It was 10 a.m. when The Jakarta Post approached a group of fishermen who were sitting and chatting by boats moored in Kali Adem, North Jakarta. The conversation led to the hottest current political debate: which of the three Jakarta gubernatorial candidates is fit to lead the capital. The fishermen, who are registered Jakarta residents, have pledged to vote in the election on Feb. 15.
However, they said they were still uncommitted to any particular candidate as they were unsure as to whether the next governor would improve their lives. Just like their past discussions about politics, that day’s discussion came back to two things: food and electricity bills.
“I just don’t think any of them will make a change in our lives. We have been deceived by politicians for too long,” one of the fishermen, Sude Sijan, said as he lit up his cigarette. He was referring to the three candidate pairs — Agus Harimurti Yudhoyono-Sylviana Murnia, Basuki “Ahok” Tjahaja Purnama-Djarot Saiful Hidayat and Anies Baswedan-Sandiaga Uno.
After living by the sea for 22 years, Sude said many gubernatorial candidates had visited his neighborhood and made lots of promises, particularly pledges to improve their welfare. The only change he has noticed over the years, however, is that there are less and less fish in his fishing nets.
Things have become hard for Sude and other fishermen in the past two years after the Jakarta administration under Governor Basuki Tjahaja Purnama gave the green light to the construction of several man-made islets in coastal area, which has forced them to travel extra miles to catch fish. In the past, Sude went on, fishermen could see fish a few hundred meters from the land. Now, they have to go further.
Iwan, another fisherman who refused to reveal his last name, said gubernatorial candidate Anies Baswedan had visited his area and promised that he and his running mate Sandiaga would stop the controversial reclamation project if they were elected. Anies, he went on, told them that the fishermen would not have to share the sea with the man-made islets anymore. Iwan, however, did not buy his claim
“Stopping the reclamation means fighting against rich and powerful people. I am not sure any governor would want to do that,” Iwan said.
“But one thing is for sure, I will not vote for Ahok. He has caused a lot of trouble for us fishermen”.
Besides issuing permits for the reclamation project, Ahok drew criticism from fishermen in January 2016 when he planned to evict them from North Jakarta’s coastal area and relocate them to low cost apartment blocks (rusunawa) in the Thousand Islands. The fishermen believe that the administration should take their opinions into account before it makes a decision. Separately, Marthin Hadiwinata of the Indonesian Traditional Fishermen’s Association (KNTI) said that none of the three candidates had so far presented any clear ideas about how they would support the livelihoods of the fishermen.
For instance, Marthin said that while Ahok insisted on continuing the North Jakarta Bay reclamation project, the other two candidates had shown no detailed plan for how they would stop the controversial project that has seriously threatened fishermen’s livelihoods.
“We don’t know if Agus will continue the reclamation project or not, and even though Anies has pledged to stop it, he has not revealed any details. So we do not have a lot of hope,” Marthin told the Post.
Marthin added that none of the three candidates had revealed their plans on how they intended to improve the livelihoods of people living in the coastal and small island areas. “We need the candidates to look further into fishermen’s problems and offer some solutions.”
The Jakarta Bay contains a lot of toxic substances from all waste that finds its way there from the capital through 13 rivers. The reclamation project has worsened this pollution.
According to the Jakarta Maritime, Fisheries and Food Security Agency, the number of fishermen in Jakarta is decreasing. In 2009, the agency recorded that there were 23,827 fishermen in the city. Three years later its survey revealed that there were only 17,405 fishermen.
Anonymous. www.jakartapost.com.”Jakarta’s fishermen remain undecided in gubernatorial election”. January 30 2017. January 31 2017 <http://www.thejakartapost.com/news/2017/01/30/jakartas-fishermen-remain-undecided-in-gubernatorial-election.html>