Note from editors |

11 Simple Rules for Jakarta : Part Two of Two

Note from Editors | 8 October 2020
In this second part of the 11 Simple Rules for Jakarta article, we continue to see how the ideas that work for self-help for people can apply to a city!

These rules, cleverly compiled by Chris Taylor after reading the main concepts from hundreds of self-help books written (and devoured by desperate people) over hundreds of years, are the distillation of thousands of rules and ideas down to just 11, which he says are the only ones that apply! Let’s see what the second batch bring us . Read part one here for the first five rules.

6. Be Playful

For people, this is pretty straightforward: lighten up guys, relax, take it easy, have fun. But for cities, it’s a bit more difficult, but many manage it. Edinburgh Festival fills its streets in August and September with street performers, actors promoting their shows, comedians, dancers and even opera singers. It’s a pleasure to walk around. Paris and Rome have delightful outside cafes, especially in parks where people relax and have fun. New York has street vendors and fun urban areas. Singapore has Clark Quay and Boat Quay which are full of life, as does San Francisco with its Fisherman’s Warf. Making a city ‘playful’ is a balance between excellent city planning and zoning, and event creation. Jakarta can do it too… but it will need a lot of work. Car Free Day is not enough!

7. Be Useful to Others

A life lived in dedication to only ourselves is a life wasted. I like to go back to the Golden Rule from the Bible: “Do unto others as you would be done by”, which really sorts out people priorities very quickly, but for a city, it’s just as easy: make your administration fair and equitable, make your bureaucracy non-existent, serve the people well, listen to their needs not yours, do everything to make life in Jakarta better not more difficult. Think proactively how you can do this by studying (really studying not shopping tours to Paris, Tokyo and London) how other great cities work. There is a lot to learn. Copying Singapore would be a good start!

8. Perfectionism is Procrastination

I don’t know about you but I live by the 80/20 rule, whereby you can get 80% of most things done in 20% of the time and it takes the other 80% to complete the remaining 20% and probably the same applies to cost! Of course, cities behave the same way, with most projects able to be completed in 20% of the time and cost, if we accept the fact we have not achieved perfection. In fact, since we can never achieve perfection, this is probably the best way to approach all programs, get them done and operational, don’t wait till the stars are all in alignment, as NIKE says: ‘ JUST DO IT!’ and make sure that the citizens get the benefit.

9. Sleep, Exercise, Eat, Chill Out - Repeat

Another great rule for people to try to bring order and good solid routine into their lives. How does this work with cities? Let’s do this one by one :

Sleep: on the whole, urban Indonesian don’t sleep well because there is simply too much noise around. There are no restraining orders on the local woodworking shop, the horrendous motorcycles that roar past and it has proved impossible (despite former VP Jusuf Kalla’s admirations) to keep certain local announcements at a reasonable volume.

Exercise: Thanks to Ahok, our former Governor, who started a park creation program, but it’s not enough. Jakarta needs more parks and outside places to exercise for the public, otherwise it’s only the better off who can go to gyms, play golf and tennis, swim and get fit.

Eat: no problem here, food is everywhere, but even up to today there are no health controls on the street vendors (the grobaks and kaki-limas) so eating on the streets is an invitation to predatory bacteria! And the favourite foods of Indonesians? Well, being the world’s epicenter  of diabetes, stroke and heart disease tells you that it’s not all healthy! Room for improvement.

Chill out: The great keeper of sanity, being able to relax, is pretty well adopted here. Indonesians love to sit and chat, so give a group a few cups of coffee (with five sugars stirred in) and a few cookies and hey chill out. Oh – and if no one’s available to chat – the phone is always there!

Overall we have room for considerable improvement here.

10. Write it All Down

Do you know the history of your city? I don’t see a lot of civic pride expressed in Jakarta. We have the city’s official birthday (22 June), but of course, the city existed long before that and must be full of exciting tales of Arab traders, Sriwijaya and Majapahit Sultans, Portuguese sailors and Javanese and Sundanese nobility. I think it’s important to understand—and accept—our history, even the bits we don’t like, such as the Dutch occupation for some three hundred years. It is not for us to be ashamed of the past but to acknowledge it and revel in the amazing buildings they left (and no …don’t knock them down, they are beautiful). And starting now let’s create a new history of Jakarta for the next generation to enjoy.

11. You Can't Get it All from Reading

For people this means listening and learning, discussing and debating. Adjusting our views to accommodate the new facts we have learned. A city, likewise, must evolve through discussion, weighing up the pros and cons of 3-1 in one traffic, of ganjil-genap, of car free days, of health programs and slum clearances. In fact, all important issues for the city need openly discussed, not just between the Governor and his colleagues, or with DPRD Jakarta, whoever they are, but openly and constructively so that the right decisions—for the people—are made.

So, that’s it. No more rules are needed to guide our city to a great future! Do you agree? Maybe Mr. Taylor did simplify a bit but to be honest if we followed all these rules we would certainly be in a better place.

Long Live Jakarta!