Bandung Mayor Ridwan Kamil. (B1 Photo/Danung Arifin)

Ridwan Kamil Promises Better, IT-Powered Bandung


APRIL 19, 2016

Jakarta. Bandung Mayor Ridwan Kamil is one of Indonesia's new breed of leaders: young, energetic, responsive and reform-minded.

Since elected to the office in in 2013, the highly-decorated architect revived the city's old East Indie charm with well-designed public parks and inspired its residents to participate in vibrant and humane urban living.

And despite his election backing by the conservative Prosperous Justice Party (PKS), Ridwan rarely bucked to pressure from the right wing and religiously motivated mob which sought to curb freedom of belief, religion and expression in his city.

Many believe those achievements made him an eligible candidate to run for Jakarta governor next year, but Kang Emil, as many fondly call him, has chosen to stay in his hometown.

BeritaSatu TV's Don Bosco Selamun sat down with Mayor Ridwan Kamil in our newsroom on Thursday (14/04) to discuss the story behind his decision not to run in Jakarta's gubernatorial election next year and his aspiration to make a smart city out of Bandung.

"Anywhere I serve, it would be the same dedication," Ridwan said. "Jakarta is indeed the center of attention, but I can still inspire the nation from what I do in Bandung, right?" he said.

Ridwan said he wants to make Bandung — around 123-kilometers from Jakarta — to become the so-called "smart city." Or at least, he said, Bandung will develop the foundation in his tenure to become one in the future.

Under the smart city vision, information and communication technology would help improve the citizen's need and the efficiency of public services. A city can develop many apps for its citizen's smartphone to help them with simple information like city bus schedule, applying for permits to early-warning system in time of disasters.

"Now everyone is living comfortably using smartphones. We could convert this kind of comfort with the technology to simplify the bureaucracy ... I want to use the smart city initiative to reform the public service. We can save trillions of rupiah," Ridwan said.

He said currently Bandung has 300 mobile applications for "every kind of problems" faced by its citizen. Anyone who listed as Bandung citizen can apply permits to set up small and medium enterprises through applications, complain about waste management or even to register at public schools.

According to Ridwan, he is currently actively seek for his constituents' aspirations through program called "Mapay Lemur" — often compared to President Joko's impromptu visits known as "blusukan" — in which he will use bicycles to circle around Bandung and get in touch with people.

"I spent almost 50 percent of my time in the field. I use a bicycle to enter villages. Once a week I also have dinner with them, go to schools to talk with the children," he said.

Before becoming known as the mayor, Ridwan was an architect and lecturer in the department of architecture at Bandung Institute of Technology.

He made several world-renowned buildings, including the modern-yet-majestic Al-Irsyad Mosque in Bandung and the Aceh Tsunami Museum in Banda Aceh.

"I've been called a Wagiman, Walikota Gila Taman — literally translated as the Mayor who's crazy for parks ... But, there's a theory that the citizen's happiness depends on their social interaction. So they are not just parks, really, they are platform for social interactions," he said.

Bandung currently has 10 parks, each has unique theme such as 'Taman Lansia' for elderly citizen, 'Taman Jomblo' for singles and 'Taman Fitness' that equipped with sports equipment.

"We have one neighborhood one park program. We have 1,500 neighborhood, so our target is to have 1,500 parks," he said.

Ridwan said that he was once a regular citizen, so he knows exactly what the people need. For example, he has prepared a program to deliver identity cards to people, so they don't need to spare a day to register to local government office.

"I'm not saying that Bandung will be free from problems. We have flood and traffic congestion ... That's why I want to stay in Bandung. I want to finish these problems first," he said.

Still, Ridwan has made some progress, evidenced by two Adipura awards  given to cities from the central government for its outstanding cleanliness  and recently it snatched second place in the Indonesia Smart Nation Award just behind Surabaya.