeast Asian trade centers. After
1511 the city also traded with the Portuguese. In 1527, a new name, Jayakarta, meaning
“glorious victory”, was given to the city by Muslim Sultanate of Banten. That year and the
date June 22, are celebrated in contemporary Jakarta as the formal founding of the city.
After the nationalization of the VOC the Dutch government had a firm grip on the vital
territories of the country. People in those territories were forced to surrender their
agricultural produce to the Dutch merchants. It was the beginning of colonialism in
Indonesia and Sunda Kelapa or Jayakarta was demolished and rebuilt and renamed
Batavia as the fortified headquarters for their commercial ventures in what came to be

called the Dutch East Indies or the Netherlands Indies. The city remained under Dutch
control until World War II, when for a period it fell under Japanese occupation, and was
renamed Jakarta. In December 1949 it became the capital of independent Indonesia.
The Jakarta-Bandung mega urban region is adjoining districts extended from
Jakarta to Bandung, originally Parahyangan in local name (literally the abode of the
gods). It was once region with natural beauty and lush agricultural surrounded by
mountains and volcanoes reflected in many songs of the tembang Sunda (native songs).
Bandung metropolitan (BMA) itself was once called ‘kota kembang’ means flower city or
‘Paris van Java’ by the colonial Dutch. Jakarta is on the island's north coast, facing the
busy shipping lanes of the Java Sea. Behind the city are green foothills and the high
volcanic peaks of the Parahyangan Highlands of the island's interior. Because of rich
volcanic soils and ample rainfall, the general area is agriculturally productive. Paddy rice
is the dominant crop. The climate is tropical and rainy, with the months October through
March being the wettest. Because the city is low-lying, flooding has always been a serious
problem during the rainy season. The Jakarta–Bandung Region (JBR) basically comprises
the two largest concentration of urban population and urban economic activities in
Indonesia, namely Jakarta Metropolitan Area (JMA) and Bandung Metropolitan Area
(BMA). JMA, is also now called “Jabodetabekjur”, an acronym which stands for Jakarta–
Bogor–Depok–Tangerang–Bekasi–Cianjur, the adjoining districts of Jakarta. This region
comprises of 12 administrative units at different levels: First, the Jakarta Special Region
(DKI Jakarta) having provincial government status; second, eight municipalities (Kota)
and districts (Kabupaten), namely the Municipalities of Bogor, Depok, Tangerang and
Bekasi, and the Districts of Bogor, Tangerang, Bekasi, and Cianjur. Although the JMA
comprises of only 0.33% of the national land area, it accommodates as much as 12% of
Indonesia's total population, and produces nearly one-fourth of Indonesia's Gross
Domestic Product (GDP) at present (Rustiadi, 2007). Meanwhile, the Bandung
Metropolitan Area (BMA) comprises one municipality and district, namely the
Municipality of Bandung and the District of Bandung. In total, the Jakarta–Bandung
Region (JBR) covers an area of more than 12,275 km2 whereas Jakarta core city and
Bandung core city occupy a relatively a small area, that is, only 164 and 81 km2,

A study of extended metropolitan region of Jakarta (Jabotabek) and Bandung
(BMA) in the early 1990s ((Dharmapatni and Firman, 1995) and (Firman and
Dharmapatni, 1995)) concluded that Jabotabek and BMA are physically being integrated,
shaping a belt of an urban region from Jakarta to Bandung (Fig. 1), reflecting the
formation of mega-urban. This urban belt is characterized by a mixture of socioeconomic
activities, including agriculture, industries, trade and residential, which in turn has created
very intense rural–urban linkages, blurred the rural–urban distinction and made very
distinct settlement patterns (Firman & Dharmapatni, 1995: 181–3).

Fig. 1. Jakarta Metropolitan Area and Bandung Metropolitan Area (source:

Dharmapatni & Firman, 1995, p. 297).

The total population of the JBR was about 32 million in 2004., while the population of
Jakarta City as the core of the region was about 8.5 million, which was 26.5% of the total
population, whereas Bandung City had a population of about 2 million.
Jakarta (JMA) is now an outstanding example of an overburdened Third World
metropolis struggling with problems of overpopulation and inadequate housing,
employment, transportation and environmental quality. At the same time, the city aspires
for recognition in its Asian region and the world more widely as an emerging leader
among the world's great metropolises (Roman Cybriwski, 2001). Jakarta changed
tremendously during recent decades of rapid economic growth and entered the new
millenium as a city that is being shaped simultaneously in two directions. On the one hand,
it is an increasing prosperous, modern and international metropolis, with a growing
presence in the global economy, fast-rising high-rises, many fine neighborhoods, and
comfortable places to shop and play. At the same time, Jakarta is overwhelmed with the
negative effects of fast population growth, a huge total population, and the challenges of

providing for poor migrants and natives. Other big cities have these problems too, but
Jakarta seems burdened more than most (Roman Cybriwski, 2001). On top of these
problems, Jakarta has also had considerable ethnic and religious violence in recent years,
most notably the bloody rioting that was directed against prosperous Chinese during early
months of the current economic crisis and the deadly bombings that occurred at churches
of the Catholic minority on Christmas, 2000. Other capital cities have ugly incidents
related to national social divisions and separatist movements too, but Jakarta again seems
to be burdened more than most. The city, then, has extraordinary contrasts between the
worlds of prosperity and poverty, and significant challenges ahead for continued
development as a global metropolis.(Roman Cybriwski, 2001) Several bomb explosion
since the fall of New Order government in 1998 demonstrated that terrorism is a
continuous threat. The study by Sukawarsini Djelantik, 2006, from Flinders University
Australia, “Terrorism in Indonesia: The Emergence of West Javanese Terrorist” found
correlation between poverty and increasing dissatisfaction among the population and the
emergence of terrorism in West Java. The Sundanese population is well known for being a
peace loving and devoted Muslim, but most current terrorism committed by Sundanese.
Sukawarsini also found the impact of globalization especially related to the role of mass
media is also responsible in establishing opinions on international and national politics.

III. Invisible ghost in JBR

The study identifies two actors in urbanization of Jakarta-Bandung Region, namely
Global and Local. In this section we will examine the global actor, the actor originating in
other than Indonesia but making profit out of extracting the wealth of Indonesia, taking it
out to invest somewhere else without ever having responsibility to giving it back. The
investigation begins with urbanization founded by the colonial and later after the
independence by the global economy coming in as international capital inflow going to the
property development and market-oriented industrial center.

III.1. Colonialism – the global actor in the Past

In “Urban World/Global City” David Clark begins his theory on historical urban
development from mercantilism era in the West which gave birth to colonialism. The

foundations of urban development in the core, and in localized areas in the periphery, were
established up to about 1780 under conditions of mercantilism. This was an economic
system that originated in the fifteenth century and involved the accumulation of wealth
through trade. Its main feature was the buying and selling of the products of labor. These
were principally agricultural and craft items. The aim of the merchant, as typified by
Antonio in Shakespeare’s The Merchant of Venice, was to buy goods at one price and sell
them at a higher price to consume some of the profits and reinvest the remainder in further
trade. The highest profit could be obtained from long-distance trade in scarce
commodities, so Antonio’s ships were laden with exotic silks and spices from the orient.
Cloves were the most highly prized commodities in the mid sixteenth century, being more
valuable than the equivalent weight of gold!. The British and Dutch East Indies
Companies and Royal Niger Company are examples of early colonial organizations that
were set up to promote settlement and to develop trade. (David Clark, 2003 p71)
The Dutch impact on urban form of Batavia (Dutch colonial name of Jakarta) was
enormous. Their original settlement was at the waterfront near the mouth of the Ciliwung
River, where warehouses were built in the early 17th century to store commodities for the
Dutch East Indies Company, and where the first Governor-General Jan Pieterszoon Coen,
an ambitious empire-builder, erected fortifications against English and Bantenese threats.
The adjoining town was Holland transplanted. To prevent flooding in the low-lying site, as
well as to enhance transportation, the Dutch dug a network of canals reminiscent of cities
back home and straightened the river itself, converting it to a large canal. Fashionable
homes built in a familiar Dutch style lined the canals, adding to the Holland illusion, while
“Asian” landscape elements such as vendors' stalls were banned by fire regulations and
relegated to marginal districts. The grandest building was Town Hall, built in 1710. Its
cupola-tower dominated the early cityscape, asserting European civil authority over
Batavia in complement to the authority of the fortress at the river's mouth. Town Hall still
stands today and serves as a museum of the city's history. According to a 1673 population
count, the city had grown to 27,068 residents within its walls, of whom 2024 were Dutch
(Abeyasekere, 1989, pp 19–20).
We know far less about the non-European parts of Batavia even though they
housed more than ten times as many people. Such geographical imbalance is typical for

