I did it again. I was able to walk in the middle of Jalan Sudirman, one of the busiest roads in Jakarta together with thousands of others. No, we were not demonstrating but today was their “car free day” when the busy road was closed so that people could do their things along the busy street.
What was started as a commitment to ensure the air in the city to remain liveable, the car free day has allowed citizens to be involved in healthy lifestyle activities and business. While the Jakartarians walk, jog, ride and do all other stuff, some others can take the opportunity to open small stalls along the road to sell stuffs as well.
This morning, a huge crowd turned up and the whole of Jalan Sudirman was turned into a huge lifestyle centre. I could observe government departments, commercial entities and charitable organisations having all sort of activities with their people and the public such as aerobics, walkabout, product demonstrations and singing. Everyone seemed to have enjoyed themselves.
The takeway is very simple, citizens need spaces to enjoy. After all, cities are built for them to live, not just for commercial organisatiions to build buildings everywhere, making huge profits but denying citizens their rights to a good living.
There is somewhat a similar concept in Kuala Lumpur but it is done once a month only and to cater mainly for cyclists. There is also no funfair like activities such as the one in Jakarta.
Perhaps the difference is the Mayor of Jakarta was elected by its citizens whereas the Mayor of Kuala Lumpur was appointed by a minister who himself was not elected by Kuala Lumpur people. Hence, both mayors have different bosses and priorities.
Those in public offices must understand why they their chairs were created in the first place, to serve the public. Once this is forgoten, their conducts and behaviours may not be consistent with their real bosses, the people.
Jakartarians seem to be a bit more lucky, if the car free day is used as a barometer to gauge public policies.