Evictions of Small Traders

Jan 8th, 2009, in Opinion, by

Ross calls for a boycott of Blok M Square, as small traders are driven out.

Bleak M Square

Has anybody been around Blok M recently - a foolish question, given that the Festive Season no doubt induced many to sample the area's delights.

But this particular Ross-Rail is not concerned with the social or anti-social entertainment aspects, but with the cruel blitz on the small shop-keepers who made the district's character distinctive.

I go by there every day, almost, on my way to work, so often use the warren of warungs and stalls as a short-cut. The proprietors are a friendly, busy bunch, and the shops are always thronged with low-income customers.

Yet on Monday I disembarked and emerged from the subterranean precinct to find every last one of those small businesses gone, almost as if they'd never been. Wandering up from the Pasaraya end towards Blok M Plaza, I saw that there too extirpation had been the order of the day. Only some debris on the ground and a truck of PP apparatchiks indicated that this was once a thriving business location.

Of course I enquired - a satpam near Pasaraya and an ojek near Blok M Plaza told me identical tales, that the eradication of these retailers was down to Block M Square, the new, rather desolate and totally unrequired shopping mall, which still has signs up saying it opens on December 10th, but if you investigate, you'll find very little worth shopping for within.

Carrefour wasn't open in the last week of 2008, though maybe they've got their act together now.

Whatever, I shall not be going there again. All those wong cilik must have gone somewhere, some already set up in the FOPPI market near the Bali Hai, but few of them could likely afford the rents in B.M. Square. If I find them, I'll shop with them. Meanwhile, boycott is the only weapon we expats have, apart from railing in IM, so why not wield it against Blok M Square?


20 Comments on “Evictions of Small Traders”

  1. avatar dragonwall says:

    I suppose of you are an Australian or American Indonesia as a journalist!

    So what do you know about business?
    If you are an Australian, can you put up bazaars next to the Opera House?

    Or if you are an American, can you put up roadside shopping, besides those license for example at the Santa Monica Beach, next to the Pentagon?

    These are examples which I tyhink you might want to find that irrational.

    But most of all do you understand such things as urbanization? Or City regulations?

    I suppose you do and yet to try to champion those small traders what the Mayor of Jakarta is trying to do to beautify the city and building surrounding.

    Do you know what lurks in the surrounding of a bazaar? Like those at Benhil? And yet you are playing the agitator on this topic. Chaos.

    Have you seen the bazaar at Mas Mnsyur (Tanah Abang) or Jalan Surabaya? Chaos

  2. avatar Ross says:

    Dragonwall, my ubiquitous nemesis!
    First of all, I am not American, nor a journo. I am of Ulster-Scots ancestry and regard myself as a subject of the British Empire.
    However, I agree one may not build a bazaar beside Sydney Opera House. I doubt the Jakarta Government would allow a nest of warungs to spring up in the forecourt of the Museum Gaja, either.
    My point was that the character of Blok M has been altered for the worse by this new mall, and it must be that many low-income people have lost their livelihoods. Certainly a nice friendly place to shop has gone.
    BTW what does lurk at Benhil? I’ve been to Pasar Tanah Abang several times and, apart from copet and preman, seen nothing menacing lurking there either. And crims operate in malls as much as pasars, right?

  3. avatar David says:

    Ausdag had a good post on this once,

    The traders in the traditional markets are beginning to feel the slow current of modernity. What is happening here as far as large multi-national supermarkets goes, is exactly what happened in Australia 20 years ago – the disappearance of the small trader, the corner store, the fish monger in his van and fruit man with his open-backed fruit truck, as the big supermarkets slowly but surely pushed them aside,

    I realised there and then that Indonesia is going the usual route to modernity and the slow but sure disappearance of the little person or wong cilik from the mainstream economy.

  4. avatar dragonwall says:

    When Soeharto was in charge during the covert operation in 1965 he did not overlook the possibilities of innocent people being killed.

    Similarly modernization of a country will face such a risk.

    But then, at that time some 15 years ago when we still have business at the Blok M mall there were already stalls sprouting around the Mall and what would it be like for someone to invest that much money building a mall and crowded by small traders with one problem that is always ion their mind. We are poor so we need to set up stalls here to do business.

    But the question is not that alone.

    When you say a

    Whatever, I shall not be going there again. All those wong cilik must have gone somewhere, some already set up in the FOPPI market near the Bali Hai, but few of them could likely afford the rents in B.M. Square. If I find them, I’ll shop with them. Meanwhile, boycott is the only weapon we expats have, apart from railing in IM, so why not wield it against Blok M Square?

    What are you implying? Instigating?

    Understand the sensivity of Indonesian’s so called wong cilik it has been an already hard issue on poverty and racial conflicts and couple with the over educated influencing the under educated and the under educated indoctrinating the non educated.