colonial capitals of the era, as contemporaneous documents such as early maps, census
lists and travelers' accounts almost always focused on districts of the dominant group at
the great expense of most urban terrain. We can be certain, though, that areas inhabited by
the city's Javanese and Malays, the city's large Chinese minority, so-called “Moors” from
Muslim areas of the Indian coast, its several thousand Mardijkers (freed slaves from
former Portuguese colonies taken by the Dutch), and its Ambonese, Balinese, Buginese,
and Macassarese from the different islands of the Indonesian archipelago, as well as other
Asian people in this cosmopolitan trade center, were more crowded than the European
precincts and developed more spontaneously without formal plans. We can also be sure
that construction materials and the design of houses and other buildings in the Asian parts
of the city were more appropriate for local environmental conditions than the brick and
mortar preferred by city's first generations of Europeans. (Roman Cybriwsky, 2001)
Batavia's so-called golden period was in the early to mid-18th century, when
Europeans referred to it as the “Queen City of the East”. Ironically, at the same time, they
began to leave the city in large numbers and resettle outside the walls where the ground
was higher and the surroundings airier. The main complaints were that Batavia was dirty
and foul smelling, with putrid canals and stagnant wastewater, and that the low-lying
water table was hopelessly polluted. Dysentery and typhoid took a deadly toll, as did
mosquito-borne malaria. Many residents, unfamiliar with environmental causes of
diseases, tried to hide from “foul breezes” by closing windows and drawing curtains, and
sweltered as a consequence in their airless homes (Abeyasekere, 1989, p 40). Out-
migration increased as the economic fortunes of the Dutch East Indies Company waned
over the 18th century, making Batavia less and less of a company town. As a result, the
old city was all but abandoned by Europeans by the start of the 19th century except for
some commuting to offices and trading centers. New elite districts formed some distance
south of the old core, most notably a garden suburb named Weltevreden located adjacent
to the Koningsplein, a huge open space and military parade ground. In 1808–1811 W. H.
Daendels, another of the city's builder-governors, moved the seat of colonial
administration to Weltevreden, using stone from the old fortifications for the task. A main
road lined with better shops and important buildings connected the new Batavia with the

old, giving the city something of a dumbbell shape ( Ford, 1993, p 277; Fig. 3). ((Roman
Cybriwsky, 2001)
Mercantilism was responsible for establishing the foundations for urban
development in colonial powers. (David Clark, 2003 p74). Urban development in
association with peripheral supply of raw material took place in every colonial including
Sao Paulo and Buenos Aires, West Indies and Indonesia, Malaysia and Far East. Although
cities were established along the coast of empire, these developments did little to change
the overwhelmingly rural distribution of the local populations. The reason for limited
impact was that the town and cities that were established under colonialism were more
closely linked to the urban system of the European power than they were to settlements in
the surrounding area. The purpose was to facilitate imperialism rather than to service or
promote economic development in the colony. (David Clark, 2003, p80). Those cities
were places where the banks, agency houses, trading companies and shipping lines,
through which capitalism maintained its control over the local economy, were situated. As
such they had a number of well-defined physical and geographical features. They were
also the early peripheral links in the emerging world economy. Because of their early lead
in urban growth, many subsequently became primate centers and, in some cases the
capitals of independent states.

III.2. Global economy – the global actor today

As the discussion on hyper-urbanization in JBR forges ahead, we will see very
obviously the uninterrupted continuity of colonialism-imperialism which now embodies as
globalization. It is an extended stage of capitalism (Goldblum, 2000). Globalization
processes, which influence changes in foreign direct investment (FDI) recipient territories,
have originated in developed countries. In other word, globalization is an extended stage
of colonialism-imperialism, the saga still continues, only the forms and masters are now
new. What follows is discussion about that foreign capital in urbanization of JBR.
Literatures on urban theories confirm that the twenty first century is dominated by
urban living in a way that we have not experienced before. The contemporary urban world
is a product of three principal developments. The first is the growth in the size, number
and spread of settlements, so that there are now few regions that lack urban populations

and places. The second is the increase in the proportion of the population that lives in
urban places. The third is the transformation of society because so many people and such a
large proportion of the world’s population live in towns and cities and follow lifestyles
which are urban in origin and character (David Clark, 2003). Over half the world
populations are now city dwellers, and by 2025, according to World Bank estimates, 88
percent of the world total populations will be located in rapidly expanding urban areas and
90 percent of that urban growth will be absorbed by developing world. Urbanization, as
one of the most powerful forces threatening global sustainability is dominated by three
factors: population growth, rural-urban migration, and subsequent urban expansion (Marco
Keener, 1994). However, perhaps nowhere are these factors more dominant than in
developing countries. The ongoing forces of urban growth vary from country to country,
but all have to contend with key issues such as social segregation, poverty, and loss of
governability. Indonesia, one of large developing countries, has changed tremendously
during recent decades, yet it has received comparatively little attention in English
language literature in urban studies and urban planning. Indonesia’s high population and
rapid industrialization present serious environmental issues, which are often given a lower
priority due to high poverty levels and weak, under-resourced governance (Jerry
Bisson,2003) (Bert Hofman 2004) (Tomy Firman 2008). Issues include:
- large-scale deforestation : Indonesia is no-1 in deforestation rate, it was 2
million ha/yr during reformation period in 1998, and to date 1.18 million ha/yr
- over-exploitation of marine resources: Indonesian Environmental Forum,
Walhi, estimated in the next 10 years the accumulated fish crisis in Indonesia is
believed to totally destroy the country’s fish resources, around 80% of which is
illegally exploited to supply the world’s food demand
- environmental problems associated with rapid urbanization and economic
development including air pollution, traffic congestion, garbage management,
and reliable water and waste services.

In the aftermath of the 1974 oil crisis, leading to widespread recession in

developed countries, which saw internationalisation of firms as an outlet from domestic
impasse (Drakakis-Smith, 1996). What followed was rising international financial flows

from the developed core to selected peripheral countries as overseas ventures expanded.
Benefiting from the crisis as a key regional oil producer, Indonesia became more exposed
to external capital penetration and manufacturing investments. Huge oil gains accumulated
throughout the 1970s and 1980s also encouraged Indonesia to import greater volumes of
capital goods and allocate more resources for infrastructure and support agricultural
activities. (Goldblum,2000). More significantly, there was a resultant expansion of state-
owned and private financial institutions which were later found to be heavily involved in
the rampant government–private land speculative activities until the outbreak of the crisis
in 1997. From the 1980s, the property market mechanism in Jakarta has been considerably
affected by inflow of capital from Japan and the four ‘newly industrialising economies’
(South Korea, Taiwan, Hong Kong and Singapore). By Wallerstein's classification, these
are semi-peripheral economies lying between the core and periphery and they have an
expansive nature of capital accumulation like the core (Hout, 1993, pp. 113–114). This
nature is characteristically reflected by their property firms’ activities whose ‘insecure
position’ as late comers encourages them to compete to survive in a core-dominating
global market. Speculative activities in the property market are part and parcel of their
production processes. (Goldblum,2000). In the recipient peripheral countries such as
Indonesia, the generally low-skilled and labor-intensive manufacturing plants generate
relatively low levels of profit. This is also true of the limited scope of producer services
(legal, financial, consulting, advertising, marketing, production technology, design etc)
which fail to operate effectively due to the lack of strong middle classes and domestic
industrial entrepreneurs. Consequently, major cities such as Jakarta which have
deregulated their financial system for international transactions have inevitably seen a
considerable level of real-estate speculation facilitated by easy access to bank loans
(Goldblum, 2000).
Land conversion is essentially a normal outcome of the urban development
process, but in Indonesia it greatly reflects the operation of large private developers
attempting to extract the highest possible rent (Firman, 2002). Moreover in large cities
such as the Jakarta Metropolitan Area (JMA) and Bandung Metropolitan Area (BMA)
land conversion is greatly uncontrolled due to the weaknesses of the land permit system,
especially in their enforcement. Land conversion could in turn bring both direct and

