Kamis, 18 Agustus 2011

My Jakarta: Widjajono Partowidagdo

My Jakarta: Widjajono Partowidagdo
December 12, 2008
Born in Magelang, Central Java Province, in 1951, Widjajono Partowidagdo grew up in Bandung after his father was transferred to West Java Province for Army duty. After studying oil engineering at the Bandung Institute of Technology, or ITB, he received a scholarship from Caltex (now Chevron Pacific Indonesia) to pursue a master’s in oil engineering and a doctorate in petroleum in the United States. Now living in Jakarta with his wife and their 12-year-old daughter, Widjajono is a professor in the Department of Mining and Petroleum Engineering at ITB, a member of the oil and gas escalating production team at the Energy and Mineral Resources Ministry and a newly elected member of the National Energy Council.

Why did you move to Jakarta?

Because my wife is from Jakarta, and she teaches at the University of Indonesia. It’s also easier for me to earn money here than in Bandung. All my contracts with Pertamina and other oil companies are in Jakarta, although it means I have to go back and forth to Bandung to teach at ITB.

How do you travel in Jakarta?

I have a driver to take me or my family anywhere. If the driver’s not available, I just take public transportation like the old and shaking buses. My daughter never takes public transportation at all, for her safety.

Any bad experiences in using Jakarta’s public transportation?

Last year, I caught a pickpocket in action. There were a group of men targeting female passengers in the bus. I saw a man touching a woman’s leg when she was about to jump off. I warned her, but she didn’t really react. Then, there was another woman ready to get off, the same man touched her leg. When her attention focused on her leg, I grabbed another man’s hand that was about to fish into her purse. I told her that he was a pickpocket and she could just go. She thanked me.

Not long after that, I heard voices arguing at the back of the bus. The other men didn’t like the failure. Fortunately, the next stop was my office, and I just jumped off before the group could think how to handle me.

But that was my only bad experience during years of using public transportation. I also often see police looking for pickpockets.

How do you feel about your job?

I like my job. Sometimes I work for oil companies like British Petroleum [now Beyond Petroleum] and do development plans for them. Sometimes I work for the government as the one who takes care of government policies in the sector.

I also work for BPMigas [the upstream oil and gas regulatory body]. By working on both sides, I see many shortcomings here and there and try to be a mediator for government and the companies. We meet to discuss the problems every one or two months with the minister.

How do you like living in Jakarta?

I like it here. I love adventure, so I have no problem with Jakarta, although pollution has become a major concern here. I think pollution causes autism, as more and more children in the capital are suffering from autism every year. Last year, from a plane, I saw Jakarta blanketed in a reddish-brown fog. It was terrible, shocking. The traffic jam underneath must have caused it. It was like LA decades ago, but now LA is clean.

How to make Jakarta better?

We are a poor nation, but we act like a wealthy one. Why does the government keep on subsidizing costly fuel? This makes people think there is something fishy in the oil business. The government has to change the subsidy programs by allocating the subsidy to renewable energies like geothermal and biofuels. Hike the price of fuel so it will automatically reduce the number of private cars on the street. People should swallow their pride and use public transportation. This will help reduce the pollution.

However, the government should also improve public transportation and its supporting infrastructure, create alternatives like an MRT or bajaj and taxis that use natural gas. More gas for households programs would save a lot on subsidies, too. We have cooking gas in Depok. The government should institute more gas programs for cooking, since it’s cheaper than LPG.

What do you do in your leisure time?

I love hiking and mountain climbing. I can’t do that in Jakarta, so I go to Bandung for hiking. I also like to watch movies with my daughter at Senayan City or Plaza Senayan. I just watched “Laskar Pelangi” with my daughter. Besides that, I love seafood, mollusks to shrimp. I prefer Asian cooking to Western, though.

Widjajono Partowidagdo was talking to Mita Valina Liem