Paying Fine to Trespass Transjakarta Lane: Is It a Good Idea?

It is interesting to follow political condition in Indonesia especially during the turmoil between Police and Corruption Eradication Commission (KPK). However, current writing is not devoted to this particular issue. I would rather talk about recent issue in Jakarta with its current governor, Basuki Tjahja Purnama, who is also very well-known as Ahok. Just recently, he has sparked a further debate about allowing very-rich people living in Jakarta with their luxury cars for being able to go through the Transjakarta bus line provided that they will pay sufficient amount of money which will then be used as Jakarta’s revenue. Further clarification coming from Ahok saying that the essence of this policy is not to “merely allow” the luxury-car owners to have special treatment; rather, more importantly, it is about deterrent effect that is going to be exploited: the amount of money that should be paid will be increased as long as there are still people who are courage enough to trespass the bus lane. To be fair, such a policy is quite unique since Ahok can actually generate money from the very-rich people by exploiting the possibility of them to avoid traffic jam in Jakarta. Despite of his seriousness in applying this policy or his actual meaning in saying the statement, there is one question to be asked is: is it really a good idea for citizen in Jakarta and Indonesia in general?

It is true that such a policy has sparked debate and controversy. Some agree and some do not. A simple reflection can lead people to rethink about the goodness of the policy. A simple question can then be asked: what condition that will lead us to be a good citizen in ideal condition?

In answering this question, I would like to refer to john Rawls about his theory of justice. Rawls says that behind the veil of ignorance, people will be very likely to prefer a policy that sides with people with high vulnerability. Thus, for example, justice will be preserved by alleviating people who are living in dire circumstances. Only by doing so a country can be considered as just. The main reason behind this idea is clear: because we choose a basis in which we know nothing about our current condition in real world, we will then try to avoid to have a policy that will not support people living in dire conditions. Of course, people living in such conditions do need our help and as we do not know exactly about our outcome, we tend to choose the policy. Generally speaking, equality is much more preferable in preserving justice. Of course in actual circumstance, we cannot have such a veil of ignorance. But it does not mean that we can just ignore such a preposition. In this case, there is one thing important that can be adopted: the importance of equality to preserve justice.

If we take back this theory with Jakarta current case, it is then clear that in we live in unequal condition. This is proven by, for example, a Gini coefficient. Some people are very rich and some of them are very poor and the rest are moderate. However, will this condition justify the way we obey law? Law is made to preserve justice and to ensure that everyone is bound to it. Punishment is then necessary to insist people so they obey the law even though, according to Rawls, in very high degree of civilization, punishment is indeed not necessary because people have trusted each other and no one would like to breach the principle of justice. It is then clear from the point of view of justice that avoiding traffic jam by going through Transjakarta bus lane and paying fine can actually be considered as unequal condition that only sides with very rich people. Those who are very rich can easily say that the fine is actually nothing thanks to their very high income. The situation will be different for people with moderate income since they will be very burdened by the fine that they should pay. In this case, it is clear that justice is not preserved to the very least group. Rather it only accommodates very rich people who can afford in paying fine.

Furthermore, it also negates the essence of fine itself. Since fine is correlated with punishment because of breaching laws, having such a policy will only say that: as long as you have enough money to pay the fine, you will be fine. Of course this is not the case of building a good country. Punishment should be made in order to increase awareness degree of any citizen that it is also their duty to preserve justice as mandated by laws. Otherwise, punishment will only get sharp to the very vulnerable groups and not to the very-rich ones. This will eventually lead to the negation of principle of justice as stated above.

It is quite good actually to fine people who dare to breach Transjakarta lane. However, this should be done indiscriminately. And one thing important to note here is: fine is not a mean to let very-rich people avoid traffic jam in Jakarta. Thus, the most important thing is not to increase the fine amount. Because even if you put fine for 1 billion rupiah, I am quite sure that there are still few people dare to breach the law as long as what they have in mind is: as long as I can pay, I can breach the law. Thus, what is more important is deployment of law enforcers to prevent such drivers breach Transjakarta lane. This is more effective to increase the awareness of any drivers that they are strictly prohibited to use Transjakarta lane.

Last but not least, I think Jakarta already has sufficient revenue. Even recent news have also showed that only around 59% of city’s budget was effectively absorbed last year. This clearly indicates that Jakarta is not that in dire condition in craving for money. What is more important is to increase awareness of people living in Jakarta that if you want to avoid traffic jam, you have to switch to public transportation in order to reduce the vehicle volume in the roads. Of course, this has also to be incentivized by improving the public transportation service. Without doing so, traffic jam will still be a persistent problem for the city.