indirect impacts, which includes loss of agricultural land, the loss of investment in
irrigation infrastructure and the influx of population into fringe areas from urban ones.
During the past three decades, the development of economic activities in the Jakarta–
Bandung Region (JBR) has resulted in the extensive land conversion of prime agricultural
land into non-agricultural land (Firman, 2000), especially by new towns, subdivisions and
industrial estates in the fringe areas. This could significantly affect the foodstuff
production and waste of investment in irrigation of the paddy fields. Meanwhile, in urban
centers many former residential areas have been converted into offices, condominiums,
entertainment and business spaces. In the Jakarta Central Business District (CBD), a
construction of Superblock Sudirman has completed recently, consisting about 2 million
sq m of office, hotel, and residential spaces. Meanwhile, at present there are 16 others
superblocks in Jakarta's CBD, including Grand Kuningan, Taman Rasuna, Senayan Square
and BNI City. In Jakarta City as many as 38 big shopping malls have been built by 2008,
including Ratu Plaza Mall, the first shopping mall in the city built in 1986 and the largest
one Cilandak Town Square (Citos) in South Jakarta. Some recently built by 2008
including Gajah Mada Square, Pacific Place and Citi-Walk Sudirman, all in the city
center. The areas of shopping malls in Jakarta City have significantly increased from 1.4
million m2 in 2000 to 2.4 million m2 in 2005 (Tempo, 2006). As a result, hyper-
consumerism behavior of urban resident and the villager is inevitable, particularly youth,
through the adoption of ‘mall culture’. Advertising infiltrates nearly every corner of life in
JBR, from television and radio commercials especially the highest rating TV programs,
the infotainment, from newspaper, magazines, bumper stickers, billboard, to mobile
phones. Likewise, a number of shopping malls have been built in Bandung City, including
Bandung Super Mall and Cihampelas Walks. As a result, there has been a great transfer of
land ownership from the previous landowners to developers. Uncontrolled land
development in the periphery of Jakarta and Bandung City has resulted in many
environmental problems, including traffic congestion resulting from heavy flows of
commuter traffic between the scattered new towns and the cities, as well as excessive
groundwater extraction and air pollution in some industrial in the periphery. It can also be
noted that the open green space in Jakarta City has greatly decreased from 28.8% of the
total area in 1984 to 9.4% and estimated 6.2% in 2000 and 2007, respectively (Tempo,

2007: 106). Jakarta's CBD expansion has also initiated the move of industries and low-
income groups towards the peripheral zones. Consequently, the traditional urban villages
face demolition, replaced by more lucrative and intensive land use. (Firman, 2002)
Land-use data in the Bogor–Puncak–Cianjur in the south of Jakarta City and in the
Bandung Metropolitan Area (BMA) shows that the area of primary and secondary forests,
paddy field, garden and estates in the area declined substantially over the period of 1994–
2001. In contrast, the land area for industrial activities and settlement increased
significantly. During this period nearly 8000 ha and more than 35,000 ha of primary
forests in Bopunjur and the BMA have been converted respectively. In other words, more
than half of forest areas in Bopunjur and more than one-third of the forest areas in the
BMA were converted in only 7 years time. Likewise, more than 4000 ha (16%) and almost
12 500 ha (nearly 20%) of paddy field in Bopunjur and BMA have also been converted.
Obviously this conversion has brought significant socioeconomic and environmental
impacts to the region (Firman, 2002). Ironically, the area of Bogor–Puncak–Cianjur has
actually been designated as a conservation area, due to its function as a water recharge
zone, so that land conversion in the area might result in serious negative environmental
consequences in the down stream area, that is, Jakarta City.
With a dominating economic and financial status and Jakarta's metropolising
sphere, it is responsible for a great scope of influence nation-wide. As a good evidence,
Jakarta and its lifestyle have been taken a model in every cities and societies everywhere
in Indonesia. The capital city itself is influenced by its integration in a supra-national
urban network of East Asia (Goldblum,2000), and cities now compete in international
system where there are new hierarchies of power and opportunity from the core global
cities in New York, London and Tokyo, where the world’s information and financial super
highway is centered, to regional and local centers (David C. Thorns, 2002).
The mega-urbanization process in Asia is reflected by increasing flows of direct
foreign investment, development of transportation and communication and the growing
commercialization and diversification of agricultural activities ((Lin, 1994) and (Firman,
2003)). According to McGee (2005) the process of mega-urbanization in Asia should be
seen in the context of a nexus of local–global and rural–urban relationships for two
fundamental reason: First, the urban physical expansion generally takes place into areas of

Jakarta Traffic Jams

By 2002 alone there were more than 3 million commuters between Jakarta. It is estimated
almost double to date.

“Kampung Kumuh” Jakarta
Squatter marginal neigbhorhoods between highrise buildings

intense rural activities, which is also called the peri-urban interface (see also Webster,
2001). Second, the globalization of economy has spurred the flows of capital,
commodities, people and information which result in both the detachment of city core, in
which it is sourcing the resources from a wider global market, and integration with its
adjacent extended metropolitan region in terms of using needed resources, such as water
and foods (2001: 42–3). The high vulnerability of the speculative property market and its
inherent urban problems, question the sustainability of the Indonesian economic growth

IV. Ali-Baba - the local actor

There are a variety of explanations for these transformations of urban life, but much of
this analysis gives relatively little weight to human agency. Most works stress the
universal nature of urban process and where humans are given agency it is often limited to
‘wage worker’, the typical assumptions made given the condition that the world becomes
completely dominated by the logic of capital accumulation. It thus tends to overlook the
nature of local differences and national variations. In this study I wish the reader to
remember that countries are simply collection of people, not inanimate objects. There has
to be local actors to operate the global economy, and that local actor is a product of his/her
local society. An Indonesian proverb says that fish rot from the head, it is what happens to
people with their minds. In the analysis of the study, the hypothesis whether historical
experience of 350 years colonialism in Indonesia has left enduring-adverse impacts on the
pribumi*) (indigenous) Indonesian social psychology associated consciously or
unconsciously, with the drives to intensify urbanization process, is used as the theoretical
framework. I sorted out three distinguishable characters common to all ex-colonial native
societies, or called the pribumi in Indonesia, namely:

1) Pribumi is a term that refers to a population group in Indonesia that shares a similar
sociocultural heritage. Translated from inlander in Dutch the term was first coined by the
Dutch colonial administration to lump diverse group of local inhabitants of Indonesia’s
archipelago mostly for social discrimination purposes. (source: Kamus Besar B.

1. lack of education,
2. inferiority vis-à-vis the West, associated with crisis of identity,
3. nouveaux riches or new riches, thus tends to be super-prodigal or excessively
consumptive when given a chance, associated with the attempt to lift up and
maintain one’s identity

The three predominant characters - I wish to call them ‘triple inertias’ - do not work
independently but in interplays with one another in developing individual and societal
values prone to corruption practices whenever the opportunity is available. In the
Discussion section I give analysis on how the triple inertias provide fertile soil for the
growth of corruption tendencies between Ali and Baba (see the next paragraph). If we see
resemble chaotic pattern of urbanization between country to country in developing world,
it is because the same local actors are on the scene besides the same historical background
exist. Mega-urbanization in Jakarta-Bandung needs to be understood from this
Rampant corruption practices in Indonesia have been well documented, but
perhaps only among Indonesians itself can see the Ali-Baba story behind it. Alibaba is a
fictional tale of a poor woodcutter in the Arabian Nights who gains entrance to the treasure
throve cave of the 40 thieves that opens on the command “Open, Sesame!” This story is a
famous one in children fairy book in the country which has been in contact with Islamic
world for centuries. The term Ali-Baba in recent time is often used as a slur about unholy
conspiracy or mutual symbiotic between Indonesian bureaucrats and Chinese
businessmen. Since long ago the word Baba used to describe Indonesian Chinese. Baba-
Nyonya from Hokkien Ba-ba-Niu-lia are terms used for the descendents of late 18th
century Chinese immigrants to the Nusantara (the Indonesians word designating the
Indonesian archipelago) region during the colonial era. And Ali, a Muslim name, denotes
Indonesian pribumi which is Muslim majority to symbolize Indonesian bureaucrats.

