Need for Speed

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  • The image of the Formula E circuit at the National Monument or Monas area is shown during a media briefing by Jakarta Propertindo at Novotel Hotel, Jakarta, Friday, January 14, 2020. Tempo/M Yusuf Manurung

    The image of the Formula E circuit at the National Monument or Monas area is shown during a media briefing by Jakarta Propertindo at Novotel Hotel, Jakarta, Friday, January 14, 2020. Tempo/M Yusuf Manurung

    TEMPO.CO, Jakarta - Jakarta Governor Anies Baswedan’s decision to hold a Formula E race in the National Monument (Monas) area in early June will only benefit a handful of businesspeople, while most residents of the capital city will be disadvantaged.

    BESIDES losing hundreds of trees that had to be cut down to tidy the electric vehicle race circuit, it is uncertain whether Jakarta residents will benefit from the event.

    The massive Rp1.6-trillion funding allocated by the Jakarta provincial government for the Formula E race would have been more beneficial had it been used to anticipate floods or to build affordable housing for the city’s residents. Instead of paying Rp390 billion to Formula E’s license holder, Federation Internationale de l’Automobile (FIA), Governor Anies could have purchased more electric buses for public transportation. The Rp934 billion used by Jakarta Propertindo (Jakpro) to build a race circuit and renovate the Monas area could have instead been given to Bank DKI as extra capital to give loans for small businesses.

    The economic impact of the race, which has only been held five times since 2014, is projected to reach Rp1.2 trillion. But until today it has never been made clear where the money will come from. There is only the promised image of Jakarta as a tourist destination, as well as the so-called free publication because Formula E races are usually covered by hundreds of international media. As many as 90,000 spectators hoped to buy tickets are still mere calculations on paper.

     Formula E races did not occur as planned in several cities. Moskow (Russia) and Sao Paulo (Brazil) withdrew as hosts for different reasons. Most spectacularly, Montreal (Canada) withdrew as host in 2018 after discovering that the race had incurred millions of dollars in losses. Montreal Mayor Denis Coderre was also accused of violating various regulations when inviting the Formula E race to his city.

    In Jakarta, more problems continue to emerge surrounding the race. Deceit has also been suspected. Monas area’s cultural heritage expert team never gave its recommendation to hold the Formula E race, but in its permit request letter for the state secretariat, the Jakarta provincial government claimed that the expert team had given its blessing. Later on, the claim was said to be a typo.

    The cultural heritage expert team’s rejection cannot be taken lightly. In line with Law No. 11/2010, the rework of a cultural heritage site must take into account spatial planning, location, social functions and the original cultural landscape. The cultural heritage expert team’s recommendation is important according to this regulation.

    Neither was the state secretariat’s permit issuing process done transparently. Two days after he rejected the Formula E race’s venue on a cultural heritage site, State Secretary Pratikno revised his subordinates’ decision and signed the permit to hold the race in Monas. The drastic change was said to be due to President Joko Widodo’s intervention. The political agreement forged between Anies and Jokowi surrounding the Formula E permit must be explained transparently to the public.

    According to Presidential Decree No. 25/1995, all changes in the use of the Monas area must have the approval of the Steering Committee, with the state secretary, public works and housing minister, environment and forestry minister, transportation minister, education and culture minister, as well as tourism and creative economy minister as members. When Governor Anies began reworking the area, he apparently had not received the Steering Committee’s permission.

    Furthermore, the contract between Jakpro and Formula E’s license holder is equally not transparent. Jakpro’s rights and obligations during the contract period, which is in effect for five years, has never been made clear. This is clearly reason for concern. We cannot allow the government to be implicated should legal and financial troubles arise one day. What is certain is that, while inspecting the potential circuit in Jakarta, Formula E Operations Limited’s (FEO) delegation as the representative of the license holder, was able to unilaterally choose Monas as their race circuit. It is unfortunate that the Jakarta government simply gave in.

    The pandemonium surrounding the Formula E race to be held in Monas teaches us the importance of transparency and compliance with regulations in managing the country. The work of creating a positive image of the capital city is a long-term one and cannot be done instantly. If the race brings us more harm due to the various regulations violated, the race should instead be canceled.

    Read the Complete Story in this Week's Edition of Tempo English Magazine