Tue, 21 Nov 2000

Council likely to demand nightspots close one month

JAKARTA (JP): City councillors are likely to recommend the closing of several entertainment centers and nightspots in the capital during the upcoming Muslim fasting month of Ramadhan, a source at the council said on Monday.

In their draft recommendation slated to be approved by the council and submitted to Governor Sutiyoso on Tuesday, the councillors proposed the closure of certain massage parlors, discotheques and nightclubs, said a source, who asked for anonymity.

But the councillors, he added, recommended similar places located inside hotels be allowed to run their business as usual during Ramadhan, which will start next Monday.

"The councillors prepared the draft recommendation specifying the kind of nightspots that should be closed and those that can remain open during the fasting month," the staffer added.

No councilman could be reached for confirmation or comment.

The content of the draft recommendation is different from the existing 1999 City Bylaw which allowed all nightspots to open after Ramadhan's tarawih evening prayer about 8:30 p.m. and close before the pre-dawn meal near 3 a.m.

Due to public pressure, the city administration could not agree to the 1999 City Bylaw deciding to close all discotheques, night clubs, billiard centers and sauna parlors until seven days after the post-fasting Idul Fitri celebration, marking the end of Ramadhan.

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

In the past few days, City Hall was colored again by the arrival of some 600 employees of several nightspots urging the city administration to allow their employers to run their businesses as usual.

The employees of discotheques, night clubs, billiard parlors, pubs and restaurants, demanded that nightspots, like last year, be allowed to open after tarawih and close before the pre-dawn meal (sahur) during the fasting month.

"We would never interrupt a Muslim's prayer. We just want to work to support our family," said Bahrain, 28, a receptionist at Amway dangdut pub in West Jakarta.

Rizal, another employee, said: "We are willing to be arrested if the police can prove that we have violated the peace during fasting month."

A heated argument occurred in the City Hall compound when some 50 members of the Jakarta Mosque Youth Forum, who want closure of all nightspots in the capital, became involved in a dispute with security personnel.

The protesters managed to enter the compound one by one and make a speech in front of the governor's office.

They were then forced to leave by security officers pushing them with long wooden sticks.

The protesters, outnumbered, then retreated, throwing chairs at the security officers as they withdrew.

There were no injuries reported. (07/dja)