…this kind of conspiracy gave birth to the Ali-Baba, Ali has got the license and
Baba brings capital to work out the license…. (Indonesia Corruption Watch, ICW
training material, p3)

IV.1. Lack of education
Until the end of the nineteenth century, the colonial government never displayed
much concern for formal education for local Indonesian. Access to Western education was
confined to the sons of the traditional aristocracy, thus perpetuating the gap between the
traditional aristocratic elite and the people. It was not until end of more than 300 years of
colonial rule that the Dutch began to allow children of well-to-do Indonesian parents, yet
only in Java and certain parts of Sumatera, to have access to Dutch secondary and terciary
education in such field as medicine, law, and engineering. This was the beginning of the
creation of modern Indonesian middle class. The Dutch aim was to produce a small
Western-educated elite who could fulfill administrative position in the growing civil-
service. However contacts with Western liberal values during their studies in Netherlands
made these privileged Indonesian more aware of the character of colonial rule, of the
differences between Dutch rule in the Netherlands and that in the East Indies. The fact that
they had only limited career prospects reminded them of their second class status in their
own country. It was these Dutch-educated intellectuals who then became the founder of
Indonesian independence movement and formed the new government of independent
Indonesia in 1945. Traditionally Javanese society was divided into 3 classes; the nobility,
the bureaucracy (priyayi), and commoners (wong cilik). Since then, in Java the
intelligentsia usually emerged from priyayi circle (Sutherland 1979:56). Independence
marked a radical shift in Indonesians development. The non aristocratic, Western
educated middle class replaced not only the Dutch colonial regime but also the traditional
aristocratic leaders as holder of political and moral power. (Chua Beng Huat, 2000, p138)
Education expansion was only promoted nationally until the New Order
government came in power in 1965 as the economy maintained a remarkable annual
growth rate of about 8% in real terms, mainly due to the booming oil sectors during 1970
to 1980. Universal education had always been a demand of nationalist in the pre
independence period because they themselves owed their political influence and personal
advancement to the fact that they were educated. Statistic shows that about 23% of
population in 40+ year age group is illiterate in 2003, and average education level in
majority of population is relatively low. From January 2001, Law 22 of 1999 on Regional
Autonomy in Indonesia and a related law on financial decentralization (Law 25/1999) has

come into effect. There is mounting concern that these reforms will create incentives and
pressures for increased and largely unregulated exploitation of forest, mineral and marine
resources. A study by a group of researcher from USAID Coastal Resource Management
Project, Proyek Peisisir, chaired by Ian Dutton, to investigate the intensifying debate the
impacts of decentralization in Indonesia on natural resources, found that very few regional
administrations are adequately prepared to implement these new arrangements. The central
government agencies responsible for coordinating decentralization arrangements have
been unable to establish the necessary policy frameworks and agreements prior to the new
laws taking effect. Key finding emerged from the survey is that Indonesians lack an
adequate knowledge of the geography, ecology, cultural, political and socio-economic
significance of marine resources. For example, most people do not know that Indonesia's
seas are the global centre of biodiversity. Few know that Indonesia has more than 500
islands and only 19% know the name of the Marine Minister! These findings are a clear
indictment of the national education level and evidence of a development paradigm that
was mostly land-focused during the past 50 years of independent Indonesia.

IV. 2. Cultural inferiority vis-à-vis the West

The study identified the most adverse and destructive effect that centuries-length
colonialism has made to the colonized nation is the remarkable ‘character assassination’ it
had done to deteriorate their culture and mentality. From the encyclopedia, character
assassination is rooted in the attacker’s desire to harm the person psychologically to
damage the reputation, status, achievements, etc. Colonial experiences have developed
sense of frustration and cultural weakness vis-à-vis the West among Indonesian
intelligentsia and commoners alike, because the very principle of colonialism is indeed to
wipe out indigenous culture and introduce the new ones, besides the other principles of
profit and power. The damage may sustain very long because the process developed
gradually over time in multi-layer generations. This is a social psychological complex that
shapes the attitudes of today’s Indonesians, and consequently it needs many generations to
come to recover from the damage.
Being psychologically bowed down, every decision taken by the inferiors is motivated
by the attempts to raise their position to the same level of their rivals, sometimes without

much considerations of the negative impacts of the decisions made, much less of the
strength-weakness, opportunity-threat analysis. Mega-urbanization in JBR needs to be
understood from this perspective, and the study investigates the zest of urbanization of
Jakarta in early government of independent Indonesia.
The modernization of Jakarta became the personal project of Indonesia's strongman
first president, Sukarno (Cybrwsky, 2001). Trained as both a civil engineer and architect
before entering politics, Sukarno was greatly influenced by the ideas of Le Corbusier and
other modernists, and had an extraordinarily ambitious vision for how Jakarta should
evolve. He insisted that Indonesians should “build Jakarta into the greatest city possible,”
that its greatness should be visible in all aspects from skyscrapers, monuments and grand
boulevards to “the little houses of the workers,” and that the city should be “the beacon of
the whole of humankind” in struggles against imperialism (quoted in Abeyasekere, 1989,
p 168). His most symbolic new structure, erected as part of a wider program to de-colonize
the urban landscape, was Monas, the 132 m high National Monument that was erected in
the center of the old Dutch Koningsplein, now renamed Medan Merdeka or “Freedom
Square”. He also gave Jakarta spacious new government buildings, department stores,
shopping plazas and hotels, impressive sports facilities at Senayan for the 1962 Asian
Games, and a gracious new suburban residential district named Kebayoran Baru.
Connecting these projects was Jalan Thamrin, a broad new avenue with monumental
traffic circles and a decidedly international look that was extended south from the National
Monument square, and Jalan Sudirman, an extension of Jalan Thamrin with a similar
profile. (Cybriwsky, 2001).
Such construction continued under Suharto's “New Order” regime that took control of
the country in 1967 and linked it to the emerging global economy. Ali Sadikin, whom
Sukarno had appointed Governor of Jakarta a year earlier, completed a number of the first
president's favorite projects, including the glorious Istiqlal Mosque facing Medan
Merdeka, new parliament buildings at Senayan, and the popular waterfront recreation area
at Ancol. Sadikin also added projects of his own: several new highways and interchanges,
the Ismail Marzuki Arts Center, and industrial zones at Tanjung Priok and Pulo Gadung to
attract foreign investment. Other projects of the period were Taman Mini Indonesia, a
unique theme park near Cibubur that showcases the various indigenous cultures and

natural environments of Indonesia in miniature, and the distinctive international airport in
Cenkareng now Soekarno-Hatta. Because of a long period of generally rapid economic
growth, Jakarta was able to sustain its construction boom under successor-Governors until
the financial crisis of the late-1990s and developed an impressive and modern look
(Cybriwsky, 2001). It is not without reasons that a lot number of Indonesian is idolizing
China’s achievement as a “non-Western” winner in world market competition and
economic growth without looking at the facts that China is now in environmental disaster
and that it has 16 out of 20 most polluted cities on earth.
Such aspirations of ex-colonized nations for world recognition as a member of modern
global world seemed to work. The following table shows dramatic shift of ten largest cities
in the world, where in 1550 were dominated by cities in Europe, in year 2000, six out of
ten were in Asia and Africa, and the rest are in the US and Latin America. None of them
are in Europe!

The world’s ten largest cities in descending order of size, 1550-2000
(David Clark, 2003)
1550 17000 1900 2000

Paris London London Tokyo

Naples Paris New York Mexico City
Venice Lisbon Paris Sao Paulo
Lion Amsterdam Berlin Mumbai
Granada Rome Chicago New York
Seville Madrid Philadelphia Lagos
Milan Naples Tokyo Los Angeles
Lisbon Venice Vienna Calcutta
London Milan St. Petersburg Shanghai
Antwerp Palermo Manchester Delhi

IV.3. Nouveaux Riches or New Money
Nouveaux Riches or New Money refers to a person who has acquired considerable
wealth within his/her generation, and that such wealth has provided the means for the
acquisition of goods or luxuries that were previously unobtainable. In examining the
hypothesis on how this state of new rich in Indonesian and ex-colonized nations has
contributive influence to their hyper-consumption behavior today, the study found two
significant studies in this field, a book of Chua Beng Huat, “Consumption in Asia:
Lifestyles and Identities”, The New Rich in Asia Series, 2000, and a book of Youna Kim,
“Media, Consumption, and Everyday Life in Asia” Routledge Advances, 2008. The
studies explore people everyday’s experience in Asian countries in confrontation with
huge social change and transition. In this section of analysis I wish not to include my own
interpretation of the authors’ words which may tend to be subjective or judgmental given
my situation of being Indonesian scholar in antithesis position with modernistic ideas.
What follows are significant outlines taken in verbatim from the author’s words, presented
in Notes for the readers to make own interpretations. Interestingly enough, the study also
found the role of media, publisher and university especially business schools, in
promulgating pure material orientation newly adopted by the Indonesian intelligentsia. In
the Discussion section I give my analysis on how the interplay of ‘the three inertias’
ingraining the well-known Indonesian’s bureaucrat’s corruptive tendencies.

