This is Why We Can’t Have Nice Things! Of J-Events and Corruption

So I heard the shocking news that yesterday’s Ennichisai was going to be the last one. Which sucks, because Ennichisai is a large event that attracts crowds, from normal citizens seeking refreshment from the cultural wasteland that is Jakarta to cosplayers seeking to show off their costumes and promote themselves, especially in the CLASH tourney.

RIP Ennichisai, one of the most down-to-earth J-events in Jakarta. You shall be missed.

Why can’t Ennichisai continue?

Daisei Takeya, the mastermind behind this successful event, posted this on his Facebook (original in Japanese). The following is my English translated version based on the provisional Indonesian translation on this site:

One week has passed after the fifth Ennichisai. When I watched the video about Ennichisai on YouTube, it looks like us [the committee] and the volunteers have made another successful event. I would like to thank those who have supported and have cooperated with us from the beginning. Despite the rumors and problems, we held on till the end and have made this event a recognized event.

I have good intentions and intend to contribute to Blok M [the place where Ennichisai is annually held], but it seems that it was deliberately made difficult for me. I was asked for bribes here and there. Just a few days before the event, I was forced to pay bribes to some parties. If I couldn’t pay them, the event could not be held. I couldn’t possibly cancel the event due to time constraints, so I paid the amount they wanted. It seems like I have been taken advantage of by these people.

I wanted to contribute to Blok M and its surroundings with the help of volunteers, but because of those bribes, I couldn’t fulfill my good intentions. It looks like people who would work selflessly for others and people who only think about money just can’t be put in the same boat.

I feel that I have to apologize to the hundreds of thousands of people who enjoy Ennichisai for what it is: the camaraderie of Indonesia and Japan and the joys of a festival that is held annually by Japanese for Indonesians. Because of people with malicious intent, fulfilling this goal becomes very difficult. Do not worry, perhaps next time there will be something new, but [as of now], with a heavy heart, I have to discontinue Ennichisai.

TL;DR version for lazy pricks: Ennichisai has been cancelled because a bunch of assholes in power forced the event organizer to pay them tribute.

To think that an event has been brought down because of corruption…

Street-level corruption is rampant in Indonesia. Those with authority demand tribute, thugs demand “security money”, and you can’t get things done unless you slip a note in a person’s ass. You have to pay the police to provide security, you have to bribe local officials to give you permits, and you even have to pay local assholes just to leave you and your event alone. I’m (wildly) guessing almost 30 percent of a budget is allocated just for bribes.

Which makes you think: why does this happen? I mean, it has to be massive to the point where it can bring a halt to a major event.

First of all, it’s ingrained in our culture. Ever since Suharto’s regime, Indonesia has become the epitome of bloated bureaucracy and corruption. This practice started at the politician-level, has trickled down to street-level. To get anything done, you need to pay. Your driver’s license won’t get processed if you don’t bribe an officer here and there. Every day I see people get out of traffic tickets just because they slip a 50K between their registration and license. In the case of Ennichisai however, there is more than one dirtbag involved. City bureaucrats (plural) play a huge role in processing permits and because they just love abusing power for their own gain. This isn’t an ignorant generalization; it is reality and we Indonesians have become so accustomed to it. Can’t get a building permit? Okay, how much you have, one million? Done. Be back tomorrow and I’ll have your permit.

The massive scale of Ennichisai also contributes to the problem. Being an event that attracts a six-digit amount of people and covering quite a lot of ground, the event organizers (EO) have to face sellers in the vicinity of the event area, cover security, event logistics, and event administration. That means a lot of people are involved and so much needs to be done in a relatively short amount of time. In this case, I’m looking at event administration. The EO will need to file paperwork with the related city officials (that’s a fuckton of money down the drain already) and judging by our bureaucrats’ track records, the permits won’t be done unless the EO sticks some bills here and there. I can’t say more because I’m not familiar with the intricate systemic corruption on the field.

But hey, that’s just my theory. I’m just speaking based on my own knowledge and I admit that I’m an ignorant bastard.

Nevertheless, we should feel ashamed as a nation. Those Japanese expats just wanted to share their culture with us and share happiness with us once a year and this is how we repay them? An act of a few douchebags have brought a majestic event to its knees and now, we all must pay the price.

In recent news, it looks like the sad story of Ennichisai has reached the ears of Ahok, Jakarta’s incumbent governor. Let’s see what he plans to do to address acts of petty corruption like this.

It also makes me wonder, though, do events in Southeast Asia experience this? And is Ennichisai the first major event to be scrapped because of the high levels of corruption?

Anyway, now that Ennichisai’s done for, who’s going to AFAID? I’m still saving up, considering I blew a lot of money on Miku Expo.

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2 thoughts on “This is Why We Can’t Have Nice Things! Of J-Events and Corruption

  1. In the Philippines most events are organized by locals and in private convention centers or malls, hence there’s little to no chances for corrupt officials to butt in. Besides, I doubt they even know about such events anyway.

    Like

    1. I see..
      One question though: Do events like those charge an entrance fee? If so, is it expensive by your standards?

      While most of the events here are held by locals (mostly by schools or universities), only a few ‘major’ events are held in convention centers. And these ‘major’ events often charge an entrance fee, compared to the other events.

      Like

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