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  • As a former Navy commander, Sadikin was appointed to be the new governor of Djakarta in 1966, at a challenging time when the country faced financial malaise. Undaunted, he centralized and streamlined the city administration and targeted goals for its clean up and rehabilitation.

  • As the sole authority of the Djakarta Special Capital City Region, the governor augmented city revenues by vigorous tax collection which financed the multi-year planned rehabilitation.

  • Roads and bridges were improved or built while transportation was improved as traffic control systems were put in place. Water supply and sewerage systems, public market services and parks were improved. New schools, health centers and city-owned shopping complexes were built.

  • The RMAF board of trustees recognizes “his innovation, foresight and compassion in design and management of a modern administration giving residents of Indonesia’s capital a sense of increased well-being in a finer community.”

Few problems are as critical for the developing world as the flood of rural migrants to the cities. Such rapid urbanization often creates mushrooming slums of squatter shacks. Their poorly skilled inhabitants swell the number of unemployed, threatened with the disillusion of their dreams of benefiting from industrialization.

Djakarta, where the population over the past 30 years has grown from 600,000 to nearly five million, was no exception. Neglected for the first 18 years after it was wrested from Dutch control in 1948 by leaders more interested in status monuments than sewerage and garbage disposal, this largest city in Southeast Asia had become almost unmanageable. Potholed streets, chaotic and inadequate public transport and water and power shortages combined to menace health and foster a feeling of decay, both economic and human.

When ALI SADIKIN, who had risen through the Marine Corps to command the Navy, was appointed Governor in early 1966, prospects for salvaging the capital were further clouded by a national financial malaise. Centralizing and streamlining administration with his directive of 22 June 1966, the new Governor set about learning to know the city entrusted to his care. Riding the ramshackle, overcrowded buses, wandering through unsanitary markets and exploring the slums, he gained a grasp of the people’s physical difficulties and hunger for hope. President Suharto, aware of the magnitude of the task, strengthened the Governor’s hand by naming him in 1967 the “single authority” in administration of the Djakarta Special Capital City Region.

Governor SADIKIN has augmented city revenue by vigorous tax collection, persuasive pleading for funds from the national government and municipal control of gambling—which yields nearly one-fifth of the Region’s income and no longer is a major cause of corruption. Only 43 percent of an annual budget equivalent to roughly US$30 million is being used for routine expenditures; the balance is used for public improvements. Upon completion of a three-year plan of energetic rehabilitation, the City Council in April 1969 launched Repelita, its current five-year development program. Accomplishments include upgrading of important roads, sereets and sidewalks, construction of bridges, overpasses, bus stops and terminals, police outposts, a cultural center, a recreation center and a legislative building. Transport vehicles were repaired and new buses procured, parks and villages cleaned and the city zoo relocated and enlarged. In the first plan 162 schools were built; another 50 followed toward a target of 345. To new health centers have been added three hospitals—for west, south and east Djakarta. Improvement of water supply, sewage systems and streets, traffic control and rejuvenation of markets continues, together with building new city-owned shopping complexes.

In an urban area whose residents increase by 200,000 annually, unpopular measures have been necessary such as curbing the influx of migrants without jobs or housing. Yet, as Djakarta burgeons within relatively systematic planning—on the 444th anniversary of its founding as a princely capital in North Java—it bespeaks the spirit of the new Indonesia. Its Governor, born in West Java 44 years ago, has given the citizenry confidence that when their latent energy is mobilized for positive ends they can effectively help themselves.

In electing Lieutenant General ALI SADIKIN to receive the 1971 Ramon Magsaysay Award for Governmene Service, the Board of Trustees recognizes his innovation, foresight and compassion in design and management of a modern administration giving residents of Indonesia’s capital a sense of increased well-being in a finer community.

It is indeed an honor to be in the presence of this very distinguished group.

As a professional soldier, never did I dream, much less expect, that I would be a recipient of an award strange to my profession. It is, therefore, with a feeling of humility that I express my most profound gratitude to the Ramon Magsaysay Foundation in general, and to the members of the Board of Trustees in particular, for having been granted the Ramon Magsaysay Award for Government Service.

