Ahok says he was ‘scapegoated’ after Governor Anies issued building permits on controversial reclaimed Jakarta Bay islets

Former Jakarta Governor Basuki Tjahaja Purnama
Former Jakarta Governor Basuki Tjahaja Purnama

One of Jakarta Governor Anies Baswedan’s main campaign promises was stopping the land reclamation project in Jakarta Bay, but he has effectively reneged on that promise and blamed his predecessor, Basuki “BTP” Tjahaja Purnama aka Ahok, for continuing construction on the controversial project.

Last week, Anies signed off on the issuance of construction permits (IMB) for 932 commercial and residential buildings on two of the artificial islets in Jakarta Bay. The approval came after Anies’ administration stopped construction on these buildings in June of last year on the back of the governor’s campaign promise.

But signs that construction on the islets would continue were apparent by December, during which time seals on construction sites were removed and marketing for property developments in the area resumed.

Speaking to reporters yesterday, Anies denied any notion that he has gone back on his promise as he has stopped further land reclamation from taking place on Jakarta Bay, while effectively blaming Ahok for issuing Gubernatorial Decree (Pergub) 206 while he was in office in 2016, which provided a legal basis for construction on existing artificial islets.

“Imagine if a construction project, which was already underway, and which adheres to current laws and regulations, is dismantled because of new regulations. That could lead to legal sanctions and loss of trust from the public towards gubernatorial decrees and the law,” Anies said, as quoted by CNN Indonesia.

In response, Ahok said Anies had no trouble overturning some of his Pergubs before.

“[Anies] is making a scapegoat out of me by taking advantage of these legal terms,” Ahok told reporters.

“The matter of not being able to overturn a Pergub is contradictory to his policy making. He has already overturned Pergubs banning motorcycles on M.H. Thamrin road [and those that regulate] food hawkers and city parks.”

Ahok also said that Pergub 206, which he signed, does not actually provide a legal basis to issue IMBs on the artificial islets.

“If I could’ve used the Pergub to issue IMBs, I would’ve done it a long time ago. I am pro reclamation in order to gain funds of over IDR100 trillion for the city,” he said.

The Jakarta City Council says it is contemplating exercising their right to summon and question Anies about the issuance of the IMBs, particularly in regards to whether or not he had legal grounds to do so.

The land reclamation project of Jakarta Bay, intended mainly for high-class commercial and residential property development on the artificial islets, was first drawn up during President Soeharto’s reign in 1995, but it fell to the wayside in 1998 due to the financial crisis. In the post-democratic reforms era, criticisms that the project would be detrimental to the environment and Jakarta’s fishermen delayed its continuation.

However, following years of legal battles, successive Jakarta governors, starting with Sutiyoso in 2007, green-lighted the project and issued permits to some of the country’s largest property developers to build on the artificial islets.

In October 2016, Ahok signed Pergub 206, which essentially serves as a blueprint for urban development and land utilization on four of the 17 planned artificial islets that had already been built for the land reclamation project. Ahok argued that, with the Pergub, the Jakarta administration could earn IDR158 trillion over 10 years in the form of a 15% contribution fee from the total amount invested by developers.


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