Mon, 14 Aug 2000

Councillors question lack of police on raids

JAKARTA (JP): Jakarta City Councilmen questioned on Saturday the absence of police officers on several raids conducted recently by local officials against gambling dens in the capital.

Council Deputy Speaker Djafar Badjeber of the United Development Party said the presence of the police during such operations is necessary to avoid any unexpected obstacles.

He said the Council has received complaints from city officials, who deplored the reluctance of police to accompany personnel from the City Public Order Agency on the anti-gambling raids.

Senior police officers have told city officials that their personnel were currently deployed to help safeguard the ongoing Annual Session of the People's Consultative Assembly.

But, according to Djafar, "the police could have assigned five or so officers to accompany the raids against the gambling dens.

After all, it's their duty to fight crime and maintain security."

Binsar Tambunan, chairman of Council Commission A on government affairs, worried that the city's efforts to curb gambling would be useless without the support of the police.

In the past three years, the city, particularly along Jl. Hayam Wuruk and Jl. Gajah Mada in downtown Kota, has witnessed a mushrooming growth of amusement centers, which actually offer several slot machines for gambling.

Last Wednesday, at least nine personnel of the City Public Order Office were slightly injured by guards of several amusement centers during efforts to seal gambling dens at Mangga Dua Harco electronic center complex in Central Jakarta.

According to the officials, the guards -- armed with batons -- fought the city officials during the raids.

It remains unclear why the city administration prefers to raid such places after the illegal business is already mushrooming.

Councilman Binsar from the Indonesian Democratic Party of Struggle (PDI Perjuangan) reminded the police that such places have always been "guarded by hoodlums, who will do anything to maintain the centers' operations."

Sharing the view, another councilman from PDI Perjuangan Pantas Nainggolan warned that the police are not only responsible for maintaining security but also to enforce gubernatorial decrees and city ordinances.

The councilmen urged the police to investigate the incidents and arrest anyone involved in attacking the city officials.

"It's illegal business and it must be stopped. If the police and the administration fail to take stern action it will give bad precedence in the future and people in the gambling business won't take official raids seriously," Binsar said.

Separately, councilmen from the United Development Party (PPP) said in a statement on Saturday that they wanted Governor Sutiyoso and executives of the City Public Order Agency to take appropriate action against any official suspected of tipping-off the management of the centers.

"We observed that every time the administration is about to conduct a raid, operators of the dens seemed to have been aware of the plan and hastily ordered guards to face the officials," PPP chairman M. Zayadi Musa said. (lup)