Fri, 12 Aug 1994

Bonafide debt-collectors welcomed

JAKARTA (JP): Maj. Gen. Hendropriyono, chief of the Jakarta branch of the Agency for the Coordination of Support for National Stability (Bakorstanasda Jaya), said yesterday that bonafide debt collectors doing business for banks are not designated as targets of the army-sponsored Operation Cleansing.

"The debt collectors we're after are those who use physical coercion, not the ones doing services for banks," said the two- star general who is popularly known as Hendro, who is also chief of the Jakarta Military Command.

Hendro said the actions of the debt collectors using coercive tactics could not be tolerated any longer as they cause trouble and concern among the public.

Speaking at the inauguration of Lt. Col. Ariffudin as the Jakarta Military Command's new assistant intelligence chief, Hendro elaborated further on his previous comments about Bakorstanasda's decision to wipe out debt collectors.

"The main thing is that when something is distressing the common people then something must be done," he remarked.

Hendro said the actions of these debt collectors have gone so far as even kidnapping in order to obtain money from the debtors.

Operation Cleansing, which involved both military and police personnel in the city, was launched in April to eradicate the escalating crime rate in the city.

Crime in the capital city reached a peak with the murder of Brig. Gen. Toga Manahan Franklin Tampubolon, a former commander of the Army's elite paratroop Kopassus.

Bakorstanasda arrested two debt collectors last week when they tried to forcibly extort money from a debtor.

When confronted with questions about the possibility of bank debt collectors using similar coercive tactics, Hendro said he had not received reports of such incidents.

"If such reports do come in with evidence to prove it then prompt action will be taken," he said.

The inauguration of Lt. Col. Ariffudin replacing Col. Zecky Makarim was followed by the initiation of Col. Bambang Yudoyono who takes over from Col. Soetarto as assistant operations officer at the Jakarta Military Command.

Col. Zecky will now move to a new post at the Armed Forces Intelligence Agency (BIA) while Col. Soetarto will become commander of the Manokwari military command in Irian Jaya.(mds)