Jakarta Governor Basuki Tjahaja Purnama (known everywhere as Ahok) wins this year’s award for most colorful description of Jakarta.
Ibaratnya mau buang air besar, baru buat WC.
Or in English, Jakarta is like “you need to take a dump, and then you build a toilet.” Let’s break this one down, shall we?
The problems with Jakarta are legion: traffic, pollution, flooding, poor public transportation, massive inequality, irregular housing, and so forth. Being the Governor of Jakarta means you’re always responding to a big problem that is not necessarily your own doing, but rather stems from the city’s poor organization, lack of planning, and extremely rapid growth over the past decades.
Ahok has a reputation for being, well, direct. And also for not hiding his frustration or impatience at city politics. It’s no surprise that he’s frustrated with perpetually reacting to the next big crisis, and that he’d much prefer to start planning well in advance if at all possible. But instead, he finds himself in a situation where his administration is forever responding to crises when they are already underway. Like, only after you realize that “you need to take a dump” do you then realize that “you need to build a toilet.” Get it? Good. Thanks Ahok.
If you’re not an Indonesian speaker, you might be interested to learn that the Indonesian phrase that corresponds to our euphemism “take a dump” is buang air besar [= throw out big water]. I find this one to be particularly colorful.
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