I was interviewing by The Jakarta Globe a few days ago. It was so exciting  to talk about  Jakarta,  my town. For me, Jakarta has  transformed into money machine  and everything in Jakarta only considers as long as it can make money.  Jakarta has lost its soul as a city where millions of people live.

Full article can be downloaded at http://www.thejakartaglobe.com/business/article/10639.html

My Jakarta: Danang Widoyoko

Danang Widoyoko, a new coordinator for the respected antigraft group Indonesia Corruption Watch, says Jakarta has become a “money machine” for officials who ignore even the most basic living facilities for the city’s residents. The 35-year-old says that corruption is so deeply rooted in the capital that it has changed the city’s spatial planning.

Are you a native Jakartan?

No, I was born in Rembang, in Central Java. I moved to the Greater Jakarta area in 2000.

Do you live in the city?

I used to. But when I decided to buy a house, I couldn’t afford the prices in Jakarta, so I moved to Tangerang and have since become a commuter.

Can you tell us about your job?

I have been working for ICW since I first arrived here. My first job was conducting research on legal affairs and public service. I only started to work as a coordinator earlier this month.

What’s your take on public service in Jakarta?

I learned about the public service in Jakarta the hard way. Railway transportation, which I often use for commuting, is very poor. All train stations are disorganized, overwhelmed by vendors.

I once managed to get my Jakarta ID card free of charge, but I had to fight for that at the subdistrict office. Most other people choose to pay, I guess. These problems have their root in the rampant corruption in the city.

Why do you think so?

Vendors think they have the right to occupy train stations because they pay off officials. The city government occasionally evicts the vendors, but they never take measures against those officials who secretly accept payments. They demolish houses on riverbanks, but nothing happens to the officials who issue the permits for illegal settlements. Corruption has changed the face of Jakarta because you can build anything anywhere if you can afford the bribe.

Any other examples?

People say Jakarta has too many shopping malls. It has not been legally proven, but I definitely think corruption plays a key role in making the city the way it looks today. Green spaces have been sacrificed for business areas, or malls, which are financially much more valuable. You earn no money if you build a park. If you have money, you can get all the permits you want in Jakarta. The city has been turned into a money machine and corruption has become a key factor in making Jakarta an uncomfortable place to live.

Transparency International Indonesia has ranked Jakarta the 15th most graft-ridden city of 50 major urban areas across the country. Do you agree?

That survey is based on public perception. Its methodology didn’t take into account the fact that Jakarta is the place with more money in circulation than anywhere else. One bribe in the country’s business capital could mean a large amount of money. Thus, from a money viewpoint, I think Jakarta could be the most corrupt, and in no way could it be less corrupt than Kupang [ranked number one by TII].

City officials still regard the city as a business commodity and exploit every little aspect of it whenever they can make money. Jakarta is not seen as a place to live. They must stop exploiting Jakarta for money. Residents need fresh air and city forests, and they need to avoid floods.

What measures can the government take to tackle social problems?

They need to realize that not all people coming to Jakarta end up successful. Many have failed to make fortunes here and have built their houses on riverbanks. It would be unfair for them if authorities demolished their houses, while at the same time turning a blind eye to their subordinates who illegally collect money from these very same poor residents.

What is your favorite place in Jakarta?

Ragunan Zoo, where my family and I can get closer to nature and breathe fresh air in the capital.

Your favorite place to eat?

Blok S [in South Jakarta], where else? There I can have my favorite fried rice with goat meat, meatball soup or steak at very affordable prices.

Danang Widoyoko was talking to Heru Andriyanto.