Blog, Thoughts

The Beggars Call, Again

In the next few months, motorists in Jakarta will not probably be bothered anymore by beggars, buskers and street vendors. Commuters will not be disturbed by them while using public transportation in the city. No more "polisi cepek" collecting money at u-turns. City parks will also be cleaner.

Life and travelling in the city will be more convenient. No more grim signs of poverty will be seen on the busy streets of Jakarta. The image of Jakarta will be better among travellers. Those things are possible because on September 10, the Jakarta City Council had approved a new bylaw on public order that, among others, banning people for donating money to beggars, buskers and street children.

The bylaw lays out punishments of Rp.500,000 upto maximum of Rp.50 million in fines or a maximum 180 days of imprisonment for offenders.
Here are some of the points in the new bylaw that I got from the Jakarta Post:
  • Individual or institution is prohibited to be a beggar, busker, street vendor or car windshield cleaner.
  • No individual or institution may trade with street vendors or give money or goods to beggars, buskers or car windshield cleaners.
  • Individual or institution shall not force other person to be beggar, busker, street vendor or car windshield cleaner.
  • Individuals and institutions are prohibited from soliciting donations in the street, markets, housing complexes, hospitals, schools, offices and on public transportation without governor's permission
  • No unauthorized persons may manage traffic in return for money.
  • Public transportation passengers shall not litter, throw chewing gum, spit or smoke inside the vehicle.
  • Nobody may squat or stand on benches in public parks.
  • It is prohibited to leave chewing gum on park benches.
  • All individuals and institutions must register animals they own.
  • Food stalls and restaurants must display prominently the halal certificate.

Some of the points are really necessary to improve public order and it is only a matter of organizing public education programs to change the bad habits. Others, however, have broader social consequences that the city administration, lawmakers and the general public shall consider before enacting fully the bylaw. I might be wrong, but to me the government or the society in general hasn't yet been able to take care of the poor people effectively. Hiding poverty for the sake of image is a crime. People shouldn't die because they can't buy food when they are hungry or can't buy medicines when they are sick. Beggars shall be able to find places easily to get assistance when they can't go anymore to the streets to collect donations. Crimes will be on the rise when people are in dire needs of money, and they don't know where to go. The city administration shall also create programs to inform and assist people who are willing to give donation to the needy in a more effective ways. The city administration may also provide technical assistance to orphanage houses and other social organizations on how to be more transparent financially and be more effective in managing their institutions or organizations, that will foster public trust. Meanwhile, street vendors are hardworker people. They are on the street because it's difficult to find jobs, especially for those who have no education or skills, and it is difficult to find customers other than on the street, when more people prefer to go to malls and hypermarkets instead of going to traditional markets. The city administration shall help them, also the companies that get benefits from their hard works, such as cigarettes makers, publisher of newspapers and magazines, candies manufacturers, etc. These people are willing to work hard. They just need facilitation and a little assistance. Training or workshops will certainly be very helpful for them. We maybe able to make Jakarta clean from beggars, buskers and street vendors, but there a lot more jobs to do to avoid the negative impact of the bylaw that may worsen situations. By helping poor people in fact we are helping ourselves to create better and safer place to live. Hope Ramadhan brings stronger social solidarity among Jakartans. Selamat menjalankan ibadah puasa.

, seorang pejalan musiman dan penyuka sejarah. Penduduk Jakarta yang sedang tinggal di Cikarang Utara. Diperbarui: September 12, 2007.

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