    Can you tell us what will then be the outcome of your postings when Patung have to say Ausdag had a good post on this once.

    I am one that is particularly sensitive on such issues. And please don’t even mentioned that “What happens to the wong cilik” who are poor and hungry”

    I will answer you to that that it is the inefficiency of officials like welfare Minister ABU RIZAL BAKRIE, MAYOR OF SOUTH JAKARTA, Governor of Jakarta, ECONOMIC MINSTRY Sri Mulyadi that cause these to happened to the poor.

    Not you not me.

    Therefore I guess if there is something that you wish to write I hope you are not bringing up problems ending with the boycott.

    This could particularly give rise to another resentment.

  5. avatar Berlian Biru says:

    Ulster-Scots eh Ross? I supposed I should have guessed by the name, what part of our wee prawvince did your folk originate from?

    I agree with you on the destruction of the pasar at Blok M, I arrived at the Bus Terminal the day it was happening and was shocked, like you the noise and hub-bub of the area was a large part its charm. I didn’t ask but surmised that it was due to the new and utterly pointless Blok M Square. As I recall there was a mysterious and remarkably convenient fire in Blok M Market round about the time the developers were trying to take over that site some years back and a brave fire-fighter was killed trying to put it out. I too resolve never to shop in that Mall, bad luck to them I say and I speak as a businessman myself.

    I understand the need for modernisation and beautifying the city but this can be done without simply steamrollering over the livelihoods of small traders in order to allow yet more Starbucks and McDonalds outlets to open (and before anyone jumps in no, I don’t have any particular problem with those businesses both of which I frequently patronise).

    There are many places in cities all around the world which are given over to cheap and cheerful market stallholders. They are extremely popular and all that was required from the city authorities was for them to ensure certain hygiene and other standards are upheld and that no illegal activities are allowed but not to destroy the whole place to facilitate another bland, faceless mall.

  6. avatar Ross says:

    Well, Berlian, my great3-grandfather left his home, ‘about five miles from the Bann shore’ near Kilrea, in the 1830s. We have kept the flag flying in various corners of the globe ever since.

    I have heard it said by the authorities that the small traders had the opportunity to move into the big mall, but today, around noon, I passed a little resto and was hailed by a lady whom I know only as Ibu Bakso, who sold that food-stuff in her stall before. She is no longer her own boss, working instead for somebody else, and according to her, BMS was not a realistic option fo many of the evictees. ‘Tidak bagus,’ indeed!

  7. avatar Lairedion says:

    Good article Ross, and I’m all with Berlian’s comment.

    dragonwall? He’s almost everybody’s nemesis here at IM. The man is full of frustration and anger, a pitiful character.

  8. avatar dragonwall says:

    Right, the usual whinning and sighing

    He’s almost everybody’s nemesis here at IM. The man is full of frustration and anger, a pitiful character

    So let’s introspect.

    1. Are these so called wong cilik small traders license to do business there? No they were not.
    2. They were there because some government officials allowed them to trade there for an additional income.
    3. Like Pasar Baru and Mangga Besar, those officials goes around everyday and collect from these stalls and pocket the money or share them with those higher up.
    4. How many times have you heard of robbery, pick pockets and stealing at the BM?

    So what that tantamounts to? Corruption and collusion big time. And people like you, Ross Berlian Baru were actually the ones that is showing the pitiful character by condoning their action in defrauding the government and yet you guys were here trying to champion action against corruptions? Kiss my arse.

    The government, based on the protest of the Mall, must have sent them several warning letters or notice to move but it is obvious they refuse thus the bulldozing.
    It didn’t happened once, right?

    Understanding the problem of poverty, the cause and what they have been doing are entirely different aspects.

    The poverty problem were lack of facilities for them to expand.

    The cause is governmental and officials.

    What they are doing is encouraging corruption.

    I think you guys should go around and make hand outs like putting 20,000 in an envelop and hand them out instigating them to go against the government and encourgae them to revolt and go on a riot like what happened in Glodok prior the May 98 riot.

    We all understanding the problem of poverty. My question is that are they from Jakarta? No they were not and most likely they move from the kampong to Jakarta for a greener pasture.

    Look at the surrounding of the Mall, dirty and stinks right? Who pays for the cleaning up?

    None whomsoever had manage to resolve the poverty problem. By allowing the small traders to do what they like is solving the problem?

    If it is like the night market in Pademangan, Mangga Besar, Pangeran Jakarta, Pecenongan I guess that is okay because the shops were close and their business continues.

    I guess not, because the mentality you possess were that low to really understand the poverty problem and condoning the existence of small traders at the Sydney Opera.

    Let me show you who is really playing the pitiful character here.