Transactional Politic: Learning from Budi Gunawan’s Case

It is a quite embarrassing moment for, Jokowi, current Indonesia President after Budi Gunawan, a police chief hopeful, was announced as graft suspect by Corruption Eradication Commission (KPK). This announcement just came out not long after Jokowi gave his recommendation regarding the police chief nominee. Furthermore, it is also several days prior to the police chief hearing scheduled by House of Representatives. A question may arise here: why did Jokowi suggest Budi Gunawan as the police chief?

In this article, I would not like to study the detail about the capability of Budi Gunawan or his track records in his professional career. When his name was put under the recommendation made by National Police Commission (Kompolnas), I think that the body had not doubted the capability of his career in police. What I would like to elaborate more in this writing is more about morality in politics. Why is it important? The answer lies in the fact of Jokowi’s promise itself who promised for not having transactional politic once he became Indonesia President. Furthermore, it is also worth to note that he also emphasized the importance of building clean government when he was selecting his ministers.

From the first time Jokowi selected his ministers, several people had put doubt on them especially for several names who were considered as part of transactional politics. I would not like to elaborate the names here because many people have already discussed them already. However, what is important here is when doing the task, Jokowi asked KPK help to properly check whether or not the chosen candidates had bad track records regarding corruption. Thus, it was quite clear that Jokowi put his conscience in selecting the candidates and showed his consistency in maintaining clean government.

From the news currently circulating, it is also then clear that Budi Gunawan had also been one of the candidates. However, the name was then rejected due to the bad track record regarding fat bank account. It was quite fortunate that Jokowi followed the KPK suggestion for not naming Budi as one of his ministers. The problem then arises when Jokowi then selected him as the only candidate of the police chief. Why could this thing happen? If the answer offered is “he is also recommended by Kompolnas,” then it is very ridiculous. How can a president give such an answer? It just blame other for his unreasonable decision. In fact, Kompolnas did not only recommend Budi Gunawan as the sole candidate. Thus, it should have been reasonable for Jokowi to have other candidates who have better track records regarding graft cases since he already knew that the name he chose had been already blacklisted before in minister selection. Thus, why should he come to the decision?

People may speculate that it is because Budi Gunawan was the former adjutant for Megawati when she was a president. In this case, it is then clear about the transactional politics lingering Jokowi. Of course I cannot prove the fact that there is a transactional politic occurring behind this particular phenomenon. Even if journalists ask Jokowi directly regarding this matter, he may answer that he chooses him because of his exceptional track record. But one thing to note: transactional politic often happens and one person cannot eradicate it easily through promising. It is a very tough job, if it cannot be said as impossible.

The reason behind it has been extensively covered by Francis Fukuyama, a political philosopher. It is mainly because we have a tendency of kin selection. When human beings start to organize something and on the highest degree to organize a country, they tend to select people who are close to him. The reason is quite simple: because they know them and perhaps, to some extent, as part of a reciprocal altruism. It occurs everywhere even though we never consciously notice it. For example, when a manager would like to hire a new employee, he/she will prefer the one who is graduated from the same university. This is probably because he/she already knows about the quality about his/her university or as a part of alumni solidarity. Even though there are also some other candidates who have better profile and experience, the manager would get stick to his/her alumni. Hence it is very normal to choose people who are close to you or those who share similar things because you know you can trust them or because you have to pay something back to them. Similar thing also then occurs in politics and it is more complex because in order for a candidate to be a president, he must be supported and backed by people coming with different interests. As a consequence, there is a tendency for a president to select people who are close to him. The question is then: is it wrong?

In ideal circumstance, it is indeed wrong. In order to build a good country, transactional politic should not happen because ministerial post should be filled with competence people. However, as we live in non-ideal circumstance, this condition can be considered as “quite normal.” What should be emphasized then is we should not promise that transactional politic would not happen. Rather we should promise that we will fill the ministerial posts by competent people. Choosing candidate from our close friends is not a wrong decision provided that they have sufficient competency to perform the task. Moreover, when we talk about building a nation, they should also have clean track records regarding corruption. This is the thing that should be emphasized and made clear.

Thus, transactional politic is indeed a phenomenon that cannot be eradicated easily. If Jokowi wants to improve the quality of the government, what is needed is to fill any posts with good and clean candidates. I am not quite sure if there is no transactional politic occurring in Jokowi’s cabinet starting from Cabinet selection process. But I was quite glad to know that KPK was still involved during the selection process. And currently, I am very disappointed by the fact that either KPK or PPATK was not involved in selecting police chief candidate. Please Jokowi, we know certainly transactional politic can occur but please, keep your promise to have clean and professional government. There is nothing wrong by selecting your friends as long as they are clean and competence. It turns wrong only when you are heavily chained by the transactional politic and you get blind easily for the fact behind your candidates just because you want to satisfy everyone who has been backing you until now. Please remember, you work for Indonesian People.

