Smart City as an Upshot of Bureaucratic Reform in Indonesia

Smart City as an Upshot of Bureaucratic Reform in Indonesia

Erwan Agus Purwanto
Copyright: © 2018 |Pages: 12
DOI: 10.4018/IJEGR.2018070103
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The implementation of e-government in Indonesia is not only limited to efforts to improve the efficiency of bureaucracy, but also achieve more comprehensive goals of increased efficiency of entire communities with the ultimate objective to boost productivity and competitiveness in facing global challenges. At the local government level, efforts to enhance overall efficiency is implementing smart city program. This article proposes a smart city program implemented in several cities in Indonesia. The main questions are: Is the smart city program able to bring about change to the lives of Indonesian citizens? What are the problems encountered by municipalities in implementing the smart city program? The research found that smart city development in a number of municipalities was aimed at two main sectors, which were governance and public services. The governance sector covered planning, regional finance management, and personnel system.
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The bureaucracy of the New Order inherited the underlying problems passed on by the Indonesian bureaucracy of the colonial period which was characterised to be highly centralistic, hierarchical, and predominant with a ruler mentality (pangreh praja – civil rulers) (Mulder, 1985). A bureaucratic ruler mentality had been exacerbated by interests of the New Order administration which utilised bureaucracy as a political instrument to guarantee the perpetuity of Suharto’s ruling power (Liddle, 1985). As an instrument of power, Suharto’s relation with bureaucrats and their apparatus at all level was one of patronage. Suharto played the role of the patron providing protection and ensuring the positions of his bureaucrats, while in exchange the bureaucrats must pledge loyalty to the ruler of the New Order government. Under such patron-client relationship, the patron, Suharto, would tolerate all forms of deviant bureaucratic practices such as corruption, collusion, and nepotism (KKN) as long as the bureaucrats remained loyal and supportive of Suharto’s perpetual reign (Crouch, 1979). As such, it is difficult to imagine the New Order government being seriously committed to carry out revitalisation of its poor bureaucratic performance at the time, although it did continually portray the rhetoric of striving to conduct bureaucratic reform. There were numerous jargons/wordings found regarding its campaign on the eradication of KKN, such as: oversight operation (operasi penertiban – Opstib), close monitoring (pengawasan melekat – waskat), actualisation of clean and respectable state apparatus, and so forth, but all were interpreted merely as Suharto’s means to win the public who were becoming increasingly restless with the excessively rampant practice of KKN. It came as no surprise to most when at the end of the New Order rule, various indicators of good governance in Indonesia, particularly those pertaining to issues of KKN had reached its nadir. These chronic KKN practices employed and enjoyed by Suharto and his cronies had essentially ripened the emergence of the 1998 reform movement (Aspinall, 2005, p. 30).

Bureaucratic reform has always been a challenge confronted by the Indonesian government from time to time. Since Suharto’s era, the government has been striving to improve bureaucratic performance through various programs of bureaucratic reform (Dwiyanto, 2011, p. 20). Nonetheless, bureaucratic reform only began to gain traction following the advent of the student pioneered pro-democracy movement of 1998 which succeeded in toppling the New Order regime and ushering in the era of Reformasi (Reform). At the local level, bureaucratic reform experienced a breath of fresh air with the passing of the Regional Autonomy Law which provided more space for regional governments to create various policies favouring the public’s interests (Duncan, 2007). Their autonomy gained further significance when Indonesia retained direct elections for regional leaders with the implementation of Law No. 32 year 2004. It is consequently of utmost importance for regional leaders (regents/mayors) to seriously consider the voice of their constituents in order to be elected or re-elected, hence compelling them to be capable of offering innovative and pro-people programs. It is no surprise that the regional autonomy era in Indonesia is subsequently indicated with the emergence of various innovative regional programs that are essentially realisations of the spirit of bureaucratic reform (Prasojo and Kurniawan, 2008).

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