Guarding the City on the Fringe: The Rise of the Periurban

In 1967, a year after Suharto came to power, the government issued a master plan of Jakarta (1965—1985). The plan indicates that the city will expand outward concentrically 15 kilometers from the National Monument, the “center” of the city. The governor of Jakarta, Ali Sadikin, was given the authority to interpret the plan, and he was quick to realize that the plan was part of the stabilization and rehabilitation program. The governor was also delighted that the concentric development plan of Jakarta was essentially a means to manage population growth, for it included, for the first time, the areas of BOTABEK (an acronym for Bogor, Tangerang, and Bekasi, each representing the extended area of Jakarta to the south, west, and east respectively). The governor recalled that “in its development, the area of JABOTABEK [an acronym for Jakarta, Bogor, Tangerang, and Bekasi] consists of ‘urban area,’ ‘rural area’ and the ‘transitional area’ each with its specificity.”62

For Sadikin, the notion of transisi is more than just referring to a transitory space in the process of becoming a city. Instead, the transitional area is designated to be more of an exceptional space, which would serve as a “countermagnet” for migrants to Jakarta. The governor was interested in the concept of the extended space insofar as it could resolve the population problems he had been facing in Jakarta. In his mind, the creation of periurban zones would protect Jakarta from the influx of less desirable migrants and “push population from Jakarta outwards to the development zone (wilayahpengembangan).”63 Furthermore, the extended space would give clarity to the issue of territory, boundary, and authority. His memoir recorded his obsession with boundaries and the difficulty of arriving at an agreement with the governor of West Java. He emphasized the importance of dealing with the private sector without diminishing the authority of the city hall. The concept of JABOTABEK thus offered the opportunity for the governor to fulfill his wish to retain the authority of Jakarta to the city hall while allowing the private sectors to advance their own entrepreneurial spirit away from the controlled center.64 Once developed by private developers, the periurban would alleviate population and security problems in the city. The city authorities did not have to suffer from the headache of planning. They did not have to deal with issues of service provision and not even transport, because it should be arranged privately by the capital to move the labor to work. We thus heard about the “success” story often told in the 1990s of the Mitsubishi Colt pickup, which was associated with the efficiency of transportation provided by the multinational (including Japanese) corporations at the periurban for their workers and staffs.65

The experiment with the concept of “extended space for development” (wilayah pengembangan) first took place in the coastal areas of North Jakarta (better known as the backyard of the city) rather than the BOTABEK areas. In 1973, the first export processing zones (EPZs) in Indonesia were formed in North Jakarta in an area of 10.5 hectares adjacent to the Tanjung Priok harbor facilities. Defined as an area of land “lying outside the normal customs of jurisdiction,” the area offered “substantial incentives (in order) to attract foreign firms into the zones.”66 In detail, the zone included the following special treatment:

combination of duty-free import of manufactured intermediate goods and raw materials, company income tax holidays, subsidized provision of factory space and/or utilities, streamlined bureaucratic and administrative procedures to avoid costly “red tape,” exemptions from industrial regulations applying outside the zones, guarantees on the absence of strikes and guaranteed repatriation of profits.67

Under the control of (but not necessarily owned by) a state company, PT Bonded Warehouses Indonesia (BWI), the EPZ in North Jakarta was a pilot project for many more new zones to come. This export processing zone, an invention of the postwar geopolitical economic space for the operation of multinational corporations, opens the subsequent periurban areas of Jakarta as an economic space of exception.68 These World Bank-prompted free trade export processing zones have since become the prime locations for the operation of international industrial capitalism; not surprisingly, the exploitation of the low-wage floating mass population becomes an added bonus for these capitalists, thereby showing the many forms of indirect stress and everyday exploitation of the “freedom” to work and stay in and around Jakarta.