    You said you were earlier from Kalimantan and had Dutch blood in you due to intermarriage, right? You said you are going to retire in Manado because you claimed to be a Manadonese. You said your grandfather were killed by the Dutch! You said you have lived in Holland for 15 years?

    How could your grandfather be killed by a Dutch if you have Dutch blood in you? They speak Dutch don’t they? And that didn’t help get them out of trouble during the Dutch occupation and yet you claimed If your grandfather is killed by the Dutch.
    Despite that you continue to lick spittle the Dutch by going to Holland and have been there assimilating with the Dutch instead of Indonesia.

    So please tell me who is playing the pitiful character.

    We lost a lot during the May 98 riot and we walk off like a man. Even my daughter and wife and the members of my in law family all stand up like a true Chinese. What about you playing pitiful character talking so much about Indonesian poverty and yet played the role of a traitor by betraying your country.

    I may be a fish that swims freely but are you?

  9. avatar Lairedion says:

    Where did I say I am from Kalimantan?

    Read this old comment again.

    http://www.indonesiamatters.com/1614/airline-blacklist/#comment-68822

    Apparently your age is catching up with you and you don’t view things bright anymore but I’m inclined to believe it’s your mind which is in a constant state of frustration.

  10. avatar dragonwall says:

    Assuming that age is catching up with me and I missed that part of Kalimantan, so what about the rest.

    Forget the links no one reads that.

    Don’t you think the instropection I made had bite into you? Nice to see you beginning to piss off.

    Understand the problem before you make a comment. I know you are watching late night. I came to office 7 am so I have a lot of time right now.

  11. avatar Achmad Sudarsono says:

    Ross,

    Useful post (for a change).

    Sadly, as Seksi Mr. Patoengs quoted Ausdag to point out — it’s a global and urban pattern. Progressive cities keen to preserve some character – and tourism – like, say, many in Germany tightly regulate street vendors.

    Rising land prices, corporate power, and city officials conspiring to push out vendors and further strip Jakarta of the warped and twisted character we love so much are at work in Jl. Jaksa as well.

    Good to see Mr. Ross fighting the good fight – for a change.

    Merdeka 2009 everyone.

    xo

  12. avatar Lairedion says:

    Assuming that age is catching up with me and I missed that part of Kalimantan, so what about the rest.

    Why are you so interested? Sorry, I’m not gay. 🙄

    Forget the links no one reads that.

    That’s right. Put it there for you only to make you remember. Frustrated but not too bright either? 😕

    I came to office 7 am so I have a lot of time right now

    And lazy too. Normal people go to office to work, not to browse non-work related websites and blogs. 😯

  13. avatar dragonwall says:

    Wasting time with people who wants to rebutt but shy away from the main frames. I am not a gay either but I like to belief because you behaves like a gay.

    And lazy too. Normal people go to office to work, not to browse non-work related websites and blogs

    Really amuse me.

  14. avatar Arai says:

    I will take dragonwall’s side.

  15. avatar diego says:

    What’s with your fondness of “butt”, dragie? Are you trying to tell us something? C’mon, don’t be shy, we will respect whatever your choice is, as long as you’re happy with your life.

  16. avatar dragonwall says:

    I am happy with life, I am happy with the result of my kid’s result from school. I am happy but I tend to have the penchant to tick those arse that needs booting.

    I also tend to see you fondness of licksipttle others by picking and choosing but most of the time whinning and sighing on other’s comments.

    I will also respect if you choose to like the butts of others, so I won’t be shy to tick you either.

  17. avatar diego says:

    Honestly dragie, your (latest) response above got me bamboozled….

    I will also respect if you choose to like the butts of others, so I won’t be shy to tick you either.

    Hmm…, I’m struggling to make a sense of it. There’s got to be something missing between the first sentence (before the comma), and the second one. Care to give us some clues?

    Thanks in advance.

  18. avatar diego says:

    … and why don’t you pursue a career as a prophet? You seem to be good at writing literature at the same level of clarity and (un)ambiguousnes as bible, quran, torah, etc.

    Just a suggestion from a friend to a friend.

  19. avatar Odinius says:

    dragonwall said:

    Or if you are an American, can you put up roadside shopping, besides those license for example at the Santa Monica Beach

    Have you ever been to Venice Beach?

  20. avatar thomas says:

    As I have seen again and again. Larger businesses have gotten laws passes to benefit themselves and eliminate competition.
    Case in point. All small air lines with less than 10 planes will loose their right to fly passengers to small air ports through out Indonesia. Small mom a pop operations will loose their lively hoods.
    This is sad to say the least. He who has the gold makes the rules.
    Every time this garbage is packaged and sold it is to protect society. It this case to keep a blight off the land. Do you think by taking away a persons right to make a living will make the country more beautiful? Where will they put the poverty this creates when people loose their lively hoods?

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