A. Consumption for lifestyles and identities

 Unprecedented social mobility in each nation in the region, at different points in the past
four decades, released pent-up energies not only for employment but also consumption.
Beginning with the acquisition of household durables, from gas stoves to rice cooker to
refrigerators, from bicycles to sewing machines, the propensity to consume kept
expanding to keep pace with increase incomes. Once these basic durables were
obtained, other items become desirable. The list of desirable goods was limited only by
the combination of disposable income at hand and available credit facilities. The
emerging middle class in every nation began to acquire status, or positional, goods, such
as imported fashion, cars, and foreign education for their children. The regional
expansion of consumption coincided with the rapid globalization of the marketing of

‘designer’ consumer goods, which flooded the regional market. Everyone was
transformed into a ‘walking billboard’ of luxury brands, DKNY, Teeshirts, Lacoste Polo
shirts, Rolex watches, Mont Blanc pens, Versace jeans, Nike shoes, and Calvin Klein
fragrance. Every act of consumption was by way of an announcement that the buyer had
‘arrived’. (Chua Beng Huat, 2000, pxi)
 Housing consumption also expanded. Real-estate became the most obvious investment
for those who had cash to spare and/or who aimed to ‘get rich quick’ because people has
little know-how and few opportunities to invest in productive economic sectors and
enterprises. Indeed in every country in the region, there were ‘success’ stories of
individuals who did make millions simply by buying and selling contracts to properties
under construction, with each transaction, each change of hands, inflating the price of
each properties. Everywhere among the new middle class, overconsumption of housing
was evident. The inflation in the residential and commercial sectors gave rise to the idea
of bubble economy. It is in the nature of bubbles to burst, and burst this one did. (Chua
Beng Huat, 2000, pxii)
 However, before it did, the will to consume seemed inexhaustible and appetites
insatiable. This rage to consume, particularly products imported from America and
Europe, was both celebrated and feared by political leaders and other social/moral
gatekeepers, who began to condemn the process as ‘westernization’ or even
‘westoxification’. They call for the reeducation for the population in wholesome,
traditional Asian values. However, much like the parent who condemned their children’s
spendthrift ways, and yet provided the means for their consumptions as evidence of their
own economic success, the government concurrently prided themselves on their
management of the national economy, economic growth and the expanding material life
of the population were necessary to their legitimacy as authoritarian but efficient
government. (Chua Beng Huat, 2000, pxii)
 The bubble finally burst in Japan in the late 1980s, but the effect was at first contained
within Japan itself. The next instance was July 1997 in Thailand. This time it was
contagious. Immediately, falling like dominoes, the currencies of South Korea,
Indonesia, Malaysia, and Phillipines, were devalued in rapid succession. The economic
consequences have been disastrous, and will continue to be so for several years to come.

The economic crisis was also responsible for exposing the unholy alliances between
politicians and ‘crony capitalist’ in most countries in the region. Indeed, that such
unholy alliances characterized in large part the economic growth in these nations was an
open secret, but it took the economic downturn to expose the extent and depth of such
conspiracies. The worst case was that of Indonesia. (Chua Beng Huat, 2000, pxii)
 The economic take-off of Asian countries has given rise to new wealth and the
emergence of new middle classes whose formation process differs distinctly not only
from that of their European counterparts (Evers and Gerke, 1994:5, Lev 1990:25,
Robinson 1996:8), but also from nation to nation within Asia; as Crouch (1984:116)
suggests, the Indonesian class structure is quite different from that of Thailand and
Malaysia. (Chua Beng Huat, 2000, p135)
 Although the new rich and the newly established middle classes have been collapsed
into one category, as the bearers of modernity, their socio-economic background differ,
making it difficult clearly to identify who has joined the middle class and who is still
excluded. (Chua Beng Huat, 2000, p135)
 The new middle class in Indonesia had never developed into autonomous social force
because social economic power in the country is highly dependent on gaining the access
to the state as a fountain of social economic power (Robinson 1996:97). The emerging
middle class was striving for a consumption-oriented lifestyle, with new models of
leisure that included shopping, sports, travel and watching Western movies.
Consumption of mass-produced good and the promotion of lifestyles of leisure have
become their defining characteristics in Indonesia. (Chua Beng Huat, 2000, p136)
 However the effects of this development are beyond the middle class itself.
Consumerism as cultural practice affected the life all people, enticing them to surround
themselves with all kind of ‘discretionary’ consumption goods that symbolize modernity
and urban lifestyles. Thus, with the emergence of new middle class, rules of social
integration change in Indonesia. Consumption practices constituting a lifestyle were
gaining greater significance as marks of social ranks, in contrast to socio-economic
criteria of classification. (Chua Beng Huat, 2000, p136)
 The development of a culture of consumption in Indonesia reflected and yet differed
from observable global tendencies. Globally, lifestyle is increasingly becoming ‘valid’

as a form of social identification. It signifies an independent standard of reference for
social integration, one that is not reducible to other factors of social status because
lifestyle can be used not only for the construction of self-identity and to communicate
this identity to others but it also well-suited for establishing and maintaining
membership in collective identities. Thus, lifestyles are blueprints for the organization
of everyday life. Bourdieu (1979), Featherstone (1991), and others have widely
documented such development in Western societies and placed the phenomena in
theoretical perspectives. However, consumerism as a lifestyle under conditions of
economic underdevelopment, as in Indonesia, took a different course than consumerism
in developed economies. (Chua Beng Huat, 2000, p137)
 By the standards of developed nations the ability of Indonesian middle class to consume
was very weak, nevertheless it did not prevent individuals from judging others by
‘lifestyle’, indeed, to a large extents questions of lifestyle structure social contacts.
Consequently, those who were not able to pursue a middle-class lifestyle felt the social
pressure to give their life a middle-class ‘touch’. One way of managing this dilemma is
what I call ‘lifestyling’. Lifestyling refers to the symbolic dimension of consumption
and can be defined as a display of a standard of living that one is in fact unable to
afford. ‘Virtual’ consumption instead of a real consumption, the demonstration of the
symbol of a modern lifestyle instead of buying lifestyle goods – behaviors that rely on
the demonstration of a certain lifestyle without the economic basis for real consumption
– these are what I call lifestyling. (Chua Beng Huat, 2000, p137)
 In this essay, special emphasis will be place on lifestyling strategies of the much
neglected and under-researched populist lower middle class (Robinson 1996:88). There
is no doubt that a middle strata emerged in Indonesia during the 1980s-1990s,
sandwiched between the poor and the very rich members of the society. The socio-
economic background of this members differs dramatically. A clear-cut differentiation
of who was already in and who was out was hard to draw with parameters used for
developed economies. (Evers and Gerke, 1994). For example, the classical variables of
research on the American and European middle class (SES = occupation, income,
education) did not apply here. Nevertheless, member of Indonesian society who
characterized themselves as modern and who wished to demonstrate this through what

was, in their eyes, a specifically modern lifestyle, routinely described themselves as
middle class. Membership was thus not necessarily dependent on income but defined
through social behavior and lifestyle. Consumption thus became symbolic act signaling
modernity. and the membership in the ascriptive category middle class. The frequently
observed conspicuous consumption of Western consumer goods very often did not
reflect the economic capabilities of the consumer nor that production class situation.
(Chua Beng Huat, 2000, p137)
 Typical in its formation, the culture of the new middle class is one mark by an ongoing
attempt to demarcate itself against the lower strata of the society. Each formation is thus
bounded in a complex process of distancing itself from the poor ‘other’. In Indonesia,
the ‘new middle class’ was in the strategic social position to construct hierarchies via
the creation and promotion of a ‘modern’ lifestyle through consumption. Although
consumer and leisure industries remained underdeveloped during the Suharto regime,
the emerging middle class was already promoting consumption and leisure as its
ultimate values through both the control over the production, and subsequent
appropriation, of lifestyle images in TV, radio, and the press. (Chua Beng Huat, 2000,
In the following paragraphs I wish to specifically present the role of media,
publisher and university in facilitating the adoption of new middle class culture originating
in other than Indonesian’s which in the past was pervaded by the spirit of gotong royong
or traditional mutual cooperation values, and the irony of lifestyling in education. The
outlines are leading to self-explaining the corruption tendency among Indonesian