Je Suis Charlie


I have nothing to say about current tragedy in France and my deep condolence is for the victims and their family.

One thing I would like to note in this very simple writing:

Terrorism is terrorism and it has nothing to do with Islam. Islam is just misused. I am not a Moslem but I know for sure no religion justifies violence if the people really understand it. So please differentiate them and of course, the attackers have to pay the price for igniting hatred and violence.

Je Suis Charlie

Raising Airline Ticket Price: Will It Guarantee the Safety?

Before starting to write this article, my deep condolence is to the victim of Air Asia QZ 8501 airlines. My prayer is also for the families who are in deep grief because of this incident. Moreover, I do also pray for all the people involved in rescue operation will be blessed with strength and persistence in continuing their effort

It is indeed very interesting to follow the news relating to the missing QZ 8501 airlines in Indonesia. It is not because the feature news that try to uncover non-mainstream news especially relating to the victims’ families. But more importantly, it is because how people in Indonesia and also Indonesia Government itself have to deal with the issue.

Just recently there was a statement coming out from Ignasius Jonan, Indonesia Transportation Minister, saying that he is going to announce that low cost carrier (LCC) airlines in Indonesia should have a minimum ticket price at least 40% from the maximum price allowed. As usual, there is pro and contra side regarding this policy.

For those who support the policy may argue that unreasonable ticket price –which is very cheap- should be paid by reduction in safety. This argument is reasonable since there is actually a minimum cost that should be paid for an airline to maintain its performance and especially its safety. Thus, if an airline wants to offer cheap ticket price, it should have made a rational calculation about this matter. Not giving a snack or perhaps paying the ticket price in advance so the company can invest the money in the future are some tricks that can be used to handle this issue. However, it may also be the case that the airline is still not able to cover all of the expenditures and then try to further reduce the “standard” service that should have been covered by the ticket price, especially safety. Thus, simple logic simply says that by maintaining the lowest price allowed for any airlines, there should have been sufficient amount of revenue for the companies to cover all of the “standard” expenditure.

On the other hand, for those who are against this policy may argue that it has nothing to do with the ticket price. They may suggest that each airline has its own policies how to deal with the ticket price. Thus, they assume that unreasonable cheap ticket price is part of the marketing strategies of the company to attract more costumer to use its airline. Furthermore, there is also an argument saying that such a policy is only an exclusive one since it starts to bar low-income people to have flying experience and thus only allowing people with sufficient amount of money to have the experience.

In this globalized world, people who have dwelled in business can no longer neglect the globalization factor and the importance to increase competitiveness. This is why LCC comes in airlines business because otherwise there will be no competition and people can gain no benefit since monopoly can occur or airlines may arbitrarily increase the ticket price. Thus, cheap ticket price is indeed desirable since it can enhance companies’ competitiveness in giving service. Thus, Mr. Jonan’s statement is still right in this matter since he did not say anything about eliminating the LCC. But, how about the price?

In this respect, regardless of the pro-contra side on this policy, I think the most important thing is to tighten the safety regulation. It is undoubtedly useless to determine exactly what is the lowest price allowed as long as the safety regulation in aviation industry is not complied. There is still a possibility that by increasing the ticket price, the airlines’ boss might say that this is their opportunity to reap more financial benefit without have to improve the safety standard. Who cares with this matter? People will only be then deceived by the ticket price assuming that they already get the “standard” service as dictated by the regulation but in fact they receive nothing. There are too many loopholes in this area and the most severe one is corruption. Thus, as long as people who are responsible in upholding aviation law can still be easily bribed or they just corrupt their time by not having regular inspection to the airlines’ companies, for example, increasing ticket price will only lead to nothing except putting more burden to Indonesians and exacerbating corrupt behavior. As currently disputed about the schedule for the QZ 8501 airlines, this then clearly shows how there are still many irregularities and inconsistencies in the Indonesian aviation industry. This is the thing that should be actually improved.

The reason behind this soon-to-be policy is indeed a good one. Setting the price to guarantee there is sufficient amount of money available for planes’ maintenance is indeed reasonable. However, this should go hand in hand by preserving and strengthening the safety regulation so consumer will be satisfied with the price they pay. And perhaps I will give last statement for the costumer. It is very important to have strict safety standard in aviation industry and this is the pay that we should pay. Thus, never sacrifice your safety in order to have low ticket price. What we have to do is to ensure that the airlines companies really comply with the safety issue and thus we can feel safe in flying and this is our homework together with the Indonesian Government so the airline industry cannot arbitrarily play with price and safety.