This strategy of containing the floating mass by ways of zoning was officially carried out in 1976 under the Presidential Instruction No. 13.69 Clusters of industrial zones in the surrounding inland areas of Jakarta were created to absorb both the capital and the floating labor mass. Consistent with the idea of protecting the capital city by deflecting migration to the periurban areas, over a thousand industries in the city were relocated in 1975 to the outskirts of Jakarta. They were expected to become part of the newly established Jakarta Industrial Estate of Pulo Gadung, which, by 1977, had already absorbed some 13,000 workers and expected to be soon absorbing 150,000 workers.70 By the mid-1980s (pushed by the liberalized economy of Repelita V), investment by the private sector in industries increased sharply, which drove up the growth rate of the surrounding areas of Jakarta such as Tangerang and Bekasi.71 The deregulation immediately resulted in the absorption of about 18 percent of the country’s labor force while contributing some 25 percent to the overall GDP.72 The workers were part of the mobilization that Diane Wolf described as “ten large-scale modern factories, driven by Western machinery and technology [commanding] in the middle of the agricultural land of two villages [in Java] that still have neither running water nor electricity.”73 In these factories, the floating mass was turned into a productive force and, as Diane Wolf has shown in her Factory Daughters, this included young, unmarried village women who left the rural areas, some against the wishes of their parents, to find nonfarm-related occupations. “Because of these industries,” Hasan Poerbo, then a researcher at the Institute of Technology Bandung, indicates, “you have tens, hundreds of thousands of people actually moving around. And many of the people employed by these industries are young, unmarried women.”74 Women thus are absorbed into the “formal” sector because “their labor is cheaper and women are more industrious when it comes to working with small parts needed for the manufacturing of electronics, garments and shoes,” while “men are employed in the informal sector.”75 Yet, as Soetjipto Wirosardjono points out, “only because of the informal sector, workers can be paid such a low salary.”76

By the 1980s, the metropolitan press reported that the extended space has become the destination of migrants from rural areas and outer regions.77 A series of Presidential Instructions has made possible the development of the periurban areas and further the desakota region of Java, all of which have immediate impact on the flow of population.78 Ida Ayu Indira Dharmapatni and Tommy Firman indicate that, “besides receiving migrants from Jakarta city, BOTABEK has been increasingly targeted as the destination of migrants from all over Indonesia, mainly from Java. Migrants have chosen BOTABEK instead of Jakarta because of its lower living costs, employment opportunities resulting from the spillover of industrial growth from Jakarta, and its high accessibility to Jakarta via a well-developed transportation system.”79 A series of decrees and permits was issued to domestic and foreign private enterprises to develop the periurban areas as the space for the floating mass to “live in calm, to work and construct.”80 Hundreds of licenses were issued in the early 1990s to both domestic and foreign trade company representatives, especially those from the industrialized countries of Asia such as Japan, Hong Kong, Taiwan, Singapore, and South Korea; these countries have turned the periurban areas of Jakarta into “the largest concentration of both foreign and domestic investment in Indonesia.”81 This contour of investment represents just the instance of regional restructuring of economic space in which Indonesia provides cheap labor power for the low-end subcontracting network of industrial production in Asia. With the periurban designated as a zone for the restructuring of economic and social life, domestic developers, often with ties to the ruling elites, mobilized their capital to build a series of new towns for the growing members of the middle class.

The consequence is clear, as Dharmapatni and Firman indicate, that “in Bekasi alone, for example, if we assume a person-land ratio of four persons per hectare, the 3,000 hectares of industrial estate development will have to displace 12,000 farmers. If this assumption is valid for the whole of BOTABEK, then the 6,500 hectares planned for industrial development will have to displace about 26,000 farmers.”82 We may never know exactly the responses of the peasants to this draconian displacement, but under the doctrine of the floating mass, they would have most likely disappeared into the general work force of the factories in support of the national “development effort.” Such displacement also indicates to us that although the periurban areas of BOTABEK have their own histories, under Suharto’s politics of space, they were in “no-man’s land” in which the juridical and the political intersected for the governance of the floating mass. As far as the city of Jakarta is concerned, the result was unambiguous, for as Dharmapatni and Firman point out, “permanent movement from West Java (including Botabek) and other parts of Indonesia into Jakarta city declined during 1975—1990

and was accompanied by a reverse movement of permanent migrants from Jakarta city to Botabek area.”83 We do not know how the establishment of the periurban might have contributed to the decrease in the number of gepeng (gelandangan and pengemis— “vagrants and beggars”) in the city of Jakarta, but Soetjipto Wirosardjono reported that “in the census of October 1990 only 24,000 people were counted as gelandangan while they used to number more than 100,000.”84

The political economy of space and the control of population are, therefore, interconnected, and they are central to the “stabilization and rehabilitation” of Indonesia under the New Order of Suharto. The exodus of villagers from the rural areas has finally prompted the government to create a space for containing them. The periurban areas of JABOTABEK offer just such a space “to exploit incarceral modes of labor control.”85 Not surprisingly, this extended space was never left alone. Instead, the administration of the periurban areas around Jakarta was initially staffed by personnel working for the Department of Internal Affairs, a major apparatus of political control responsible for the “development of village society.”86

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