B. Media, the missionaries of modernity

 This book (by Youna Kim) considers the emerging consequences of media consumption
in people’s everyday life at a time when the political, socio-economic and cultural
forces by which the media operates are rapidly globalizing in Asia. (Youna Kim, 2008,
 The profusion of the media today, with new imaginations, new choices and
contradictions, generates a critical condition for reflexivity engaging everyday people to

have a resource for the learning of self, culture, and society in a new light. Media
culture is creating new connections, new desires, and threats, and the identities of people
are being reworked at individual, national, regional and global levels. (Youna Kim,
2008 p5)
 As elsewhere in the contemporary world, lifestyle identification were engendered by the
media industry that continued to boom from the end of the 1980s. (ironically, during the
economic and political crisis print media continued to expand as a result of the lifting of
licensing controls and rapid expansion of the press freedom.) During the Suharto years,
representatives and employees of this industry were commonly identified as members of
the ‘new middle class’ and place themselves as the arbiters, hawkers, and interpreter of
lifestyles. (Chua Beng Huat, 2000, p145)
 Interviews with journalist of the magazines Femina and Tiara, confirmed that they,
indeed, regarded themselves as stylist and missionaries of ‘modernity’ as well as
trendsetter of a new way of life. They were the providers of symbolic goods of
‘modernity’. The cultural appropriation of the images they produced and reality-
simulation effects of these images altered peoples’ perception and their sense of the real,
the possible and the fictional. Thus, lifestyle became an increasingly important new
modes of social integration in Indonesia, as it could be used not only to signal self-
identities but also for establishing and maintaining membership of collective identities.
As suggested earlier, it signifies a distinct and independent standard of reference of
social integration, not reducible to other elements of social status. (Chua Beng Huat,
2000, p146)
 The role of cultural differentiation in delineation of social positions is, following
Bourdieu (1979:191), a process by which a particular class-determined habits
distinguishes itself in the cultural market place by identifying with clearly defined set of
products and activities – a lifestyle. In Indonesia, it seemed, nearly everyone wanted to
take part in ‘modern’ life. The socially palpable pressure to reestablish, constantly,
middle class membership led inevitably to demonstrative consumption. As Mulder puts
it: ‘one way or another, consumerism affects the life of all and teasing people to
surround themselves with all kinds of goods that become indispensable as markers of
urban ways’ (1994:112). Through such consumption, Indonesian manifested a ‘class

consciousness’ that was determined not by interest in political action but one of
identification with a class or group of people pursuing particular lifestyle. (Chua Beng
Huat, 2000, p146)
 However, even before the 1997 crisis, only small portions of the Indonesian new middle
class was able to afford Western or urbanized lifestyle. The overwhelming majority was
unable to consume the items defined as appropriate for members of the middle class.
The might be educated and employed in jobs that provided social prestige, but they
could not afford a lifestyle that would be regarded as a suitable for their status. Thus,
they engaged in substitutional activities to give their lives a ‘middle class’ touch. As
their consumption possibilities were limited, consumption assumed a mere symbolic
dimension. For example, one could readily see young people and families spending
hours sitting in strategic places, where they could be seen by all and sundry, at Mc
Donald’s or Pizza Huts drinking coke or milkshake with a burger. They would take the
empty humberger bags with them, as they left the fastfood restaurant, so that everybody
in the street could see where they had lunch or dinner. Students would share one
beneton sweeter with two or three others, where second-or third- hammer T shirts and
borrow jewellery from roommates to go shopping or hangaround shopping centers. Such
acts gave new meanings to the idea of ‘symbolic’ consumption. I call this behaviors
‘lifestyling’ to signify a superficial activity with no real consumption deriving from
economic well-being. Lifestyling has symbolic features to manifest a standard of living
that is absent in fact. In this sense we have to see demonstrative consumption and the
whole set of lifestyling practices as aspect of more general strategy for the establishment
and/or maintenance of self-identity. Through active lifestyiling people constantly
demonstrate group membership and very often ignore their social and economic reality.
(Chua Beng Huat, 2000, p146)

C. Education and Lifestyling:

 Education was another element of lifestyling. This is perhaps ironic but not surprising as
the first step of being defined as ‘modern’ is to possess symbols of modernity, of which
‘education’ is an important icon. Thus, in pre-crisis Indoensia, symbols of education
defined middle-class membership and the collection of this symbols reflected aspects of

consumption (Gerke:1992:134; Mulder, 1938:50). The main concern of the education
system was neither quality nor knowledge transfer. Knowledge was not adapted to local
conditions but adopted from outside with English or ‘Indonesnglish’ terminologies
used throughout. The great majority of members of the academic community have,
however, little or no command of English. Thus, very often ‘forms’ were transmitted but
not content. What indigenous knowledge production or home-grown scientific
discourses there were, existed in some isolated enclaves staffed with foreign or
‘globally’ trained scholars. School certificate, university titles, diplomas, and degrees
were not indicative of reliable qualifications. Although those who possessed them were
assumed to be knowledgeable. In the same way those who owned the symbols of
modernity were modern. The value of degree as a symbol created a certain state of
general acceptance of its ‘reality’; thus, it was not important that the education system
did not generate knowledge but only holders of title and diplomas. Consequently,
looking at the boom in the education industry, from mid-1970s till mid 1990s, one could
only conclude that this expansion had only ‘symbolic’ value, expressed quantitatively
the numbers of schools and universities and the number of ‘graduates’. (Chua Beng
Huat, 2000 p148)

D. Business School Phenomenon

Business schools emerge like moth in rainy days in the last two decades. Almost
every Indonesian college and university has invented extension program to business
diploma and university graduates march to the MBA. The study identified this
phenomenon as powerful forces in creating highly-materialistic orientation that makes
Indonesian intelligentsias or middle class preoccupied with material gain. The problem
with business school is that it breeds greed and guile. Too many are infected with
assumptions that good and sound business is when one party gets better of the other one.
The logic and assumptions they pass on to their students reflect a fundamental belief about
human beings, that we are hard-wired to be selfish. They assume that it is a dog-eat-dog
world, and that human want and take as much of themselves as possible and to stomp on
others along the way (Bob Sutton, Harvard Business Publishing, 2009). As a result, major
universities reported recently about declining interest, in agriculture, forestry, fishery, pure

science and religion departments as seen in dwindling student intake,. (The Jakarta Post,
October 2009)

The authors are excellent in capturing and describing everyday life in Jakarta that
the study primarily concerns. Now the readers would have better ideas about how
nouveaux riches mentality intensifies Indonesian’s aspiration to be recognized as ‘modern,
urban and western’ manifests mainly from inferiority complex in the society, compounded
with their relatively low level of education. Lifestyle is not just personal matter it is also
directed towards the establishment of social boundaries and structures of exclusion in
order to establish collective identity. Since only in minority of cases did official position
of bureaucrats actually correlate with income, a financial dilemma would arise. This
dilemma would be solved either through lifestyling strategies described in the preceeding
notes, or through “additional income” via corruption whenever possible. Ali-Baba
corruption practices has begun since 1951 when the newly established government of
independent Indonesia was urged to nationalize all ex-Dutch corporations in oil and gas,
plantation, and mining sector for pribumi businessmen (Indonesian Corruption Watch
ICW training material, p6). But what happened thereafter was not as expected. Because of
low level of education and entrepreneurial skills of the pribumi, only few of their
businessmen were adequately qualified to take over the opportunity. What happened
afterward was that the pribumi bureaucrats and businessmen became merely license holder
expecting to be proposed by Chinese businessmen who came in with working capital and
entrepreneurial skills. The situation continued until Chinese became in total control of
major Indonesian economy. Chinese ethnic has been well known of their built-in talent on
entrepreneurial. Many books and articles have been written about the supremacy of this
ethnic in business and about the strong Chinese business network in Asia (see Table-2). In
the environment of weak, under-resourced governance in Indonesia, the strong legislation
required to prevent abusive practice of business has not been in place, and therefore this
ethnic group might have been overdeveloping their business acumen for purely profit
motivation. Being the strongest and most reliable business partner in the country, they are

