“Everyone likes to do their New Year Resolutions. So do I, but this year’s are very serious, and not very personal,” says Alistair Speirs, who is thinking about how to make Jakarta a more enjoyable place to live in 2017.

My Grown Up New Year Wish List for Jakarta

1.Ban noisy vehicles – especially motorcycles – from the streets.
Why do we have to suffer from the noise pollution that is the result of laziness and ignorance. Pull them over, fine them Rp1M and take their KTP away until they report to Police HQ with a near silent bike. Let’s get rid of at least some noise pollution!

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2. Tear down all billboards in the city.
Yes take them all down, they are intrusive, waste vast amounts of electricity (and I mean vast!) visually polluting, untidy, horrible things we cannot opt out of (unlike all other advertising!). Rio de Janeiro did it, and Sao Paolo and Lima. Surely we can too. Put all the ads online or in magazines (like this!). Great PR for the city. And marvelous for the environment.

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3. Enforce all parking restrictions – and introduce more.
Everywhere you see a “No Stopping” sign, buses and mikrolets are parked underneath them! There’s a reason the signs are there… really, there is! So its Rp1M immediate fine and a license endorsement (is there such a thing!). Then declare many many more streets total no parking areas, otherwise we will have gridlock in one year, not the predicted five! Oh by the way Jakarta City, please build 100 multi-storey car and cycle parks so we take the parking off the roads…you have the money…

My Grown Up New Year Wish List for Jakarta

4. Ban school kids taking motorbikes to school
Pretty obvious, isn’t it? But at every local school I pass I see kids 12,14 years old – sometimes younger – driving themselves – and their little sisters and brothers – to school. Dangerous, stupid and avoidable. What ever happened to the wonderful, safe, non-energy consuming, pollution free, exercise machine called a bicycle!? Just make it a rule: you can only arrive at school by bicycle. No motorbikes at all. 100% better for the kids, the community, the planet. That’s 1M motors off the road in one day. (and more great PR for the city).

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5. Change all road & drain construction practices
Why is it that we are STILL putting in the same old cheap quickly broken drains (“got”) made with incredibly cheap and almost self-destruct concrete and installed so badly they are guaranteed to block. The covers are history in months, the blockages create the floods. All solved by new specifications… As for the roads… yes, let’s just put another layer of bitumen on the old surface and sure, forget about the edges, the manhole covers, the drainage ducts. Let’s just plaster the whole place over and expect it to last.

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6. Stop crazy laughing in restaurants
Haven’t you ever had them next to you? The group of friends or work colleagues who just can’t shut up and get louder and louder as the evening – or even lunch – goes on. Yes madam, arisan groups are among the worst. And of course now some of the groups have discovered cocktails and wine which raises the racket even higher. The restaurants don’t ask them to keep quiet. So we suffer, not in silence, but in gales of uncontrolled shrieking.

7. Ask everyone who resigns to tell the truth
“My uncle in Probolinggo asked me to help him with his business”. “My father wants me to go to college in USA”. “My mother is in hospital in Bandung”. “I’m joining friends in a start-up”. I’ve heard them all – and a hundred more – the lies people tell when they leave a company. Guys, we know where you’re going, just tell the truth! We will meet again one day and I will ask you : “How’s is your mother after her triple-bypass?”. Honestly you don’t need to make up stories, it makes you look so bad.

8. Stop using Religion for politics
I’m talking all religions, leave them alone in your political promises, debates and posturing. Certainly reflect your beliefs in your words and actions, but your job is to run a city, a country or a province, and you need vision, honesty, hard work, integrity, skill, experience, leadership, honesty – did I mention honesty – and hard work – that’s necessary too. But don’t hide behind any façade, disguise or platform that you think will impress people, especially religion. That is purely between you and God. Let’s leave it that way. Have a wonderful, peaceful, undisturbed,      accessible, safe, unflooded, quiet and honest New Year.

Amir Sidharta

Amir Sidharta

Amir Sidharta leads Sidharta Auctioneer, an auction house specialising in fine arts that he founded in 2005. He is also co-founder and chairman of Yayasan Mitra Museum Jakarta. A writer and photographer, he has published several books and his work has appeared across several media outlets.