Election Protest on May 22 Leads to Chaos that Sparked Economic Issues

Writer: Ameidyo Daud

Editor: Safrezi Fitra

23/5/2019, 16.00 WIB

Clashes between mobs and security forces since Tuesday (5/21) have paralyzed some economic activities in Jakarta.

Telaah - Kerusuhan
Adrian Hillman/123rf

The mass riots that took place since Tuesday night (5/21) have raised public concerns. The security forces’ persuasive efforts to disperse mobs in front of the Elections Supervisory Agency (Bawaslu) office building ended in clashes, which spread to other regions the next day. This has an impact on the cessation of economic activities in the surrounding area and some other areas in Jakarta.

Hatma, an entrepreneur, expressed his concerns because the clashes still occurred at several points in Jakarta on Wednesday (5/22). He worried that the incident could disrupt his business and the security of his family. But he who lives in Grogol, West Jakarta, has no intention of leaving Jakarta. The option to leave this capital city will only be taken if looting has started, as happened in 1998. “Hopefully it doesn’t happen,” Hatma told Katadata.co.id.

Clashes between security forces and mobs had limited access to transportation because many roads were closed. PT Kereta Commuter Indonesia (KCI) even imposed temporary rearrangements for KRL operations by closing several stations. Moreover, riots continued to occur and the situation around the station, such as Tanah Abang, was not conducive.

KCI Vice President Corporate Communication Anne Purba said the electric trains (KRL) from the direction of Rangkas Bitung, Maja, Parung Panjang, and Serpong Stations did not pick up or drop off passengers at Palmerah and Tanah Abang Stations. Meanwhile, KRL that serve loop line connection of Bogor/Depok/Nambo-Duri/Jatinegara were only operating until Manggarai Station. “This step was taken because KCI prioritized the safety of KRL users,” Anne said in an official statement in Jakarta on Wednesday (5/22).

KCI advised users from the direction of Rangkas Bitung, Maja, Parung Panjang or Serpong to look for other alternative stations to get off. Meanwhile, passengers who want to go to Sudirman, Karet, Tanah Abang, Angke, Kampung Bandan, and Jatinegara Stations were encouraged to use other alternative modes of transportation.

On Wednesday, many offices around Thamrin and the affected areas put their employees on leave. The activities of shopping centers around the Thamrin road in Central Jakarta were temporarily stopped.

PT Mitra Adiperkasa Tbk Director of Relations and Corporate Communication Fetty Kwartati said her company closed several retail outlets located in Djakarta Theater, Grand Indonesia, and Plaza Indonesia. “To anticipate security problems,” she said.

Sarinah shopping center located in front of the Bawaslu office building was also closed. One of the employees of a shop in the shopping center said he was worried the riots that had occurred since midnight until early morning could lead to looting.

Sarinah President Director Gusti Ngurah Putu Sugiarta Yasa was unable to calculate the amount of losses due to the closure of the Sarinah shopping center before Lebaran (Eid al-Fitr). “The average turnover reaches Rp 400-500 million under normal conditions,” he said.

Tanah Abang Market traders also stopped their trading activities. As one of the largest markets in Asia, the wholesale textile market was closed for one day. Based on data from Perumda Pasar Jaya, there are around 14 thousand traders in Tanah Abang Market from Block A to Blok G.

Without any transactions in the market, traders lose their potential income. On normal days, the total income in Tanah Abang Market reaches Rp 200 million. “As for the peak season, such as ahead of Lebaran, the velocity of money in that area generally increases by 20-30 percent,” Pasar Jaya President Director Arief Nasrudin said.

Demo Bawaslu
Election protest in front of the Bawaslu building (Ajeng Dinar Ulfiana I KATADATA)

INDEF Researcher Bhima Yudhistira said the retail sector would be most affected. Moreover, people will shop for Lebaran needs. Tanah Abang in Central Jakarta was one of the markets directly affected by the riots. “The effect is quite significant,” he said.

The Indonesian Retailers Association (Aprindo) Roy Nicholas Mandey said situation that was not conducive in some areas in the Capital City led to the tightening of security at a number of points, including shopping centers near the protest site.

“Internal security has been improved because of environmental factors, such as Thamrin, where there was an increase in security escalation,” Roy said. However, modern retailers in several other locations, which were still considered safe, remained active as usual.

The economic impact is not only the cessation of office, shop, and transportation activities. Bhima said the increased political risk would reduce investors’ perception of Indonesia. This can be seen from the weakening in the rupiah exchange rate and the Jakarta Composite Index (JCI).

“The rupiah is estimated to weaken to a range of Rp 14,500 - Rp 14,590 per USD,” he said. The JCI is predicted to decline to 5,850 - 5,940 until the closing session this week.

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