Book titles that infer the entrepreneurial talent of Chinese ethnic
1. Management Control, Culture and Ethnicity in a Chinese Indonesian Company, by
Sujoko Efferin and Trevor Hoper, Manchester Business School.
2. Learning from Overseas Venturing Experience: The case of Chinese family
business, by Eric WK. T. Sang, Nanyang Business School, Singapore
3. Inside Chinese Business: A Guide for Manager Worldwide, by Ming Jer Chen,
Harvard Business Publishing, 2003
4. Chinese Corporate Identity, by Peter Peverelli, Routledge, 2009
5. Chinese Ethnic Business, Global and Local Perspective, by Eric Fong, Chiu Luk,
Routledge, 2009
6. Chinese Entrepreneurship in a Global Era, by Raymond Sin, Kwok Wong,
Routledge, 2008
7. Translocal China, Linkages, Identities, and the Re-Imagining of Space, by Tim
Oakes, Louisa Schein, Routledge, 2006
8. Commerce and Capitalism in Chinese Societies, by G. Hamilton, Routledge, 2006
9. Migration, Ethnic Relations and Chinese Business, by Kwok Bun Chan,
Routledge, 2005.
10. Chinese Business in the Making of a Malay State 1882-1941, by Wu Xiao An,
Routledge, 2003
11. Chinese Business in South East Asia, Contesting Cultural Explanation,
Researching Entrepreneurship, by Terrence E Gomez, Hsin Huang, Routledge,
12. Chinese Business Etiquette and Culture, by Kevin Barry Bucknall, Routledge,
13. Chinese Business Enterprise, by Hans Hendrische, Routledge 2006.

the main receptacles of global capital inflow to Indonesia and thus are the local allies of
global players in developed world. Predominated by mercantilist mentality they have
never been able to immerse with indigenous pribumi and therefore have never developed

adequate sense of place and sense of belonging to the country and people as the wellspring
of social responsibility necessary to mitigate the greed and guile tendencies in wealth
accumulation logic of commercial business.

From then on, pioneer players active in sales of subdivided land parcels have given
way to large development companies strongly linked to financial conglomerates which
are a business circle of the Chinese diaspora in favour of an open policy and economic
deregulation (Bouteiller, 1997; Trolliet, 1994). Their scope of development varies,
ranging from sale of hundreds of hectares of residential plots to thousand-hectare new
town developments. (Charles Goldblum and Tai-Chee Wong, 2005)

Now we have at hand the paradox of good talent. Living with paradox is not easy.
Paradox confuses us because things do not behave the way we expect them to behave, it
asks us to live with simultaneous opposites. Entrepreneurial talent is good because it is the
spirit to cause innovative and energetic practice to create an opportunity and take action
aimed at realizing it, but precisely because of that when it is not subdued by the strong
legislation it tends to encroach beyond the justifiable limits, pursuing narrow self-interest
with guile and treating everyone around as if they too are always looking for only short-
term and selfish wins. In the case of Indonesia, it opens up the path to interlocking
interests between Ali and Baba discussed in previous sections. I happen to believe there is
paradox in everything, good or bad, so I can take it with ease. My professor in Islamic
Mysticism used to say coincidentia oppositorum or in Sufism araftullah bi jam’i al-
adhdaad – ‘I try to know God because of all the opposites’. What it really means is that
God is Infinite and He encompass all possibility, but precisely because of this reality it
implies the most ethical viewpoint in which any harm done to another is doing harm to
oneself because what harms one harms all. What is good and evil is not the mandate of
something outside of us but as a result of the way we are all interconnected. Instead of
good choices being based on fear of divine punishment, it comes from a mutual respect
from all things. So, in this case, justice and respect are the only ways to balance out
paradox of good talent. Such tortuous and weighty mystical deliberations turn to a very
simple conclusion: that justice and good governance are what is needed to prevent abusive
tendency of wealth accumulation logic in entrepreneurship, which otherwise destroy the
environment and society as the study demonstrates to be evidential in Indonesia.

However, being a country with 40 million poor, with majority citizens only up to
primary high school educated, and 25.8% of the 40+year age illiterate (2003), it is “ought
implies can” principle that applicable in Indonesia. Perhaps this principle is what all
philosophers agree upon in ethic: what is beyond your powers is beyond your obligations.
Most Indonesians are therefore released from any ethical obligations to preserve their
environment for the world’s sake (see Table-3) because they themselves are weak. When I
was much younger I used to be upset with the carelessness of most Indonesian to the
nature and their indifference to environmental issues, especially the farmer and the poor,
who came to be the ones working for big tycoons in illegal logging, marine over-
exploitations, and extensive use of agrichemicals in the farms. But quite recently, I
realized that it is the merits of ignorance. Nature only has meaning to those who knows
and they are tortured by their knowledge seeing others being indifferences to nature, but
for the ignorance, moreover those in needs, nature is nothing more than mere supplier to
their staple. The rumination reminds me to the story about an evil witch visits a kingdom
and poisons the central well with a potion that drives people mad. The next morning all
who drink from that well goes crazy. The king, however, knew about this in advance, and
didn't drink from the communal well. The next day, those who drank the poisoned water
came to the king and accused him of being the crazy one. The king, aware of what had
transpired, was faced with a dilemma: drink from the well and lose his sanity like the rest
of his subjects, but remain king; or don't drink, remain sane, but be swept from power by
those who would view his very sanity as madness. This is more or less the dilemma of
many learned Indonesian and others in developing countries. Particularly those who have
no sense of history to put his/her country’s situation in historical perspective, and who
have been gazing with constancy upon the overwhelming information and knowledge
from the West that they become out of touch with the reality of everyday life of the poor
and commoners in their own country, to understand what is really going on.
The significance of Indonesia to the ecological well being of earth (see Table-2) may
not be recognized by many people, neither by most of Indonesian citizen itself, as reported
by Ian Dutton in USAID research for coastal marine sources abovementioned. Again, it
seems that the highest ethical principle “any harm done to another is doing harm to

oneself” is going to be the ruling principle here. Developed nations which thrust Indonesia
to the environmental and cultural crisis at the first place seem to be inescapably

Indonesia for the World
(source: WWF Indonesia)
1. Rainforest Has the world’s third Deforestation is estimated
largest rainforest (after 2 million ha/year and
Congo) accounts for 85% of the
country’s annual
greenhouse gas emissions.
Indonesia is already
significant emitter of
greenhouse gases due to
deforestation and land-use
2. Marine Resources Has more than 25% of all In the next 10 years the
marine and freshwater fish accumulated fish crisis in
Indonesia is a country with
in the world Indonesia is believed to
the longest coastline.
totally destroy the
(81,000 km). Indonesia has
country’s fish resources
the most extensive
(source: Indonesian
mangrove forest in the
Environmental Forum,
world, and marine habitats
including beaches, sand
dunes, estuaries,
spectacular coral reefs, sea
grass beds, coastal
mudflats, tidal flats, algal
beds, and small island

3. Biodiversity Has the world’s second the greatest number of

highest biodiversity level endangered species in the
Habitats ranging from
(after Brazil) world including the
mangroves and lowland
-10% of the world’s proboscis monkey, the rare
rainforests to grasslands,
flowering plants, and elusive Sumatran
hills, montane forest and
12% of world’s mammals, Rhino, the Sumatran tiger,
mountains are all to be
16% of the world’s reptiles and the Komodo
found in this country. Such
and amphibians
a wide range of habitats
17% of all birds
supports a rich flora and

responsible for the devastating impact of such crisis. They will be the ones to determine
whether there will be rainforest to mitigate the extreme effects of climate change, or fish
to feed billions of people on earth, and whether there will be various biodiversity for the
next generation. Indonesian government and people are far too weak to assume such huge
responsibility, as clearly demonstrated by this study that major initiating factors of
devastation originated in other than Indonesia. In this essay I wish to venture an opinion
contrary to the established theory which projects the poor to be the hardest-hit by climate
change and global warming (Nick Dallas, 2008). In my opinion it is the rich countries (and
people) who will certainly suffer most the dire consequences of natural calamity because
the poor, who walk on earth with very light carbon footprint simply have nothing to loose,
moreover they got used to live in adversity and therefore are able to bear and find joys and
simple pleasures out of it. I am more than sure about that for I have been living with them
for more than 10 years in the organization that I lead. The strongest grass grows in the
hardest pasture, so to speak. The rich, on the other hand, have many things to loose and
they are in fact the hardest-hit by the disaster. They will be tortured by fear and their
pleasing memories. Amusingly, this reminds me to the rhymes of an old Indonesian folk
song, which in this context sounds as ridiculing modernism ‘kau yang mulai, kau yang
mengakhiri, kau yang berjanji kau yang mengingkari?’ – you did kindle it, so you
extinguish it. you promised and then you betray?’ This essay is intended to provoke
intellectual thoughts among the defender of modernism.