I recall that I was none too happy when, on the 28th of April 1966, I was appointed Governor of the City of Djakarta. I was aware that the task entrusted to me was one which was completely foreign to my background and experience. I embarked upon the task as the community was going through a transitional period, infected with mutual distrust.

Under these circumstances it became my obsession, in exercising the multifarious duties of Regional Chief Administrator, to place public interests over and above group or personal interests.

I found, in the first few weeks of my administration, a city replete with confusion and not properly managed. Social welfare programs were nonexistent. Population growth proceeded at a high rate and the community was heterogeneous—technically and socioeconomically. The administration system and apparatus was an instrument of the spoils system, peculiar to the political condition and atmosphere at that time. The political-psychological climate was highly unfavorable due to the deteriorating confidence of the people in the city administration.

Such a situation required a pledge on my part to provide leadership dedicated to the restoration of the people’s confidence in the administration. A leadership that could attend meticulously and properly to the needs of the community. A leadership that could take positive decisions, timely and accurately, and furnish adequate and effective measures to cope with any contingency. A leadership based, to a large extent, on humanitarian principles and respect for individual rights regardless of social status, political conviction or religious affiliation. A leadership able to formulate pragmatic political policies aimed at minimizing ideological controversies which, as history taught us, hampers national progress and more often than not, leads to disaster.

As I started the administration of the city, I found out that charisma alone is not enough leadership-quality to surmount the enumerable problems of the city.

There were calculated risks I had to take and I had to neutralize challenges to my program of public order and improvements. At the same time, I had an open mind on constructive criticism and an open heart to chose that wished me well. It was indeed difficult and crying to introduce new ideas, especially to a community reluctant to accept a change because of its culture, background and exposure.

I had imposed upon myself, as Governor of the City of Djakarta, the dual role of administrator and community leader. The accomplishment, modest as it might be, of the mission to “modernize and develop” the city was a direct result of combining the two basic functions.

As in any city in the world, the maintenance of peace and order is a requisite to progress. There were times when, in the discharge of this responsibility, I had to risk personal popularity because I stepped on many political toes. It was and still is my determined aim to be firm of purpose and free from vacillation and timidity insofar as political interference is concerned on matters inherent to the tranquility of the city.

Please allow me, ladies and gentlemen, to add with all sincerity that the achievements during the last five years, judging by the needs of the people, are yet far from satisfactory. We feel that we are still lagging 10 to 15 years behind other neighboring metropolises on infrastructure and development. But we will try to catch up, in our own Malayan way.

Whatever success we have so far achieved, we have done so, firstly, on the basis of the attitude we have adopted and the management policies we have pursued which could very well be the guidelines of my successors; and secondly, on the basis of the people’s renewed faith and confidence in the administration and leadership of his Excellency, President Suharto.

Again, let me thank you for your indulgence.

May God Almighty shower blessings upon all of us today and henceforth.

Djakarta, on the island of Java, lies 6° below the equator on the trade route between China, the West and the spice islands of the Indonesian archipelago. In the 16th century it was known as Sunda Kelapa, a port of the Sundanese Hindu kingdom of Padjadjaran. It was conquered by the Moslem Sultan of Bantam on June 22, 1527 who memorialized his feat by renaming it Djaya Karta (Accomplished Victory). The city celebrates this date as its founding.

Later razed and rebuilt by the Dutch, it was named Batavia, or in the local dialect, Betawi. After 350 years of Dutch rule and three and one half years of Japanese occupation during World War II, the country and city declared themselves independent on August 17, 1945. Four and a half years later, on December 27, 1949, international recognition was given to this old-new country of Indonesia, to Djakarta (later to be spelled Jakarta) as its capital and to Sukarno as its President.

ALI SADIKIN, destined to help Djakarta find itself in the post-independence era, was born on July 7, 1927 in Sumedang, West Java, in the 400-year anniversary of the founding of Djakarta. His parents were Sundanese of modest means, his father being a district agricultural extension officer.

Learn more about the awardee:

Sadikin, Ali

Indonesia’s energetic and determined leader, who transformed the overcrowded and chaotic city of Djakarta into a well-designed and managed, modern metropolis with a citizenry happy with their increased well-being and proud of their urban home.