Thu, 23 Nov 2000

City to selectively prohibit operation of nightspots

JAKARTA (JP): In an apparent attempt to put an end to the public dispute about the opening of entertainment centers and nightspots during the Muslim fasting month of Ramadhan, Governor Sutiyoso will likely selectively close businesses with reputations for permitting illegal activities by patrons.

It is expected that the city council will recommend that the governor comply with the demands of vocal Muslim organizations concerned with immoral activities believed taking place at notorious nightclubs and massage parlors in the capital and close them during the holy month.

Sutiyoso said he would not close all nightspots in the city, but be very selective as had been done by the city administration for last year's fasting month.

"It will likely be similar to last year ... we'll be very selective. Everything that will lead to transgression of moral laws will be closed down, while nightspots with less negative effects will be allowed to remain open," he said.

"I will issue a gubernatorial decree on it soon, because I now only wait for the city council's recommendation," he added.

The decision was expected as it has been reported that six out of 11 factions in the city council had issued a joint statement, demanding the closure of nightspots during the upcoming fasting month, due to start next Monday.

The decision will be different from the 1999 City Bylaw, which allowed all nightspots to operate after the end of the evening Ramadhan prayer, at about 8:30 p.m., until the pre-dawn meal, or about 3 a.m.

This year, due to public pressure, the city administration abandoned the 1999 City Bylaw and decided to close all discotheques, night clubs, billiard centers and sauna parlors until seven days after the post-fasting Idul Fitri celebration, which marks the end of Ramadhan.

Massage parlors operated by blind people were permitted to remain open last year, but those caught organizing prostitution were closed.

Nightclubs, discotheques and pubs located inside hotels were allowed to operate normally, as they were considered as hotel facilities.

Public demand

Separately, City Council Speaker Edy Waluyo said the city council expected the governor to comply with both public demand and the existing regulation on the nightspots.

"The city administration has the city bylaw to follow and the public demands to listen to. So, it will be the administration's sole decision. The point is that we have already made our statement and conveyed the people's opinion about the issue," he told journalists on Wednesday.

Edy emphasized that the city administration was solely responsible for such technical decisions and the city council should not be held responsible if the public disapproved of the administration's policy.

"The councillors only make recommendations and are not to be held responsible for the city administration's decisions because it's not our job," Edy said, when asked about the possibility of nightspot workers resisting the decision. (dja)