The study concluded that an investigation of hyper-urbanization in Jakarta-
Bandung Mega Urban Belt and the similar phenomena in other developing countries
should be put in historical, cultural, and economic perspective, within the local, regional
and global context, in order to put the study in proper framework to make fair, accountable
and intellectually sound analysis. The study finds that hyper urbanization in JBR has been
initiated by the forces originating in other than Indonesia. It was kindled by the developed
world, embarking from colonialism in 1600s and deteriorated further by the global
economy as an extended stage of capitalism which can be seen in this perspective as an
extension of colonialism-imperialism, by utilizing the local actors. The local actors

consists of the ill-behaved triple inertias infected pribumi (indigenous Indonesian), and the
contemporary ‘mercantilist’ Indonesian Chinese businessmen and their global networks.
The study shows that there are three predominant characters of pribumi local actor
ensued from gradual process of character assassination during the three and half centuries
of colonialism and therefore are not so easy to be wiped out instantly, namely, lack of
education, inferiority complex vis-à-vis the West, and nouveaux riches or new money
hyper-consumptive behavior, engendering opportunity for interlocking interest with the
mercantilist Indonesian Chinese businessman in what is called Ali-Baba conspiracy. To
sum up, from philosophical point of view, social change and multidimensional crises in
JBR demonstrated by the study, is an obvious-undeniable evidence of the misdeed of
modern philosophy purely materialistic and profane in character, creating humanity in
constant strife with terrestrial environment for wealth, power and prestige.
The study shows that main responsibilities are on the hand of developed world as
the major initiating factors of social and environmental devastation in Indonesia and who
possesses the power to carry it out. It is the developed world that will determine whether
there will be rainforest in Indonesia to mitigate the extreme effect of climate change in the
world, whether there will be fish to feed billion of people on earth and the biodiversity for
the next generation.
However, at this point in time Indonesian shall need to have enough faith and
interest in the continuity of the world and its people. We must cease to live on the state of
a psychological and cultural sense of inferiority and to resuscitate our own culture and
tradition in our life. There is different perspective between West and East regarding time.
Westerner sees time sequentially as a straight line, whereas Easterner sees it as a loop, just
like the Hindu cosmic cycle Yuga and the doctrine of Imam Mahdi in Islam. In a straight
line perspective, time is a running reaper, waving its sickle, but in the East, time comes
round again and again. In the running reaper view there is no time to loose, things must be
completed before time runs out. In the loop view of things time never runs out; therefore
we need to create self renewing system, system that will still be in place when time comes
around again, even if we are not any longer in this terrestrial world.

- Anthony M Orum. Urbanization in Large Developing Countries, Contemporary
Sociology. Washington: Jul 1999. Vol. 28, Iss. 4; pg. 448, 2 pgs
- Charles Goldblum and Tai-Chee Wong, Growth, crisis and spatial change: a study of
haphazard urbanization in Jakarta, Indonesia , Institut Francais d'Urbanisme,
University of Paris VIII, 4 rue Nobel, Cite Descartes, 77420 Champs Sur Marne,
France, Division of Geography, Nanyang Technological University, 469 Bukit Timah
Road, Singapore 259756, Singapore. Available online 27 April 2000.
- Charles Handy, The Age of Paradox, Harvard Business School Press, Boston,
Massachusetts, 1994
- Chua Beng Huat, Consumption in Asia: Lifestyles and Identities (The New Rich in
Asia Series), Routledge, 2000
- Climate Change in Indonesia, http://www.global-greenhouse-warming.com/climate-
- David Clark, Urban World/ Global City, 2nd edition, Routledge, London and New
York, 2003
- David C. Thorns, The Transformation of Cities, Urban Theory and Urban Life,
Palgrave Macmillan, New York, 2002
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Development Bank (ADB), Manila, Philippines, available online 19 July 2007.
- Harvard Business Publishing, Do Economists Breed Greed and Guile?, by Bob Sutton,
breed-greed-and.html, April 5, 2009.
- Ian Dutton, USAID Coastal Resource Management Project, Proyek Peisisir, 2001.
- Indonesia Corruption Watch, ICW, Materi Pelatihan Anti Korupsi, Muhammad Husni
Thamrin, Korupsi di Indonesia, Dari mana Kita Harus Memberantasnya.
- Nick Dallas, Climate Change Basics, 24 Lessons Revealing the Fundamentals, Mc
Graw Hill Professional Education, Australia, 2008
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and Urban Studies, Temple University, 309 Gladfelter Hall (025-26), 1115 West Berks

Street, Philadelphia, PA 19122-6089, USA, San Diego State University, San Diego,
CA, USA, 2001.
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Warming, Planet Ark.
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Terrorist, East-West Center Working Papers, International Graduate Student
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and Rural Development, School of Architecture, Planning, and Policy Development,
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Internationalizing Media Studies, 2008.

About Wardah Alkatiri
I was born and raised in Surabaya, the capital of East Java. My father is an
Indonesian Arab. His family is an immediate offspring in the Sultanate of South Yemen
and he has got Indian blood from his mother. My mother is mixed Malay, Chinese, and
Arab. I am truly Eastern, indeed, and am a product of ‘globalization’ that had been taking
place in the old days in those parts of the world.
In 1990 I graduated from Chemical Engineering in ITS, Institute of Technology in
Surabaya, and then IBM Indonesia recruited me. I moved to Jakarta since then. I was sent
to IBM education centers in some countries in Asia and trained to be a system engineer. I
got married in 1992, my husband Tafif is Javanese. Our first child was born in 1994. I
have three children, all are girls. After ten years of working carrier in different industries
in the field of Information Technology (IT) and petrochemical, I quit the professional job
and started pursuing my passion in environment, poverty, and social entrepreneurship. I
founded my organization AMANI to promote sustainable agriculture and doing social
initiative activities. In a way, I can say that I was grown up in the organization that I
In July 2005, I got a horrible traffic accident in Lugano, Switzerland. I was
severely injured from head to toe and had gone to amnesia for a while. I was operated and
treated for two months in Lugano hospital and was flown back to Jakarta with special
flight treatment accompanied by a doctor. I had to stay in bed and used wheelchair for
almost ten months thereafter and underwent six times of surgeries in different part of my
body. It was quite a miracle that I can finally recover almost fully like my present
condition. I was at the first semester in Philosophy at ICAS (Islamic College for Advanced
Studies) when the accident happened. I went back to ICAS as soon as I could walk by
myself, and in November 2008 I completed my Master in Islamic Philosophy.
I would describe my own personality as spiritual, anti-fundamentalist,
environmentalist, and humanist. My school of thought is Perennial Philosophy which
suggests the existence of universal set of truth common to all people and culture. It sees
human as theomorphic being and cosmos as theophany. I am much influenced by the most
prominent contemporary Islamic philosopher, a Persian origin Prof. Seyyed Hossein Nasr,
George Washington University. I see human being as agent in social and environmental

affair because human is the measure of all things, not made to be measured by something
else, except the Supreme Being. Nevertheless, we are not gods, we can not do everything
by ourselves given the limited time and ability we have in this world, so to nudge a little
bit along should be enough.