Distribution and the disparity of Surabaya’s city space is the result of a long struggle of the various forming elements of the Surabaya city circa 1900-1960’s. The scramble of space that occurred at that time was because of the relationship between the poor community with state and private businessman who faced each other in accessing the city space. The poor who was in fact also the part of the State’s entity in every period of history had to deal directly with state and private businessman for the same benefit which is the mastery of urban space.
"It happened because between the state and private businessman there was often form of collusive strength in order to master urban space in the interest of their institutions," said Purnawan Basundoro, S.S, M. Hum., during his open examination of History Science doctoral program, Faculty of Cultural science, Universitas Gadjah Mada, Tuesday (20/9).
The lecturer at the Department of History, University of Airlangga said that the collusion between state and private businessman in the colonial period, showed a repressive face in order to exploit the resources optimally. The poor became the direct victim of the system. The poor were constantly reproduced and positioned in places that were not strategic such as factory workers, shop assistants, domestic servants and farm laborers.
According to him, that position has put the poor as weak individuals both politically, socially and economically. Contestations that occurred in the urban space was never won by the poor. Various instruments that represented the state were never present and in support of the poor.
"The weakness of poor people in the urban space contestation put the poor in places that are less viable, both aesthetically and economically. The houses built are the reproduction of poverty, showing a contrast with the region that is called the urban space," said the man born in Banjaregara, May 27, 1971.
The experience in the city of Surabaya also showed that freedom was only partial and was not enjoyed by the poor. Poor people in Surabaya were increasing in line with the massive wave of urbanization. Viable and legal urban spaces as a space for people to live were increasingly hard to get, making struggle for urban space escalate.
In his dissertation entitled Poor People and the Urban Space Scramble in Surabaya circa 1900-1960’s, Purnawan said that the poor actually tried to be reduced in order to make the more privileged community comfortable. The government sought to control public space that is often accessed by the residents by controlling poor people who took over the region using particular ways.
In some cases the government did not reprimand poor people who managed to take over land which is non-strategic urban space. The policy is part of the poor people canalization policy in the city of Surabaya to prevent them from wandering around the city.
Purnawan added the struggle for space between the Surabaya municipal administration and the poor in the early days of independence cannot be separated from the differences in perspective of each of them on the urban space. Surabaya municipal administration believed they was a continuation of Gementee Surabaya, the city government established by the Dutch colonial government, which made policy to control the urban space used by the poor. Meanwhile, the poor people believed that after the proclamation of independence the people of Surabaya were entitled to inherit what had been left by the invaders. They felt entitled to do anything to the city that had legally belonged to the people including to split and share the urban space for their most basic needs.
The disagreement is exacerbated by the unpreparedness of the state to create the urban space regulation. Agrarian law made by the state was never specifically manages urban land. "The struggle for urban space has the potential to continue to grow if there are no serious preventive efforts. Therefore, it is necessary to manufacture a regulation to regulate the urban space in order to accommodate all parties over urban space, with no exception of the poor," Purnawan who managed to graduate cum laude concluded.